[Video] Play-By-Play of a Driver Being Launched From A Rental Kart

OUCH! I laughed probably harder that I should admit during parts of this.

Nice video and a solid shunt for sure. Hopefully he didn’t get whiplashed too badly.

There’s a fun trick I learned as a kid to demonstrate how long it takes for thought to become action.

Take a dollar bill, straighten it. Then, dangle it between a friends thumb and forefinger, in an open position. Challenge them to catch it by closing their fingers before the dollar slips by.

They can’t. As you raise the dollar a bit higher, they will be able. But, generally, if you dangle it such that the dollar bottom edge is within their fingers, it falls too quickly for them to react. It looks like it takes a tenth or so for electrical impulse from brain to reach finger. Foot To brain is further, so presumably even longer time to travel for the signal/impulse.

This is why in Karting you don’t want to be behind the kart, mentally. I describe that state as being in reactive mode. That makes it even harder to not be late. But yeah, blind corner here too, basically.

I hear what you are saying, but that’s why seat time is so important. To turn Reaction into Reflex. If we waited for our brains to receive and process everything going on then send a signal to our muscles to react, we will always be behind. It gets worse the faster your are moving (F1/Le Mans Prototype speeds). When you develop reflexes, your mind does not need to tell your muscles what to do, your muscles are already responding as you are perceiving it. That’s why all to top drivers do reaction training. To turn reactions into reflexes. On a basic level its like when your get over-steer and your natural reflex is to counter-steer and/or lift to keep your line. You did not have to think about it, you just did it. I have avoided countless incidents just from reflex. Two karts in front of me dicing it up, suddenly they make contact and one spins. I didn’t stop to think about which way I was going to go. My brain saw a gap and my body was already moving that direction.

Question. If my limbs are longer than yours, does that mean it takes longer for the signal to get to my hands and feet? :rofl:

That is a good question! It’s just a little trick I learned, but it seems to hold true, mostly. I base this on my extensive testing of my former childhood pals. None, however, were particularly long limbed. I would imagine, that an electrical impulse travels at a set speed, but I am just guessing.

I agree on the reaction into reflex thing. I really, really value the attentional side of driving and racing and think its 50% of the game, and the important half, at that. These reflexes you describe are complicated things. I think reflex is perhaps a limiting name for it, it still implies a reactive quality. I think those moments when you do something significant either anticipatively or reflexively are a glimpse into something deeper.

For sure. Sort like when you touch something hot. By the time your brain says ouch, your hand is already moving away. Like your hand knew what to do before your brain. Technically its still a reaction, but if you trained your muscles what to do in a given situation it becomes a reflex. You could liken it to a preprogrammed set of instructions for a given circumstance. Maybe its more about how your brain sends out the information to your muscles. Rather than sending multiple signals, it sends it all at once and shortens your reaction time. Just a theory. Maybe just the reptile brain trying to stay alive. Inner thoughts…Oh Sh#t, don’t crash! lol

Yah. The especially weird ones are the ones where your brain is trying to reverse a previous decision because your brain kicks in and says pull flaps. Reaching for the hot pan is a good example. How the heck do you begin to deconstruct that jumbled set of impulses and instructions without having a seizure? Yet we do.

Right. I can remember as a teenager working at a fast food joint. I dropped something into the fryer vat and instinctively reached in with my bare hand to grab it. It was so fast, my brain was screaming STOP, but my fingers were already in the hot oil. I jerked my hand back quickly and ran to the sink to drench it cool water. Not only did I retrieve what I dropped, but my hand was not burned either. I was extremely lucky and very foolish. Still not sure how I did not get burned. Cannot say I have tried it again. Mental box checked…do not thrust hand into hot oil. As for the hot pan, I have gotten in the habit of putting a mitt or a towel over the handle to remind me “ITS HOT”. Found out later its pretty common in restaurants for chefs/cooks to do the same. Warns unsuspecting others that pan is hot too.

Later on, I think my experience working on cars has somewhat toughened my skin. Too many instances of grabbing a Hot Oil Filter off a car that just drove in that I have either lost some sensation in my hands or more likely grown calluses that protect my nerves. Still hurts though, just not as bad.

Makes me think of this:

My $0.02 on this is… well first a couple of definitions from Google:

  • Reflex: Any response you have to a stimulus that is inherent (you are born with it), it is a reflex.
  • Reaction: A person’s ability to respond physically and mentally to external stimuli.
  • Muscle Memory: The ability to reproduce a particular movement without conscious thought, acquired as a result of frequent repetition of that movement.

To me, in the case of the drivers involved in the crash, it seems we are talking about reaction, because accident avoidance is not necessary something you are born with, and muscle memory seems to fit more for repetitive driving tasks (or sequences of tasks).

Anyway the key part about reaction is that to react quickly and well, you have to be able to attend to the important ‘stimuli’ available to you, and most importantly, you have to be able to quickly interpret what that stimuli means to you in the context of your current situation.

I did not watch the whole crash video, but I saw the first two clips, so I have a reasonable picture of what happened. On one hand you certainly can say that the two drivers following the initial crasher had no time to react.

However, there was ample stimuli leading into and out of the turn, that could/should have set off alarm bells for the closely following drivers. Alarms like “That entry location/angle is pretty dodgy” and “I’m not sure how he is going to make his location and trajectory at the apex work” and, just after the apex “There’s NFW he is going to make this turn”. Paying attention to those alarm bells let you act instead of react, so you can plan for the initial crash, and the probable consequences (the kart bouncing off of the tires and moving left towards and onto the track).

Also, attention/interpretation is a skill you can practice all the time by playing mental ‘what-if’ games when: driving on the street, walking in a crowd, driving your shopping cart through the store, or watching races on TV or YouTube.

I disagree. A Reflex is an Unconscious response to stimuli, while a Reaction is a Conscious response to stimuli. Muscle memory can become a reflex or a reaction. Given enough training, your muscles could respond to stimuli with out consciously thinking about it. I do believe there are some reflexes you are born with (inherent), but there are others that can be trained.

As far as your assessment of the events leading up to the crash, I agree. Both initial drivers that made contact were at fault to some degree. The inside driver (1) could have left a little more room knowing the barrier was so close.

The driver(2) attempting to take the outside line at corner exit should have realized his trajectory was going to put him into the barrier and conceded the corner, lifted and dropped back in behind to try again in another spot and save his race. It looks like a very risky corner to attempt a pass like that.

Driver(3) that came out of his kart looked like he was more focused on the corner he was in, than the ensuing battle in front of him. Even if waiting for a mistake, which happened, he was not in a position to capitalize on it because he wasn’t paying attention to track ahead. Had he realized the two in front of were trying to squeeze through a narrow corner exit, he could have adjusted his line and been more to the left if/when it all went sideways.

Driver(4) was guilty of the same and looked too focused on the driver immediately in front of him that he never saw the accident coming. It all happened pretty quickly, so I guess its easy to say this or that could have been avoided after the fact. Maybe having lived in larger cities and seeing so many idiots on the road, I have just paid more attention to foolish maneuvers and to leave myself an exit if it went south.

I did not expect this topic to go so deep

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:grinning::joy: I’m not sure wether that’s a good or bad thing. In any case attention/processing is really interesting stuff.

I love how on KP a video of a karter getting launched out of their kart turns in to a long detailed and well thought out conversation about reflexes. Beautiful


What’s reallllly interesting is how accurate we are at estimating time to intersection. On my commute I walk through Manhattan about 2 miles. in the park I like to play the game of looking at the joggers or bicyclists on the park road circle and finding the one that will intersect with me in the future. I always get it right, and can identify from afar based on velocity and line.

Sorta doing a bad job of explaining but it’s uncanny how you can look at something traveling and know, relative to your position and momentum, exactly where and pretty much when they will be at you.

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Agreed. Mental estimations of what will happen and when based on velocity and trajectory. Great exercises for the brain! I often wonder if Fighter Pilots go through these same scenarios when practicing dog fights.

Many moons ago I had an email conversation about mental training with a car racer who was a retired Fighter Pilot. He said that they were encouraged to take advantage of any mental downtime by mentally running ‘what if’ scenarios. They would do so not only for combat situations, but also for issues/failures they might encounter with their plane.

A few years ago a Blue Angels pilot gave a talk at my son’s high school. I talked to him about the mental training they do, and he said that they mostly used imagery training to rehearse/reinforce the maneuvers/patterns that their flight demonstrations required.

It’s interesting that the two pilots used two different mental training methods because they were training for two different situations:

  • Combat, which involves many variables
  • Precision flight demonstrations, which involves less variables, but requires an exceptionally high level of precision and repeatability.

While acknowledging that I may be full of :poop:, from a racing perspective, I think of ‘what if’ training as a way to extrapolate current knowledge/experience into new areas (essentially increasing the breadth of your knowledge/skill set). whereas imagery training is most suitable for reinforcing patterns of thought/movement/timing/etc. (so, essentially increasing the depth/strength/efficiency of existing skills and/or their corresponding motor pathways).

Of course, in practice both can be used together. For example, you might use ‘what if’ training to come up with a better approach to a particular turn, or to extrapolate a successful approach from a turn on one track onto a similar turn on another track, which is proving problematic. Once you’ve noodled out the proposed solution to the problem, then you could use imagery training to ‘program’ you new approach into your driving process.

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Yes! There’s an actual nerve speed limit. Giraffes, for instance, take a longer time to react to certain stimuli compared to smaller creatures. On the scale you’re referring to, it likely wouldn’t be significant.

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there goes a perfectly fine racing excuse for tall people. Thanks for answering the question!