Recently I’ve found myself in a huge mental fog, at least when my own driver development is concerned. For months, I’ve felt like I haven’t been improving much while my peers are moving on. In the meantime, I kept driving and practicing with the means that I have, but I’d felt like I’d hit a bit of a talent wall.
I decided that it was time to make some changes to see if I could make it over that next hurdle.
I started to go to the gym. I changed what I ate before autocross and karting. I read more books around the subject of improving driving technique. I was doing whatever I could, in the hopes that suddenly a *lightbulb* would switch on and lift me from this muggy feeling. However the harder that I tried, the more I felt like I was still regressing backwards.
Driving was starting to become more work and less fun. Seeing that improving my driving technique is my favorite hobby, this couldn’t continue. It’s not a problem that I could discuss with many people either, just because it can be a bit personal. Something was missing that had helped make my driving fun! It was something important, but I couldn’t figure out what it was.
Then I realized that I was missing my notebook…
This little black notebook started off as a basic driver’s log. When I first started autocrossing, I used it to take note of my driving habits. I would write down things that I learned while on course, in the hopes that I would be able to use them to improve my driving.
At first, I was intensely dedicated to writing in my log. That was because I was thinking about driving all the time. From when I ate and when I slept, I was thinking about driving. I wanted to know more about driving. Everytime I was in the car, I was looking for more to learn to write in my log. I’d write for hours, just mind-dumping everything I could into it.
My log went with me everywhere. I put it in the glovebox for anytime that the moment struck me to write about driving. Whenever I made a huge realization, it went into the log. My log was super-helpful in allowing me to focus my thoughts, prioritize what areas of my technique I wanted to work on that given day, or troubleshoot issues that I was having on the track.
Over the years, I did less writing in the log. For a while, I felt like I didn’t need it. I was repeating a lot of the same exercises over and over again, and it ended up on a shelf. However, when I did that, I didn’t realize at the time what an important tool that I was putting away.
So I went and recovered it. It was torn and a bit bent, but the pages were in good condition. I had the evening to myself, so I spent the evening reading through it. Over the night, I realized that I was reflecting over some of my most pure thoughts about driving. I could feel my enthusiasm in the words that I wrote. I could feel the amount of thought toward what I was doing, just by looking how much pressure I put on my pen towards the paper.
I flipped through page after page, until a page fell out of it…
This timesheet was from an indoor karting endurance race, from when I first started. 30 minutes long, the race only had five or six people in it, so I had plenty of track to myself. I had been struggling with my driving then too, and I remembered thinking that I wanted to use this race to just get a lot of seat time to practice.
I remember taking lap after lap as the minute ticked by, suddenly slipping into the zone. The laps continued to go by, and I forgot about what place I was in and I was really having fun. When the race had finished, I had gotten the timesheet and realized that I had ended up in the lead, and broken the track record!
Of course, as records do, the track record was broken again by another person. However, that night was special for me. It told me that I could do it. I could drive well by putting my mind to it. That I was capable…
So recently, I’ve started write more in my driver’s log. Not only does it help me keep my current thoughts in order, but it also helps to remind me what I’m capable of.