Tuesday, May 17, 2011

Racing Lessons: #2 Hold Firmly but Loosely

120 mph seems pretty fast when you're sitting a few inches of the ground. I've never driven 120 mph before (I don't care what that Ohio State Patrolman said!).

And everything happens really quickly,too. That's how I learned lesson number 2. "Hold firmly but loosely."

I will say that instruction was not given in the "pre-race" (not that I was really racing!) instructions, but I remembered it from the few times I've ever driven a car "at speed" (including my old MG). Everything at speed is accelerated -- and not just the mph.

I relearned that when I was whipping through turn 2 the first time at maybe 80 or 90 mph. I realized, as I exited turn 1 and was accelerating to catch up to my lead car, that I was passing the G Stands, where I've sat at every race I've attended. I looked up to see if I could catch a glimpse of my "usual" seat and by the time I turned my head back around to look at the track in front of me, I was closing in quickly on the turn 2 wall. So I gave the steering wheel my usual Interstate 70 lane change effort and found myself changing the equivalent to 3 lanes!


The steering was ... um... sensitive. So I gripped the wheel tightly as I sped up to catch up to my leader and find the line through the turns. Every time I breathed or thought about sneezing, I moved up or down the track. As I crossed the yard of bricks for the first time, I realized I had a death grip on the steering wheel. So I took a deep breath, relaxed my grip a bit, and hit the accelerator as we moved through turn two.

As I remembered to hold the steering wheel firmly, but loosely, I found that the car was less "twitchy" and easier to steer -- and faster through the turns. And, at least to me, my track times picked up as I relaxed my grip on the wheel and guided the car along the line I wanted it to take.

Firm but loosely is another life lesson I've had a long time learning. I tend to hold on too tight to that which I love or am afraid of losing. And, in the process, I spin out of control and am in danger of crashing into a wall. That is true whether it is people in my life or the ineffable presence of the Divine. The tighter I hold, the more the smooth line of speed around the track eludes me. But when I relax my grip, holding the wheel firmly enough -- but just, then good things happen. The tires grip as they should because I'm not jerking the car all over the place with every breath. My relationships are not jerked all over the place. The presence of the Divine is not forced by my illusion of control.

The car rides the track smoothly as I allow the physics at work to ... um... work. And that includes my holding both firmly, but loosely.

-- Brent

1 comment:

Martin Kelley said...

120 mph?! You're a nut but we love you. :)