Author’s Note: Today is the beginning of the offseason for 62.5% of the NFL teams. Thus, our offseason DFO #content begins! Stay tuned for a 2017 AFL Season Preview and many more surprises. Trust me, 2017 is going to be a great year! I can feel it.
I was born in Mexico City. Thus, by royal Spanish decree, I am bound to like cars and car racing. It’s in the blood. Much like an affinity for the Oakland Raiders and a predilection for insane women. There is nothing I can do about it.
So it is that I am a NASCAR fan. Not only that, I am a Kyle Busch fan.
Before you start swearing at me, though, please consider that there are many good things that you can learn from NASCAR. Many things that will make your teenagers better drivers and that can actually save their lives. Honestly, it did mine, as you’ll see below. In no particular order, here are the things you can learn by watching NASCAR that you can use on the road to become a better driver:
1- Momentum is King
Have you ever seen a car trail another car around the curve and then all of a sudden shoot quickly past the lead car? It’s not because the driver all of a sudden hit the gas and shifted gears like they do in the Fast and Furious movies (which piss me off to no end, but that’s a separate post). The reason is because the trailing driver picked a path that would give him/her the most momentum coming out of the turn.
You can see this in action here:
The outside car (Denny Hamlin #11) has a smooth path on the outside of the inside car (Kasey Kahne #5). Kasey cannot continue at the same speed else he will run into Hamlin, so he ends up fishtailing and losing all the momentum. Hamlin is able to make the pass.
This translates to the streets in that keeping a smooth line and not having to use the brakes is the best and FASTEST way to go. How do you do that? By looking very far ahead of your car and predicting where people will go/be. That way, you can make appropriate lane choices that will allow you to maintain speed and not have to slow down and start again. This will also help your fuel mileage.
Here is another great example of using momentum and proper lane choice to get away from everyone else:
2- Rubbin’ is racin’ = Use your car to protect yourself
A while back, I was involved in a car accident on the freeway at very high speeds. I was driving in the #2 lane (the second one from the left in case you didn’t know) and cruising at a respectable speed appropriate for the circumstances. Some idiot (probably drunk) came up behind me at what must have been at least 100 mph. For some stupid reason, he was in MY lane and didn’t realize I was right in front of him until he was almost on top of me.
He swerved quickly to the left into the #1 lane and shot past me. Unfortunately, that wasn’t the end of it. He lost control of his vehicle and shot back across the freeway to the right. I slowed down without slamming on the brakes as I had no idea where he was going and what he was doing. Sure enough, he came back across my face and bounced off the center divider and was headed straight toward my left side. I had already moved one lane to the right, but there was no way I was going to avoid him hitting me. So, what did I do? One of these:
As the guy was coming down on me, I steered into him so that the momentum would take him back across the freeway and away from me. Which is exactly what happened.
Had I not done that, he would have crashed into me and pushed me to the right and who knows where I would have ended up. Possibly dead. Seriously, I think this maneouver saved my life.
I kept driving straight and the guy finally stopped along the center divider. I pulled over calmly and called the cops. They were there surprisingly quick and took my full statement as to what happened. They purposely kept me away from the other car thinking that I wanted to kick the guy’s ass or something. Which, whatever, that’s what insurance is for. A new door and a new window, but at least I was safe.
Lesson to be learned here: Once you understand momentum and the role it plays in how a vehicle handles, use it to your advantage.
3- Slower cars defer to faster cars
This is a time-honored tradition in NASCAR. Slower cars move over to let the faster cars (or lead-lap cars) go. Perfect example right here:
#23 realizes that the leaders (and much faster trucks) were coming up behind him and got the hell out of the way.
DO NOT DO THE SPEED LIMIT IN THE MOTHERFUCKING LEFT LANE! The left lane is supposed to be for passing. Recall my story above. I was cruising in the #2 lane. Not the left lane. I kept that lane open so that anyone faster than me could go there. It’s common courtesy and, in that situation, it gave the other driver an out. Granted, I still got into an accident, but it would have been much worse to be rear-ended at high speeds if the other driver didn’t have a place to go.
4- Stay away from the pack
The Daytona 500 is known as the Super Bowl of NASCAR. It kicks off the season and is the biggest race of the season at the same time. It’s kinda weird that way. The thing that most people notice about the race (and the Talladega races) is what they call THE BIG ONE
As you can see in the gifs above, some drivers are just moving along driving normally when something happens to another car close to them, there is a chain reaction, and they get collected in the wreck. It doesn’t just happen at Talladega and Daytona, but those tracks result in the most spectacular wrecks and, since the speeds are so high there, the consequences are much deeper.
So, what can be learned from this? Well, the NASCAR teams have already learned that, if you don’t want to get caught in a wreck that will cost you a chance at winning a championship, it’s best to avoid the pack.
This is exactly what I do on the freeway. Many times, you will notice, there will be packs of cars traveling together with a stretch of open highway in between. Must be something about human nature or something. I always try to drive in that open space if I can do it. That way, other people’s mistakes have a lesser chance of affecting me. It’s good solid advice that very few people take. If your teenager can do it, it can hopefully also lead him/her to avoid doing what everyone else is doing and to be their own person. Which is, IMHO, a very good thing.
I hope this post has helped to give you some tips you can pass on and, maybe, pique your interest in NASCAR a wee tiny bit. The kickoff to the 2017 Monster Energy Cup NASCAR season starts on Saturday, February 18 with the Clash at Daytona and continues through the Daytona 500 on Sunday, February 26. It will be televised by Fox. The full season schedule is here.
If you won’t join me in my love of NASCAR, at least I know you’ll join me in the love of insane women. Sadly, there is no insurance for those…