Trade Secrets: The Race Car Driver

By Clancey Denis March 17, 2011 Published in the April 2011 issue of Seattle Met

DON KITCH JR. has raced in cars for 30 years, both as a professional driver and as a racing instructor, and in 1997 he founded Team Seattle, a crew of volunteer drivers who donate all their winnings—over $4.5 million to date—to Seattle Children’s Hospital. Oh yeah, they also race with Patrick Dempsey (you know, McDreamy, our city’s hunkiest fictional surgeon). But life on the track isn’t all good deeds and TV stars—endurance racing means up to 24 hours of driving at speeds that top out at 180 miles per hour. And donating everything you win may make you a good guy, but it doesn’t pay the bills. So Kitch runs ProFormance Racing School, where he teaches everyone from teens to cops the ways of the road—including tips on how to change lanes during rush hour on I-5.

• You know how you strain your neck to check behind you before you merge? Never turn your head that far—or take your eyes off the road in front of you for so long—that’s what a rearview mirror’s for.

• Blind spots are along the passenger- and driver-side doors. Positioned correctly, your side-view mirrors should allow you to see those spots with only a slight turn of your head.

• Best way to avoid a collision while you change lanes? High-aim vision. When most people look in front of them, their eye level is straight across their hood and they can only see the car directly in front of them. When you raise your line of sight, you can see not only the car in front of you but all the other action on the road.

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