We had a sit down with professional driver coach Jack Layton to discuss all things driving, so that you can feel confident learning how to drive on track at one of the most iconic circuits in the world.
What inspired you to become a professional driver coach?
I’ve always enjoyed the challenge of teaching and communicating. Combining that with my passion for motor sport, I’m fortunate enough to do a very rewarding job in an industry that means a lot to me.
What does your job as a professional driver coach include?
My job can vary from one day to the next, as Chief Instructor at Goodwood I lead and train all the instructors within our ARDS school as well as developing their corporate events and driving experiences. When working in my own capacity, I do more bespoke driver coaching on behalf of race teams, individual track day enthusiasts and club racers.
One of the most rewarding things for me is taking a new track day driver from learning the basics to getting their race licence and venturing into the world of competitive motorsport.
What has been the highlight of your career?
My single biggest achievement was winning the British Superkart Championship and receiving my trophy at the RAC Club in London from president of the FIA Jean Todt.
Also, the chance to work alongside and meet some of the most iconic drivers of all time including Sir Jackie Stewart, Derek Bell MBE and the late Sir Stirling Moss can’t not be a career highlight!
Driving on track
What do you think it takes to be a skilled driver on track?
In short it can take a lot, but here are some key skills a good driver should be able to master:
- Visualise the track ahead
- Process information at speed and adapt quickly
- Be aware of their surroundings
- Have the right mentality to be self-disciplined – we can’t be fast everywhere!
- Have a good feel and understanding for what’s happening to the car and surface
What advice would you give to someone that has never done a track day before?
The more you can prepare for the day the more you’ll get out of it. This could include getting your car serviced and checked beforehand, which will lower the risk of a breakdown, to memorising the circuit layout and ideally booking in some instruction. Always build up gradually so you are consistent. Remember everyone starts somewhere and you should not try to be too fast too soon!
For those experienced drivers out there, what would your key piece of advice be to improve?
Maximise what you can learn from your track time. Hiring a driver coach is the most effective way of doing this. They will look at what you are doing and pass on their years of experience and knowledge to improve your driving. It’s also a good idea to invest in an onboard camera so you can watch your driving back on and see what mistakes you can spot!
You are a professional driver coach, describe your methods of coaching?
I’d like to think what makes me good at my job is my ability to adapt to a method that suits the driver and car I happen to be coaching in. We all learn and process information differently. Some drivers benefit from demonstration laps, some require very clear direct instruction and others require more detailed analysis in between driving sessions. One of the most important things I find out about my driver first is what their goals are and how much time we have.
What is the scariest moment of your professional driving career?
I’ve had a few, but brake failure at Cadwell Park in a Superkart wasn’t a pleasurable experience!
You have been at many of the Salone Events Track Days, what is your view of them?
Salone Events Track Days are always very special. They’re not just any track day, from the high-end cars customers bring to the extra thought that goes in from the organisers. The words ‘relaxed’ and ‘bespoke’ comes to mind.
Who is the most high-profile driver you have coached?
Tom Cruise is a very capable driver!
Goodwood Motor Circuit
Talk us through Goodwood Motor Circuit – how would you advise to approach each turn?
Goodwood is a very technical but ultimately rewarding circuit when it all goes right. Generally speaking, the approach and line into each corner will vary depending on the car and conditions. One thing to be aware of is not many braking zones are straight so anticipating when the car is a stable platform and maximising track width is a challenge.
Here is a basic overview of each corner and a few things to be aware of!
Madgwick is a long right-hand corner with potentially two apexs. In most modern cars it’s desirable to miss the first apex by up to a car width. The second apex is the one to focus on to avoid running wide and ultimately get a fast exit. Be mindful of the rise in the track mid corner which can affect the car’s balance so be patient with throttle application.
Fordwater is the fastest corner on the circuit and certainly one to build up to. The exit drops away and tightens slightly so a balanced throttle mid corner to keep the car stable and not running wide is key. To ensure the car will not run wide or be unstable at the apex, start off by braking before this corner and gradually increase the corner entry speed if it’s safe and comfortable.
‘No Name’ is a really fast corner with not much space for error or time until your next braking zone. The braking zone and corner entry is off camber, so how much track width you use will be dependant on how stable the car is, how much speed you need to lose prior to turning in, and possibly how brave you feel! Use as much circuit as is required on exit to not scrub speed. There is definitely a trade-off between mid-corner speed and your line on exit. You don’t have long to be back on the right hand side in anticipation of the next corner.
St. Mary’s is the first left hand corner of the lap and much slower than those that preceded it. There is a short braking window when the car’s lateral load is back to neutral. The turn-in can often be too late so your peripheral vision is key. If it’s dry you can use a little curb as it’s fairly wide and flat.
Lavant is a corner that is all about getting a good exit as it leads onto the Lavant straight (which is uphill). What you do here can have an effect on a large portion of the lap! Again, on approach there is a short window for effective braking when the car is parallel to the left side to maximise track width on entry. The corner is similar but the opposite to Madgwick, where the first apex is desirable but the second has less relevance. If you need to increase steering you may compromise your exit speed. Trail braking on corner entry can be useful to give you a straighter line for corner exit.
At Woodcote, you are typically braking from the fastest part of the lap, the braking zone kinks to the left. On approach, line up with the marshal post and prioritise a straight wheel cutting across the track. You will then end up on the left. In more stable modern cars, stay wide and try to link the two turn reference points in one steering input.
The Chicane is the slowest corner and narrowest part of the track. Leading onto the start/finish straight exit speed is key. Aiming to get close to the last part of the wall on the right gives you the space for a straighter exit and less risk of running wide – if wet the exit curb can be particularly slippery and large puddles can form!
If you are new to the circuit do look out for the reference boards around the edge of the circuit to guide you on the racing line. They’ll show you roughly where to turn in, apex and exit each corner. There are also some brake boards as reminders. However where to brake will always depend on a number of variables such as your speed!
What is the most technical part of the Goodwood Motor Circuit?
From the entry into the right of the St Mary’s complex often referred to as ‘No-Name’, to the exit of Lavant. There is a lot of direction change in this area of the track and due to the undulations, drivers have a lot to contend with.
What are the most common mistakes you see drivers make at Goodwood Motor Circuit?
Probably driving historic racing lines in modern cars with more grip!
How do you ensure you get the perfect approach to a corner each time?
Good braking technique and track positioning is important but looking far enough ahead to anticipate your inputs makes a huge difference, especially at Goodwood where for a lot of the lap you are at high speeds!
And finally, what are your top 5 tips for improving driving around Goodwood Motor Circuit?
- On a track day always build up slowly to be consistent
- Keep looking as far ahead as possible
- Be confident on the brakes
- As a historic circuit, the edge of the tarmac is not quite straight so don’t follow it too closely!
- Always try and get some instruction booked
Where can people contact you if they would like to learn more about tuition?
Thank you so much Jack, these tips are so helpful and I am sure our clients will take your advice on board to improve their driving skills. We look forward to seeing you at our next track day!