2011-06-01

A license to race 2

Long story short, I have a full racing license now. Another three races, and I will be taking those orange letters "R" off my car.

This post is not going to be an epic tale of great deeds and derps. I want to use this time to look back at how I got to this milestone.

A little over a year ago, I walked into my first drivers' meeting at Thunderhill. I remember Barry Hartzel asking who of us in the beginner group wanted to become a racer, and me raising my hand with a few others in the room.

Had Barry asked me that day when I thought my first race would be, even in my wildest dreams I wouldn't have guessed that the correct answer was eleven months. Exactly twelve months after my first track weekend, I was holding my full competition license in my hands.

A year later, I must admit that the physical aspect of driving was the easier thing to learn and master: inputs at the wheel and the pedals, threshold-, trail-, and left-foot braking, general car control. The mental part is what I find to be truly challenging: overcoming the fear of going outside the comfort zone, learning to focus on the right things at the right time, and plotting out your line a few turns ahead.

I have run five races now, and in each race, I was turning the slowest laps of the entire field. However, in almost every race I managed to finish ahead of at least one car. Though I intend to improve my lap times, the lesson I learned from this is that consistency and patience will get me further than pure speed, if I am not yet ready to operate on that level.

Racing has more in common with yoga and martial arts than you'd think, as all three demand full concentration and inner calm, paired with the ability to quiet your ego so it doesn't get in your way of performing at your best level.

I am certain that even as I improve and learn new tricks, racing will continue reminding me to remain humble on my journey up through the ranks.