How Age Affects Speed - Article

Interesting article about how motivations of drivers change as they get older and how they want to learn.
Give it a read and then come back and share your thoughts. @Eric_Gunderson and @tjkoyen came to mind right away when I thought about this one.

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Interesting. I agree with much of what he says. The highest limiting factor of age, to me, is that the consequences of injury have implications far beyond those that an ego-centric youth would experience.
I have no doubt that I could, with sufficient seat time, become legitimately quick in hotlapping. However, I seriously doubt I will ever be competitive in racing as the act of passing another driver entails risk, sometimes significant.
Physically, I can beat myself into submission and be able to withstand 15 full out laps. It’s hard, but that part I can do, still, (just barely).

(By egocentric I don’t mean selfish… I mean it on the id/ego way…, to imply that young folks are for obvious reasons self-centered ad they have no responsibilities to others yet, and thus more likely to partake in riskier behaviours. I am not saying the young are jerks… Now get off my lawn!)

This reinforces my thoughts about my own age. Started at 36. I’m in my 40’s now and consider myself competitive if I have seat time (i.e. putting in effort) unfortunately life and families get in the way of our sport as we get older. I have this discussion quite often with people in regards to how long it took my brain to develop to race fast. 2 years…which surprised me. How I gauged this is it took 2 years before I could put a kart around a track with 2 tenths a lap consistently and not think about driving. Another aspect that I noted early on with top drivers that I had the luck of picking there brains, was their ability to process the information from primary vision and periphery vision at the same time. We all think we can do it, but our brain switches from one to the other. Again this coincided with the 2 year window. This allowed me to never look down at the apex/competitor and look through the corner at all times…boom instant 7 tenths a lap, when I could do this comfortably-repeatedly.
So in short yes, we can do it at an older age, it just takes longer and more effort.
this a good Segway into me ranting about motorsport always focusing on the young and up and comers. My argument is who has more money and is happy to stay in one class of racing for some time, the 15 year old or the 50 year old? Motorsport seems to discourage older drivers from succeeding.

rant over :grin:

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I think I’ll need to read this article 3-4 times to really have a thorough comment on it.

I will say that after the first read, there are a few things mixed up together in here. I do tend to agree with the assertion that ‘drivers get worse with age’ is generally not always true…to a point. The biggest thing I liked about this article is the discussion of motivation. For some people, that last 1/10 of effort may not come to the fore, as they have already used it throughout their work week, in their home life, etc.

Shifting the definition of what ‘good’ means is also important. When you listen to a lot of experience professional drivers speak, they discuss a growing patience as they get older. So, while their raw pace may be slightly off, their ability to be in the right place at the right time in races is more consistent.

To become better at any task, one must practice, or exhibit an ability to think critically about their own abilities and find areas to improve. If you can’t put in the time, like many older drivers can’t, then the improvement or ‘leveling off’ of development sets in.

For me personally, I’ve found myself to still have the same instincts, but on occasion I can sure feel out of practice in the seat. What has surprised me has been my aggression when passing is much higher now than it was at a younger age.


I don’t agree with this bit…

“Adults are more apt to being impatient, distracted, feeling like they have “already put in the time”, and expecting immediate results.”

That sounds to me like the opposite of adult thinking. If life experience teaches you anything, it’s definitely the opposite of that statement.

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This article could be true or entirely false, and we have no way of knowing. There is no mention of any position taken in the article supported by any data, whether new or established. There are sports psychologists out there. Perhaps the author could have consulted one.

I’m sorry if that came off as a bit harsh. One of the things I find frustrating about karting is when statements about performance are backed up by what seems to be only anecdotal evidence. That practice doesn’t do the sport any justice and can give a false or confusing impression to a new karter. Rant off.

That’s a fair reason to rant, and honestly why the Kartpulse forums exist.

The trying to put knowledge and facts about karting part…not the ranting part.

Very interesting article that hits on a lot of topics.

From my experience, I know that as I’ve gotten older, I am definitely more risk-averse when driving. Well, I guess not risk-averse, but I’m more aware of the consequences of my on-track moves. For example, in the past few years my dad has been lamenting how I’m not “young dumb TJ” when I get stuck behind another driver. “Young Dumb TJ” was never an over-aggressive driver, but I definitely would chuck it down the inside more readily in certain situations. Now, I have a pretty good handle on what % of risk I’m taking with each overtake, so if it’s a high-risk, low-reward move, I just don’t make the move. When I was younger, I would make the move, bump pods and maybe get away with it, maybe not.

I’ve also noticed my confidence has gone WAY up since I was a teenager. Obviously as you get older and you mature, you start to lose some of those little insecurities (some of them stay!) and you are much more confident not only in life, but in your driving as well. This has helped me stay ultra-calm on the grid and during the race, whereas I used to be nauseous and anxious leading up to a session.

It all just changes how you approach a race I think. How often do we see juniors scrapping away to swap the lead every lap, or watch as 3rd and 4th place go tunnel-vision and dice away while the leaders drive off into the distance? While senior drivers calculate the race more and use their brains a little bit. As I’ve gotten older I feel like I’ve retained the pace (for now) I always had, but my racecraft has gone way above what it was before. I was always a bit cautious and generally a “thinking” driver, but now that I’m an adult and more confident/smarter, it’s just elevated my game, and the last 3-ish years of my racing have definitely been my most consistent, mistake-free, and best. I’ve never been the fastest driver, but I’ve always tried to be the smartest driver on-track and as I get older I think that’s more important than ever.

I think what it comes down to is maturity. Some kids are very mature and some adults are very immature, but the general trend would be that as you age you get more mature and your driving reflects that.

For the record, I’m only 26, but racing against kids almost half your age does make you feel pretty old.

Toward the end of this year and into next year, my goal has been to try and ignite a little more of that young-buck fire and get some Young Dumb TJ back into my driving style. My mantra for next year is “create chaos”, because that’s the only way I’ll be able to pull away from these kids who are .2 a lap faster than me every lap, and .5 a lap faster than me at the end of the race when my neck gives out and my head falls off.


Also, watch out for my new :fire: mixtape :fire: under the moniker “Yung Dumb TJ”