Sitting in the car, engine running, start my prep. White helmet is in the passenger seat, white batting gloves and sunglasses on the center console. Glance at the three rows of cars in front. Second row has gaps left by the Grid Master as he snakes through the lines right to left then left to right, releasing cars one by one to head for the start. Dave is one of those about to start. I know because I see his co-driver standing in their empty grid spot.
Plenty of time. Watch one full breath. On the inhale a feeling flows from the nose down to fill the pit of the stomach. On the exhale it flows back to the spine and then up into the neck and brain. The eyes open more. Vision gets sharper.
Slide the seat forward and reposition the seat-back. Turn up the rearview so can’t be tempted to look behind to check for cone hits. Put right foot on the brake and check clutch engagement with the left. Slide the seat one more click. Watch one breath.
A fleeting thought: yesterday’s competition left me in fifth place, one behind my co-driver who has the last of the four trophy spots, the number of trophies being based on class count. Data makes me think I was driving a couple of features incorrectly. If I fix those mistakes maybe I can move up. First and second place have checked out. Both good drivers… unlikely to massively choke on day 2. Third? Longshot. I’m probably too far back. Watch one full breath. The car directly in front is released and heads for the start line.
Reach back for the seatbelt and put it on. Adjust the CG Lock to fully cinch down the lap belt. Helmet now, then gloves, then sunglasses. An older guy in a green and yellow safety vest shuffles directly in front of the car, stands looking across the grid. He turns and gives a “five” signal with his hand. Return it with a thumbs up. Four cars, then me.
No more thinking. Expand awareness outward, into the present moment. See it. Hear it. Feel it. Breath it. Go fast.
Co-driver stands right front corner. A moment ago he came to the window and said, “Numbers are set. Pressures are set. Go get it.”
Gridmaster approaches, looking down at his clipboard, then up to see how many cars are at the start line. No thoughts. Perception expands outward. Now, now, now there is only now. Co-driver starts pulling the blankets. Gridmaster motions me out. I wait for the double-tap to tell me the blankets are clear. Pull into the lane and turn left. See everything, now. Now. At the edge of the grid turn right and proceed toward the start. Stop in front of a young woman sitting on a stool with a barcode reader. Peak around the car positioned at the start to see down the course. That’s where I’m headed. See it. Hear it. Feel it. Breath it. Go Fast. A high-pitched beep tells me the code on the helmet is read. She says, “OK.”
The car in front revs, the rear tires spin then catch and it’s gone. My turn.
Creep up until the starter makes a chop with his hand. He stares at the cars on course, looking for any trouble.
The previous car is downfield now. Now. Press the throttle pedal and raise the engine revs up, stare outward, looking beyond the first two key cones. See it. Hear it. Feel it. Breath it. Go Fast.
The starter turns to me and says, “Go when ready.”
Leave the finish chute at a slow pace and glance over at the big timing board. Wow! Pretty good time. The announcer says I’m now 2nd.