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Mirko Freguia: The Data-Driven Instructor

There’s power in collaborating with a coach who asks the right questions, knows the track, and pulls things together in new and illuminating ways.

Many drivers are unaware that ProFormance can help them improve their track skills even when there’s no coach in the passenger seat. Mirko Freguia is one of several ProFormance instructors who supply an extremely valuable service to motivated clients: Off-Track Consultation. “Drivers can learn a lot when they’re not behind the wheel,” Mirko says, “provided the instructor knows how to read the numbers.” The data can come from an electronic driver info system, a track video, or just a track map. But the info is not enough on its own. “The squiggly lines won’t tell you where you were looking on a turn, or what you were thinking about.” That’s where Mirko comes in.

Interpreting data, asking questions

“The squiggly lines won’t tell you
what you were thinking about.”

Numbers and graphs don’t lie, but they require instructors like Mirko to interpret the information and ask the right questions to help clients understand which aspects of their driving need work. “Those questions lead to other questions,” he notes. “[Speed Secrets author] Ross Bentley would say, ‘if you want to fix this, you probably have to go two to three steps upstream.’ That’s what coaches bring out in a driver. They ask questions that lead to upstream thinking.”

In practice that means determining not just what you were doing at a specific moment, but what were you doing leading up to that. The data might say you lifted off the gas at a specific point. But why did you do it? What were you thinking? Did you hear something? Feel something? Mirko and his colleagues will connect those dots.

The making of a driving instructor

After years honing his skills as a driver in car clubs and the High Performance Driver Education scene, Mirko started volunteering as an instructor. He approached the task methodically, watching classroom presentations and listening to the coaches debrief their students. “But mostly I talked with many drivers over the years about their personal experiences, finding out what they liked and disliked about their instructors’ tactics, techniques and style.”

A personal approach

His conclusion: an instructor’s most important skill is to listen and understand a particular driver’s needs on any given day.  “What’s most important is NOT projecting your own desires and expectations of how a driver should perform, learn and improve.” It’s not about the instructor, in other words; it’s about the driver. You need to find out up front what kind of person they are, and what kind of learner as well.

“An instructor’s most important skill is to listen and understand a particular driver’s needs on any given day.”

Mirko Freguia

Drivers are made, not born

The legendary racer and author Carroll Smith had some advice for drivers he felt weren’t making the grade: other sports beckon. Mirko, on the other hand, believes performance driving can be taught, starting with the fundamentals, which are the key to success.

On the track, drivers get the “how.” Off-track consultations supply the “why.”

Not everyone feels the need to explore their driving in such detail, but those who take advantage of off-track consultation after the One-Day High Performance Driving Experience or a lapping day will find their performance and confidence improved. “We’re helping you figure out why you do things. Our job is to pull the track together for you in a more comprehensive, holistic way, so it becomes more of a fluid circuit.”

“There’s no secret sauce or special gene that enables a student to get good at performance driving. As an instructor you need to properly gauge a driver’s skills. Then you form a strategy that fits them.” Just as important, you need to communicate to a driver in a language they can understand – their language, not necessarily your own.

On the track, ProFormance instructors give you the “how.” Off-track, coaches like Mirko Freguia give you the “why.” A lot of satisfied clients will tell you it’s a winning combination.