It's hard to imagine a more stressful environment than behind the wheel of a racecar, but for a driving pro like Townsend Bell, it has become second nature. Bell recently took on a new role of coaching rookies on how to improve on the track. Lexus invited a group of passionate auto-enthusiasts to Apex Motor Club where they were given a driving course with coaching from Bell. After completing the course, they were given a shot at taking the first-ever Lexus IS 500 F SPORT Performance around the track — competing against each other for the best time. The 14 attendees battled it out, and the winner was surprised with their own IS 500. The stakes were high, but they had Bell (along with Jack Hawksworth and Aaron Teltiz) to coach them each step of the way. We caught up with him to discuss what he has learned during his racing career and his top tips for driving under pressure.

man walking towards red lexus car

Tip #1: Rest

Townsend Bell: "A good night's sleep is absolutely critical. As much sleep as I can stack ahead of the race is crucial because there are going to be a lot of moments on the track where you'll need to dive into that extra store of sleep energy."

      Tip #2: Be Prepared

      TB: "Racing has a way of focusing your attention whether you are ready for it or not. For everyday driving under pressure, I think it's important to remember we never really know when the pressure is going to come, and from where, so driving with anticipation that anything can happen and being present is hugely important. When we are racing professionally, it happens by default. There is never a time that you are looking at the trees or daydreaming. The key is to expect the unexpected and be prepared — and if you are present and driving in that mindset, you are ahead of 99 percent of people on the road."

      red lexus car

      racers cheering

      Tip #3: Do Your Homework

      TB: "Practice, train, and really understand, the dynamics of the car. For the non-racer, the best way to do that is high-performance driver training. Lexus has a high-performance school that is really popular and a great way to improve confidence. When you learn the limits of a high-performance vehicle and then you get back on the street and everything slows down, everything feels less intimidating and you are so much better prepared because you've operated the car in a high-pressure, high-intensity environment. This makes the everyday occurrence of the unexpected so much less intimidating and you will respond more confidently."

      Tip #4: Know Your Limits

      TB: "When I have made mistakes under pressure, it's because typically I'm pushing too hard for an outcome that is not realistic for the situation. Like any sport, success is never about taking some huge chance. It's the result of a methodical approach and a lot of practice, training, and preparation."

      red lexus