James seemed to be the opposite of everything I had read and heard about him. He was quiet and polite, amazingly down to earth and almost shy. Throughout the weekend I kept calling him a hermit, an assessment he agreed with. He told me he usually gets a room away from everyone because he likes to stay centered throughout the event. James went down to do a pre-run on Tuesday, but his team never saw him until Friday when he strolled into the hotel to get a little one-on-one time with the Silverado race truck and talk strategy with his co-driver, Gerald "Smitty" King. Smiling broadly, he told King about his pre-run, recounting how he drove until motor and trans were practically falling out and the shocks were cooked. For many drivers this would be a scary sign of what's to come, but to James it was an indication of a job well done.
On race days James follows a routine to help him stay calm and relaxed. He gets up early and has yogurt, plain oatmeal, and one cup of coffee. About an hour before the race he does 15 minutes of meditation and slowly stretches his arms, shoulders, back, and legs. He told me that before the race he's trying to do everything as slow as possible to keep his heart rate down. Watching him before the start is like looking outside minutes before a storm. He's calm and cool, slowly taking deep breaths, but soon he'll be cracking his knuckles, slapping himself on his helmet, gunning the engine, and barreling through the San Felipe arches at the start of the race.