Speed Secrets: Pick Your Battles

Features, Racing I By Ross Bentley I October 27, 2020

When was the last time you were stuck behind cars on the track that you knew you were faster than? You had to fight tooth and nail to get ahead, but it wasn't enough. Stuck in mid-pack with a voice on the radio telling you to work harder and move up in the pack but, ugh! It was just arduous….

What was your passing strategy? In many cases, the drivers with whom I've worked did not pick their battles wisely. They were counting the spots they needed to make up, then attacking them, one competitor at a time. "I've got to get past this car and then I can work on the next. One spot at a time and I'll make my way to the front." But the "front" never came. The front didn't materialize because they were picking too many battles. Each car to pass is a small battle, and the effort became harder and harder with each battle.

This is not a very efficient or effective strategy. It might seem like it at the time, when we're in the heat of the battle, but it simply makes our work harder. When I've done this in a race or my coaching clients have done it, we were not thinking far enough ahead. Just as our physical vision needs to be well ahead of the car, our mental and strategic vision does, too. The further ahead we focus our eyes, the quicker we become. The same phenomenon works with passing competitors in front of us by using our mental and strategic vision.

Instead of picking the car directly in front of you to work to pass, pick a car, three or five cars ahead, and make that one your target. Focus your attention on passing them way up there. Keep your mental and physical vision processing that far ahead and the cars in between will start to fall away. You'll find that they simply become obstacles between you and your goal (instead of BEING the goal), and you actually get by them with much less effort. The ground you are looking to make up is five cars ahead, so your subconscious and conscious mind start to work out a solution to get you way up there. Everything in between becomes somewhat ancillary. You'll find that the most minor mistake by the driver directly in front of you becomes exponentially profitable toward meeting your longer-term goal of the car five cars ahead. By picking this larger battle, if you will, you'll get larger results.

As you approach your target (say they are now only two cars ahead), move your target. This keeps you striving for that larger goal, and removing as much effort from the strategy as possible.

Don't get me wrong; I'm not saying it's always going to be easy to get by those competitors directly in front of you. It will become easier, though,and you'll spend less physical and mental energy going by them, in a much more natural way. Those passes become by-products, not goals. They become "assumed" passes, which lead to more successful passes, with less effort.

So next time you're in the thick of things striving to get to the thin, clean air out in front, pick a battle that will move you forward with less effort. Do it by picking the battle that is way forward, so you can move… way forward.

If you need a rabbit, pick the best rabbit over the closest rabbit, and you'll become everyone else's rabbit.

Here's to your safe and successful race results!

– Chuck Hawks

Facebook: http://www.facebook.com/chuck.hawks

LinkedIn: www.linkedin.com/in/realitycheck

Twitter: @chuckhawks

Website: www.teendrivingsolutions.org

Exerpted from Ross Bentley’s Speed Secrets Weekly. For more tips and additional articles on the art and science of racing, click here to subscribe.

Also be sure to check out Ross Bentley's book, Ultimate Speed Secrets: The Complete Guide to High-Performance and Race Driving.


The Guide to Road Racing: Winding Road Magazine's ultimate guide to getting your start in racing.

Table of Contents

Related Articles

Hitchhiker’s Guide to Ferrari

Help the Ferrari enthusiast in your family get to know Enzo a little closer with this definitive biography by Luca Dal Monte. “Drawing on years…

November 22, 2023
Track-only Hyper Cars?

What’s your take? This is a beautiful example of what Hyper Car OEMs have to offer. “Tailored specifically for on-track driving, the [Bugatti] Bolide must…

November 22, 2023
BaT Find: Photoshoot with Larry Chen

The collaboration introduces an exclusive photo shoot experience with the highly acclaimed automotive photographer, Larry Chen.

November 13, 2023
Isotta Fraschini Unveils Street-Legal Le Mans Hypercar

Isotta Fraschini has surprised the automotive world by announcing the launch of the Tipo 6 LMH Strada – a street-legal Le Mans Hypercar.

November 13, 2023
Las Vegas GP: A Chilly Surprise in the Desert

Formula 1 seems to have overlooked a crucial element when scheduling the late fall Las Vegas GP – the biting cold of a desert night.

November 13, 2023


Get the latest driving and racing news straight to your inbox.

no thanks

Begin typing your search above and press return to search.