Your Summer Reading: Overdrive by Clyde Brolin
Ever wondered what goes through a rider’s mind when he keeps on doing one perfect lap after another? Or how he still manages to react on every tiny movement of the bike when everything starts going blurry around him at over 330 km/h? Chances are when you see a rider doing an outstanding job on track, he’s „in the zone“, a flow state which Clyde Brolin intensively and extensively deals with in his excellent debut book Overdrive – Formula 1 in the zone.
Brolin starts his exploration of this elusive and yet multi-present state with one significant event: Ayrton Senna’s perfect run in qualifying at Monaco in 1988. The now legendary Senna completely blitzed the competition, going much faster than anyone else even dared to. He later admitted that he felt he “was no longer driving the car consciously” and as soon as he realized that, he went back to the pits, frightened to go back out. He was almost 1.5 seconds ahead of his teammate and an astonishing 2.7 seconds ahead of the rest. In other words: He was out of this world.
In times when motorcycle media repeatedly talks about the „Aliens“ in MotoGP, who seem to be a step above the rest, this might sound familiar to you. But what is it that separates those riders from the mere „mortal“ rest on the grid?
Putting aside the semantic irrelevance of the term itself, there might be more to that difference than just better material. The specific state that Brolin describes in Overdrive allows an athlete – no matter if on four, two or no wheels at all – to do everything in flow, not consciously thinking about it, just naturally reacting and in extreme cases even reaching a state similar to out-of-body experiences. Despite the sound of it, this book is far from being esoteric.
One of the most important things Brolin draws from in his book and what makes this such a worthy read are the countless original quotes he collected over the years. Brolin obviously has good connections in the paddocks of the world and the athletes he spoke with about the subject are not limited to motorsport. And apart from the athletes themselves, the book assembles quotes from some of the greatest and most colourful minds in the world of professional sport to shine light on the topic from all sides.
Even though it is intended to be read from cover to cover, one of the great features of Overdrive is that you can jump in and out of it at any point – starting with a quote from your favourite athlete for example – but still get sucked in immediately and always take something away from it.
If you’re only interested in two-wheeled motorsports, don’t let the title fool you, because this book is still for you. Aside from the fact that the state of flow Brolin describes fits MotoGP and other motorsports just as well as any sport (citing athletes such as Boris Becker for good measure) it includes insightful quotes from some of MotoGP’s greatest riders as well as from legendary people behind the scenes such as Jerry Burgess, Valentino Rossi, Casey Stoner, Troy Bayliss, John Surtees and Doctor Claudio Costa, to name just a few.
Quite frankly, you don’t even need to be an avid follower of any of these sports. You don’t need to know anything about Senna’s career to follow the outstanding achievements of him described in the book. What this book is about is not a mere look AT athletes, it’s an attempt to look INSIDE athletes and therefore a look inside all of us and what is possible for us to achieve.
Overdrive is quite an excellent read by a first-time author, chock-full of memorable and personal insights from some of motorsport’s biggest heroes and well-elaborated thoughts on a highly interesting topic. If you ever wondered how on earth the athletes you admire are capable of doing what they do or why they do it – this book is for you.
Copies sell at a low price on Amazon, so go and get one, you won’t regret it.
Official book website: OverdriveF1.com
Original Photos & Manipulation by Vroom Media