Brad Burton Guest Editorial
DON’T BECOME PREDICTABLE
When it comes to drag racing, everyone has their own tactics and theories on the best way to get the win in a race. Whether it is dialing soft, spot dropping, or dialing hard to run it out the back door, everyone has their preferred method that they believe gives them the best chance to win. The problem, however, with having a “go-to’’ racing approach is that you end up becoming predictable and stuck doing what you are most comfortable with. When you become predictable that gives your opponent an advantage at knowing how you always race and they can plan accordingly. There is no perfect strategy when racing and each has their own set of downsides. If I know how you race, I am going to change my strategy in order to give me the best chance to win.
WHEN IN DOUBT, CREATE DOUBT
When racing an opponent, the single biggest enemy to any racer is doubt. Whether it is someone doubting their car, their dial, the track, or in some cases even doubting themself and their capability to beat you, doubt can mentally hurt anyone. This is where being able to change your racing style can help put doubt into your opponent’s head. For instance, if you are known to be a soft dialer, it could benefit you to dial honest occasionally. By doing this you may confuse your opponent in many different ways. They may think that they are seeing the weather or track differently than you. If you do not prefer to dial honest, there is also the strategy of changing your car to run something different than anyone expects. This is one of my favorite methods to use when trying to induce doubt into my opponent. I prefer to use weight, either putting it in or taking it out, because it is very quick, easy, and is also easy to dial off. On most cars, 10 lbs. is usually equal to 1 hundredth of a second. In certain instances, I will give the illusion that I am dialing honest for the weather conditions but in reality I just took out 50 lbs, meaning I should be holding about 5 hundredths. This will not only put doubt into my opponent’s head in the staging lanes but also when going down the track. This is a great strategy because with technology, the internet, and many people watching, you can find just about any information on your opponent including their reaction times and what they ran each pass. By throwing out weight or adding it, you now hold the upper hand as you are the only one that knows what you have done. This will confuse even the best racers and could give you the advantage in the race.
DO YOUR RESEARCH
When I find out who my opponent is, I immediately start doing my homework. I want to know what kind of lights they have had, what their times have been, what kind of racer they are, etc. I want to know more about my opponent than they know about themselves. This way when I get into the staging lanes, I already have a number in mind that they should put on their car given the type of racer they are. This is when my opponent can throw a curve ball at me and do something unexpected and be unpredictable. Doing your research has nothing to do with you changing your game plan; rather it’s you deciding if your opponent is playing games when putting a number on their car. If you decide they are pulling a fast one on you, you are best to ignore it and race your own race. Any time I am in eliminations, I want to feel like I own the race and I am in control. I want to dictate the decisions being made by being aggressive and by making my opponent feel like they are in my race. Any way you do this I believe is a big advantage and can ensure you are a step ahead of your opponent.
EXECUTE THE PLAN
When deciding that you want to do something different than your normal tactic, you have to make sure that you have a plan in place, and more importantly, you must execute the plan. I have often seen, including doing it myself countless times, people not executing what they had planned due to where their opponent is on the race track. For instance, you have done your homework and know that your opponent typically likes to hold. You decide to take out some weight giving the illusion that you are dialing honest. Your plan is to take your opponent to the MPH mark and drop him in order to try and break him out. No matter where your opponent is on the track you have to do what you planned on doing and never do a last second abort of your plan. People always abort their plan due to their opponent being in a different location on the race track then they had expected. When you abandon your plan, you throw out all the planning you had done and now are driving by the seat of your pants which is never good. You must have a plan for every situation and be able to execute accordingly. Try to run through each scenario of a race in your head while at your trailer and have a plan for each one. We spend on average 12 hours a day at a race track yet only see the track for maybe 5 minutes. Utilize that 11 hours and 55 minutes and be mentally prepared for your opponent - that way you can capitalize on the little time you are actually on the track.
No matter what racing style you have, you can be vulnerable by being predictable. If I know what you are going to do before you do it, then that gives me an upper hand. When approaching a race, make sure you are doing things differently and utilizing a plan that gives you the best chance to win. A drag race does not last long and there are a lot of mental complications that occur during the time you are waiting. If you are capable of getting in your opponent’s head by having plans that are unpredictable, you will have the upper hand. The two main things you want to be able to do in any race is to get into your opponent’s head creating doubt when possible, and dictating the race on the track with a plan you can execute to best of your ability. A good drag racer is a lot like a good quarterback; know your opponent’s weaknesses and plan to attack them where they are vulnerable. If you are capable of putting in the time and following this philosophy, you will find a lot more win lights turning on in your lane.
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