A cardinal rule of racing is to never celebrate before the race is over, no matter how far ahead you are.
It also helps to know when the race is ending.
Last week, racer Riccardo Russo in the Italian CIV Motorcycle Championship crossed the line and started his victory celebration. The problem was that there was still one lap to go.
Russo gets out of the saddle and starts celebrating, and he is promptly passed by 13 other riders, leaving him to finish in 14th place.
While I'm willing to bet that his face was pretty red, I can actually sympathize with the guy. When I was karting years ago, I crossed the line in third place and thought the race was over. I slowed down and had my hand up. But guess what? It was the white flag. I still drove a relatively brisk cool down lap, and when I finally noticed that the starter was now waving the checkered, I stepped on the gas big time.
I still ended up on the podium, but it was almost a very embarrassing race. In the heat of the moment, you can miss a flag, lose track of the lap count, or get a little confused.
I learned a very important lesson that day: never slow down until you are 100 percent sure you see the checkered flag and corner workers are on the track.
Russo learned the same lesson I did in this race. It's a mistake you don't make twice.
Hat tip to Emanuel!