Purvis Driving Tips



Purvis Driving Tips
Clay Purvis


Be sure you race car is equipped with the best safety equipment you can buy. Make sure you fit the seat in your car. The safety harness is very important. But the most important thing is your helmet. I told Gene when he was looking at a $50 helmet, "If you got a $50 head, buy a $50 helmet ... for me, I wear the very best helmet Simpson makes.  I think a whole lot of my head and I want all the protection you can get if you happen to hit the wall at 200 miles per hour. I'm often asked about racing suits. Pick one that is made for the type racing you are doing. Fire is a frightening thing and you want as much protection from it as possible.

Practice Purvis-e-mail.JPG (17046 bytes)

It sounds kind of corny, but practice makes perfect in any sport.  I don't practice golf much and I can't play worth a darn. But I've been practicing racing since I was a teenager. Practice is never as much fun as racing to me. But if you don't practice,  if you can't drive the car in practice, then how in the heck are you going to line up with 30 to 40 other people who want do the same thing you want--win. Practice lets you learn your crew and your car. Race car drivers aren't just born ... the good ones practice racing from a very early age. When you are not out there every week, you lose your edge and you know deep down that the drivers who have been out there every week have learned a little something you don't know--that gives them an edge on race day.

 Equipment and set-up

The most important thing to winning is having good equipment and a race set-up in which you have confidence. Our Busch and Winston Cup teams fabricate most of the cars and do most of the set-up  these days. Drivers do very little of the actual work themselves. One of the key elements of our job is to communicate to the crew chief so he can translate the conversation in to a second or two faster. But as a beginner, you probably don't have a paid professional crew. So you have to do the work yourself.  I know, I've been there. I spent years running dirt tracks all over the country, doing nearly all the work myself. Even when I was running for the national dirt championship (Purvis won that three times), I worked hard on the car.  It is important that you learn every nut and bolt on the car. 

You must also know the rules...what you can do to the car and what you can't do to it.  Once you get a good baseline set up, measure and record every setting on the car. Then you have to practice and practice and practice. That's the only way to learn. It is critical that you record each change you make to the car and what effect the change had. No little thing is unimportant. 

When you get a setup in which you have confidence, have enough seat time to know what the car can or can't do, then you  can compete for the checkered flag. Few ill driving race cars win races regardless of the talent behind the wheel. And lots of good driving races cars win races despite the talent behind the wheel especially in those classes below Busch and Winston Cup.


Two things cost lots of money---racing and women. I haven't figured out which one of them is winning the race for number 1. My crew put a decal on the dash of my Busch car once that read, "If it's got boobs or wheels it costs lots of money and causes lots of trouble."  Boy, is that a true statement. 

 Everything about racing, if you do it well, costs money. I don't care if you are racing tricycles or Winston Cup cars.  It is not a game for the weak of heart or pocketbook. That's why it is very important you represent your sponsor well on and off the track. A good sponsor can help put lots of fun into racing. So always say good things about your sponsor. Always mention your sponsor name---if you are talking to your hometown Rotary Club or if you happen to be on national TV.  I'm reminded of a line from an old country song where a very poor mother is giving advice to her daughter "You be nice the gentlemen Candy, and they'll be nice to you." It works that way with sponsors too. Of course winning doesn't hurt either. Be sure to use your sponsor's products. I know Gene does a great job of that since Budweiser of Clarksville and Cookeville is his sponsor.


I never dreamed when I started racing on the dirt track in Clarksville, Tennessee that one day I would qualify a Winston Cup car for the Brickyard 400 in Indianapolis or be sitting on the pole for a Busch event at the Daytona Motor Speedway and would be driving cars at speeds close to 200 miles per hour. I've been racing for many, many  years and I've loved all the good times and I've survived the bad times. I've seen good friends die. There may be other things I would have changed in my life, but racing is not one of them. I've been blessed with a sport in which I can compete and one that gives me a great deal of pleasure. Not everyone is that lucky. 

One day I'd love to see my two children, Tom and Clay, drive-- if that is something they decide they want to do. I don't think anyone ought to be pushed into anything they don't want to do.

I guess the last tip is that if racing is something you want to do and it makes you happy... do it if you can afford it. But don't do anything at the expense of other commitments that you've already made. 

And as I told Gene the first night I watched him race,  to be successful all you need to do is hold it wide open, turn left and don't let anyone pass you. 

Happy racing.

Jeff Purvis