Q: Do drivers talk about getting into an altered state?

Q: “What I’d like to ask you is, do drivers ever talk about the altered state of being while behind the wheel? I love it, it’s total focus, no drifting of thought, time is irrelevant, here/now/input/output blazing away. I like to think it’s getting in touch with Fight or Flight, eat or be eaten. 99.9999 percent of our lives is not in that realm, thankfully. But it feels so wonderful to pull into the paddock, drained, mentally and physically.”

A: Absolutely! That’s what drives us to do what we do, right? Constantly striving to get into the zone is the ultimate goal. I believe every driver experiences this state at some point, to some level, for some amount of time. For some, it’s a fleeting moment – perhaps a few corners only. For others, it’s a state they get into on a fairly regular basis.

Having trained, taught and coached drivers to get into the zone for decades, as well as studied what it takes to get there, I’ve learned a few things about it. First, I’ve never met a driver who claims they get into the zone every time they drive. Even the best – the World Champions – have “off” laps, sessions, and days. I think that’s one of the things that makes this state so worth it. If we lived our lives in the zone, it would become normal, and almost boring. As you say, “thankfully” we don’t live our entire lives in that “realm.”

It’s striving to get into the zone that makes it special. And activities like performance driving both triggers it more often, and rewards it. When in the zone, we perform at our best. Then we want to get back there again, like a drug addict needing another high. That’s where the “need for speed” comes from, right?

A factor (one of many) that can trigger a person getting into the zone is focus, and one thing that driving on a track does is make you focus! So performance driving can help us experience the zone more often than during other times in our lives. But there are many factors that cause you to get in the zone: a clear mental image of what you’re doing, a sense of being challenged while believing you can handle the challenge, the appropriate (for you) state of mind, confidence, and a brain that is integrated.

As you probably know, I have an eCourse (Inner Speed Secrets 201 – go to https://Learn.SpeedSecrets.com) designed specifically to help drivers get into the zone more often.

One final thought: getting into the zone or flow, this altered state you ask about, is something that you can get better at. It’s a skill, like most everything else. Knowing what triggers you getting into the zone is the first step, because what works for me may not work for you, and vice versa. However, there are some things that are common triggers for zone performances, things that are most likely going to help you get in the zone. And there are some things that contribute to you NOT getting in the zone. Obviously, knowing what they are will help you perform more consistently, as well. I wish I could list every trigger for the zone, and things that limit getting in the zone right here in this article, but it’s a big topic – too big for this article, and why I created Inner Speed Secrets 201 and provide coaching in this area. I want more drivers to experience more of this state of performance! It’s the greatest feeling in the world!


  1. Does altered state involve the adrenaline rush from driving? This article hit home when I remembered one of my first experiences coming out of the zone(?) and the adrenaline rush. It was a short (approx. 60 sec.) gymkhana/pylon course. After finished a run and moved my car away, I sat in the driver’s seat a moment, waiting for the adrenaline rush to subside, thinking how quiet it was – no thoughts about shift points or turn-in points and no audible inputs from my car such as engine RPM or tire noise. I remember thinking how surprised I felt at the quietness of that moment.

    • Kim – Getting in the zone is different for everyone, but the adrenaline rush is part of it for most. Too much rush and you won’t be in the zone, and not enough rush and you won’t, either. There is a balance that triggers it for drivers, and where on that balance is what’s different for each person. Identifying the amount of rush you need to get in the zone is one of the ways to help trigger it. If you can recall the amount of rush you felt before, during and immediately after being in the zone, and then try to recreate that level again, you’ll be more likely to get in the zone again. Isn’t it an amazing, fantastic feeling? That quietness of the moment is wonderful!

  2. I play online racing with simulator. Today I was in the zone. Usually my mind wonder, I loose focus. Not today, My qualif lap was the best I ever done, I also did a race without mistake. I was in altered mind state. This state is close to anxiety but without fear, it is close to fight state but without agressivity. Stress level is very high, the mind is obsessed, it really want to hit the apex and get out of the corner fast! That’s the only thing that matter. Time slow down, heart rate go up. Unfortunately I know an easy way to achieve this mental altered state. ADHD pills and tea and some relaxation. Withdrawal is terrible.


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