Tuesday, August 20, 2013

Ross Bentley's Instructor Series: #5 - Quit Lying

I am thrilled to share that world famous performance coach, race car driver, author, and speaker Ross Bentley has put together a series of instructor-focused articles exclusively for OneHotLap. Here is Part I - What It's All AboutPart II - What Happens When You Ask Questions?Part III - Integrate Classroom With On-track Instruction and Part IV - Watch What Your Body Says in case you missed them. And here is today's eye-opening Part V in the series --

#5 - Quit Lying
How can a driver like Dario Franchitti right-foot-brake and keep up with all the left-foot- brakers? Come on, tell me. Don't give me that confused look, just tell me how he does it.

It's at this point that many instructors do the worst thing they could ever possibly do. They make up an answer. Sure, it might be right. Then again, it might not.

Why would an instructor make up an answer when they don't know the real answer? Because their ego is getting in the way. As an instructor, many people think that you're supposed to be "all knowing." That could not be further from the truth.

If you do not know how to answer a student's question, do not B.S.  After admitting this is a good question or comment, suggest that you will find out and let them know. Then do that. You don’t have to know everything. Your students will learn from what you do know. The rest, you can figure out together.

The next time you’re asked a question by a student that you don't know the answer to, admit it, and then help them find out the answer. Of course, in doing so, you will have taught yourself at least two things: the answer to the question, and that you don’t know everything!

Ross Bentley

For more of Ross' writing, along with articles by other famous and not-so-famous contributors, go to www.speedsecretsweekly.com. He can be reached at ross@speedsecretsweekly.com.


  1. Why assume that instructors are egotistical a-holes? Some of us work hard and discuss things with our students. Insulting.

  2. My apologies. That last comment was as hasty and as critical as its subject. So here goes. This "tip" is not at all constructive or helpful. I have bought and read your books and you can do better. Please do not start with the premise that the instructor is a dick. Think back to long ago when you spent unpaid time in a passenger seat because you were either paying back the club that taught you or getting great satisfaction from seeing someone have fun and learn in the hobby that you've grown to enjoy. Then recall the times that you have been driven into the wall even though you had spent the last lap warning the student of his impending mistake. And then remember that you got back into the passenger seat minutes after climbing out of the bus.

    1. Mr Anonymous, I agree with Ross' suggestion to not make stuff up if one doesn't know the answer. I agree because I've experienced similar situations and understand why it may happen (making up an answer). I don't see where Ross is making an assumption nor over generalization that instructors have bad attitudes or inflated egos. I owned my own DE school, had an awesome volunteer coaching staff and happy paying participants.... but the situation Ross describes does happen and one would do well to heed his advice.
      I'm sure you're an exceptional DE instructor and if you ID'd youself your buddies and students would support that... Best, Rob

  3. It also depends on the group that you run with. Some groups are very rigid in their requirements to become and maintain instructor status. Others become instructors because they are in the club, regardless of their instructing experiences.

  4. After 10 years of HPDE instruction and double that as a check airman at a major airline, I think I know a little bit about instructing and a lot about bullshitting. And I know that in the cockpit, jet or car, there is no tolerance for ego getting in the way of decision making. The article was ignorant and insulting. I've bought my last Ross Bentley book.

  5. I have worked with Ross plenty of times and I think you failed to put the pantyhose on in this example. I work with many groups as a younger yet National championship instructor I am baffled at the amount of Bullshit Instructors will make up at 8am on the fly off their caffeine rushed nervous rookie drivers meetings. But lets leave the ego behind the wheel, while coaching and judgeing on the internet, Shutup and leave your 2 cents out (since your Anonymous quotes don't have the balls or brains to understand Ross.) Especially if you are just "Paying for your track time" trying to be an lousy instructor. Ross Please carry on with the honesty and tell it as it is. CK

  6. I have been instructing for 5 years (driving at the track and runways for 12) and I really care to see my students improve and I work very hard to help them. Even with this in mind, I have to admit that especially in my first couple of years of instructing, I always tried to answer my students' questions even when I did not know the answer. I hope I made it clear to them at the time that I was thinking out loud and did not necessarily know the answer but to students who look up to instructors, it's a lot more straightforward and honest to say "I don't know but I'll find out for you" Great tip! The entire Instructor Series so far has been brilliant and every time I read one of Ross' pieces, I light bulb goes off in my head.