Dan's feedback following a Car Control course.
Have you ever had anyone walk into your head, pick up something you didn't want and take it away for you?
It happened to me over a mug of tea and a sausage and ketchup bap one foggy morning in the 'Airfield Diner' at Bruntingthorpe - home of the Vulcan bomber.
I'd gone there to meet the inimitable Don Palmer for his advanced limit handling course. I've been a few times before, with different vehicles, so I'm already quite well grounded in his model of how tyres generate grip and how to feel for and play with this. But today, I'm not just here to explore limits of a new car. I'm here to get my mojo back!
I've always prided myself on my driving, both in terms of a safe and speedy road driver and with a decent level of 'on-the-limit' car control but when I encountered a patch of black ice one cold January evening and ended up off the road having hit a lamppost I lost all confidence - at one point I even considered giving up the driving I'd loved for so long.
My wife and I decided the best thing to do would be to return to the scene of where my driving development really began some 4 years ago and pay Don a visit in the vast open spaces of Bruntingthorpe Proving Ground. There's nothing to hit other than his cones marking the course!
As I'd been a few times before, as had the other 'M' driver who was there for the day, the attitude and structure was even more relaxed than it is when you start with the Fundamentals.
Don knew us and we knew Don, so it was straight to the driving...
"What did you notice?". I knew he was going to ask. He always asks. Why wasn't I prepared with an answer?
At all levels Don expects you to leave him 'owning' the skills you have learned and practised. He doesn't give you all the answers, he gives you the tools to figure out the answer yourself.
Like everything else Don introduces you to throughout your day, it works!
I noticed that, as the laps went by, I was relaxing into it. I was comfortable behind the wheel. I was comfortable when the car started moving about beneath me, rather than tensing up for every bend.
Unsurprisingly, the memory of my accident was causing my problem. As Don explained it, it was a trauma in my mind and I was subconsiously using it to prevent me from being involved in anything similar in future. Unfortunately, this worked so well I could barely drive with it.
Don, chatting to me over that morning breakfast as the fog slowly lifted enough for us to be able to hit the runway, took away that trauma using a very interesting technique and enabled me to see clearly.
The sun had come out on my driving and he was even kind enough, at my request, to spend some time driving on the road with me just to make sure it wasn't just the open space that had enabled me to drive how I know I can. Not just driving either, I've noticed an increase in my happiness and well being in everything now. It had obviously affected me more than I had realised.
The trauma had gone, but this was just the start of the recovery back to my best. For that I would need some more practice and training specific to the roads - but without Don I wouldn't have been going anywhere.
My most sincere Thank You.
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