coaching & appearances
|Pobst Position: Intimidator, or Terrorist?
Pobst Position: Intimidator
Okay, sit down everybody, this shtick's about to get heavy. On 9/11, a suicidal cadre of extremists hijacked several jetliners, using them to damage, destroy, and ultimately, create fear. They were attempting to achieve their goals with desperate, shocking brutality. Send a clear signal that the limits of human civility no longer apply. By shattering the foundations of the simple daily security of life in our world, to create terror.
In the microcosm of my racing world, the effect was the same.
It was early in a long endurance race, and I was racing hard for the lead and televised glory. My team's instructions: "Lead as long as you can, do not hurt the car." In several instances, I moved inside to protect the line, repassed for the lead, and ran two-wide, never touching, eventually pulling out a nice lead as my competitor faded. This was just how I planned it. To intimidate, to make him run his tires off.
Back in the pits, I was exhilarated. I felt like it was a great race and an exciting show for the fans, a job well done. As I heard through the grapevine a few days later, the other guy was not so pleased, and was planning to take me out, and I don't mean for a whole-wheat veggie pizza (uh,oh).
I'm thinking, he's got no right. We never touched, and it was for the lead, not some back marker getting in the way (now that would burn me up). Probably just some half-baked rumor.
So I call, no answers. Leave messages, no replies. Find him in the paddock next race. Two terse terms, "I'm busy." Looks like the rumor is accurate.
I warn my teams, one in the big race, one in the little race, "This guys out to get me, I'm just gonna race."
In the little race, near the end, I see a car limping ahead. One of the team cars of my nemesis. I'm running a decent fourth, and he's off to the side, so I cruise by... BAM! Car control exercise! I'm major sideways in this 100 MPH sweeper. He slips by as I do a slide that would top any SCCA Drift competition today, and just barely keep it on the track and get straightened out.
(Y'know, in today's legal climate, it sometimes amazes me that we still can do this sport we love. It is one of the last places where one can commit assault with a deadly weapon and get away with it.)
Now, I'm behind him. Hmmm. Should I punt this turkey into the gravel trap? Lessee. I'm fourth, no real harm done, let's forget him, better still. I drive by... Boom! Again! Now I'm his brakes for the next corner. Do I feel like someone's prison wife, or what? Geez! One more car control exercise later, we do manage to bring it in fourth, feeling attacked and abused.
The tense discussion after the race was fruitless. Reasoning discourse is no match for naked aggression, in the short run.
How do you choose to live your racing life? Racing is a sport. You want war? Sign up. There's one in Iraq waiting for you. By your choices and your actions, you create the world in which you live. What comes around, goes around. Live by the sword, die by the sword.
If you will put a competitor into the wall in anger, how then do you handle a conflict with your spouse? Your child? A black eye, a broken arm? It is moral and mature to control rage with patience and non-violence, at home and on the track.
Intimidation is a valid and often enjoyable part of competition, both creating it and warding it off, be it in racing, tennis, or Monopoly. Terrorism is threatening and inflicting harm well beyond the bounds of sport or civility. It is brutal, barbaric and casts a shadow on life in this world. It is hitting below the belt, a knife in the back. Sport is a hard fight to the end, and afterwards, the respect and handshake of a worthy opponent, win or lose. Where each rival is better for having had a challenging competition, the tougher the better.
Early last year, I had a two-hour Porsche battle with a man I did not yet know well, Jean-Francois Dumoulin. I kne