In a race the most dangerous time of all is the first lap, when the field is tightly packed. You have no option but to run wheel to wheel with all brands of crazies, and there’s precious little time to react to signs of trouble.
As the pack of up to fifty machines streams into the first corner at 200 mph, three or four wide, inches apart and jockeying for position, they are dangerously close. The varying inputs of man and machine ripple through the field as the speeds reduce unevenly in the braking zones. The drivers’ heart rates peak at over 180 beats per minute; turbo-charging the senses with adrenaline and oxygen to think fast.
Your eyes are on stalks searching for key indicators – a plume of dust as one car drops a wheel in the dirt, a screech of rubber, a puff of blue smoke from a locked tyre or the sudden convergence of two racers, any recognizable pattern that might lead to a collision – and you’re always mindful of what’s coming up behind you. It’s not a case of whether you might need to take evasive action, it’s a question of when and how much.
To cope with information overload and to reduce thinking time, racing drivers visualize things like the first lap many times over before the race begins. When you close your eyes, preferably not while driving, the link between the brain and the eyes is so powerful that you can still form crystal-clear images of real-life scenarios. This isn’t quite the same as dreaming, because you consciously control the scene. In the safety of your own synapses, you can rehearse how to handle complex situations as many times as you like until your responses start to feel instinctive.
This is a powerful model for conditioning your mind and another way of seeing into the future without even needing the keys to a DeLorean.