Looking Ahead Explained
Right, what you are going to learn today is what puts the magic into driving. It is also the key to completely hammering your lap times down, making kickass overtaking manoeuvres, slicing through back-markers like they're not even there, driving a perfect line, and trail braking like you're floating into corners. In other words how to become a driving GOD.
Sound good? Right let's spill the beans then. It's all about where you look, and what you allow to take your attention, it's about psychology and confidence and if you master it I guarantee you will be bloody quick.
I call it looking ahead, sounds daft because you already do that, so lets modify it, let's call it looking further ahead than you do already. The implications of doing this are huge, so I'm briefly going to explain how it works, then I will show you how to do it, step by step.
Have you ever noticed this effect, a kart has spun off in the next corner, you see it well in advance and as you watch the driver getting started again you find yourself actually driving towards him, like you're magnetically attracted. I did this once on a quick right hander, and ended up landing on my head in a corn field after clipping a stationary kart. This is because your movement naturally follows where you are looking, it's just something us humans do.
It's also why sometimes you find you fall into the rhythm of the kart you are following, you just follow them automatically.
What you need to do is take advantage of this mental effect with a clever little trick. Here it is:-
FOCUS ON WHERE YOU WANT TO GO, NOT ON SOMETHING YOU WANT TO AVOID.
For example, if someone spins in front of you, focus on the gap that you want to drive through, and ignore the spinning kart.
Now we can take this even further. If you focus your attention on where you want your kart to go at all times, ( the perfect turn in point, perfect apex and corner exit points ) you will find yourself naturally hitting perfect lines.
AND HERE'S THE IMPORTANT BIT
The further ahead you focus your attention the better you will drive. If you are focusing on where you need to be on the circuit way ahead of time you will force your subconscious mind to deal with whatever is going on right now, like small steering adjustments or releasing braking pressure because you're sliding too much. And when you leave your subconscious mind to do your driving something special happens.
You start to drive on autopilot, and you drive much quicker because your subconscious thought process is thousands of times faster than conscious thought, you will be making faster adjustments to steering and throttle and braking, and that translates to faster lap times.
This super sensitivity will make it possible for you to brake later and accelerate early, because you will be able to easily cope with trail braking (which we will deal with another time).
It also makes you feel fantastic, and you will be asking yourself questions like; 'how the hell did I catch that over steer so fast?' or you may feel like the world is in slow motion and that you can handle any situation. Your confidence will sky-rocket.
Another great benefit is that you will see overtaking opportunities almost before they happen, spotting where a driver is about to leave a gap for you, so that you are aiming for it even before he knows he is going to leave it! You really will start flying through the pack in heats and your starts are going to get a hell of a lot better.
This is how the worlds greatest ever race driver describes what I'm talking about:
“I am able to get to a level where I am ahead of myself; maybe a fifth of a second, who knows? When my car goes into a corner I am already at the apex”
Here is the technique and step by step how to learn it.
- Before you start driving make sure you have the right posture, sitting upright with your head held relatively high.
- Keep your head upright whilst driving, Nigel Mansell used to have a dirty great sticker across the top of his visor to force himself to keep his head upright. Keeping your head upright makes sure you are looking ahead.
- Look where you want you and the kart to go. You should notice yourself looking further around a corner than usual.
- Just before you start braking you should force yourself to focus on the apex, not your braking point (this is difficult but you can handle it, trust your subconscious inner race driver to know when to brake!)
- Once you have turned in, the exit of the corner should take your focus, not the apex anymore (again, trust yourself to hit the apex using subconscious processing)
- At the exit of the corner you should be preparing for the next braking zone
- Always be telling yourself not to worry where you are on the circuit, just keep focussing way ahead.
Unfortunately, for most drivers this is not an instinctive process. The usual process is for a driver to look for his braking point and hit it, then look for the apex and watch it until he passes it. Then he waits for his kart to hit the exit point, in this situation you feel like the kart is controlling you, and you are hanging on to it. Keep practicing, I promise it will pay off.
When you first practice looking further ahead you may feel like it's unnatural or you find yourself bouncing off kerbs because you cut corners. One driver told me that trying to look further ahead was ‘doin' his head in'. Well that's OK because you are having to consciously train yourself to look further ahead down the track or even around a corner, and that can be hard work.
But after a few sessions of say 10 laps you will train yourself to look further ahead than you thought possible, it will become second nature and that's when you will start experiencing a super-performance phenomenon called ‘flow'. Incidentally that driver who was ‘doin' his own head in' is the one who knocked 1.5 seconds off his lap time.
And that brings me conveniently to tomorrow's topic. Tomorrow you will learn how to enhance the mental state that will make your concentration levels during races absolutely invincible, and it also makes you feel like superman. I'd also like you to do me a favour, before tomorrow try to remember some occasions when you have felt like you were really in your groove, driving on autopilot. It will help you to understand the massive significance of tomorrow's lesson.