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Pobst Position: Gettysburg and Making a Clean Pass
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Pobst Position: Gettysburg and Making a Clean Pass
What? Having just returned from a visit to that American battlefield of brothers, I can see a valuable lesson that relates directly to our own contests on the racetrack. Confederate general Robert E. Lee had just won decisive victories over larger and better equipped Union forces, and flush with that feeling, headed for Pennsylvania with the aim of securing independence for the South. A brilliant strategist, he'd won by finding his opponents weaknesses, and capitalizing on his own strengths. By outmaneuvering and out-thinking his formidable rivals. Very similar to making a clean pass that sticks on the last lap at the Runoffs. Car Wars. As I stood on Cemetery Ridge, known now as the high water mark of the Rebel threat, looking down across more than a half-mile of open fields, I could see one reason why he failed here, and it occurred to me how it related to struggles within our own sport of auto racing. Across most all fields of endeavor, there are parallels that follow the natural circumstances in the ways all things work, and we can learn from them. Forgive me, General Lee, as I preach from my armchair with years of hindsight and the Gettysburg Visitor's Center to guide me.

In the climax of the conflict, the legendary Southern leader sent his men straight into the teeth of the entrenched Union lines, and they saw them coming and defended with all their might as Pickett's Charge crossed those wide and open fields. The brave but fully exposed Confederates were repulsed with heavy casualties. When we are up against a strong opponent and simply pull right out for a dive-bomb, we do the same thing, and often the result is heavy casualties in sheet metal, respect, and sportsmanship. A successful pass requires some kind of upper hand. We must find or create some kind of advantage. A full frontal attack on a strong opponent is a low percentage move. That driver sees us coming, and wants to keep that position as badly as we want to take it. Possession is nine-tenths of the law, and as the passer, it is primarily on our heads to win the battle for that corner in a clean and safe manner.

I know the frustration you feel. By Mid-Ohio my KPAX Porsche had gotten pretty darn heavy with rewards lead. It's been a great start to the season, but our overachieving little 3.8 liter six had its hands full against much larger eights, tens and twelves at near the same or even lighter weights. The torque of those big engines put them out of reach by the next corner, no matter what I tried, not to mention the constant threats from the next guy back due to my lack of exit and straight-line speed. We won the prior race at Watkins because an amazing 3R Racing setup allowed us to do the high-speed esses flat out, the advantage that carried us. That, and I'm the mayor (hee, hee). No such help at Mid-O. I struggled to find a way around Rich Marziale and Mike Davis. Lap after lap, I could find no clear shot. It was maddening, and it tested my patience. Great racing, though, frustrating, challenging, hold-that-temper great. Ooh, I wanted to try that dive-bomb, but the voice of experience kept reminding me it would likely be a disaster. In the end, my best strategy was perseverance. Mistakes from several competitors, and a little help from one, brought me up to sixth, and believe it or not, I was quite happy with that. Lots of points, and still in the lead. For now.

When you're stuck, you must create an advantage. Be patient. Breathe. Get in those mirrors. Wait for lapped traffic to hold 'em up. Wear em out with consistent laps. If you see a place where you have a shot, hide it until you surprise attack. Be patient, and wait for an upper hand. Remember General Lee. A direct frontal assault into their waiting defenses will often end in disaster. Use brains, strategy and wit, and find the upper hand.

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