This week we speak to Enzo Mucci, aka The Race Driver Coach and I think the headline is key. If you watch any of Enzo’s videos on YouTube you will understand why he thinks motivation is such a key to success whether it be on the track or in life in general. Driving a race car is as much about your mental approach as it is your physical skills and the two are inextricably linked. One without the other will not allow you to achieve your full potential.
Motorsport Prospects: What is your background and how did you get involved in driver coaching?
Enzo Mucci: Despite the name I was born and raised in England (in the Midlands). I led a pretty normal life until I was around 15 years old and motorsport became my first love. I could never afford a career in this sport but it didn’t stop me dreaming, so I managed to save up and get small sponsors to compete in my first championship (Formula Ford) when I was 20 years old, yes it took that long. I won the championship in the 2nd year and from there did some club F3, Alfa Romeo championship, Clio Cup and British GT. My racing was very broken up and spread out due to finances and by the time I was in my mid 20’s I already understood that coaching was much more appealing to me than racing. Coaching became my true love.
It really started back in 1998 when I attended a mental training program called Silva, which taught you how to use the Alpha state of the brain to improve your performance. From that moment I was obsessed with mental performance and helping others to experience the same. So from last 1998 I started to coach drivers and even though I was racing, I was getting more of a kick out of coaching and learning about the mind. In 2005 I got a Life Coaching qualification and started to help people with personal challenges. Soon after this I merged my love for motorsport and personal coaching and become a personal performance coach within motorsport. Thi9s meant that I trained drivers on all aspects, from their driving to their mental state and other skills all related to their overall performance. Since 2006 I have devoted myself solely to coaching.
The mental aspect of racing
MP: You stress the mental aspect as much as the technical aspect to driving a racing car fast. Why is that?
EM: Well I believe that the brain is the operating system for everything, it controls our arms and legs and everything we perceive. It holds all the information and skill we need so if we endeavour to master that part of us then we are going to the source of our talent. We have seen drivers like Frederic Sausset, Alex Zanardi and Billy Monger race without arms or legs and still out perform drivers with all their limbs, this shows that mind is just as important, if not more, than the body. Also there is your mind, the mindset you are in determines the performance you are about to give, you can have all the driving skill and ability in the world, but if you cannot perform when under pressure or cannot handle adversity then we will never see that skill and ability. The mental aspect comes first for me.
The transition from karts to cars
MP: For a young driver coming from karts what are the most important aspects that drivers need to understand in transitioning to cars?
EM: There are plenty of differences, not just in the driving but the car world is different to the Karting world. They first understand that a car is obviously bigger and heavier so the driving needs to take that into account. Depending on the car you may need to give the car more time to react to your inputs and look further down the road to predetermine what is coming up, you may be traveling at higher speeds now. A good Karter can often jump into a car and go quick straight away but it is also important for drivers to understand why a car is reacting in a certain way, each car reacts in its own way and has a reason for that. Gear shifting and braking becomes more of a skillset in cars as well. Karters will notice that the atmosphere in car racing is different, more relaxed, less parents arguing and the sessions are much more spread out, this can be strange for Karters to start with. There is more debriefing going on than driving. A Karter must also learn how to get the team behind them, there will be more people helping you out so you need to lead and motivate them.
MP: Motivation is the key to everything. Are their techniques to keep a driver motivated in the face of adversity (recovering from a crash, poor results, personal issues, budget issues, etc.)
EM: I agree, motivation is key. It is more like mindset is key. The biggest win is to teach a driver that they cannot control what has already happened, so we have to be better at translating what happened and using it instead of it using them. Replacing questions like “Why me?” with “What can I learn from this to make me stronger?”. A driver’s outlook on life is important. The questions and thoughts that run through their mind determine what mood they will be in, if they control this part of their psychology then they re-focus very quickly. It takes practice and as a coach you must be there to keep them sharp on this side but it is a valuable skill to have for racing and for life.
MP: You have worked with a number of drivers and programs in your career so far. This must have given you a wide range of experience to base your coaching on. How as your past helped what you are doing today?
EM: Yes working with top drivers as well as ‘bottom drivers teaches you a lot. On top of that being with a driver who has a strong team mate also allows you to learn from that team mate. The biggest takeaway working with and opposite drivers like Esteban Ocon, Romain Grosjean, Jules Bianchi and Max Verstappen, who have all reached the pinnacle, is their work ethic. All of these guys and others that I have worked with who succeeded are the last to leave. You can tell that they are at a race weekend to win, the whole team feels as though they too have to be at their best to keep up with that kind of driver, they raise the standards of all those around. The driver is not just the driver of the car, they drive the team, their supporters and the whole mission. They are the boss. This is how you can tell if a driver has what it takes from the outset. This has given me the benchmark for how drivers need to approach their sport, it is not a hobby, it is like war, like a fight to the champions and they give it their all. It kills me when I work with drivers who do not have that passion. As you can imagine though, the latter is very common in this privileged sport.
One on one versus distance coaching
MP: You offer both one on one and distant coaching. Besides the obvious, is one on one always better or does distance coaching have its advantages that one on one does not?
EM: One on one is always more powerful because the coach is right there with you, mind reading you and helping you flow at the track. However distant coaching is great for drivers who are racing elsewhere or cannot afford to pay for a coach to be present. I offer both because of time, I can only fully coach around 3 or 4 drivers at race weekends because there are only 52 weekends in a year. So distant coaching helps me talk to the drivers after each day during the weekend when I am not there, then we have a debrief session a couple of days after the race weekend. This way they can be in America or in Australia whilst I am coaching them from my office in the UK. Sometimes they will also call me up sporadically before a qualifying session or race if they are feeling nervous or need some motivation. I like offering this because it is a quick fix for them and can often save the weekend by refocusing them, and it only takes a few minutes.
MP: Explain a little bit about how you approach a new client. Does it differ whether it is in person or distant? What are you looking at in the driver before you even begin?
EM: If it is in person then I have to really feel that the driver wants it and that I will get on with the driver because if I am coaching them then I will be spending a lot of time with them. There is nothing worse than leaving your wife, life and company behind at home to help a driver that you do not connect with or who doesn’t want to put in their full effort. If it is distant coaching though, I am less judgemental and more focused on the solution. When they first join up for a coaching agreement I get them to fill out a questionnaire that allows me to understand what they want to improve, if I know that I can be of assistance then we begin the coaching partnership.
The “Get the Drive” sponsorship program
MP: Tell me a bit about your sponsorship program “Get the Drive.”
EM: I’m really proud of Get The Drive because it is my way of showing drivers how to get into that race seat. It teaches them sponsorship, B2B and the 6 other ways that drivers have made careers in motorsport, so they can repeat it and do the same. On top of that I teach them the personal and entrepreneurial skills they need to pull it all off. At the moment it is an audio program, 10 hours of me talking them though all the steps but I am currently re-writing it all out right so I can offer it as a book. That should be out this year.
The key to resolving problems
MP: What would be the most important lesson a driver should take away from one of your coaching sessions?
EM: That if there is a way to resolve this current problem, then together we will find a way.
MP: What is the one thing you want to ensure that a driver does not do on or off the track that could negatively affect their on-track performance?
EM: They do not want to focus on the problem, as a driver you need to be fully solution based. Plus to always avoid having the defense mentality, you always need to be on the attack, top be the leader, to go forward and not dwell on things that are out of their control. Let everyone else do that, as a driver you drive forward and do not spend too much time in the mirror (metaphorically). It’s hard for me to sum it up to one thing but a driver needs to be in the right mindset and have an outlook that helps them.
MP: How do people find out more about your coaching services.
EM: If they go to theracedrivercoach.com or simply search Enzo Mucci then they will find my coaching costs and details all on there. As you can see, I don’t hide much and I don’t have someone answering my emails for me so you can easily get me direct.
MP: Any final thoughts?
EM: I just want drivers to understand that it is all down to them, nobody else is going to do it for them. Drivers may have dreams and have nice fluffy goals in motorsport but just know that this is a brutal sport that tries to hurt you in more ways than one, so you have to be ready for that and have the warrior mindset if you are to succeed. The chances of you making a career in motorsport are slim so you must also create value to those within the sport if you want them to help you get what you want. That value will be your speed or your finances, you must find out how you can provide that whilst taking the hits. This is not easy so you must dedicate yourself fully to stand a chance.
MP: Thank you so much for your time. You can go to Enzo’s Motorsport Prospects listing here.