Banbury, Oxfordshire, UK - Sunday 9 November, 2014
David Brabham Blog: Winning Is In My Mind
I remember when I was a young boy, perhaps 12-14 years of age, sitting on a chair watching the cricket at my parent’s farm in Australia watching Australia v West Indies, my two favourite teams at the time. I was a big fan of cricket back then and I was absorbed in the game because I used to play it a lot, so I was feeling happy in one way, but not in another. Why the other? I had something hanging over me that was unsettling me and I remember it like it was yesterday.
I had convinced myself that I just wasn’t smart, a dumb kid who was just good at sports but nothing else. I felt pretty low, lonely, and lacked self-confidence, perhaps some of you can identify with those feelings? It was not a pleasant place to be in and I thought, what hope do I have if I am that stupid? I thought others were smarter and they would achieve greater things than I could.
Although I went to school to become smarter, I found taking in information and turning it into top academic marks difficult. I was one of those kids that would just do enough to pass, but not excel. If I had been marked for my sporting abilities I would have got straight A grades, as I used to play nearly every sport very well and loved every minute of pushing myself to new, undiscovered limits. If I had my time again, I would work a lot harder...!
What I didn’t know at the time, and I must say I am still learning now, is that we have been born with certain human tools that aren’t really highlighted and taught in our schools. Tools we learn as we go along our paths and keep discovering more about who we are and what we can achieve.
When I look back now and think of the amazing things I have discovered, learnt and achieved as a racing driver, I never dreamt in a million years that I could do all of that when I was sitting on that chair on the farm, but I later discovered that I was capable.
I also got to realise that life is full of infinite possibilities, but there are times we don’t always see it that way. It is still a bit of a mystery to science how these possibilities exist, but we have all gone down a path according to what we believe in our minds to be a dead end. But when we wake up and look at it differently we see that life has just shown us another way; that there is always another way.
Our untrained minds cause us some real inner pain, I know, I have been down that road many times before and still do sometimes. My mind has been in many places over the years, some which have felt like hell and some like I was in heaven, but I created those experiences, not anyone else. Every thought, feeling and emotion that has existed in my mind and body has been all self-generating, but it took a while for me to notice the effect that had in my life. It’s those feelings I’d like to share with you, to show how they affect my life and yours.
I think an easy way of understanding it is to detach yourself a bit and think of your life as if it was like a movie. You’re the director and so you chose your actors and actresses in your life, you plot the scenes you would like to see in your life and you live it out. Our ideal movie doesn’t always work out like that though does it? Sometimes the scenes are horrible and you wonder how the hell it all happened, you might blame other people for your problems or wonder how amazing life is. I don’t know enough about life to tell you how you can control everything that goes on, but I do know that we influence much more than we realise.
I really started to work with these tools during my Panoz days, as we had to dig really deep to beat the all-conquering Audis in the American Le Mans Series. I started to experiment with different mental techniques because I had to keep finding more performance and speed, to put the pressure on the Audi team and pounce when they slipped up.
It was at this time I really started to realise the power of the mind. For example, I used to visualise my qualifying lap using particular techniques, write down the lap time I was aiming for and give it to my engineer. When qualifying finished my engineer would look at the paper I’d given him and compare that time to my actual time and, well, it was scarily close…! This helped me to win three Le Mans in a row, the GT1 class in 2007 and 2008 for Aston Martin Racing and outright with Peugeot in 2009.
I also passed on this knowledge when I ran the UK’s MSA young driver development squads for six years, which helped to produce champion drivers. This knowledge is not easy to find, whether you are just starting out, an amateur or a pro driver.
With the Brabham Racing team’s planned return through the Project Brabham open source racing model and Brabham-Digital online platform, I hope to inspire drivers across the globe by giving them access to the tools and online training to become the ultimate racing driver.
Through our Brabham-Driver portal, I will share these mental / life skills and technical understanding that helped me to achieve my success and be a professional racing driver for 31 years. Knowing this information can really make the difference and when you are competing and looking for an edge, you will know what to do. You will also be able to see this through the Brabham Racing team and our team drivers, and through the Brabham-Digital portal, which will give a greater learning experience.
There is a lot to cover in Brabham-Driver, so watch out for more information about the application coming soon at www.brabham.co.uk