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Winning Mindset

We pay a lot of money for our race tires, and we pay a lot of money to get a good engine. We buy brand new go-karts, and we still find ourselves finishing in the middle of the pack. We're now wondering to ourselves, "Well, we've got all the equipment, we are getting coaching, and we still can't move up the pack. What can it be?"

Well, a lot of it comes down to the mindset, how we are thinking, what we're stressing about, what we're confident in, and the drivers that we might be nervous when we're driving on the track with. Now, all these things, that inside noise, as a driver, you put your helmet on and it's only you now. You start your engine, and you are the one in control.

All that coaching, most likely has gone out the door because when there's 20 other people in your race and they're trying to carve you up on the first couple of laps, it's very hard to try and remember what that coach was saying to you. You've got to do a lot of your homework before you get to the track. You want to have that positive, winning mindset as we like to call it before you put that helmet on.

Then the first thing we want to try and touch on is if you don't believe in yourself, then no one else will. You need to have that confidence and that self-esteem to say, "You know what? I can do it." Not necessarily are we always looking to try and win, but winning for you, if you're in the mid-pack, is coming 10th place now instead of 15th. Or it might be setting a new personal best lap time.

As we're saying, winning is different for different people. But having those mini wins in your own ability is going forward. That's what we're trying to do when we're driving. We're trying to improve, set new benchmarks, set new goals, and achieve those personal bests. But when it comes to believing in yourself, you want to believe that there's no reason that if you have equipment that's capable, that you can go and do a reasonable job, you can do a good job out there.

Then when it came to me and leading into these big races, whether it was an Australian title race or it's a SKUSA SuperNats or a Rotax World Finals. It was more known that at the top end of racing, kart racing is no different to motor racing, if you have as good equipment as a guy next to you, then you really must back yourself in.

You really have to say that if a certain driver is braking at a certain point, there's no reason why I can't at least match that or just try and push it an extra 15 centimeters, for example. Or if this person's just clipping the curb, can I clip it a little bit more to shorten the racetrack? It's trying to tell yourself that if you can see other drivers doing it and there's no reason that you can't achieve it yourself.

The other thing that I was really good at was visualizing myself winning races. So, whether that was the night before a race, trying to reprogram myself driving the lap on the track. If I've already been to, say for example, Todd Road is our local track in Melbourne. I've raced there, I don't know 5,000 times. But the night before a race, I would just try and visualize myself driving that perfect lap. Knowing that if I drove a perfect lap and I believed that I was better than everyone else, that I would go and win the race.

I'm visualizing myself crossing the line first and celebrating that victory and having that emotion of what it feels like to win races. You start to think about those times and start to believe in yourself. That worked really good for me because when I start to put my helmet on, put my visor down, just visualizing those perfect laps, the winning culture, that was something that, when things got a bit tough and there was a few people trying to pass you on the first couple laps, you believe that no, no, you've got to get back to those marks. You know where to brake on this track, you know where to drive, you know which curbs to hit, you know where to pass.

Now, it doesn't always happen like that, but I would always go into a race thinking that I've got as good a chance of winning as anyone else. Now whether that meant I was starting first, I was starting 10th. There was a couple of races at Todd Road where I started outside the top 20. I started last in a Rotax Pro tour race. I think it was about 26th position and over the 20 lap race, I went and won the final.

It was that attitude of I do not care who's in front of me. If there's a gap, I'm going for it. As I said, I know that I'm faster than other drivers. I started at the back because of a mechanical error in the pre-final. I backed myself in no matter where I was on the track. And that's very, very important. But like I said, you need to visualize. You need to back yourself in. Then you need to visualize yourself going to do it.

Now, in any sport, the top end of the sport, those guys, they definitely believe they're better than everyone else in that competition. If you're looking at the way that Lewis Hamilton dresses when he goes to a Formula 1 race, he oozes that bit of confidence in himself. He wears his extravagant outfits, but he's going there knowing that he's in the spotlight. People are looking at what he's doing.

You look at basketball, the way they enter an arena with the big, loud music and stuff to really pump up those people. But then you can see the top athletes, LeBron James has his pre-game ritual where he throws his dust up into the air and he gets the crowd going, up and onto his side.

But you're looking at say, a mid-tier NBA basketball player, man, they must be seriously talented to just be in NBA. The athletic ability they have, the way they jump, and they can run. But if that mid-pack player doesn't believe that he's as good as LeBron James & and look, he obviously isn't or probably isn't, he's not going to get to that level because he doesn't believe he can do it. He's not going to take the shots that LeBron would take.

Or Lewis Hamilton's braking at the 50-meter mark, but the other guy doesn't have the confidence, he's going to brake at the 55-meter point. There's that five meter difference. It's just believing that you are better than the competition.

Same in any discipline, like I said, in sport. The way that Tiger Woods would have that mental edge over his competitors in golf. Now, that's a lot of concentration to have over a four- or five-hour round, to have every single shot and to have that pinpoint precision.

Other athletes against him, you could see like what's Tiger doing? Where's he on the leaderboard? If I were to hit a good shot or he just made a massive putt and then all of a sudden it puts the pressure back onto the other competitors. But you can see the way he struts to pick up the ball to go to the next tee box, he oozes that confidence, and he puts himself above his other competitors.

From a racing point of view, from a karting point of view, it's not showing that you're nervous going to a race. You want to walk with confidence going to the grid. And you want to have that body language is like, okay, I'm ready. I'm ready for battle here. Whatever you guys have got; I've got a little bit more in my back pocket. You want to try and have, yeah, like I say, that mental edge over your competitors if you want to really get that winning mindset going.

If you're already worried about what other drivers are going to do, then the chances are you're not going to reach your full potential. And your full potential might be good enough to beat us guys, beat them more experienced racers.

You want to believe that you can do it each time you hit the track. As I said, even if you're in that mid-pack, you want to set yourself those mini goals to try and achieve, to push yourself up to that winning mindset where you can be on the podium soon enough. Hopefully, that information has given you a little bit of an insight into what it takes to get to that top level of your sporting discipline. In our terms, it's kart racing.

If you guys want to know more about the winning mindset and how we can help kart racing drivers out, then we have our champions program. That's more dedicated to not just driving techniques and racing craft but is that mindset where we really dive deep into the visualization, the positivity, how to bounce back when things are going crap.

Because there's a lot of times in motorsport where a chain just comes off and you really lose your crap at the mechanics or your parents. We try and really discuss how you can bounce back from those mini hurdles and get back on the horse quickly and get back to winning races.

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