Thursday, 13 October 2011

Daytona 24 Hours preview

Saturday 15 October at midday. It's been in my diary - in the back of my mind - for six months. Now, with forty-four hours until the lights go green, I worry.

I worry that my training - delayed by a minor operation last month - is too little, too late. I worry about my teammates, two of whom are unknown to me. Will they be up to the task? Do they want to stand on the podium, to recapture past glories, as much as I do? Conversely, will I live up to their standards? Am I fit enough, quick enough, consistent enough, committed enough?

I worry about my shortage of track time in the 2-stroke DMax karts. Perhaps 80 laps in all; is it enough? Will it come back to haunt me in the early laps, or in the small hours when I'm running on caffeine and adrenalin? And I worry, a little, about the danger. About the thought of encountering a crashed kart on the racing line in the dead of night. At seventy miles an hour.

But in amongst the fretting, the vain attempt to ignore the elements out of my control, lurks a growing tingle of excitement. The chance to use my years of experience, my modicum of driving talent. The thrill of the race.

A 24 hour motor race is a supreme test of skill and stamina. But more than that, it's a million tiny details. It's making our five-man team gel so that we operate as a unit, making sure that everyone is happy, fed and rested. It's making the right strategy calls, being prepared for any eventuality and reacting decisively when the unexpected happens. It's accepting that, whatever we do, Fate is fickle.

To finish is an achievement; to win is a dream come true. For amateur racers like us, Daytona is the glittering prize. Come what may, it's going to be memorable.

Watch this space.

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