Guest Editorial: BJ Bianchi & Manny Sousa
We would like to take a second to thank Luke for this opportunity. Luke and the TIBR staff have a great thing going and we're thrilled to be able contribute. Now, before you call Luke and raise hell asking for a refund! We are not here to actually teach you "How to lose". Albeit, we could certainly teach that in detail! One thing that is certain in the world of bracket racing is that you ARE going to lose. A ton! What we are going to discuss is how to understand the reasons we lose and the excuses we throw around that take away from the fact that it simply is our fault. Let that sink in for a minute... You may not like to hear this, but it's the truth. How we deal with it can actually affect our mindset for future races. We're going to show you some examples of the best way to deal with losing. Sounds fun doesn't it?
Let's start with this common scenario. When we show up at the track, we should for all intents and purposes be bringing a racecar that is at peak performance. This may not always be the case due to finances, wear and tear etc. But we want our cars to, at the very least, be competitive and able to repeat or be predictable. Lets say Joe Mopar is racing his '76 Plymouth Scamp in footbrake. During time runs Joe Mopar makes two runs to a clip of 7.310 and a 7.272. Conditions were similar during both runs yet the E.T. difference indicates that the car isn't exactly tied to a number. First round arrives and again the track and air are comparible with his time runs. He decides to employ the 'dialer' method. Mr. Mopar dials a 7.26 against an opponent who is dialed a faster 6.73. He leaves with a solid .010 reaction. His opponent is .025. Clearly with a .015 advantage off the starting line, if the ole Scamp does it's job, Joe is a winner right? Unfortunately he runs a 7.288 and his opponent slips by him less than .013 for the win. Joe's buddy asks "what happened". Joe replies "the car let me down. I had the tree!" We've all seen this. Joe blames his racecar when in fact he should blame his strategy. It's an easy way out of accepting the loss and it wasn't really his fault. The "dialer" should not have been the stagtegy here. If he had chosen the "driver" strategy instead, he would have given his racecar a fighting chance. Lets not blame our racecars folks. Instead, lets look at what we could have done differently, and ultimately realize it's our fault!
Another issue that can bring out excuses to the nth degree is the track. If you have a car that is spinning or having inconsistent 60' times, before you raise hell about track conditions take a moment to watch some runs or talk to other racers about how the track is working. We've seen it too many times. Cars are going down the track fine and there is that one racer blaming the track for his issues. Recently at a local track we had an incident where the temperatures were very brisk. It was 50 degrees in the day (we're from Florida) and at night it dropped to 36 degrees. We all knew the forecast. It was cold and going to get colder. As the night progressed some of the faster cars were having issues getting down the track. The slower cars were getting down fine. In the top bulb class their were 4 door cars left and one dragster. Many of the drivers in the faster cars went to the tower to complain about the track (usually AFTER they lost) and at 5 cars the track called the race. All four door car drivers were trying to dispute the call by showing how their cars were repeating fine. The dragster driver agreed with the call. This decision was unfair to the slower cars. It was a perfect example of how the faster car isn't always the best weapon! Why did nobody complain until they lost? Was it just another excuse to lay blame on someone else? Think about it...If we know a particular track has a tendency to "go away" at night in cold weather and our chances of getting down cleanly are slim, yet we still try, and ultimately fail. Well, guess what? Wait for it...It's our fault!
Probably the most common excuse is the guy/girl in the other lane. Every racer has their routine and whether we agree with it or not, we have no control over it. Some racers are quick stagers, some refuse to go in first. Some like to double bulb you. Sometimes you run into that racer that likes to get as much track time as possible by taking their time backing up from a burnout, checking their gauges, tightening their belts etc. Thinking they are on TV or whatever, all the while you're pre staged and your temperature (both water and blood) is getting higher. When things like this bother you, you are never going to reach any level of success. Again, we have all seen it numerous times. Friend: "What happened" Racer: "He double bulbed me!" or "He rushed me". Really? Is that really what made us lose. A little tidbit for you. Don't let any of your competitors know this rattles you because if they find out they will do it every time. Composure and focus are key to running a successful program. The best in this sport have ice in their veins. They couldn't care less what their opponents are doing because they have a gameplan, and are fully intent on utilizing it. Can anyone really picture Cool Hand Luke losing a run, getting out of his Vega and telling his buddies that his opponent double bulbed him and "that's why I missed the tree"? Silly right? Well I assure you Luke has never made such an argument! Yet it happens folks! There isn't a single thing our opponent can do pre run (staging lanes to staged) that should affect the way we execute on track. If we allow this to disrupt our execution, Well, You guessed it. It's our fault!
To spin off the previous paragraph. I (BJ) would like to point out my favorite excuse. This is when racers blame the inferiority of another racer for their loss. I myself am guilty of this. This happens when we roll through the water with a very elaborate plan against a lesser opponent. Our opponent doesn't even look or care what we are doing! He or She is just happy to be there. Our very elaborate plan is spoiled by the win light in the OTHER lane! When asked what happened we'll throw around all sorts of reasons why that person shouldn't have beaten us. I myself will just call whomever it was a box of chocolates. Hell, I've even given them all the first name of Russel (Russel Stovers). Childish I know, but trust me when I tell you, this is the very reason were writing this column, we're all guilty of it! My personal all time favorite is "If that guy knew what he was doing I would've won!", Really? We blame our opponents simple game plan. Clearly he executed better than us and that's why we lost! Making it....Our fault! We need to do a better job of recognizing these particular racers and just simplify things a bit. This will hopefully help us execute better in these situations and turn the W light on!
One of the lesser used excuses is when we blame our own luck. This is equally detrimental in our ongoing practice as bracket racers. This is probably the most ridiculous excuse we've ever heard! Friend: "what happened on that run?" Racer: "I'm .002 on 6 and my man is .003 total. Can you believe my luck!" How many of you have said this before? The first thing we would like to point out is that bracket racing is a very humbling sport. The thing to focus on here is that we made a good run and executed our gameplan, whatever that may have been. Although it is very easy to want to blame our luck in this situation, we must maintain that we could have changed the outcome some way, some how. No, I'm not going to say we should have been better than 3 package. That guy/girl kicked our ass! We need to do a better job pulling in the lanes and/or setting ourselves up on the ladder.We say this as a joke sometimes, but in this case it's true. Yes, we just blamed ourselves for driving to lanes at the wrong time. Because why? It's our fault. Sometimes we experience various types of breakage, be it engine, tranny, rearend etc. The first thing we'll do is blame our terrible luck. Now, In some instances the most unexpected things can happen, but most of the time these failures are due to neglect. For example: Racer X wins on saturday night of a two day event. After winning the final, He hears what he thinks is a chipped tooth on the ring gear. Instead of checking to see what he heard Racer X decides to take part in some extracurricular activities. Sunday comes and first round Racer X shears the rest of the teeth off the gear! Of course Racer X immediately blames his ______ of ______ race car! Is it really the ring and pinion's fault? Absolutely not! Racer X is at fault here! We sort of have an ongoing theme here don't we? It's our fault!
The last issue we would like talk about has nothing to do with anything or anyone but ourselves. This is when we might bend the truth of a certain run to make it sound better to our friends. Have you ever done this? Ever had someone give you the rundown that just didn't add up? Some people twist the numbers in order cover up their mistakes. These racers tell us how the run went, making it seem that he made a great run but was beat by 00 dead on. We know a particular racer that everytime he loses, according to him, he's 00 take 00! Everytime? Were not buying it! More importantly he shouldn't shy away from the real reasons he loses. How many of us know racers who if they got there first by .003 tend to say "I TOOK .003" even though their opponent was down 5 mph. yet when they are behind .003 they "gave it back" every time. Isn't it possible their opponent TOOK .003 or got behind .003? Our point here is to be honest with ourselves and accept what really happened! When were .060 on the tree and our friends ask what happened, We need to man up and just say "I was 60".
We could go on and on with the crazy excuses we've heard over the years! Hopefully we have gotten our point across. Every time we lose, It's our fault. Every time we make an excuse or lay blame on something other than ourselves, we are limiting ourselves. We cannot possibly excel in anything if we constantly make excuses and believe them. We are all human and can't be perfect every time. But, be assured, admitting our mistakes allows us to learn from them. Why do we make excuses in the first place? More often than not it comes down to ego. Our ego's can be very detrimental to our learning curve. They won't let us believe that it might actually be our fault. Trust us when we say It's always our fault! So lets drop our ego, take the blame and start learning from our mistakes!