You can’t get away from driving if you are anything short of a Super Spy.
James Bond is renowned for driving stylish performance cars. Cars featured in Bond films have become icons in their own rights. Most often than not it’s the driver not the gadgets or the vehicle’s performance that made all the excitement possible. In the movie “For your eyes only” Bond managed to drive himself out of trouble at the wheel of a Citroen 2CV.
My favourite Bond’s non-gadget driving performance was at the wheel of the white Lotus Esprit in “The spy who loved me”. Admitted the car turns into a submarine, but you have to concede that the driving that lead to that final escape was pure skills. Even in other spy genre such as the Bourne series, you’ll find smooth tactical driving at one point or another.
I thought I knew a lot about driving already. Like most teen of my age I have my license since I’m 16 years old and been driving ever since. So of course I thought I was pretty good at it. Turns out most of the stuff we are thought conventionally don’t apply the minute you get close to performance, stunts or tactical driving.
To get myself started properly on that topic I went and look for a car racing school nearby. This is a good starting point from which to build the extreme driving skills on to.
At the time I found several school all offering a diversity of options. From few laps performance experience to the whole racing curriculum using a variety of car models from formulas to high performance streetcars.
I ended up subscribing at Jim Russell Racing School. That was the best one available in my area and counted loads of very popular alumni. World-renowned drivers have started their careers learning from that school. The school proudly states “Breeding race drivers, race winners and champions since 1957” The list of names and their achievements is extensive and assorted. This was not cheap but certainly worth it.
I registered for the Introductory Level, 3 Days Techniques of Racing. This entitles you, once completed successfully, to register for a genuine Racing License.
The three days training format covers everything you need to know to race on a track. From day one to day three you are walked through the essentials, revisiting sitting positions; hand positions; heel and toe techniques, braking and downshifting and cornering. Reviewing all of it both in theory and practice plus loads of lapping sessions to anchor the knowledge deep in.
Needless to say that driving formula cars is really cool. Once you pass the effect of “Hey! I’m driving a formula race car yeah!” and get a grip of what racing is all about you get to realise unexpected things about yourself. Maybe it’s the fast pace, the ultra fast speed mixed with the extreme sensitivity of the car that gets
you there, it’s hard to explain but you get super alert. The practice of racing; Not only the acceleration, but also shifting, cornering, the proximity of other racers near you, near misses, wild accelerations and firm deceleration. Added the persistent pressure of other drivers trying to pass you aggressively looking for an opportunity, makes you wanting to push the limit, your limit, further, raising your adrenaline in the process. At one point, on the second lapping session, all of these feelings converged and made me ultra sensitive. You start to feel things through the car. The steering’s response, the sound of the engine, the workings of the transmission all of it. The car speaks to you in some strange ways.
This didn’t happen on day one. We all had to fix bad habits to begin with. “Instead of looking right in front of the hood keep your sight higher; you have to look far,” said our instructor. “This way you can see things coming before it’s too late. When you go very fast the patch of road directly in front of the car is unimportant. Anything that happens there, you can't react fast enough to do anything about it. “
"Look where you want to go. Not where you are going"
The uttermost important piece of advice ever: ”Look where you want to go. Not necessarily where you are going.” If you find yourself skidding out of control and while jostling the car back on track you look at the one obstacle in your way; you will get right in it. Look where you want to go. The same rule applies for your daily driving. A deer surprising you from the side will be hit if you stare at it. Habits die-hard but looking for a way out, a clear path is the best thing to do. This way your mind will make you go the right way.
You want to drive like Bond you have to understand there is a lot of calculated risk involved. But if you want to do it right take the course. You'll take the car sideways once you get your basics right.
Find and respect the limit. Loss of control in a proper Jason Bourne style pursuit means you're dead and will most likely take a bunch of bystanders with you. It's not an option.
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