As I learn more and more about IndyCar racing, I find there's a large part of the sports that's mental. Sure you need great cars and skilled drivers, but there's a lot of the race that takes place inside the driver's own heads. Part of the mental game drivers seem to play on themselves are the pre-race rituals. Little actions, tasks or methods of doing things that drivers sometimes can feel they must do, or else bad things will happen. Here's a look at the different pre-race rituals practiced by some of the IZOD IndyCar series drivers:
Tony KanaanYeah, I have a couple. I lost a couple over the years. I had this lucky underwear, but it got old. I put my left shoe first, always. And I never wear anything new. So if I have a new drivers suit, a new helmet, a new glove, or a new sock. I would never put in on race day. It has to be worn either the day before or the race before. Those are the two. If I figure out there is something new, I will take it off and I put the old ones in.
James HinchcliffeYou know what, it's funny. I'm like superstitious about not being superstitious. Because I've found that if you always get in from the left side of the car, for example, and for whatever reason something happens and there's a bit of a rush and you just jump in from the right hand side of the car, the moment you realize you got in the wrong side of the car you're thinking about it. It's gonna be a bad session, I'm gonna make mistakes, I'm gonna crash. And you just might do that. It's such a mental game, motorsports. I try very hard to get in different sides of the car, I'll put my suit on first, I'll put my helmet on first. I'll do everything different every time. If I have a good session, I'll make sure I completely change it up the next time to make sure.
( I got a chance to hear from KW Racing's Tony Kanaan and Godaddy.com driver James Hinchcliffe about pre-race rituals when I attended a live webchat they gave at the Toyota Grand Prix of Long Beach. The chat was powered by translation tech company Ortsbo and was simultaneously translated into 53 different languages so fans around the world could participate, asking questions and seeing answers in their own language. They will have another global webchat in Sao Paulo with Hinch, along with Helio Castroneves and Ana Beatriz. )
Dario FranchittiIn a chat with ESPN.com, when asked if he has pre-race rituals, Franchitti answered: "No, no rituals. But with a lot of the races in my career, I tend to get ready in the same order. It just becomes that way. It just helps me focus and is a switch for the brain. "
Will PowerIn a chat with ESPN.com, Power revealed he always gets into his car from the left side. But, "It's not actually a ritual, its just something I do." said Power.
Katherine LeggeTrueCar driver Katherine Legge is also a left-side person. In an interview with sanjose.com, Legge said: "Everybody prepares for a race in their own way. I basically do the same things each time. I like to take the last hour before a race to prepare my helmet and focus on what I need to do in the race. I also, always get in the car from the left-hand side. I have done that since the beginning of my racing career and I don't really know why."
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A lifetime auto racing fan, Freddy Sherman collects vintage muscle cars and attends races and rally events in the U.S. and around the world. You can follow him on Twitter - @thefredsherman.
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