Raising the Checkered Flag for Rally Week

When the checkered flag rises on rally week, we’re gunning it for one final hot lap.

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There’s a giant world of history behind you — great drivers, epic cars, a whole era of Group B racing — and enough performance racing gear surrounding you to make a few MIT minds melt. There’s an old legend in the passenger seat, watching the way your feet move and your hands handle the wheel. But none of it means anything. Null. Zero. None of that matters, not while you’re behind the wheel.

What’s real is the road ahead. How your body is pushing into the racing seat as you hit the accelerator and advance down the snowy course. You’re looking two turns ahead, that series of esses down the track, covered in snow and ice. Your body melts into the car; it does what your subconscious tells it to do. You don’t think. You act. You steer where your eyes look. There’s a whole world outside the car — the rich and illustrious and dangerous history of rally racing, the greats that sit looming on the horizon as reminders of drivers whose skill surpasses your own, all the geeky engineering that makes this machine in your hands feel totally comfortable in this moment — that just passes by in a blur.

Rally lives in the nanoseconds it takes for your mind to register what your eyes see, your neurons to translate that to body movement, and your muscles to execute those triggers. Rally’s about all those overwhelming involuntary firings taking you out of your conscious mind, turning off the little voice in the head, and leaving you infinitely in the present. Or, at least, leaving you in the present until you finish the lap, you come back to consciousness, slip out of the zone, and the teacher next to you turns and says, “Hey, that was a good run.”

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