Race Quotes

The darkness is calling. A little danger, a little risk. Feel your heart race. Listen to it. That’s the sound of being alive. It’s your time, Nick. Your one chance to have fun before it’s all stolen by them, the adults, with their cruelty and endless rules, their can’t-do-this, and can’t-do-that’s, their have-tos, and better-dos, their little boxes and cages all designed to break your spirit, to kill your magic.

Some critics of racing witlessly claim that spectators only attend to see someone die. This is utter and complete nonsense. I have been at numerous races where death is present. When a driver dies, the crowd symbolically dies, too. They come to see action at the brink: ultimate risk taking and the display of skill and bravery embodied in the sport’s immortals like Nuvolari, Foyt, and thousands of others who operate at the ragged edge.

I realize this is blasphemy, but a few weeks ago I tried to watch a NASCAR race being run at Talladega. I lasted about five minutes before terminal boredom overtook me. It appeared to be nothing more than a high-speed freeway commute–a mob of luridly painted, identical lumps of metal loping at 180 mph around the banking, fender to fender, nose to tail. Knowing the scenario would surely devolve into a multicar demolition derby that would thrill the goobers in the grandstands, I turned off the set to later learn that this time it was Jimmie Johnson who triggered the eight-car melee.

Unlike conventional jocks, who tend to sell aluminum siding and give canned speeches to parochial-school athletic banquets in the off-season, race drivers never shuck their image when they leave the stadium. They are supposed to be zany, nomadic soldiers of fortune who are involved in wild endeavors during every waking moment.

The window of X Factor opportunity opens up in the closing seconds of a race-you might be sprinting at the time or just hanging one, trying to get across the finish line. With a supreme act of will, you can prolong your effort, essentially fighting off the inevitable lactic acid shutdown. You’ll have little time for contemplating the options: either wholeheartedly go for it, or back off. You must train your X Factor to unequivocally respond the way you want-go for it. Once the window is closed, it’s closed forever.

The last great unknown, in terms of physiological training, is the optimum length of a piece. Is three minutes enough? Is ten minutes too much? No one knows. Perhaps someday the question will be answered-we’ll find out that thirteen minutes is the perfect length for a training piece when preparing for a 2000 meter race. Until then, coaches will continue exploring the whole scale, up and down, from thirty seconds to sixty minutes and more, in hopes of capturing the optimum time.

Nobody Beats Us! served as our main trigger… We practiced using trigger words, private verbal keys, which unlocked certain thoughts for us. We had a half-dozen phrases-some dealt with maintaining our technique, two dealt with maintaining our technique, two dealt with our stroke rating. The most powerful phrase was ‘Nobody Beats Us!’ According to our plan, when I said these words to Paul toward the end of the race, we would immediately shift into our final sprint, rowing as high and hard as possible, straight through, until we crossed the finish line.