Based in Washington, Ross is a general manager of a food safety company. His musings explore life, work and every moment in between.

Brakes Matter Most

Brakes Matter Most

On Saturday I went to driving school. Not your typical driving school, but a driving school to learn to race rally cars. Rally racing is not a traditional race around an oval circuit but a point to point race that takes place over long distances and the results are based on your time alone with nobody else on the track with you. The cars are modified to be great on any surface – pavement, dirt, gravel, or even snow. What makes rally cars so different is that there are many unpredictable corners in a rally race and the straight line speed and acceleration are not nearly as important as driving finesse. Keeping the car balanced is key. When accelerating, weight and center of gravity shift to the rear of the car reducing ability to steer. When braking, weight transfers to the front increasing the ability to steer. Both inputs affect how the car is balanced. They key to rally racing is keeping the car balanced through the tricky corners and ups and downs. In fact, the brakes in a rally car are the most important part – they are the part you use to shift that balance forward and to steer.

This has a lot in common with life and work. Many times our focus on acceleration, of doing more things, seeing more people, trying to do more tasks can leave us distracted, unfocused and can affect our balance. In reality, it’s the things that we pump the brakes on, decide to say no, and slow down enough to pick the right way forward that matter the most. If acceleration is left unchecked, the path chosen will be lost.

P.S. Here’s a photo of me and the car:

Know thy enemy. But not that well.

Post-Mortem, Pre-Examination