My first time at a small autocross event was great, but what I remember most is how each lap felt a bit frantic. It was like I couldn’t keep up with what was going on. Fast forward years later and I had a chance to drive this Ferrari on a similar type of course. It was an even faster car but the experience was much calmer and fun.
What had I learned between those two experiences?
The secret was quite simple: we either react to the track as it unfolds, or we can anticipate the next step.
Driving by reaction leads to that frantic feeling, like you’re one step behind or trying to figure it out on the fly.
Anticipating your next step means you know the line you want to take, how the car behaves and where you are on the track. Knowing what to expect helps us drive much more smoothly and confidently.
If we don’t know what to expect going into the turn everything’s a split-second delayed. We might manage to keep the car on the track but our exit suffers.
When we are anticipating, we know the track and we know the corner. We spot our reference points early and accelerate as we track out.
In this mindset the only surprises come from other drivers. But even then we can observe and try to guess what others might do.
When racing we can’t anticipate everything perfectly but we greatly increase our chances if we put in the practice up front to learn the car and track.