Receiving the checkered flag at the end of a race is an achievement itself

 

I’ll never forget that day, when I first experienced the intense and probably addictive state of mind that would become a massive influence in my life.
I’m not talking about some drug, I’m referring to the first day I drove a racing car and the level of excitement I experienced as I dared to push both myself and the car to the limits. Entering my first race at the age of fourteen, keeping my right foot glued to the accelerator was my only hope of being competitive against my much more experienced rivals. The high state of concentration and excitement was exhilarating reaching speeds of just over 220kph. Approaching a corner at such speeds can be daunting and trusting in yourself and your car is critical as any mistake could lead to you sliding off the track and into the barriers.

I have raced a fair amount of cars in my career but nothing can compare to a single seater, the sheer acceleration, grip levels and pin point steering is second to none. Placing your rear end a near five centimetres from the road surface and almost wedged into the surprisingly small cockpit can make any driver feel claustrophobic. The engine fires up and first gear is engaged, a distinct mechanical clunk as the cross cut gears find their placing. Balancing the clutch takes a bit of negotiation as it is either in or out. Exposed to the elements and the apparent responsiveness of the pedals and steering you can only dare to push the car to its limits. Climbing through the rev range feeling every bump and vibration through the cars chassis you become one with the car.

200kph is reached in remarkable time and the first corner is rapidly approaching, a different mindset is required to taking a corner in a single seater. The faster you go the more grip you have, not at all logical but made possible thanks to the remarkable aerodynamic set up of the cars wings and diffusers. Surprisingly, drivers are required to be relatively fit, both mentally and physically, enduring 2-3gs through corners and the extreme cockpit temperatures over long periods of time.

Receiving the checkered flag at the end of a race is an achievement itself, keeping the car right side up and mechanically sound is always a bonus, even if it has developed a knock knock. At 1 litre per lap AV Gas can become expensive let alone replacing a set of tyres every 200kms, but racing is a bug, and the only way to cure this “disease” is to feed it, that being said i have captivated your attention and will see you all at the next race meet! ~

Kevin Steenkamp