It’s an observation in the National Football League among players and especially Pro Bowlers that a fast brain develops a fast body.
In motorsports, it may take more than a fast brain and body. It takes a fast car, fast engine and fast parts as well.
But a fast brain and a superior mind, one that can quickly process the world—whether it’s on a football field or a racetrack—is essential to football and motorsports success.
ESPN and ABC IZOD IndyCar analysts Eddie Cheever and Scott Goodyear shared their thoughts on speedy brains when posed with a teleconference question.
Could you explain for a fan what hand-eye coordination and reaction time it takes for an open-wheel driver to race an IndyCar and especially to run an IndyCar at Indianapolis?
“I think the first thing when you're racing at IndyCar at those high speeds is you have to absorb and process a lot of information quickly, and you have to do it almost automatically,” Cheever said.
Both Cheever and Goodyear were accomplished open-wheel drivers. Their comments are enhanced by considerable experience.
“I hate to say it's as simple as this, but I found it automatic, almost easy to a point," Goodyear said. "When you are in the zone, I'm sure other players and other sports find this and other athletes I've talked to in other sports say this, the world is going by slow.”
Goodyear explained more about the feel of racing at Indianapolis.
“When you're running at Indy and you are in your prime of your career and the car is good and you are in the zone, you almost feel like you could step out of the car and run beside it," Goodyear said.
Cheever defined the urgency and reaction ability a driver needs to race in the Indianapolis 500.
“When you're the middle of the field and starting the race and turning into turn one and you're now 230 miles an hour, and the car isn't doing what it should be doing. Not only do you have to go through the process of keeping your car on the track and not spinning, you're also looking at 250, 300 yards ahead of yourself because you're going to be there shortly."
“And if something is wrong, you have to anticipate where you should place your car as all of this happens in front of you.”
Cheever summed up his analysis with his take on mental ability.
“So I don't really know if you can measure the physical attributes that are required, but I would say that eyesight is very good, very important. I would say that processing information that can be measured is very important. But above all, what I think you have to have is the mental endurance to keep putting up with abuse which will be thrown at you in the three-and-a-half hours that it takes to run the race."
“To do that and still be aware and angry and hungry and aggressive on those last 20 laps is not easy. It takes a lot of training.”
Goodyear expanded his thoughts about a helpful mental zone:
“As a race car driver when you're competing the rest of the world doesn't exist. You got up every day and all you thought of was your race car, and talking to your engineer and there wasn't a to-do list."
“When you get a little older, and there is a to-do list, and you put motor racing second, third, or fourth on your to-do list and you're going to take care of family issues, business issues or travel or something like that."
“That is when you need to not be driving a race car the length of a football field in less than a second.”
It seems that racing speed requires many facets of speed, human and mechanical.
FYI WIRZ is the select presentation of topics by Dwight Drum at Racetake.com. Unless otherwise noted, information and all quotes were obtained from personal interviews or official release materials provided by sanction and team representatives.