Drag Racing Under Pressure

You begin to sweat a few minor beads, and then the fluids start to accumulate. You are now sweating bullets as they say. Your face is dewy and moist, as are your armpits. Your blood pressure is skyrocketing, your nerves on alert. Your breathing is shallow and comes in short waves. Your body tenses as the autonomic system goes into high gear to keep you alive. It is defcon one. That is US army lingo for top level emergency readiness. Are we at war? No. You are about to enter a drag race.

While it isn’t always this hair-raising, drag racing can be at times when the stakes are high. You may have a particular opponent or rival you absolutely must beat. Or it is a semi-final or final competition. Or friends and family are watching and expect to see evidence of your regular boasting. Whatever the case, a little pressure is part of the story of the sport whether it is a home town last minute event or a professional speedway heat.

Drag racing exists on multiple levels in the UK and elsewhere, so it is hard to generalise. But trust me, pressure has its role. The type of driver that goes out for this enterprise loves the feeling described above. They love to feel that blood pumping vigorously—it’s part of the joy of being alive. And you can do it whenever you race!

If it gets out of control, and I have seen this happen, you jeopardize everyone involved. It is almost like a household pressure washer has sprayed you with fear. Some people have to give it up or get a grip. I don’t like to see a bloke walk away. It can be an ephemeral thing that never rears its ugly head again, or recurrent. If the latter is your case, there are coaches and strategies to help. Undue stress and anxiety should not be part of any sport at any time in a negative way where it interferes with your ability to perform and enjoy your experience.

I don’t want to talk you into such high level pressure, just to explain that it can happen now and then. When it is minimal, you can just pass it off as light nerves–or use it to gain and edge. Some people need a mild amount to excel. That’s normal. But when it comes to real destructive pressure that has turned into dread and fear, it is something that needs to be pruned from your head asap. Thus, you must recognise the difference of degrees and handle it accordingly as best you can.

Drag racing is one of the most exciting activities I can think of undertaking and I wouldn’t ever want to deter a new participant or spectator. Pressure is just something we don’t often discuss, and it could be of help for some. Recognizing it and talking to others will reveal its prevalence. You will soon see how others cope. And they do.