Last week I suggested I would monster everyone at a racing circuit Track Day. How did it go?
I arrived at Castle Combe and immediately realised (a) I was possibly the oldest driver there and (b) mine appeared to be the only unstripped, unchipped and unmodified car there. I was surrounded by Caterham 7s, quasi-sponsored trackday specials and even a Radical racing car. I knew I was toast.
But I really enjoyed myself. Although I was often a mobile chicane (except when I overtook a string of four slowly driven, identical Honda coupes) I was able to drive to ‘my’ max.
I discovered something apposite to life. Being the slowest (ish) car there by virtue in part of my being bog standard, I frequently found myself alone, which meant no-one was getting in my way, which in turn meant that I could perform without others influencing what I could and couldn’t do.
How often is that true? How often is what you are doing in terms of personal performance influenced or even impeded by the actions, inactions or rules created by others – and created in their interests rather than yours?
I’ll leave you to ponder that one, and then move on to suggesting that being ‘at the back and alone’ with no-one in your way may just be the best time to learn – about yourself, about your capabilities, and about your potential.
When unfettered, we can occasionally go further than we think. Like on track, we can focus forward rather than backwards. We can try things out and see what occurs, without the external critics that point out how ‘they could’ve done better’. We discover, for ourselves, where we can do better, where we have pushed too hard, where we make mistakes – and we tweak our self-expectations and behaviours with a view to overcoming or managing our former limitations.
I am confident that my next experience, in June, will show an improvement in terms of car control and speed management around a strange circuit – I’d visited last week’s on a prior occasion – and I’ll be willing to push a little harder.
Yes. Sometimes the tortoise beats the hare not because it’s smarter but because it took time to learn.
And I beat Top Gear Stig’s lap time. By four seconds. Admittedly he was in a Vauxhall Astra Diesel and I had a Focus ST but I’ll take the win.