by Judy Robinet, Executive Director of A Life Worth Living
How can Mark drive a 1988 Porsche Rothmans Turbo Cup up to speeds of 300km an hour on a crowded racetrack winning 15 races and 2 Championships? Mark says, “Since I have almost 20% of my hearing, I adapt.” Adapting isn’t unique to Mark. People across the world adapt. People adapt to high altitudes, weather, foods, pollution, overcrowding and viruses. Adapting to life’s stressors is vital for survival and critical for individuals with disabilities. Adapting leads to success!
Mark shares some of his strategies. All drivers get used to the sounds and feel of their own racecar. For me, I do not necessarily listen to the motor running but focus on the exhaust sounds of the car, so I know everything is alright. You don’t want to take your eyes off the road in a car as fast as this one. You can feel the noise and vibration when you need to change gears. Then you look at your tachometer and as soon as you hit that red line, you shift up. Most of the tracks we go to you only use two or three gears but smaller tracks you may use 5 gears.
What is more important, is to hear the other cars. When you are racing with 40 other cars on the track, those cars are right beside you, behind you, in front of you and you need to know here everybody is. One of the accommodations I make for myself is I have a net over my window as always race with the windows down. That way, I can hear the ambient sounds much easier.
I don’t need a spotter. I am a road racer, and a spotter cannot see most of the track. I have a crew chief who I have known for 30 years, and a crew. I have a radio in my helmet and understand his voice. I can hear one word If he yells at me to “pit” “green” “go” but I can’t hear a conversation. Besides, all racers know the meaning of flags but you do have to see them.
In our next blog, we’ll take a closer look at the car.