The Mental Game: Race Day Routine/Prep

One of the most important if not the most important aspect of drag racing is, your routine. Everything from pre-race rituals, to the time you’re called to the lanes to make a run and when you’re strapped in about to go down the track against your opponent is crucial. When you’re establishing your routine, you need to keep two basic things in mind. First, your routine needs to be rigid enough to be just that: a routine. By doing this we can hopefully accomplish a few things: 1.) do the same things for each run, in reference to your racing vehicle: maintain consistent engine temp, consistent trans temp, a consistent burnout, stage the car in the same manner each run, etc. And 2.) to achieve a state of comfortable, controlled and calm focus for each time you stage your car.

Your routine needs to become second nature to you, in the fact that you’re comfortable repeating the same steps and same motions each time you’re on the track. For me, and many driver’s it even goes as far as repeating little things you found yourself doing at a specific event. For example, if someone I was friends with watched me from the starting line round 1, they would need to come up each and every round after that to not break the routine. Or if I went to use the restroom when my class was called, I would do so each and every round. Subconsciously, it gets me race ready and comfortable and my routine, while flexible is so rigid it becomes robotic.

With comfort comes confidence. I am a firm believer that confidence in any sport or capacity is the number one factor to success. Having confidence helps to not only create focus but also drown out any fears or concerns about your skills, your car or the opponent you’re racing. Being that we need to achieve a state of acute focus for a very short time period, it is of the utmost importance to not let anything mentally throw you off your game or distract you from the task at hand.

So, to recap what we’ve discussed thus far, your routine needs to be rigid enough to be comfortable and familiar, to build confidence, and achieve focus. But on the other hand, needs to be flexible enough that nothing happening outside of your control, nothing your opponent does, nothing the track officials do or at the head of the staging lanes, has a negative effect on both your focus and routine.