SPRINTCAR racer Brooke Tatnell is a student of the sport and knows what is required to be elite.
"It's a dedication to a lifestyle," the three-time South West Conveyancing Grand Annual Sprintcar Classic winner told The Standard on the eve of the time-honoured race's 48th edition.
"You can read a textbook and it will teach you the basics but it's like anything - if you are going to cram for an exam and you only sit there and look at the textbook the night of, your results may be sub-par.
"Racing is very similar, if you're only going to put the effort in when you're in the car, your efforts are going to be sub-par. If you want to be successful in any form of business and motorsport, you have to eat, sleep and breathe it 24/7."
Tatnell, 48 and with 34 years' experience, said there were numerous aspects which made a driver stand out from the crowd.
Some facets, like reaction time and concentration, are vital once behind the wheel.
But most work is done off the track. Preparation is paramount, as is having a thorough knowledge of the machine.
"You've got to have a very good understanding of what makes a race car work and the only way you can learn that stuff is by putting in the hours and time," Tatnell said.
Tatnell also believes drivers need to flick a switch when the time comes to race which means pushing any thoughts - of friends, family, work or relationships - aside.
"If you've got little distractions here or there, you're not going to be successful at it," he said.
Fitness is now in vogue in sprintcar racing. For Tatnell, 100km bike rides with his wife Amy produced an unexpected advantage.
"When you're hunched over handle bars and you're riding a bike for that long it teaches you to control your breathing, to stay focused," he said.
"I never got into it for that reason but it was something I took away."
That approach - trying different techniques to maintain a high quality - drives Tatnell, an Australian who is based in America.
"We all go through the phases of crashing before you truly become successful and once you become successful you look at the mistakes you've made previously," he said.
"It's a continued evolution of evaluating yourself.
"We're in that process now, figuring out 'what do I need to change in my style to suit today's race cars, shocks, tyres."
Tatnell's beliefs reflect those of Warrnambool driver Jye O'Keeffe, who is trying to win his first classic.
"Commitment is number, attention to detail and you've got the be passionate," he said.
O'Keeffe, 28 and with five years' experience, said commitment on and off the track was crucial.
"Car preparation, doing your homework and working on areas you can be better and changing your ways (are important)," he said.
"Mainly just keeping an eye on the track and making the right changes to your car and you've got to be mentally right. You've got to zone everything else out."
Past Grand Annual Sprintcar Classic winner Corey McCullagh, who represents Warrnambool, said it was important drivers were willing to listen and learn.
"Absorbs what the good guys are doing and wants it bad," he said.
"Starting young and learning the craft in a go-kart bitumen or dirt is one of the most important parts."
Have you signed up to The Standard's daily newsletter and breaking news emails? You can register below and make sure you are up to date with everything that's happening in the south-west.