More High Speed Learning

Entering a corner with the tires at their ragged edge of grip, the surface of the tires tearing away as they slip, grip, slip, grip… sliding across the track… Wheel to wheel with the number 6 car… Both of us striving to be the fastest through this corner and begin accelerating before the other to gain an advantage…

Number 6 driver turns into the corner and fights his car to get it to follow the line he wants – the ideal, or perfect line. Yeah, that’s the line that should result in the higher speed, all right. But you’ve entered the corner one mile per hour too fast to make it work. You’re not going to be able to make the car follow that line at that speed. You’ve got a choice… and you’ve taken the choice I hoped you’d make. You took the choice that’s going to result in you slowing down your exit speed. Rookie!

Me, I’m on the same line and that same speed. The difference is I take the other choice. I decide that it’s best not to force the car to the perfect line. I decide that in doing that I’d actually slow the car down. So, instead I compromise. Instead, I let the car run free, run a little wide of the ideal line. But in doing so, I carry more momentum through the turn than you. Watch this, rookie!

Driving a race car is much like playing music, dancing, painting a picture, or playing any other sport. Or like many other things in life. In the beginning you follow the rules. You copy the masters, trying to match their brush strokes. You play by the book – the playbook. You do as you were told, as you were taught. You do everything you can to do every minute, subtle technique and skill as perfect as possible. You’re a rookie!

With experience you learn to adapt, though. You learn your own style, not the style of the masters. You learn to improvise.

Mastering any activity is all about compromises. Listen to a musical group that is totally in the zone and you won’t recognize if and when they make a mistake. Why? Because they are very good at making them. So good that they improvise and adapt so that no one even notices.

Driving a race car at the limit is all about compromise. The biggest difference between rookies – even experienced racers who don’t win often – and champions is that the champions are better at making mistakes. They’ve made many more mistakes. They are good at making mistakes. Meaning, they know how to minimize the effects of the mistakes. And they don’t fret them. They don’t try to force their cars to do something that will negatively impact them.

How does this apply to you?

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One Response to “More High Speed Learning”

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