Excerpts from the book “DRIVE TO WIN” by CARROLL SMITH
Racing Drivers are Risk Takers
There has never been a successful racing driver who did not possess a high degree of intelligence. The (non-racing) journalists who have propagated this particular old saw seem to feel that a person of normal imagination is just not going to allow himself to do anything that he, the journalist, considers to be abnormally dangerous. Again, rubbish! The racing driver, like the fighter pilot, the downhill skier, the rock climber, the policeman or the surgeon – has simply trained himself to block out counterproductive worry at times when it can serve no useful purpose. This is a trait that each of us should cultivate. On the other hand, all of these people get a real high from operating on the edge of fear. There is no doubt in my mind that the successful racing driver, like the successful fighter pilot, must be a risk taker – but the risks must be calculated ones.
Racing Drivers are Fearless
I don’t think that good drivers are fearless. There are people born without fear. They are, thankfully, rare, and they don’t last very long in this business. Courage is the ability to force yourself to do something that you know can well and truly frighten you. Since racing drivers frighten themselves to varying degrees on a daily basis, they possess courage by definition. The great ones have maybe a little more of it – an ability to push themselves just a little bit further – than the good ones. Determination, combined with discipline, is what enables one to drive the racing car to the limit of one’s ability, after one has just succeeded in well and truly frightening (or even injuring) one’s self. And those to me are the definitive words in describing the successful racing driver – discipline and determination.
Racing Drivers are Selfish
What is required is a level of discipline usually found only in Saints – which is admirable – together with a level of self confidence usually found only in very good con men – which is only partially admirable – and an inner selfishness that, in many ways, is not very admirable at all. In order to be successful at his chosen profession, the racing driver must be a truly selfish human being – willing to subordinate and sacrifice anything and anybody to further his career. The saving grace is that he must be at least as selfish with himself as with everyone else.
Whether through cause or effect, successful drivers are very hard men. Their friends and family who are new to racing sometimes have a lot of trouble understanding their single-minded behavior at the track – friends and family are left out of that part of their lives. The rests of us are fully aware of it; we joke about it all the time.
Reference: “DRIVE TO WIN” by CARROLL SMITH