In Racing, Feelings Are For Wussies - SHAKEDOWN University

Uploaded by drive on 03.08.2012

I don't know whether it's the Olympic media coverage of the
athletes and those touchy-feely interviews of the
athletes with that sickening to me, "what are you feeling
at this moment" BS line of questioning or the discussion
I had at the Spa 24 about what to ask the drivers when I
interview them.
I think wanting me to go all Oprah on the bastards--
does this race change your life?
Or maybe it was reading Alex Lloyd's latest How to Drive
Fast article on, where in it, he got to the
root of his racing style, don't think, just drive.
All of that got me to today's topic, what should a racer
feel behind the wheel of a race car?
And I'm not talking about feeling the car as to its
handling, slip angles, et cetera, et cetera.
I'm talking about mindset.
What's going on in your head, your focus, your state of
mind, your emotional thinking?
Because while skill, equipment, team, and budget
all make a difference to winning or not, if your head
is not screwed on straight, all that stuff is useless.
And the money you spent on a helmet is a waste if we're
protecting a head full of wrong ideas.
Remember, racing is 90% mental, 60% talent,
50% car, 40% team.
That doesn't feel right.
Maybe it's more like 60% of the time
mental works every time.
That's it.

The more I think about this show, this really is a
Shakedown university.
And maybe one of the most valuable yet, if you really
want to go fast or at least understand what those racers
that are fast are really thinking.
Your state of mind in the race car can and will make all the
Your mental approach out of the race car, over the
weekend, counts big time too.
Your attitude preparing for the race also matters.
Confidence, focus, pressure, emotion.
These are the basics you have to control.
Manage your confidence.
100% focus.
Ignore the pressure.
There is no emotion.
Driving a race car requires such intense concentration,
you don't have any brain capacity left to feel anything
or enjoy the pretty colors.
If you do, you're not doing it right or going fast enough.
Well, that's it.
Thanks for tuning in.
I got more.
Let's discuss how you get to the right state of confidence
and focus, and why pressures, feelings, and emotions are bad
things in a race car.
Let's start with confidence.
There was an old school racer who would walk into the
drivers meeting and shout, "which one of you [BLEEP]
is going to finish second today?" Senna did the same
thing in his own way, but carried the same attitude and
Dale Earnhardt, Senior, too.
But guess what?
They earned it.
They proved it.
And no one doubts Vettel, Alonso, Kenny, Lewis, Jenson,
Sebastien Loeb, Allan McNish, Dario Franchitti and all the
other heavy hitters for having the same confident mindset
too, right?
Now the confidence you need to build on is a belief in you.
Now you've got to base it on something.
Thorough preparation, so you know you are ready.
Maybe past experience, where you know you've proven to
yourself that if you put your mind to something,
you will get done.
How about confidence in winning?
You've won something before, something, anything, maybe a
second grade poetry contest.
I don't give a [BLEEP].
You won then.
You can win here.
Or at the very least, you have confident faith in yourself,
that you know that you're going to be the type that
gives 100%, goes all out to try your hardest, to be the
best, to be a winner.
Simply stated, confidence is a state of determination.
And anything else is ego.
And ego is a bad emotion.
Next is focus.
I like going to races versus being in the business office,
because to drive a race car, you get to focus on
one thing at a time.
In work, my to-do list was a nightmare.
The multitasking never ended.
It was relaxing to me just to come to the race to just focus
on one thing at a time.
Break point, then apex, than track out.
Focus on carrying more speed here.
Watching that guy, what he's doing, so I
can pass him there.
Then, go sit with the engineer and focus just on set-up
Then go and do an interview.
One freaking task at a time.
Easier to focus.
But focus also creates room for two critical tasks--
alertness and situational awareness.
Getting yourself in touch with everything going on, with
everything going on around you in the race car.
Now this takes a lot of mental RAM space, no time for feeling
anything, no time for emotional interpretation.
You need to be grabbing all the inputs you can and
translating that into info that is helpful to make you go
fast and keep you on the racetrack.
Get it?
By the way, don't get defeated by the rookie sensation that
your situational awareness is all closed in.
Fight it.
As you get more comfortable, your horizons will open up.
You'll see what I mean as you develop as a racer.
Time to discuss pressure.
That's something you feel.
But here's the deal, you can't.
You've got to find a way to detach from it.
It does not exist.
Unless you're the type of athlete that feeds on it, you
know, the give me the ball, hit it to me type of guy.
Then bring it on, [BLEEP], because I feed on pressure and
will crush guys like you that can't.
I'm sorry.
Just don't let the emotion of pressure distract
you from the job.
And now let's talk emotion.
There is none.
You don't get mad at the guy that chopped
you in the last corner.
You just get past him.
You don't get excited about the win you're racing toward
during the race.
You win and then you get excited.
I'm telling you, it's as simple as all this.
But you know it's harder to do than say.
And that's the deal breaker.
You've got to find a way to detach, to compartmentalize,
to put yourself in the right state of mind.
Now some people go all spiritual and Zen.
Others turn to their friends, family, significant others.
And there are more than enough sports psychologists around.
Others just turn within themselves.
For this show, let me leave you at that.
Find out what works for you.
So that's it.
That's what I was taught.
What do you think?
Do you agree?
Or do you think you should drive a little more emotion to
make you drive harder?
Tell us what's on your mind.
Now let me end by breaking this mindset thing down over
the course of the race weekend, again as
was taught to me.
Real racers think about the racing and the upcoming race
all the time, visualizing the track, thinking about the
driving, working over set-up ideas, imagining the win.
Preparation is what helped me get more confident, having my
track notes done before we got to the race, having travel
organized so there's no crisis, no last minute drama,
no lost luggage, no surprises, no distractions.
All of it to create calm and to stay in control.
And when I got to the track, walking the track as soon as
possible, even sneaking in the night before, just to get into
my head right up front before the weekend started.
When you get dressed for the race, that's also organized.
And getting it done in good time, getting to the car
early, and having time alone just to focus on what you need
to think about before firing up the car.
Setting your mind on the tasks for the given session.
Are we working our set-up this session?
Is this qualifying, so I'm not racing?
I'm starting fifth.
What are these idiots around me like?
What's my race plan?
And in the car, breathing.
Senna made a big deal about that, to create
calm and self control.
And in the car, detach yourself from reality.
You know, I really used to think it was like someone else
was driving the car and I was just watching.
It wasn't me doing the job.
And I still have trouble watching the cars from the
outside versus in the car.
You know, the danger does not register when I'm in the car.
If I knew what I was doing, I couldn't do that.
So here's a story.
I was winning the race.
I wasn't thinking about the wind, just the tasks, one at a
time, each corner, one at a time.
If I did each task right, I knew they would all come
together to be the best end result.
Just focus on the tasks.
There was the white flag.
I was checking the mirror.
The guy's behind me, but he's a good distance back.
Just get this next turn right.
I've cleared the best spot for him to pass.
But I looked too long in the mirror and missed the break
point a little bit.
He lunged closer.
But there was no emotion.
I remembered the center rule.
At such a moment like that, center of the track to throw
off his momentum.
And it worked.
Focus, Leo, that's all I was thinking.
The rest of the lap went down as planned.
Then, the final corner.
Absolutely nailed it.
And it was only then, racing up the hill to the checkered
flag, did my leg completely start to shake.
The emotion of the moment started to take over my body.
It was the best feeling, but it was at the
right time in the race.
I spent a bit of time in this video referencing Senna.
So let me also remind you his McLaren race car is available
on Simraceway as part of their roll-out of the whole
collection of McLaren cars.
Senna's MP4/4, plus the 2012 F1 car is coming this week.
In fact all the F1 cars are available.
And the other McLarens, the M6 GT, and even the MP4-12C GT3,
the car we saw racing in Spa.
And the MP4-12C road car they let me drive on the Spa track
in a 30-minute session, with other exotic cars.
So go to and do the right thing.
And then come back here and watch our Spa video.
It's coming up sooner or later.