Earlier this year while at a race, I found myself almost searching for excuses why I couldn’t go out and race that day. At the same time I knew that once I finally got out on track, the nervousness would have a way of disappearing as I entered into another world. For whatever reason on this day I was more nervous than normal, but why? A part of this stems from my personality type and the fact that I put too much pressure on myself. I kept telling myself that this is supposed to be about having fun and in reality, it doesn’t matter where I finish. I began attempting to view this from an outside perspective, which I recognize if you’re new to racing the following may even make this feeing I was having even stranger.
Dave, this is a track where you’ve won races at before, in fact, you’ve held the track record here. You’re doing something that you’ve always dreamed about doing – take the time to enjoy it! Don’t over-think things. Just go out and drive.
It all seems so simple and logical but do you actually get your brain to believe that?
I later mentioned to a friend that I was feeling nervous. He’s a guy whose won a national championship among other high level races, has quite a bit of experience and is confident about his own driving abilities. The response I was anticipating was something like “dude, just get over it and go race.” Instead he surprised me. He said that it’s totally normal to become nervous. In fact, people who say they don’t get nervous are either lying or are stupid. He even admitted to having some days of feeling “why am I doing this?” but went on to explain that as you gain more experience and confidence, what will happen is you’ll become better at managing those nerves.
Immediately this put me at ease knowing I wasn’t alone. At subsequent races I still became nervous, but I didn’t fight it as much and had much more control over these feelings. It’s normal to be nervous and there’s nothing wrong with this. In fact, it’s one of the aspects that makes racing such a thrill. I no longer view this as a weakness, rather I use it to my advantage and even laugh about it. All that said, I’ll still continue to bring a Pepto bottle with me to track just in case.