The Unfair Advantage
by Mark Donohue
McLaren M16 (USAQ)
Winning Indianapolis (After a Lot of Setbacks)
From Chapter 20 of the original edition of The Unfair Advantage:
"Driving at Indianapolis is like being guided down a corridor by some other force. I get to the end of the straightaway and then its my turn to do my own thing. I do certain things—lift the throttle, brake, turn the wheel. Nothing very fast. Nothing very violent. But everything very precise. Then the car does the rest of the work on its own. I don"t ever feel much braking or accelerating, because lateral forces are so much greater. As the car settles into the turn, the lateral forces rise gently to an extreme, then taper off gradually as the car comes out. When tires start working in a corner, the rubber heats up and becomes shiny. As they cool off in a straightaway, they become dull again. As I sit there and watch, the accelerator comes up, the suspension deflects, the steering wheel turns to the left, the suspension rolls, the tires become shiny, the outside wall comes up to meet me then goes away again as the car straightens out. Somehow it seems like I have plenty of time to watch all that. I know all the movements, so while the rest of me is driving the car, my eyes are like a movie camera. It"s like running the same reel over and over again, and watching myself do all these things from somewhere else. I don"t even see it as a car. I just seem to be part of a well-oiled machine. That"s the sensation that"s so thrilling to me—knowing that everything in the system is working exactly as it"s supposed to. And the longer I"m away from that, the harder it is to understand or describe it. Most people who have never been in that position will never understand it."