Motorsports is a mental game, too | Column

By J.G. Pasterjak
Jan 10, 2022 | Column | Posted in Columns | From the Feb. 2022 issue | Never miss an article

Our 2021 competition season–such that it is here in the sunny Southeast, where there are events 12 months out of the year–has come to a close. 

At least, that’s as far as “meaningful” events go. My final two events of some note were the Florida State Autocro…

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APEowner GRM+ Memberand SuperDork
1/10/22 11:02 a.m.

First off, I'm sorry about your loss of BeeGee.  It's never easy to loose a pet.

A huge part of Motorsports is mental and getting into the zone is critical to being able to perform at our best.   My race results have gotten worse since I became our clubs CDI.  Instructing others is helpful but I'm so busy on race weekends instructing and jumping from lead ca,r to right seat, to classroom that when I finally strap into my car for the feature I'm thinking of everything but my race.  It's generally two or three laps before I can finally focus on what's happening on the track.  By that time the field is spread out and there's no way to catch up with the pointy end of the field.  It doesn't help that I start dead last due to skipping practice and qualifying but I've done that in the past and I can usually dispatch that slow back half of the field in a lap or two when my head has been in the game .

One of the best books I've ever read on the mental part of Motorsports is Keith Codes The Soft Science of Road Racing Motorcycles.  My wife is a musician and we've found through discussion that a lot of the mental parts of racing are exactly the same as in music.  I haven't read it but it sounds like The Inner Game of Music by Barry Green and Timothy Gallwey could also apply directly to Motorsports.

Tom1200 UltraDork
1/10/22 12:54 p.m.

I like Motorsports specifically because it is a mental game.

Kieth Code books got me really in tune with the mental aspect of racing way back in the 80s when I road raced motorcycles..................................I now use those techniques with students at track days.

I make no bones about being the ADD poster kid but one of the joys of an ADD brain is driving at speed seems normal, it also grabs your attention making it all the more easy to focus. A friend marvels at how I can be pin ponging off the walls out of the car yet laser focused in the car. Note autocross is a bit tougher as there are more distractions between runs, this is why I stay buckled in the car.

The mental aspect is also why I hate unreliable / cantankerous cars, no matter how fast they are, it's hard to focus when you're wondering if it's going to break. 

My son is now learning why I have everything ready to go a week in advance of a road race weekend and why I like to be at the track early. It's all about focus, I want nothing in the way mentally.


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