There's a saying in motorsports: "fast is slow; slow is fast." And while it's questionable advice for the actual technique of driving, it's still relevant for the driver's mindset. Actions that feel fast tend to be reactive — something happened and you were fast enough to catch it and respond. Like if you trip while walking and you catch yourself — it certainly takes a bunch of skill and experience to avoid a spill, but tripping and recovering still slowed you down.
By contrast, a feeling of slowness tends to accompany actions that don't even require a reaction. Maybe you predicted the problem and avoided it entirely — you saw that raised edge in the pavement and you adjusted your stride to walk right past it. When a driver has a feeling of slowness during the race, it often means that they're actually moving fast. They are relaxed and in control of the situation. Their actions are precise and proportionate. Deliberate.
But the specific memories that we retain about an event tend to center around the fast moments, and the slow periods tend to be compressed and forgotten. We anchor on the things that were exciting, and everything else fades away.
Which is unfortunate, because a good endurance race is more slow than fast. And the actual experience of an endurance race is influenced pretty heavily by what happens during those slow periods. It's the exciting moments that we remember, but it's the moments in between that guide our general sentiment when we think back on the race.
It's during those slow moments that we have a chance to pause. To ponder. To reflect. It's during those moments that we blink, stretch, and take in what's around us. Thunderhill has a pastoral beauty that mirrors the rolling farmlands and distant peaks that surround it. But the compulsion to stay hyper-focused on the race makes it easy to miss how the race fits into that larger context.
And those slow moments permeate the race, even amid the hustle and bustle of 25 hours of stress and anxiety. It might be a moment of tranquility during a lull in fueling practice…
Or the slow, deliberate process of cleaning the car and applying vinyl the morning before the race…
Or a trip to tech inspections once you finally have enough of the the kinks worked out.
One thing's for certain, though: focusing on the slow moments at the 25 will tell a different kind of story, but it should still be familiar. Last year, I talked about how the small details show you the big picture, and vice-versa. Likewise, the slow moments also give you a glimpse of what's just happened, and what's to come. Even though they might portray a moment of serenity, at the 25, those moments never seem to last long enough. The complete Moments In Between series: