Saturday 14 May 1988. In his dominant McLaren Honda, Ayrton Senna puts down a seemingly impossible qualifying lap for the Monaco Grand Prix. Nearly a second and a half quicker than his team-mate Alain Prost. Third-placed Gerhard Berger is the only other driver within three (!) seconds of the Brazilian.
Senna admitted his lap was everything as extraordinary inside the car is it looked on the timesheets. In a famous interview with Gerald Donaldson, a stunned Senna explained he had a trance-like experience, looking down on himself as he conquered the Monte Carlo streets like no one had ever done before.
That revelation served as the inspiration for Overdrive: Formula 1 in the Zone, a book by journalist and devoted Senna fan Clyde Brolin. Brolin investigated the psychological aspects of racing on the very edge of what’s physically and mentally possible. He discovered Senna wasn’t the only one to experience surreal effects inside the cockpit of a racing car.
Senna’s example inspired a generation of current drivers like Fernando Alonso and Lewis Hamilton, who told the author they too had similar experiences and actively try to reach the Zone and replicate a state of mind where limits are not absolute and time slows down. Inner peace at 300 kilometres per hour. Even legend Stirling Moss made trips to the Zone, but such a supreme state of consciousness is not just restricted to racing drivers. During his many years of research, Brolin collected the thoughts of many other top-level athletes and even musicians, revealing that the Zone might be accessible to all of us.
Overdrive is unique because it explores the unexplored and treads a controversial path few have had the courage and determination to go before. It ticks all the boxes of what non-fiction is about. Not only does it entertain and inform, but it will change the way you look at motor racing and top-level sport achievements forever. As such Overdrive is not just a must-read for the racing fan, but for anyone interested in exploring the boundaries of the human psyche.