Today I’m delighted to welcome John Santiago to the show. Dr John has a long history in motorsports as a participant and instructor. John Santiago is also a philosopher and has managed to blend his passion for teaching and motorsports into an amazing project called the Community Garage.
We discuss how they are using motorsports to make learning more engaging and fun for young people. We also discuss how you can become a better learner. Learning to learn if you like! This is a good one so as ever, grab a pen, grab a coffee, sit back and let’s hear what John Santiago has to say.
[Click] These John Santiago Show Highlights
[2:52] What is the community garage?
[10:42] How accountability in motorsports helps you develop as a driver (and person)
[22:22] What “civilians” think of motorsports (and how they miss the point)
[37:17] What is the best way to introduce new drivers to high-performance track driving?
[41:36] The importance of getting the basics right (and what they are)
Links mentioned in the show:
– John Santiago’s education project – https://www.thecommunitygarage.org/
Perfectly setup your racecar. Master data analysis. Drive faster @ https://www.yourdatadriven.com
Get Ahead of the Curve – Weekly motorsports wisdom you can read in 5 minutes, for free –> https://yourdatadriven.ck.page/3d029366d9
Transcript (by Ai)
[00:00:00] John Santiago: The philosophy’s not just about like, trying to justify your own preexisting beliefs. It’s about trying to discover the truth. And if the truth is that you were not fasted on that day, you need to understand why. And this is actually where the journey of data is so helpful because there’s another hard accountability there.
[00:00:21] Samir Abid: Welcome to the, your data driven podcast. If you like this podcast, be sure to visit our website www.yourdatadriven.com for more useful, help and advice on setting up your race car, mastering data analysis and driving faster. Welcome to episode 44 today. I’m delighted to welcome John Sango to the. Dr. John has a long history in Motorsports as a participant and instructor. He’s also a philosopher and has managed to blend his passion for teaching and [00:01:00] Motorsports into an amazing project called the community garage. We discuss how they are using Motorsports to make learning more engaging and fun.
[00:01:08] We discuss how you can become a better learner in the process learning to learn. If you like, this is a good one. So grab a pen, grab a. Sit back and let’s hear what John has to say. You may know that at the end of season one, I wrote the Motorsports playbook, a summary distilling the first 20 shows into nuggets of wisdom.
[00:01:30] I made the notes so that you don’t have to, if you’ve not got it yet, go and grab yourself a copy from the website.
[00:01:40] So our welcome John. Thank you. Thank you. Lee, it’s an absolute pleasure to have you on the show today. I’m really excited to see where this conversation goes slightly different guest to normal, maybe. And we’ll get into that. And, but you’ve got some, a really interesting project that you are pretty much [00:02:00] starting up on that we can discuss, but also, uh, an interesting background in, in the world of Motorsport.
[00:02:06] And, uh, educating drivers and such like, and I was just really interested in see how this conversation goes and, and see what we can learn from you and, and, and your experiences working with drivers and as students, and, you know, maybe there’s one or two takeaways there that we can get coming out the other end and think actually, you know, I can apply that that’s a slightly different way of looking at, you know, how we go racing or how we go performance driving or, uh, driving under.
[00:02:35] How we go on developing our skills. And so that’s kind of what, what I’m thinking could be really interesting. How, how does that sound to you? That sounds great. Well, okay. That’s the, let’s get a bit of background in you then. Who are, who, who are you, John? What’s your, what’s your background? What you up to?
[00:02:49] What brings you here today?
[00:02:51] John Santiago: Sure, sure. Uh, John Santiago, I am Paul guess we’ll start from the most recent. I am the founder of the community garage. This is a [00:03:00] nonprofit organization. It’s an afterschool program for kids. We use motor sports as a focal. We really use it as, as a draw, to bring kids in to, and then we teach them a bunch of life skills.
[00:03:12] That’s really, really the, the, the focus of the program. And probably because that’s kind of how I see motor sports. It’s ridiculously rich in the array of things that it requires of you. And as a result, things that you learn from.
[00:03:27] Samir Abid: Is a microcosm of life. Isn’t it. In one thing it’s got, it’s got some extremes of either end, uh, the joys, the stresses, the aggression, the, you know, you know, managing yourself.
[00:03:38] I think it’s absolutely fascinating what you’re doing.
[00:03:40] John Santiago: Yeah. I mean, and it really is. That’s kind of how I. See it is, if there’s any aspect of my life outside of motor sports that I’m working on, the chances are that I’ve, I’ve had to work on that and I’ve had to, you know, manage that in motor sports anyway.
[00:03:54] And that’s why I thought, you know, but it’s also really cool. It’s like super right. It’s like super [00:04:00] sexy. And like, so, you know, you, you sort of show up to, so I started, uh, going to a local high school. It was like show and tell. Right. You know, I brought, I brought props, I brought cracked rotors, you know, I brought like tires.
[00:04:12] I bought like, you know, helmets and stuff. And I would just go and, and hang out there for a little bit and talk to them about whatever I brought and. And then I brought a car and, and actually brought my simulator. I packed up my whole SIM rig and I, and I brought that in one time. And those things just got tremendous attention, you know?
[00:04:30] So the kids really respond to, wow, this is really, really cool. And that started me off thinking about, you know, well, how can I do this more consistently?
[00:04:37] Samir Abid: Did they go, that’s really, really cool. Like, so that this is just a genuine question because you hear that a younger generation, they’re not interested in cars, they’re distracted with technology and this kind of thing.
[00:04:47] And I, I, I’m not sure I believe that. So what you are saying, it still had an
[00:04:53] John Santiago: impact. Well sure. Um, you know, part of me is I’m hesitating just a little bit because I had a bit of [00:05:00] a, I wouldn’t call it a captive audience, but they were sort of a self-selected audience. This was in the, uh, this was after school, at the shop, right at the, at the high school shop.
[00:05:07] So those kids were, were a little more car or minded car focused. So they, they may have been a population. Most kids though, that they at least initially respond to it like that I’ve seen outside of the shop and, and whatnot. The big thing that I see for them is, is a kind of obstacle that I’m trying to either lower or knock down.
[00:05:31] And that’s the sense of like vision. They can’t see themselves in it. They can’t see themselves like participating.
[00:05:40] Samir Abid: Where do you start? Where do you even start with that? How do you, how do you, you know, you see someone, they don’t turn up as an individual with, uh, some running spikes and just run around the track.
[00:05:49] There’s a whole infrastructure. There’s a car. There’s I dunno. Anything about cars? I just wanna drive, uh, or maybe I, you know, dunno anything about driving. I just wanna do some work on a car. How do [00:06:00] I get involved? Everyone looks a bit gruff, a bit oily. you know, not, not always super happy cuz you know, they may have had a, a moment.
[00:06:10] Always seem to be busy, you know, there’s something always going on. So yes, I can understand. Maybe there’s that, that feeling of that. Hmm.
[00:06:18] John Santiago: Yeah. And there’s, you know, I mean, often the, the start is as simple as yeah, go ahead and, and take a seat, like get in the driver’s seat. Like go ahead, sit. And for them it’s such a distant, removed possibility for them to, just to be able to sit inside is, and you hear, you read these stories about people who, you know, some, some famous drivers who that’s, how.
[00:06:39] Got their start. Right. That’s how they kind of like, they’re like, I, somebody sat me in a race car and I was, you know, my brain just went on fire and I said, I have to do this. I, I have to be, I have to be here again. But you know, there is still that, you know, it’s, it’s somebody else’s car, it’s somebody else’s project.
[00:06:56] It’s somebody else’s thing. So, so, so we, we just are working to [00:07:00] try to get them closer, like a little bit closer, a little bit closer until maybe they start to think, well, wow, there are possibilities out there for me. It’s not an impossibility. A lot of my own personal life was realizing that the things that other people were doing were possible for me.
[00:07:15] Samir Abid: Let’s, let’s roll back a bit a bit then. So let’s tell us a bit, tell us a bit about your background, cause it’s not like in motor sports a hundred percent,
[00:07:23] John Santiago: is it? No, no. Um, I’m actually a college professor, so I teach philosophy. And when I was going through college philosophy was not an option. It was, you know, It’s like philosophers and poets, you know, you wanna be poor for the rest of your life or something.
[00:07:40] So I was, I was supposed to be at college to get a job and to get, you know, a career and all that kind of stuff. And I stumbled upon philosophy. And for years I was hanging out with all these philosophy professors, you know, and, and taking classes. And it never dawned on me that it was something that, that I could do, even though I was doing really well.
[00:07:58] I was like, I was getting. [00:08:00] All LA my classes, my professors would love to sit down and we would talk for hours. It was just never like on my horizon. And it took a long time before it suddenly, like it actually hit me like in a bolt of lightning and it just suddenly, I was like, oh my goodness, I can do this.
[00:08:14] I can actually do this. And, and it’s real. So now I teach college at, you know, at, at, uh, out in the west suburbs, I’m in Chicago and Chicagoland area. And for my students, a lot of them. It’s all good, well intentioned, but you know, the, the high schools and, and how they get counseled, it’s a lot of it is career focused.
[00:08:31] A lot of it is, you know, like there’s this path for you and, you know, it’s 1, 2, 3, and you’ll have a job and the kids and the house and , you know, and, um, and so. Thinking about themselves and their possibilities, uh, is not something that they’re sort of primed for. So I spend spend time in the classes with young adults working with them on that, as well as, uh, now with the high school kids to try to get to them a little bit earlier to say there’s a whole world out there [00:09:00] of things that, you know, you’ve only seen on, on the internet.
[00:09:02] And maybe we can have a little more close access
[00:09:05] Samir Abid: to. I, so it’s fascinating to hear about that really it’s uh, so, so cause the philosophy side of things is you said you talked a lot to people it’s like, well, I think that, that, that’s what strikes me as a subject. It’s a lot of talking and from an engineering point of view, you can do all, invest all that talking and maybe not get to a conclusion of what is like, are we okay?
[00:09:27] So are we going left or right. And, and the point is about their philosophy is that you have the debate. And you just, you raise awareness and then people can make their own mind or, or, or just be enlightened. Maybe I dunno about it too much, but just be enlightened about, oh, I haven’t really thought of it like that or, or whatever, but Motorsports is quite precise in a way.
[00:09:47] You know, you’ve, you’ve either done the wheel up or not, but equally there’s quite a lot of compromises that go into how to drive or how to set your car up for different people or for different [00:10:00] conditions. So maybe a philosophical as attitude could add some value in there as well.
[00:10:04] John Santiago: Well, I think actually, The core of a lot of philosophy is self-reflection right.
[00:10:09] You know, like you, you have to, you have to do a lot of that. And so you get a really sharpened skill set for self-reflection and, and just general learning. Um, so if you need to learn something new, that’s really challenging for a lot of folks, you know, they’re, they’re trained. They’re trained in a very specific discipline or a specific, you know, career path.
[00:10:29] And then to learn something new is really, really challenging for them. So I find it useful for that. Like philosophers are just natural learners. Like we, we love to learn and, and love to gobble it up, but I did have somebody once ask me, you know, wow, that’s strange philosophy and Motorsports, how, you know, what’s I don’t see the connection.
[00:10:46] And I said, I got into motor sports for one thing, accountability. There is a kind of like, to your point in philosophy, you know, the debates can go on, they can just go and they can go and they can go [00:11:00] when you’re on the track, you are utterly accountable to the physical world, you know, because you, you have traction or you don’t.
[00:11:08] You don’t get to debate that you, you have to be aware of it, right. And respond to it and under, and understand it, but you are utterly accountable. And I actually really appreciate that. It is, it is something that is a wonderful flip side to my, my background in my training is. At some point, the buck does stop somewhere and hopefully it’s not a wall.
[00:11:30] Samir Abid: no, it is true. Isn’t it? I, I, I guess that’s the essence of all racing really. It’s um, I do my talking on the track kind of thing. You’ve got your pit lane or paddock champion or the ballroom champion, you know, you’re in the bar with your friends and you’ve had a few beers and it’s like, yeah, I could beat you.
[00:11:44] You’re rubbish. And, and, and be just because they can talk about a, uh, argument. Doesn’t mean that necessarily, that translates into the real world of being on the track. So let’s, let’s go and let’s go and decide and, and have that sport piece to it. That’s [00:12:00] that’s actually fascinating.
[00:12:01] John Santiago: Yeah. That’s something I enjoy a lot about it and it’s also, you know, You can believe something in your heart of hearts, right?
[00:12:08] I believe them faster than you. I, I believe I can, I can beat you, but on this day you weren’t and you have to be fully accountable to that. Then, then the question becomes, well, what do you do with that? And so the, the philosophy part helps because you have to. Philosophy’s not just about sort of like trying to justify your own preexisting beliefs.
[00:12:27] It’s about trying to sort of discover the truth. And if the truth is that you were not faster than so and so on that day, you need to understand why, right. And this is actually where, like the journey of data is so helpful because there’s another hard accountability there. I
[00:12:43] Samir Abid: was flat through that corner.
[00:12:44] John Santiago: you weren’t. No, you weren’t. And, and then the question becomes why, well, why weren’t you? And, and that’s the self-reflection right? Cause I looked at data sometimes and I can swear. I see fear, you know, I can in the lines, you, you can tell [00:13:00] when, when there’s a driver, that’s afraid you, I can tell when I was afraid.
[00:13:03] Right. I’m looking at it. I’m like, And I’m standing in front of the computer, yelling at myself. Right. Like, you know why, you know, were you so afraid? Cause I’m looking at another segment of the track. It’s a bit
[00:13:14] Samir Abid: of a curse, isn’t it? Yeah. It’s a curse for sure. When you can, when you can do it for yourself and look at your own data, I was doing it, uh, recently myself to say, it’s like, yeah, this is, this is great that I can do this, but equally, like why did I two hats?
[00:13:28] You’re juggling two hats, but I agree. Yeah. You can see personality. You can see. How people are feeling from squiggly lines on a, on a, on a, on a screen. It’s just, I never thought that that would be the case, but certainly when you’re doing driver analysis it’s yes. It comes through loud and clear, particularly like something like the fo trace or something.
[00:13:46] It just shows you like, how confident are you coming out of the corner? Are you on it or are you hesitant or are you, you know, what are you doing there?
[00:13:55] John Santiago: So there’s something about looking at, I love the throttles trace. It’s like a window to the soul, you [00:14:00] know, it’s when you see things in it that are less than flattering.
[00:14:04] I try to take that back to the kids in the community garage, because it, I think that there’s a strong instinct in many. Kids and many young adults that when they see something that’s negative and they can’t sort of like avoid it, the tendency is to create a cover story. So rather than, rather than go the path of understanding, they go the path of justification, right?
[00:14:26] Like, well, well let me, let me tell you why I did that or, you know, and explain it away in some odd. So this is part of the life skills, right? You know, when, when I talk about trying to use Motorsports to convey life skills, it’s things like that. You know, you may never drive a car. You may never on track.
[00:14:42] You may never become a mechanic or something like that. But at some point you’re gonna learn something very unflattering about yourself, and it’s a basic life skill to be able to deal with that with grace and, and to learn and, and to gain from it rather than run from it and, and hide it.
[00:15:00] And I, I think that is basically what you’re talking about. It’s almost the confidence to say actually, yeah, I didn’t, I made a mistake there and, and, and that’s that first day, rather than sort of just trying to gloss over it, which if I’m honest with you, particularly in an amateur motor sport paddock, that happens a lot because there’s a lot of people who are a little bit, it’s quite complicated.
[00:15:23] The car’s complicated, which gives two things, a, an opportunity and B a good cover story. You know, the, the, the racing drive book of excuses, and then you’ve got the mechanics book of excuses. You know, there’s always a reason why something may or may not. Happened and it, and it I’ll find it personally, something that I wanna help people have the confidence just to say, actually, yeah, this, you got it wrong, but just don’t do it twice.
[00:15:48] just, just, and we are talking about systems where I was talking about systems recently about, it’s not about because in, I’ve done a lot of work in the world of Olympic and professional sports and [00:16:00] the serial winners are the ones who have built systems, you know, like. I dunno if you’re familiar with the cycling world with team sky and, and people like that, but, and, and British cycling, where we went from kind of nowhere to.
[00:16:14] Beating everyone in the world at the big races, um, through some of these philosophies about paying attention to detail and the 1% and marginal gains and this kind of thing. And, and it really is about just accepting, okay. That we could do slightly better here in this bill and just building these systems around.
[00:16:33] Well, this happened, this mistake happened. How do we create a system so that it’s not gonna happen again? And then the color results look after themselves, you’ll get quicker. Your, your car will be more reliable, faster. So they’re the kind of life skills maybe in your, in your community garage that a transferable, I mean, that goes to anything in, in life.
[00:16:50] Doesn’t it? Not just a racing
[00:16:51] John Santiago: car. And a lot of that for, especially for the community garage kids, they’re much younger. So we’re, you know, we’re looking at 15 to 18 and, and for [00:17:00] them, like life is overwhelming. Like I look around the, the paddock at, you know, at, at our events also amateur racing events and, and I teach, uh, intro class.
[00:17:11] So I’m the HPD one group leader. So this is like the intro group. Um, I run their classroom. HP
[00:17:17] Samir Abid: D just for people outside of north America, who may not know what that is, cuz it took me a while to, even because that we have like the UK, we have check days and we have racing. And my understanding is H HPD kind of sits in the middle.
[00:17:30] John Santiago: Well, it kinda depends on how you think of the E part. So it’s high performance driving event is a track what our organization refers to it as high performance drivers education. And so this is, this is much more education centric. This is, uh, you know, having somebody not just ride shotgun with you, you know, an experienced instructor, but also coming to a classroom, learning the nuts and bolts of high performance, driving some of the, you know, the basic concept.
[00:17:57] We have a full ladder program. So as you [00:18:00] move up the different groups, you do different drills on track. And, and so it’s, it’s, you know, the E is really about education and I get them when they’re first starting. So they’re all, you know, they can be very green and very overwhelmed, you know, like it’s just so much to learn and it’s like drinking from a fire hose.
[00:18:18] You know, you’re trying to just dobble this up, but you know, for adults to do this, they have a whole lifetime of, of resources that they’ve built up. Like, you know, uh, that they’ve built up so they can utilize those to, to get through the weekend and get the most out of it. The kids don’t have that they often are just, they get overwhelmed and then they, they just back away or they shut down somehow.
[00:18:40] So that’s part of what we have to coach them through is, you know, how do you build confidence in a context and an environment which is overwhelming for some kids. It’s the first time they open a hood and they just see a bunch of plastic and metal and it’s, it’s overwhelming. Other times it’s more when, when there’s some high stakes thing, you know, like I brought, [00:19:00] uh, we were working on a new shop car, um, a house car for us, and we were putting in shocks and they had these little, uh, adjustable, like remote adjustable cables.
[00:19:10] Well, they had to run the cable through somewhere, so we needed to drill a hole. So I handed the kid a drill and I said, I need you to drill a hole there. And his eyes went up like they just wide eyed. Like you want me to drill into your new car? Right.
[00:19:21] Samir Abid: um, Which is the right response, by the way. I think that is for the engineering me.
[00:19:26] He goes, that is the right response because he’s obviously done the maths in his head going it’s like, well, is that hole the right size in the right place? Is that gonna damage the structural integrity of my new cause that’s basically where he was thinking. I’m sure.
[00:19:38] John Santiago: I’m sure he was thinking that. Yeah.
[00:19:40] I’m I think, I think he was thinking something more like, I can’t go back once I started. There’s no turning back, you know, he wasn’t ready for that yet. It also, wasn’t such a huge, overwhelming thing that it was gonna crush. This is pitched at the level that they need to begin to gain that confidence that somebody in your life is going to ask you [00:20:00] to do something of consequence.
[00:20:02] And you are not gonna be a hundred percent confident that you know exactly how it’s gonna go. So how do you start dealing with that internally? And I think one of the best ways is to just build that up to give kids increasingly those opportunities. They don’t know it, but for many of them it’s gonna be their, their kids.
[00:20:18] It’s gonna ask them to do so, you know, they’re gonna have to, they’re gonna have to raise families. They’re gonna have to take care of loved ones, you know, and there are high stakes involved and you don’t know how it’s all gonna kind of work out and people who, who run from that kind of responsibility.
[00:20:31] There’s a lot of people who do, uh, a lot who, who get crushed by it. So we try to show them through motor sports that there are better responses right. Than to just kind of go, no, let somebody else.
[00:20:43] Samir Abid: It’s kind of like, um, it’s a playground, there’s a playground. My software friends would call it a sandbox kind of environment where it matters, but it doesn’t matter.
[00:21:04] John Santiago: Absolutely. I mean, you know, and, and I’m gonna give it one last plug for philosophy. This is one of those self-reflective moments where it really matters that you recognize this is a learning opportunity that you become a little bit better at seeing where are those sound box moments?
[00:21:20] Where are those playground moments? For my new drivers. So this is, you know, with the, with the adults, right. We talk to them about getting on track and being in a situation that they’re bummed out about. Right? Like they get into a train, right. It’s a whole bunch of cars and, you know, ah, I can’t go well.
[00:21:35] We’re like, okay, I
[00:21:37] Samir Abid: just wanna drive, man. I just wanna drive,
[00:21:38] John Santiago: drive. I’m stuck behind this guy or I’m stuck behind these three. It’s like, okay, well, well, let’s use this then let’s drive offline. Right? Let’s let’s think about, you know, if, if this guy suddenly spun out, what’s my, where’s my emergency out, you know, have you been gobbling up and becoming up more aware of that?
[00:21:56] You have the time now you’re not going at your, you know, fullest [00:22:00] pace, but can you see the sound box in that moment? And can you gain something? And that’s, that’s just a lot of what we’re trying to also help the kids with is like, you know, yes. I know that you don’t like your math teacher. I know that, you know, your history teacher’s bumming you out.
[00:22:13] Right. But, you know, can we recognize that over here, you learned how to deal with something and let’s try to apply that a little bit over here.
[00:22:23] Samir Abid: I think having the context of Motorsport can make some of those subjects feel a lot more real, I think say the physics side of things or, you know, the maths, uh, certainly for.
[00:22:34] Perspective, but also maybe the creative side, you know, that wouldn’t look good as well. You know? So how can you, how can you apply that to, you know, it does, it does encompass a whole range of different parts of people’s interests. You know, you can be involved in Motorsport and not be an engineer and a driver.
[00:22:53] You can, you know, you can be. Graphics and design and you can be in, you know, marketing, you [00:23:00] can be, you know, corporate entertainment. There’s, there’s a whole world that, that revolves around the subject, which you know, which, which can be inspiring, I think. And,
[00:23:11] John Santiago: oh, absolutely. You know, and, and I think for, I affectionately called non track people, uh, civilian.
[00:23:21] Samir Abid: If I might, if I might say that’s a very American thing to say , that is probably
[00:23:25] John Santiago: a very, it probably is. Yeah. So, you know, for the civilians out there, they think of Motorsports as like just the driving. And, you know, you’re a thrill, you’re the thrill seekers. You’re the, you’re that kind of cat. When, when we get the kids involved, we start to help.
[00:23:39] ’em see. No, no, there’s well, first I’m not like a big thrill seeker who like throws caution to the win. I’m much more philosophical about my drive and I’m much more contemplative. I really do appreciate the data because it helps me think about what I’m doing. We bring ’em in and we show them. Yeah, there are these other opportunities in motor sports.
[00:23:58] There’s these other ways to express your. [00:24:00] As I think a lot of, a lot of cars in general, you know, speaking of, you know, like the American love affair with cars, it’s really a lot about self-expression. It has all of these areas that you can explore. I’m a very low pressure type guy, you know, like I don’t, I, I’m not trying to push my kids in any one direction.
[00:24:18] I’m trying to expose them to as many different opportunities as, as I. So we, we take ’em to shops. We take ’em to like, you know, performance shops. And we’re always like finding the youngest guy at the performance shop to talk to them. You know, they say, how did you get your start? How did you get a job here?
[00:24:35] This is so awesome. And you don’t look that much older than I am, but they see business owners, right? If you have an entrepreneurial spirit, you know, you can, you can, you can start a business. We have these little micro internships where we put the kids together with, with a motor sports professional, just for a short period, you know, it could be a day, it could be a weekend.
[00:24:53] It could be something, you know, very short like that. We had a, a Motorsports photographer. Who took one of our guys under his wing [00:25:00] for the, for the weekend. And he was blown away. He was like, this kid was like, I’ve never held a real camera. You know? I mean, and so there is a reality to life that they’re often missing because everything’s coming to them through a virtual experience.
[00:25:15] Samir Abid: I was gonna say, it’s very three dimensional. very three dimensional world racing. Isn’t it. Certainly at the moment there’s noise and, and smells and compared to the dominance of the screen, that is life. You know, that is, that is how it all it happens. Um, but,
[00:25:34] John Santiago: or the reset button, right? Like we were talking about iRacing and, and places, right.
[00:25:38] It’s like, you know, when you’re just doing it on the screen and, and it’s just, you can, you can kind of like undo your, your errors at, at, on a whim. And then you go to a world in which you can’t. That can be in itself overwhelming for, for many new drivers. And certainly for, for young kids, they they’re like, whoa, uh, I don’t know if I’m really ready for this [00:26:00] and in a certain sense, they’re not cuz when none of us ever really are, when, when we’re doing something new, that’s our job.
[00:26:05] Right? That’s the adults job is to help shepherd them through those
[00:26:09] Samir Abid: experiences. Yeah, you mentioned, uh, these, the simulation I had, I had a lovely guy on the show called Aris and he’s the head of R and D or head of handling development for a set of Corsa, obviously the eye racing competitors. And I was talking to him about, you know, simulation and stuff like that.
[00:26:27] And, and, and so what they always trying to do is make the game less predictable so that you are having to develop a, not your only your ability to just sort of go round without all the settings the same, but you are having to adapt. Learning some adaptability. So I’m doing it, Matt with my hands. No one can see this, but, but it’s increasing the band.
[00:26:44] You you’re kind of bandwidth for, for dealing with situations where it is not exactly perfect. You don’t just hit reset. You just have to learn to, to deal with that. And if you look at some of, certainly some of the formula, one drivers, they’re constantly dealing [00:27:00] with imperfections, you, you can’t quite see it always unless you’re on board or whatever, but you it’s and how they’re dealing with things that have gone slightly wrong.
[00:27:09] Through their driving so that they’re losing the minimum amount of time, you know, through that mistake. It’s, it’s kind of like, there’s a, there’s several orders, like, so they’re not just sort of giving up as it were, it’s a case of, right. Okay. Well, this has happened. So that means I now do this, you know, this, I click into this next gear of like, dealing with that.
[00:27:28] Um, minimizing the, the effect of that mistake was such like, and, and, you know, I think this is that’s something you don’t often see. I, I don’t think outside of a racing environment, or maybe that’s a bit of a sweeping statement, but it’s certainly something you can learn from racing or track driver.
[00:27:44] John Santiago: That’s absolutely the way I would framed it is it turns out one of the, the most important life skills is that, that you learn in racing, right. That you learn in, in driving is, is that you, you will rarely ever be. Rarely in your life, will you [00:28:00] have everything exactly as you want it? At exactly the level that you were expecting, it’s almost always things come up and life is sort of suboptimal in those ways and you have to adapt to it.
[00:28:12] You still have to do your best in that situation. And that’s, that’s often. I think a lot of people don’t because they were so expecting, they were so counting on everything to be exactly what they were planning on. And now they’re just, they’re they’re dwelling on the disappointment. They’re dwelling on the frustration.
[00:28:30] And I think when, when you look at the, the best drivers who do this, um, just don’t dwell on it, right. They just kind of like move to. How am I going to get the most out of whatever, you know, my tires have gone off or, or they’re they’re, they cooled off and they’re, and they’re not ready yet. You know, those are kind of some of the earliest things that drivers sort of begin to experience.
[00:28:50] It’s one of the things that I like about the newest SIM rigs or the SIM newest SIM programs, is that they’re now presenting you with that, you know, it’s, it’s less gamey where you get [00:29:00] into the game and boom, instantly everything is ready to go. And so even the kids, cause I have them in the SIM rig as well.
[00:29:06] I have them driving, you know, they’re surprised by that. They’re like, what do you mean? It’s not ready? it’s like, it’s like, no, you know, and, and welcome to life because you’re gonna go into a board meeting somewhere someday. And, and you know, you, the person who you were working with is not ready. Or that there’s, there are other people on your team that are not ready or, or something happened.
[00:29:25] And the whole team now is influenced by this and you have to come to that and make the adjustments in order to keep yourself
[00:29:33] Samir Abid: moving forward. I think you, you made the point earlier actually about people, not, not necessarily having the confidence to try, because they’re not sure if it’s gonna be successful in their definition of what that is.
[00:29:45] So there’s quite a lot there in terms of oh, and, and that’s what I quite like about racing, actually. Cuz there can only be one winner. I was in a race recently and there was 46 of us on the grid. So, you know, 45 of those people aren’t going back. I mean, are they going back [00:30:00] home completely distraught and upset cuz they didn’t, they weren’t that one person who won or, or, or, or is there something else that they.
[00:30:06] They could have achieved and, and won in aver com as you know, for me getting on the grid, for example, is a win just at all, you know, and things like that. So, I mean like I’ve got, I’ve got a question for you about driving. You mentioned about the instructing and things like that. Is there something you see in tho in your work, in those early groups?
[00:30:24] That you think, oh man, if this happens all the time, and this is one of the things I, I think, you know, if people, more people knew about dealing with this, you know, they’d be, they’d be able to get more fun. Yeah. Or more speed quicker. Is there any, anything that sort of stands out from your work instructing all those people?
[00:30:42] John Santiago: I think the biggest thing I can think of in that context is probably the, the lack of understanding how much the driver matters. So we get, especially remember this I’m I’m talking about guys new to the sport, right. Folks who are new to the sport. There’s so many who think it’s the car, [00:31:00] right? Like, you know, well, if, if I was just in the next generation Porsche, if I had my other car and it’s so much emphasis on the machinery and the belief that that is like what, where, where speed is.
[00:31:12] Right. And not really, truly appreciating just how much the driver’s skill and the importance of developing. Your skills because you can spend money, all kinds of places. Right. You know, and, and it’s easy to spend a lot of money on a new supercharge and still get blown away by the guy and the little civic we see that the most.
[00:31:30] And we try to sort of like set that as, as a, a cultural thing for us to emphasize the importance of the driver’s learning your car’s fine.
[00:31:39] Samir Abid: How do you learn as a driver then? So, so you come in and you’ve, you’ve taken that on board and you go, well, actually I’m here because I, I, I like driving. I think I’m quite, I think I’m quite good at it.
[00:31:49] I feel, you know, maybe I’ve done a little bit of go-karting against my friends and I’ve beaten them. I’m confident on the road. I’ve got a nice fast car that I’m driving. I kind of know what I’m [00:32:00] doing. So. How do I go from that mindset to what you are talking about and sort of, well, there’s actually, so there’s a lot more to learn here for you, you know, there’s and how do you, how do you take people through that?
[00:32:11] And without sort of bursting their bubble, saying actually you’re not as good as you think you are. How do you help give people that direction, but still encourage.
[00:32:22] John Santiago: If it was someone I was at a dinner party with, and they were telling me their background and saying, you know, well, I, I think I could go up and crush it.
[00:32:29] I’ll be there. I’ll show you guys. I mean, the, the first thing I would really just recommend to them is it’s incredibly important that they get an instructor because an instructor is able to frame small task for them and help them recognize that whatever, whatever their, you know, sense of themself was, they have to now apply it.
[00:32:48] And they’re account. The track is calling. And so an, uh, you know, a good instructor can give them a frame of reference and give them tasks for them to then begin to [00:33:00] recognize, you know, maybe they really do have a, a particular gift in one area or another, uh, of driving. And so they’ll succeed very quickly.
[00:33:07] Boom. But then, you know, they’ll also be able to find those areas where it didn’t go the way they thought it would go, you know, in their. I think if you just throw somebody out on track like that with no guidance whatsoever, it’s just too easy for them to, to keep, you know, driving and, and then begin to make the justifications and the excuses.
[00:33:28] And when things didn’t go the way they want. But if you have an instructor in the car that that can give you some kind of guidance, I think that that learning process can really. In our organization, the one that I work with the most, you know, we do that like throughout the entire organization. So we have a full curriculum that just says, we’re gonna break this, this driving down into certain key elements.
[00:33:49] We’re gonna have very small, you know, drills you’re gonna work on. And then, and then it’s almost like just peeling back. Layers to expose where your strengths and where your weaknesses [00:34:00] and that can happen more organically. Cause it’s odd to say, if you give ’em structure, the learning happens organically.
[00:34:06] You know, if you just give them no structure and let them drive on their own, there’s harder, harder to find those opportunities to learn.
[00:34:13] Samir Abid: Don’t take this the wrong way. Just, I just sort of thinkings like, but what is there to learn? I mean, it’s not that difficult. Surely. I mean, you’ve just got the pedals and the steering wheel and maybe you’ve got a guess to, I don’t know, depending on what kind of car, I mean, how, what is there to learn?
[00:34:28] I’m I, I’m confident. I’m brave. I can, I can B down the street. I’m I’m great. I’m good off the lights, you know, maybe that’s for the other people, but I’m, I’m.
[00:34:39] John Santiago: Yeah. I, I mean, I think, I think the, uh, the, the number one thing to learn is the, that you are accountable because, you know, you might want to, you know, come charging outta that corner.
[00:34:50] And we get this a lot, you know, the, the big Corvette guys, right. Or, or the big, the high horsepower Mustang guys, you know, they, they complain about their car because they’re just like, you know, it’s just, [00:35:00] it won’t, I can’t come out of this corner. It’s just like, well, that’s because the track is telling you, your car is telling you the, you don’t have.
[00:35:07] And, uh, and so you’re, you’re sliding out. So once you realize that you’re accountable, you need to know what you’re accountable to. Like, I don’t understand the friction circle. I don’t understand, you know, what do you mean using all of the track? You know, I, I, I’m on the track I’m using it. I, I, I went around the track.
[00:35:26] Right. You know? Um, and so, so, so there’s, that’s really, the basic lesson is that you can’t get more than what’s what’s. You have to begin learning what’s there. And that, that that’s a much deeper pool than you think.
[00:35:40] Samir Abid: Yeah. I, I just find it fascinating when people who, uh, in, at the, the very top of professional motor sport, I talked to those guys and asked them, you know, What is it?
[00:35:51] And they’re just so hungry to learn about driving and going quicker and thinking, but you are already the best, right? [00:36:00] so for me, that’s, that was like, you know, a sign already, I suppose I’m a bit, maybe a bit more like you in anywhere quite reflective, but for other people that’s not necessarily their natural state and.
[00:36:10] The message. One of the takeaways for me is that if right, is, if those guys are still looking to learn, if they’re, if they’re in a qualifying session and they’re, they’re looking at a printout of where they can find some more time then basically we we’ve all got to at least be open minded to the fact that there’s a little bit more to come from the driver.
[00:36:28] There may still be, yes, you’re right. There may still be something from the car too. And getting the car, actually getting the car to give. Science and give you confidence is, is, is not a, um, a trivial problem either. And so sometimes you, and, and when, I guess when you start, you don’t know where you don’t know.
[00:36:45] Yes. You dunno what could feels like. Do you help people with that? Do, do you, do you demonstrate that or do you take ’em out in a known quantity or in own car or are you always in their vehicles or whatever, or can you have a feel for try and help them [00:37:00] experience that feeling of what it is they’re doing?
[00:37:04] Cause in the classroom it’s kind of oh yeah, that, that seems to make sense. But then as we’ve talked about already, you know, it’s a 3d real world kind of environment sounds and smells and, and speed. So. What does it actually feel like to go fast?
[00:37:17] John Santiago: So we think, you know, one of the best learning opportunities is to get the student in a car with the instructor.
[00:37:24] And yes, we do. Now with a large group logistically it’s, you know, it’s difficult to do this on a, on a really, really consistent basis, but as much as possible, we encourage it. We recommend it. I mean, I’ve done right seat instruction a lot. And you tell them, you know, use all of the track. You explain it, you draw it out on a map, you do all this kind of stuff.
[00:37:45] And in their mind, they could swear they’re using all the track until they actually see. And so getting them out, taking them out and showing them, just demonstrating to them, the smoothness. When we talk about being smooths, when we, you [00:38:00] know, all of that is like, they’re, they’re suddenly like, oh, that’s what you meant.
[00:38:04] I, you know, I was now I can work towards that and I can, I can start to feel that, you know, in my own car, but that’s hugely, hugely helpful. I think. There’s no real replacement for that. Right. You know, to like, to, to get ’em out. You know, sometimes my, my students are like, you know, oh, I’m gonna miss class because I, you know, is it okay if I miss class?
[00:38:22] I’m like, are you kidding me? Please go take that ride. That is gonna be hugely instructive. And that’s all we want for you is, is for you to learn. So.
[00:38:30] Samir Abid: Yeah. And I think that’s the thing you’re creating an environment there where people have got an opportunity to taste what it is. I mean, just to give you some flavor of what it’s like here in the UK, we’ve got track days, which basically mean you go and you take your car and you drive around on your own.
[00:38:45] They do offer instruction, but it’s not in no way obligatory and you Don dunno who you’re gonna get, and it’s not based on a curriculum or anything, or you can go and take your license test and then give you a race license and, and you go racing. [00:39:00] They just sort of give these things away, but, but at the same time, there’s no formal education you have to go through or anything like that.
[00:39:06] So it’s, it’s often having done this and spoken to a few people. Now I do feel it’s maybe a little bit of a missed opportunity because I think it’s, it’s not all about racing as well. It’s about the art and skill of driving. And I think racing to be at the front in some championships and stuff, you have to be very, very good.
[00:39:22] But just the art of driving on its own is, is a thrill. I was talking to a good friend of mine. Who’s who’s a very good driver actually, but he’s never been on track. We’re gonna arrange you. He just bought a nice car. So we’re gonna go, we’re gonna go and arrange one of these track day events, but I’m gonna coach him and stuff.
[00:39:38] He was talking to me about just the thrill of doing some crazy speed that you can even imagine doing on the normal road, around the track. Because we were at a race event and I was like, oh yeah, I suppose we were going that fast. And, and it’s one of those things it’s like, I’m just focusing cuz I’m race driver hat on.
[00:39:57] I’m just focusing on the performance [00:40:00] of the driver. Yeah. So, so either my performance or whoever it was, I was, I was looking after it’s like we were just looking at the sport aspect of it. And the fact that we were going around in a race car, like really quickly was almost like the material also sort of forgot.
[00:40:14] It’s like, oh actually, yeah, we are doing 120 miles an hour at that point. It’s like, that is quite fast compared to like, you know, that like regular driving and yeah. Haven’t even thought of it like that. That’s brilliant. Yeah. Yeah. We, we, we have to explore that a bit more and I think that’s, that’s what you’re talking about.
[00:40:30] Is it that sort of just that whole assault from the.
[00:40:34] John Santiago: And that’s part of cuz we know that not all of our drivers are gonna become racers and that’s. But for those who aren’t gonna go into the competition side, there’s still tremendous joy in driving. And so the line that we’re often pitching is really just, if you really want to love driving, then you need to learn more.
[00:40:54] You’ll enjoy this much more. The more you learn about your yourself and the more you learn about your car, [00:41:00] it opens up a, a much broader range of, of enjoyment when you are learning and hopefully getting that instruction.
[00:41:08] Samir Abid: I’ve got two questions for you. I’ve got like, have you got any tips for learning that we could take away?
[00:41:12] So actually I, a lot of people struggle with this kind of thing and it could be something to do with a learning style or something like that that you maybe, I don’t know if that’s a thing or not. And, and the other thing was like, just that you’ve mentioned in instructing and I’ve mentioned coaching and I’d just be interested in your opinion on if you think there’s a difference and what those two roles would be.
[00:41:33] John Santiago: If there is. Yeah. So I guess for, for the, for the first, for learning in many sports, you’ll hear people say something like never underestimate the importance of the basics. And so in driving for our drivers, probably your eyes and how you use your eyes. It’s the very first, one of the very first things that instructor will tell you is, you know, uh, look up, look, look up, look up, right, look up, look up.
[00:41:56] Yeah. But then, then that, that, [00:42:00] that lays a nice foundation, cuz you should look up, but there’s such, there’s so much more that you can get into with how you use your eyes and, and the efficiency of, of using your eyes. So it’s the basics, but the basics are, are, can get highly refined.
[00:42:14] Samir Abid: So is that, is that sort of where you look where, where your vision is, as you are say, approaching a corner, you know, and how you transition from looking at, say, market boards and references for when you’re gonna come off thet and things like that and turn in, or, or is it for line or, or apexes or this kind of thing.
[00:42:32] So is that, is that what you mean? Or.
[00:42:34] John Santiago: So when we’re in the class, we sort of joked that the civilians, if you talked about civilians, you ask them about vision. The, the concern is like, can I see it? Like I’m getting old and my eyes are getting, you know, I, I can’t see it. Right. Like, you know, so it’s, it’s really like, you know, the quality of your vision.
[00:42:50] Right. You know, it’s like, that’s kind of the way they, they think of it. New drivers are often picking up reference points. Right. So what do I look. Do I see the [00:43:00] berm? Do I see the line, the, the, the smudge on the, on the track, but as you, you know, improve your driving, you, you are thinking more about when do you see those references?
[00:43:11] And so it’s more about timing. So we’re, you know, do you see what you need to see before your input? Do you see the apex before you turn the steering wheel? If you’re not seeing the apex and you’re turning the steering wheel, you’re just sort of guess. You’re kind of like hoping that that’s the general direction you’re supposed to be going.
[00:43:31] And I think that’s the way many people drive on the street, cuz you know, you, you have these thousands of miles that you accumulate and that’s a lot of practice. You just don’t call it practice, but it is a lot of practice and, and there’s no real urgency to, to the corner. It’s just, you’re just kind of gonna make it around the corner.
[00:43:48] You’re generally heading in the right direction. And so you’re. But you don’t actually see your targets or your marks before you actually move that wheel and the same with your pedals. Right. You know, you [00:44:00] know, you don’t, you don’t see the, the turning point before you put your, your foot on the pedal right.
[00:44:06] On the brake. So those kinds of things, like what, what is your timing like with your vision and practicing that that becomes sort of like a daily practice. Like you can, you can’t actually practice that on the street. You don’t have to be driving at race car speeds to do eye training. As you get more to the competition side, you know, you have to use your peripheral vision a lot more and you can practice that going to get groceries.
[00:44:28] So it’s the basics coming back to the basics and never really sort of like letting that, like, I, I have this new technique. I have this new thing I wanna where it’s like, Okay, that’s great. And I know that that’s gonna, you know, there’s an application for it, but there’s much more application for the basics cuz that’s what they call ’em the basics.
[00:44:47] Right? That’s what gets you around the track? So that would be, that would be sort of like the learning thing as far as the second one was about just learning mindsets, like learning, learning styles.
[00:44:57] Samir Abid: Yeah, learning styles. Yeah. So, um, I probably [00:45:00] gave you too many questions. Sorry. So something that I’ve been made aware of is people have different learning styles.
[00:45:05] Well, that’s what I’ve been told. And so, uh, or preferences for learning. I’m not sure about that, but that was definitely something that that’s been put to me is like, actually that the reason this person’s struggling is cuz they have a preference for hearing rather than them visuals or something. Is that sort of useful or is that sort of, is that sort of something you see is that useful for people?
[00:45:27] Uh, when they’re, when they’re driving on track or,
[00:45:29] John Santiago: you know, I have the same suspicion that you just expressed. I’m not sure that people genuinely do have different learning styles. What I will say is that learning about their learning styles should make you curious. And so I, I would recommend that people bring to the track that curiosity, like, Hey, I never thought about, uh, this is, this is, uh, you know, some many folks know Ross Bentley, right?
[00:45:51] You know, this is one of his favorite things is to, is say, Hey, go out and spend a session. Just listening. Just try to open your ears up a little bit more. You [00:46:00] don’t worry about everything else. Just drive your drive, but just really, really focus on your listening or. Focus on your bum. Right. You know, like, like just spend the whole session, just drive your drive, but really just try to pay attention to what your, your dairy air is sort of like telling you.
[00:46:13] And so get curious, you know, get curious about data. Get curious about track maps. Does it help you to, you know, if, if you haven’t used them before, you know, try it and experiment with those different things, because you may discover whatever the research says about learning styles. You’re the driver and it you’re the one who’s accountable to the track.
[00:46:33] And so if this works for you, then you should utilize that. But I don’t think that people will know that without the experiment.
[00:46:41] Samir Abid: I think that’s actually great. I think that that really, that, that goes across anything really to do with, with motor sport. I think people I’ve certainly seen people who are, who are afraid to try different things, uh, for good reason.
[00:46:55] They don’t know what’s gonna happen or whatever. Um, but at the same time, if, [00:47:00] when you do it kind of. Can sometimes it’s a bit like caught coming out the bottle, really? It’s sort of like, oh right. Well, we tried that and it didn’t work, but we did learn this. And now if we do this over here, it’s like, oh, June’s out the bottle here.
[00:47:12] Right. We just, you know, we’re just learning all the time, trying loads of different things and it’s, and it suddenly takes you up another level.
[00:47:20] John Santiago: It’s vitally important also to help you recognize your shortcomings so you might get exposed to something and, and just say, I’m not really terribly adept at this, but that’s how you start to build your team.
[00:47:33] And for, for, for amateurs, it’s. Often your team of friends, right? Who who’s really a little more apt at the data. Right. You know, who can, who can interpret that kind of data if we’re on a, an endurance team and which driver can communicate back to the rest of the team, you know, things that are valuable about what the car’s doing, but you, you don’t come out of the womb knowing these things.
[00:48:02] Samir Abid: it. John. I’ve just looked at a time. Oh my goodness. Where’s the time. God, I I’m loving this conversation. Have you got one last thing just to leave us with, tell us where we can, where we can find, uh, the community garage online. Tell us maybe one or two things that you think actually, you know, what, if more people thought like this in maybe in other parts of the world as well, we could really, you know, start to grow running sport in a, in a, in a, in a slightly different way.
[00:48:28] Than’s been thought of before in, in that sort of community.
[00:48:32] John Santiago: Sure we can find us at, uh, the community garage.org. You can contact me directly at, uh, Dr. email@example.com.
[00:48:40] Samir Abid: Dr. John Love that. Yes,
[00:48:44] John Santiago: the students and the kids call me Dr. John. So it’s wonderful new Orleans musician that goes by that name too.
[00:48:50] So here’s I guess the takeaway, right? I started the community garage because I, I didn’t have a lot of resources when I was, when I was a kid. When you listen to a lot [00:49:00] of the. Great drivers and stuff. They talk about having that uncle or having that, you know, their dad or, you know, grandpa or that crazy guy down the street who had the cool cars in his garage.
[00:49:10] I would say, you know, those of us, who’ve, who’ve been at this for a while. We’re in that, that senior PO position. Right. You know, and, and if you can just show a kid your car, their high school is all over the, the world. Right. You know, there’s places where these kids that, you know, they’re there do a little show and.
[00:49:27] There’s a lot of kids who would get inspired in their own future, even if it’s not in motor sports, if you just spend a little bit of time with them. And if you just show them that the most important thing that someone can learn is that they’re worth your time. So if you can just give them. 10 minutes and just say it, it was worth it.
[00:49:46] I think that would go a long way to, to getting more, more folks to, to grow in the sport, but also just more folks to, you know, feel like there are options that are better, better options out there than just what, what everybody else is doing. Better options out there than what some, you know, [00:50:00] negative influences are pulling them towards.
[00:50:02] Samir Abid: yeah, I think that’s, that’s a lovely way to, to summarize I, the, the influences that we. Now are, are, are magnified maybe a little bit. And so, and so some of the other, the other opportunities in life don’t get the same, uh, coverage and, and experiences perhaps you’ve experienced in your life and, and others listening, maybe.
[00:50:22] So. Yeah, I think it’s, it’s wonderful to share your passion of Motorsport and to try and fold that into, uh, Actually guys, you know, to be able to do this, you have to learn some stuff, but it’s actually quite cool. and it’s quite fun. And there’s all these other life skills that go around it because we’re a team and we’re trying to do something and it’s a project and it’s gonna go wrong and it’s quite technical.
[00:50:44] So we’re gonna have to do some math. So we’re gonna have to know what we’re doing, you know, and by the end of it, it can be really satisfying and, and had a lot of fun,
[00:50:52] John Santiago: enormously satisfying and fun.
[00:51:01] John Santiago: you, Samia. I appreciate that.
[00:51:04] Samir Abid: What inspiring story that is, John has managed to find yet another angle for ways in which motor sport can contribute back to society. Whilst at the same time, keeping all the fun and excitement that we feel with our motor sports. I very much hope you’ve learned as much as I did today.
[00:51:21] And I hope you’ll join me in wishing John all the very best for the community garage project in the future. You may know that at the end of season one, I wrote the motor sports playbook, a summary distilling the first 20 shows into nuggets of wisdom. I made the notes so that you don’t have to, if you’ve not got it yet, go and grab yourself a copy from the website.