“I am a member of a team, and I rely on the team, I defer to it and sacrifice for it, because the team, not the individual, is the ultimate champion.” – Mia Hamm
I absolutely love racing Formula cars. There is an excitement and an adrenaline rush that is beyond most things I’ve ever experienced. Taking a car to 140 miles an hour only to slam on the brakes, drop a few gears and turn 90 degrees at 80 miles an hour is an indescribable feeling. It’s something I think you have to feel in order to understand.
This past weekend, I was competing in a couple of races at Road Atlanta. It was a pretty big deal to me. Why? It was my first time back to this track since my triple flip with a twist.
Yes, for those of you who are new here, it was quite the wreck. I got 10s from all the judges. You can check out the video if you’re brave enough in 5 Ways To Get Stronger/Smarter/Better After A High Speed Crash.
Getting back on the track was a little hairy. I had a lot of flashbacks every time I came up on slower traffic. But eventually, I had a Top Gun moment, snapped out of it and got back “in the game.” When I did, I began driving harder and faster than I ever have.
By the end of the weekend, I had dropped my time by 2 seconds over last year’s best time. Believe me. In racing, that’s a lot.
As my blood pressure began to fall back in range of a normal person, I began to think about how it was possible for me to overcome the fears of repeating a bad day, as well as dropping my time. The more I thought about it, the one answer overwhelmingly stood out. It was because of my team.
You see … I’m just a driver. I show up to the racetrack and my car has already been completely race prepped for me, so it can do turns at 100 miles an hour. The adjustment to my wing has been made to give me less down force. My gear shift has been adjusted to make it easier for me to shift gears under two G’s of force.
Everything that is needed to make me a better driver has already been completed by my mechanic Alex Stephens. Each time I pull into the pit, he makes sure my tire pressure has expanded correctly. When I get back to the truck, he preps the car with the right amount of oil, gas and other important things that don’t make sense to me.
In between track sessions, my crew chief, Terry Jinks, pulls all of the data from my car and we go over every turn. It usually ends in him saying, “Yeah, you should be over 100 in that turn. You can do it.” Then I get back out on the track and do 100 in “that turn.” Well …. eventually I do.
If it were left to me and all of my mechanical wisdom, I wouldn’t be doing very well as a race car driver. Instead, because of the incredibly talented team that I have, I’m able to do what I need to do every time I “fire it up.” Because of this team, I’m able to do something so dangerous and yet be so safe. There truly is no way for me to be where I am without them.
Question: How important is your team to you?