To an outsider, a Formula One driver’s success rests entirely on their machinery. While there is some truth in this, other factors such as physical fitness and mental strength are also necessary for any driver competing at the highest level. But what if this wasn’t enough? What if there was something else that could make the difference between winning and finishing second?
Well there is. Most drivers will stumble upon this tiny extra boost at some point in their racing careers, but the problem is that ‘it’ is largely unexplained.
When a driver (or any sports person for that matter) claims to have reached “the zone”, they’re said to be engulfed by a sense of inner peace, were everything comes easy, bordering on invincibility. The effects range from bending time and space to out of body experiences.
Overdrive – Formula 1 in the Zone by Clyde Brolin (a non de plume?) focuses on this phenomenon and attempts to explain how a trip to “the zone” is more than just a cliché that is often spouted post-race by an overjoyed racing driver.
Beginning with Ayrton Senna’s infamous qualifying run for the 1988 Monaco Grand Prix, Overdrive takes the reader on a journey through the minds of some of the greatest sporting legends that are alive and present today.
A decade in the making, Brolin has managed to conduct a seriously impressive amount of interviews with a vast array of top flight drivers and sports folk who all recount experiences of entering the unfamiliar areas of the neurological and astrophysical. All without any reluctance through fear they may be seen as barking mad.
In practice, this means that every facet of information Brolin gives on the subject is cross-referenced by a quote from someone who has encountered the euphoria from being “in the zone.” As a result, a topic which would normally be seen as mumbo jumbo, becomes truly fascinating and easy to relate to, due in part to well-known drivers such as Lewis Hamilton and Fernando Alonso recalling their experiences and making it easy to digest.
Overdrive has clearly been a labour of love for the author and his passion for the subject shines through on every page. The full extent of this phenomenon is thoroughly examined, with no stone left unturned, but importantly, nor does it come to any conclusion on how one might be able to enter such territory at any given time.
You could complain that towards the end things become a little repetitive, but that would be missing the point a bit. As Brolin explains: “it hopefully shows this effect is available to everyone,” and you know what? He’s probably right. We as humans are capable of much more than we’re given credit for and we all have access to another level thanks to our subconscious.
Fascinating as it is thought provoking; Overdrive is no ordinary sports book. Such dedication and painstaking research in collating hundreds of descriptions on a topic that is mostly beyond words should be rewarded. So go buy it.
An essential purchase.