After I leased my first BMW I decided I wanted to find a way to improve my driving, but not the basics. This was about 7 years ago so I was around fifty. Just after I got my car I received a post card asking if I would like to test drive a BMW against a Lexus, Mercedes and a couple of other cars in comparable models. It would be on a race course in a safe area and I would have a race car driver sitting in the passenger seat next to me giving me guidance. I thought, ‘This is my chance!
I showed up early on a Saturday morning to a small course on a parking lot in downtown Baltimore. We went through a briefing and were paired with a professional driver who took us around the track 2-3 times in each of five vehicles, so there were 10-15 runs. We were to compare the cars and offer testimonials in exchange for the experience. No body asked us to weight our testimonials toward BMW, though I doubt any errant endorsements were used.
The track involved two wide turns and a hairpin turn. It was defined by cones that were very easy to see. Most were white except for the occasional orange cone. As I went around the track the first time, the driver explained to me that when I could see an orange cone on the track ahead I was to keep my eyes glued on it until I came out of my turn. It sounds simple but it was not easy to do.
Going into the hairpin turn, for example, the cone appeared directly to my left while there was still a good bit of track in front of me. I desperately wanted to look forward especially since my car was going much faster than I normally drove it. The professional driver was egging me on and shouting orders. “Step on the gas! Harder! Eyes on the cone! Eyes on the cone now!” The first few times I was unable to do it and invariably knocked some of the white cones over with sloppy driving.
It felt so counter-intuitive! I was afraid I would wreck the car, but the opposite kept happening – each time I failed to anchor my eyes on the orange cone I flew out of bounds sending white cones flying. The professional driver with great insistence told me I had to keep my eyes on where I wanted to go because that is where I would end up.
Finally I did it and sure enough I steered directly to where my gaze was fixed.
Keep your eyes on what you want. It’s so tempting to focus on what you don’t want or don’t like. Keep your eyes on what you want. That’s what you’ll end up with.
You can’t depend on your eyes when your imagination is out of focus.
– Mark Twain