Speed can’t be reduced to just ‘distance travelled by time elapsed’. Speed has a feel, like that first time you dared to keep your fingers off the brake going downhill on a bicycle or resisted the urge to carve away on your skis on the mountain. Michiel van Son shares his daily pursuit of the feeling that speed gives his craft.
Speed harkens to those that dare, stokes a fire in the belly. A race, any race: against the clock, against oneself, or especially against another with that fire — a race will get a speedster’s heart pumping.
It gets in the blood, this speed. Like jet fuel to a maverick.
Michiel van Son was a boy atop a frozen Austrian lake when he first overtook his father. After tearing across the icy track behind the wheel of a go-kart with spiked tires, the accomplishment warmed him within. “Beating your father is always a big step in life. It happened to me when I was just ten.”
Compounding boyhood victories fueled his drive to win into adulthood — chasing the finish line, seeking personal bests, his competition always chasing him. Every waking moment, his mind has focused on efficient execution, not wasting time nor effort. Exhaustion was reserved for those behind the leader.
“I think there is an ultimate best way to execute any action. Efficiency is about wasting as little energy and effort as possible to get the best result, working smarter not harder. You can use this mindset in anything in life.”
Now a dad himself, he looks at a diaper change as a pit stop, bringing his daughter back on track with haste knowing she’ll someday overtake him. He doesn’t plan to make it easy. Even with his hands full, Michiel keeps them at 10 and 2 o’clock.
Back in the early 2000s, Michiel careened through Midtown Madness 3’s simulated streets of Paris and Washington DC on his uncle’s PC, steering wheel on the desk and pedals under the chair. It wasn’t the same as the real thing (who wants to really drive through the streets of Paris?) but the simulation gave him the experience of tearing through the realistic city map.
“I had, and still have, so much fun racing on a sim, because there are things you really cannot do in real life. There’s no consequences.”
Today, Michiel drives an Audi RS 6 on the rough Belgian roads and a McLaren 720s on Assetto Corsa’s virtual asphalt.His drive to win has now extended beyond the track, beyond the screen, and found its way into his work. He’s a cinematic drone pilot, trading wheels on the ground for an eye in the sky.
“To just nail a perfect shot and have the director tell you that it’s perfect and epic — that’s also winning.”
When his passion for efficiency has earned him leisure time at home, Michiel spends it in his living room: fully immersed, firing on all cylinders, chasing greatness behind the wheel of his rig.
“When I get into a race I feel like I become one with the car and get in such a state of flow. I just forget where I am and totally get into the zone.”
Whether it’s at work or at home, on the road or in his living room or even in the sky; Michiel focuses on being his best and won’t waver. A job well done can be a reward in itself, and for Michiel, a life well lived is the penultimate prize: an attunement of mastery. Daring to lean into the corners that life throws at him, Michiel is at peace in the driver’s seat.