In the Zone: Transcendent Experience in Sports (Rhea A. White, Michael Murphy) one of the contributors in a 1973 doctoral dissertation on Peak Experience in Sports describes a temporary transcendence of the usual self, which is replaced by sense of union or harmony with the environment. Another speaks of being "in the zone" where there is a merging of the body and the mind, and the possible role of psychic ability in performing beyond one's limit.
Aryton Senna often spoke of the mystical power he felt when he was racing. After his last incredible qualifying lap for the 1988 Monaco Gran Prix, Senna described how he felt that he was no longer consciously driving the car, but rather he was in another dimension. It was as though he was driving in a tunnel, and that he had become completlely detached from everything else around him.
So is it the elation, and exhilleration that comes from being in the "zone" that drives racers to race? Or is it the feeling on the oneness between man and machine? Or just simply an overwhelming desire to compete and win? Who knows.
But one thing is for sure, even though amateur racers may never experience the degree of "transformation" described by Senna, driving a race car at the limit is one of the most intense, exciting, and euphoric, (almost addictive) experiences known to man!
Anyone who's ever watched a car race knows that it is an inherently dangerous sport - in the words of Steve McQueen as Michael Delaney in "LeMans" ...