PITS: Part 1 of 2

It’s impossible to control everything on track so even the most careful drivers may find themselves in a bad situation from time to time. One of the most dangerous situations you may find yourself in happens right after an incident or almost-incident. Let’s call it Post-Incident Trauma Syndrome for the apropos acronym PITS.¬†What is PITS? Simply put, it’s losing your cool when bad shit happens. Here’s a recent incident at Road Atlanta from the perspective of the hittee and hitter.

PITS interferes with optimal driving. Maybe you missed a shift, passed under yellow, went 4 wheels off, spun off track, or hit someone. Or maybe the something almost happened. You may feel rage for being a victim, embarrassment for the part you played, fear in the uncertainty of what follows, or some mixture of these and other intense emotions. Racecar driving is a cerebral activity best executed in a state of alert detachment where the moments between observation, decision, and action are unencumbered by thoughts of survival, worry, pain, etc. When you’re “in the zone”, you see, hear, and feel everything around you without effort and are able to drive at your greatest ability. Intense emotions (and especially pain) shatter your serenity and focus your attention inward. In this state of PITS, you are more vulnerable to making driving errors.

This next clip is the same incident viewed from a car that witnessed the crash from behind. Keep watching after the initial contact at 0:43 for two reasons. First, the driver does an excellent job of slowing down to make sure he doesn’t get caught up in the aftermath. Second, at 1:07 you’ll see the hitter kick up a dust cloud as he completely misses the entry of T3. Luckily, it’s a safe place to go off track. The driver was in a state of PITS. Wisely, he recognized he had lost his cool and pitted his car shortly after.

What can you do about PITS? Check back next week for the exciting conclusion. Same bat time. Same bat channel. Nanna, nanna, nanna, nanna, nanna, nanna, na…