When talking about track driving the conversations are pretty predictable. They cover the numbers, the times, the broken parts, the trackside repairs, and the close calls.
The important part often gets left out – which is how bloody scary the whole thing is.
Turn 1 at Sebring International Raceway is comprised of 70 year old concrete, complete with expansion gaps, patched holes, and filled in aircraft tie-downs. At entry you’ll find no distinct marks or place that the turn starts- just miles of empty concrete – but you need to get turn in right or you will be in huge trouble very quickly. At the apex you’ll find a concrete barrier with a rusty catch fence on the inside, just outside your side window- instead of a colored curb and the grass run off area you’d expect. At the exit you’ll find a small patch of grass/mud followed by a car-eating tire and armco wall. There is a painted curb on the exit, which rises just enough to pool water on the track if it happens to rain.
This is one of the more forgiving turns on the track.
One lap I carried 78 miles per hour through turn 1. I was on line, everything went perfectly, car bouncing over the expansion gaps and tracking out exactly where it needed to, complete with the light hum of the tires on the curb at the exit.
It was absolutely terrifying.
One mile per hour more, and I would have been trying to avoid the dirt at the exit. Two feet earlier turn in on entry, and I would have taken my side view mirror off on the inside wall. There was no room for anything further; the lack of room for error was incredibly uncomfortable.
So I did it all again on the next lap.
That very uncomfort is why I went to Sebring, and why I’m going to another track this weekend.
Uncomfortable can become comfortable over time – therefore raising the bar and raising your personal capability. If you’re not scared, you’re not improving.
For best results, you must push. If there’s room for error, there’s room for improvement. If you aren’t challenging yourself, there’s no reason to be on track.
It’s important to remind ourselves of all of this. Uncomfort breeds improvement, and often the right or best decision in any given situation is almost always somehow uncomfortable.
This truth is directly transferable to the non-track world; if it’s finding the best way through Turn 1, or simply deciding what’s for dinner… ask yourself if it’s comfortable. If it is, you can probably do better.