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Seeing 20-20 doesnít help at Pocono, Whack-A-Mole

First picture of Brendan wearing his glasses, taken at the Pocono track

by Brendan Gaughan

In the last few weeks, Iíve been asked umpteen times about my glasses, so I thought I would talk about them this week. First, let me say I see 20/20 with both eyes, therefore, it is difficult for me to justify the need for glasses. Secondly, I would like to know from those of you with glasses, why do I never hear you talk about the first time you put on your glasses? You could have warned a brother!

I have always been a fan of sports psychology, and I have always felt that I have benefited from working with sports psychologists. While working with my new sports psychologist, Jacques from Human Performances International, we made a friendly wager. He explained that my vision, while perfect according to me, needed some assistance. Not because I couldnít see, but because one eye was overworked to compensate for the other.

Five years ago, I received slivers of metal in my left eye during a Late Model race and still finished third. Because I think I am Superman, I raced the next night to a fourth-place finish. Though I could see great with both eyes open, Jacques convinced me that my vision and reactivity could be improved by glasses. Of course, I knew better. Regardless of the injury from years ago, I was fully healed and it didnít matter that the left eye by itself was a bit blurry.

To prove my point, I participated in several hand-eye coordination tests. For instance, there was one where lights were positioned in a circle on a board in front of me. When the lights lit up, all I had to do was hit it, kind of like the Whack-A-Mole at the fair, only this was positioned directly in front of me vertically, rather than horizontally. I thought, I am going to prove that my eyes are good to go. I knocked out those lights faster than they could come on. I was swatting at them like they were pesky little gnats and I knew I was successful.

Then, Jacques printed the results and we went over them together. Looking clockwise, from the upper left quadrant to the lower right quadrant, I rocked the house. There was, however, the lower left quadrant. I looked at the results and thought maybe they were wrong, so I said best two out of three. We started again and we had the same results. OK, so how about three out of five? To prepare for my third run, and being the over-analyzer that I am, I diagnosed my stance and decided to shift my focus. I turned slightly left and lowered my eyesight a tiny bit and we started over. I was feeling pretty good about it.

Then the results came out. I kicked butt in that bottom left quadrant. Unfortunately, the other three quadrants were not so good.

So, begrudgingly, I admitted I was wrong. Because I was wrong, I went to an optometrist and did all of the little tests and ordered my glasses. Well, they were delivered at Pocono Raceway just before Friday morning practice. I couldnít wait to put them on. While all of the other drivers were climbing into their cars, I was checking out my new look.

Here is where it gets comical. I get my new glasses, I look studious, or so I have been told, and I climb into my No. 77 Kodak Racing Dodge ready to turn some laps.

I hit the track and get around turn one, headed for the tunnel turn, when something doesnít feel right.

All of a sudden everything went swirly. I drove across the tunnel turn and felt like I was getting seasick. I thought I was going to throw up! Quickly, I tear open the visor on my helmet, rip my glasses off my face, and proceed to finish our mock qualifying run. It was then that I decided I should try to get used to the glasses before driving with them on, especially on the race track.

So, now you fans that have been wondering and asking when I started wearing glasses, that is your answer, but the most important question is, do I look smarter in them? You guys tell me.

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