What’s Really Driving Your Car?

Features, Racing I By Ross Bentley I April 23, 2019

What percentage of your driving is mental and what percentage is physical? Whether you're racing wheel-to-wheel, doing track days or driver education events, autocrossing, or whatever, how much of it is mental and how much physical?

Think about it. How much of being really good at performance driving is one or the other?

If you're like most drivers I talk to, your response would be, “Somewhere in the 80 to 95 percent range for the mental side” of performance driving. That's not to say that our sport doesn't require physical strength and endurance. But what it does say is that performance driving requires a lot of mental preparation, focus, and processing.

In fact, I can make the argument that performance driving is 100 percent mental, as your body does nothing without your brain telling it to.

I've spent years studying the mental game of performance driving from a sports psychology, human learning factors, kinesiology, and coaching perspective. Performance driving is a perfect laboratory! You try something different, you experiment, and within minutes (if not seconds), you know whether the change made things better or not. There are few activities where one can get feedback so quickly and learn as much and as fast as you can in performance driving. And that learning doesn't have to be all about driving, either.

In fact, I'd suggest that you can use performance driving as a test bed for all sorts of lessons; the lessons can apply to other areas of your life including business, relationships, playing music, other sports – just about anything.

Taking that just a step further, think about using performance driving to practice learning. Even more, consider your objective as not to drive faster, but to learn more. Learning is your objective. When you learn more, you go faster; when you go faster, you learn more; and so on. Oh, and learning that leads to being faster is just plain fun!

Too often I see drivers whose objective is simply to drive quicker, and with that as their focus they don't learn much. When they don't learn, they don't go faster. And that leads to frustration (and that’s not much fun).

Focus on learning. Ask yourself, "What did I learn in that session, on that lap, today, at this event…?" Make learning your objective. You may surprise yourself how learning makes you faster.


Ross Bentley

For more information about Ross’s tips, coaching, eCourses, newsletter, Virtual Track Walk videos, and other resources to help you drive at your best, go to www.SpeedSecrets.com

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

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