Fighting the first-time jitters

Fighting the first-time jitters

Mazda Motorsports

Fighting the first-time jitters


Mazda racers give you tips to curtail the nervousness of these nerve-racking occasions

We previously shared several tips from the pros on defeating pre-race jitters before a big event. Much of eliminating nervousness is by doing as much preparation as possible to boost confidence heading into the weekend. There’s a special case, though, for which preparations can be especially difficult, and thus one where it becomes much harder to remain calm and collected beforehand: your first. That could be your first autocross, your first road race after getting your competition license, or your first national-level event after competing at a local level.

These situations call for being as prepared as possible by watching video, doing simulation work or whatever else you can do to bolster your confidence. Ultimately, though, it’s going to come down to your own personal battle with nerves. Consequently, turned to several racers who have been there before in order to discover how they won the battle of nerves.

“My first Daytona 24 was in 2013 – I was 17-years old, in the Mazda6 Diesel GX car,” recounts Tristan Nunez, now driver of the No. 77 Mazda RT24-P in the IMSA WeatherTech SportsCar Championship. “At that point I was still just a young whippersnapper and didn’t fear anything. The pressure didn’t set in until later in my career once I had to pay bills and become an adult. It was then that the pressure sets in of having to perform. You want to do the best job for the brand because there are so many people behind the scenes putting a lot of money into the program. When you’re driving, you have the best job of everyone out there; it’s really the easiest part about racing. Being able to talk to your engineers, being able to provide valid feedback and improve the car, that’s where the pressure really sets in.”

And there’s the first lesson: Unless you’re a teenager who aspires to be a professional racer like Nunez and have your eyes set on that Mazda Road to 24 scholarship to race in Battery Tender® Global Mazda MX-5 Cup presented by BFGoodrich, you’re probably doing this for fun. The only expectations are the ones you put on yourself and, frankly, if you’re a rookie, no one is expecting you to do well anyway.

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