Race Cars and Teamwork

Over the weekend, I got to spend a day at a beautiful racetrack watching some high-performance machines show off.  The best part about this weekend/day experience is the opportunity to watch the result of some serious teamwork. What is put onto the track- a Corvette, Ferrari, Ford, Porsche, or otherwise- is a product that has been meticulously designed, built, tested, repaired, tweaked, and refined to the highest quality of car. It’s also a place where the safety and features of our own vehicles get directly tested under some extreme conditions. Saturday was a really hot day, and driving for 3.5 hours straight at over highway speeds puts a lot of demand on the electronics and engines and people alike.

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So what goes into all of this?

These cars are specially designed; although the chassis are classic icons (think Corvettes or Porsches), the internal engines are redesigned time and time again to get the most power out of the least amount of fuel; something that we look for in our own cars. A team of design and research engineers does this long before the car gets to the track, even before the car or engine is physically made.

The car is then built or modified by mechanics who know and understand every working detail of that particular machine, and these mechanics are able to communicate very well about the car in question. The biggest part of teamwork, of course, is communication. The driver needs to know the exact limitations or abilities of the car, and also needs to be able to relay back any specific issue.

That leads to the pit crew, the spotters, and crew chief- all people who work a certain role with certain abilities, be it a quick tire change or tune up, or an extra set of eyes on the track, or someone keeping track of every duty to ensure that the team runs efficiently, with no loss of excess energy.

All of this leads to a seriously amazing feat of engineering; a car built to test and verify our own everyday safety, with the added fun of racing it up and down hills, through left and right turns, and the possibility of bringing home a very big and very shiny trophy for their efforts.

What can we learn from this?

Everyone has different strengths and weaknesses; not everyone can do everything all at once. There needs to be balance in a team to cover all of the bases, and a mutual respect for one another’s roles. Take a study group, for example: each person brings their own notes and understanding to the table, and shares it with the others. Someone takes notes on the textbook, the other the lecture, the others make alternative study guides, bring food, manage time, etc. The same thing goes for a baseball team- each person has a position in the field and a position in the batting order, and although they all contribute separate skills, they are all still one team working for one goal.

In science fields especially, no one can understand every underlying field completely. A group of Biologists may be comprised of someone who knows Ecology, someone who knows Biochemistry, and someone who understands Physiology, and together research an underlying factor within a population of organisms. The same goes for any field with subspecialties, as well.

Fandom works the same way too- a group of friends might have a trekkie, a whovian, an otaku, and a robot nerd- each one shares their fandom while sticking in their subspecialty; it makes for a more enriching and fun time that way.

Something to keep in mind is your own skill set- what are you good at? What do you want to get good at? Is there anything small that you’d like to achieve? Small skills will build up into bigger skills; think an RPG game with levels. Don’t give up on an ‘eh’ skill- you’re just earning experience points towards a higher level!

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