Performance & Race Driving Tip

Speed Secret: Focus your eyes – and your mind – where you want to go, not where you don’t want to go or where you are.

A number of years ago I was coaching a young driver competing in the Formula Atlantic series, and it seemed that he and another driver kept finding a way to run into each other practically every race. Over the course of a few events my driver, whom I’ll call Bill, began to focus on this fact. Before every race, I’d hear his comments about hoping not to get caught up with this other driver.

race-car-crashThe problem wasn’t that these two drivers had magnets in their cars, but that they kept focusing on each other. Yes, they had similar levels of driving skill, and therefore they tended to qualify close to each other. But then they’d start the race nose to tail or side by side, looking at the other. Even if they started a race a row apart, they’d find a way to look at each other and end up in a wreck together.

After a few races, I recognized where the problem was and helped Bill focus on where he wanted to go (through very specific communication over the radio), and the collisions stopped. Even I was surprised at how effective this was.

The problem is that we cannot not think about something. For example, right now, don’t think about a red car. I said don’t think about a red car. Don’t think about a red car!

What are you thinking about? A red car, right? Unless, of course, you had something that you could immediately switch your focus to, such as a blue car. But in the heat of the battle, while driving at speed on a race track, it’s very difficult to not think about something you shouldn’t. And just like when we look at something, what we think about is where we will aim.

So, when you hear the advice, “Look where you want to go,” apply it to your thinking as well. Think where you want to go. Focus your mind on where you want to go.

For Bill, it wasn’t so much that he was focusing his eyes on the other car as it was his mind was focused on it.

“The eyes are the window to the soul.” They’re also a window to the mind – it’s one of the ways information gets to your brain. What you put into your mind with your vision will be focused on mentally.

Check back here often for more tips and advice for performance drivers, race drivers, high performance driving instructors, and anyone else interested in learning to get around race tracks quickly.

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