If it feels different, it is different.

Racing has many useful phrases to help you commit useful information for quick retrieval. Even having a brain full of these doesn't make you invulnerable.

The reason this blog is called ByteShift is because I love technology as well as my cars. Combining the two brings me particular pleasure.

On Feb 12, 2014 I used one of my nine lives. The telemetry system in my car mapped a top speed of 186 kph, deceleration to 120 kph, wall impact, gain of 5 meters, drop of 10 meters, deceleration to 80 kph and final impact. I walked away and after several scans at the hospital was discharged. To describe the next three months as anything but wanting to sleep in was an understatement. The ole brain does not like getting juggled around that much.

Here's a picture from a week ago at a track day when I had the opportunity to walk the course, including visiting the spot in the wall where I went through and over for the first time. Easy to smile big in hindsight.

The reason was brake failure. No wait, the reason was not testing and checking. My telemetry showed near identical lap times for the last three laps, and this was of course my final lap. I'm cautious by nature, which I try to keep in mind and use that mindset to take calculated risks.

If it feels different it is different. Nothing felt different until it was too late. A 500 meter main straight, hard braking into a descending right turn, foot down and nothing. Repeat, repeat, downshift, thumbs out, relax, boom. I'd joined what they call the "Turn One Club".

A later analysis didn't show any broken brake components, the car had been mechanically qualified the day before. The theory was that a caliper didn't release on the penultimate turn, which boiled the fluid along those 500 meters. You're already running the vehicle to its limits, so it doesn't take much more.

That 500m where I wasn't generating signals to check for what's different became a lesson. Just happily accelerating. I learned from some of the saltier, more experienced pros on that track that they tap-check their brakes at a certain point. Sure enough, watching videos you can see some doing exactly that.

Detecting weak signals (a market & product design skill) is key to understanding where you need to go and what you need to do. I had all the telemetry (measurement) in the world, but I wasn't creating enough moments to get updated feedback. And that cost me.

I'd spent four years of weekends fully restoring this car.

I did all the things you're supposed to do afterwards - got back on the track, got back into a groove. My group of friends I raced with started tap-checking their brakes (at least for a while) at that particular spot. I continue to hit the track anytime I can and plan to rebuild my confidence.

I'm also a lot better at looking for weak signals and doing my best to take advantage of what I perceive to be coming across the horizon. This has made me better at home, in the garage, and professionally. 

Here's a partial view of what led up to the crumpling for those interested ...


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