Racing Past 40: Reaction Times and Other Lies

A reader writes, Dear and Stephen Cox, Thank you for writing this Racing Past 40: Reaction Times and Other Lies. I wasn't aware of the U of M study, but you have made valid points about its details and how they may or may not apply to auto racing.

I will have to look closer at the protocols used in this research, but one area that is often overlooked is distinguishing between visual and motor reaction time. The former relates to the visual recognition of the stimulus, while the latter involves the actual physical movement. For example, after a skeet shooter first sees the clay pigeon, he must then pull the trigger. Due to a potential decrease in firing of muscle fibers as we age, the mind may be as sharp as ever but the body doesn't have the same movement speed. This can often be attributed to loss of elasticity in the muscle and connective tissue, thus decreasing the production of power.

We have found our two fastest drivers on many of our reaction tests this season were Sage Karam (18) and Scott Dixon (33). While Dixon doesn't quite represent the 40+ age group, he is our best example to compare ages. Being extremely physical fit has benefitted Dixon throughout his career, and potentially will be one of the reasons he continues to win.

Well done in bringing this information to the public's eye, and hopefully this will give older drivers incentive to either take on a training regime, or continue on a current program, Best Regards, Jim Leo, President, PitFit Training, Inc.

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