Friday, May 18, 2007

the basics

i'm taking the weekend off from autox but fellow holunfie'ers aaron and kev are codriving aaron's dsp mini at a bmwclub event. so we may get some juicy data and corresponding video of drivers with two totally different driving styles, if they let me share it that is. the beauty of maxQgps is the flexibilty to throw it in any car. no wires, no setup. simple. it may not be as sophisticated as full blown data aq systems, but it does a very good job at a very attractive price.

how about some more thoughts on driving? i know a lot of my friends reading this are still in the 'novice stage' or not quite there when it comes to the advanced stuff. let me try and point out a few common areas that novices (and even veterans) need to work on:

1.) pay attention when walking the course! a lot of people go through the motions, but don't use that time effectively. memorize it. walk it once solo. try to determine your braking, turn-in, accelerating points. bounce ideas off your friends. bother the fast guys to see how they plan on approaching it. pick out key cones... where your eyes should look for the next element. for instance- the key cone to spot in a slalom as you enter it, is the last important cone of the slalom. all of the cones on the way there will be in your field of vision.

envision yourself in your car, at speed, as you walk. pick out the key cones, and the course virtually slows down in your head, as you drive it more effectively.

2.) this leads us to THE most important task while driving: LOOK AHEAD. as you're negotiating a chicago box for example, look through to the next element of the course. use your peripheral vision to pick up where your current location is. focus ahead, and use your eyes to briefly scan back to if you need to.

how else are you going to determine your exit speed out of the box without knowing whats coming up next? pick up those key cones (like that wall way ahead for the sweeper) to dictate your approach.

here's a pic from this past saturday's event. i'm entering the turnaround at the far side of the course. not even looking out of the windshield yet the wheels are still pointed straight. i'm spotting the apex at this point.

we need to keep reminding ourselves to look ahead as we're driving, i know i have to. it will slow down the entire course visually, and allows you be proactive, not reactive. everyone that goes off course? you got it.. not looking ahead. everyone that locks up the tires in a big cloud of smoke? not looking ahead. it's such an important concept... more so than anything else while driving.

3.) get closer to the cones! first of all, a tighter line covers less distance. distance = time. an even greater benefit is that you're steering less. if you flatten out your radii, you spend more time at higher mph or more time accelerating. if you're making huge steering inputs that are unnecessary, you are just wasting time. so what if you clip a cone? if you're not hitting cones, you're not going fast enough. you have to balance on that fine line. back off just a hair on your next run where you hit the cone. it's very common to see novices 2 feet off the cones, and every single run is clean. might be good for your pride i guess, but not your times.

4.) trust the car! this is something that took me a year or two to realize, and something i'm always working on. our cars on decent tires have way more grip than most 'normal' people can imagine. i watch a lot of friends' in-car videos and i have to point that out all the time. 'you could've gone a shit-ton faster through that section!'. it's true more often than not. again it's a fine line.. if you step over that line.. so what. back off a hair next time. don't be afraid to push the edge. you have to find that maximum grip. carry as much speed as possible.. be on the gas as long as possible. and cover as little distance as necessary.

now i'm not saying overdrive to the point your tires are all greasy and you're sliding all over the place. i'm just saying to remember you're not out for a sunday drive.. you're out for a sunday DRIVE. don't be a pussy. drive it like you stole it!

this should be common sense but i still have to say it... use your head and don't do something stupid like the dukes of hazard jump into the water in your dad's prized vette (it really happened). if you do launch it, scream 'yeee-haaw!' as loud as you can cause you might as well enjoy it. sometimes we forget to do just that. HAVE FUN!!! that adrenaline rush after a sick run is one of the best feelings you can have. hopefully, the same run got you into first place... but if not, who cares! as long as you're having fun and don't take this parking lot stuff too seriously.



Anonymous said...

As a new auto x'er, could break my cherry this weekend in nj, what do you think is better. Drive your car as fast as you can, go OC and spin out. Or be real conservative, 2ft off cones, and build up to faster times? I know safety is no.1, and you should never support driving like as asshat, but what is the best way to find that fine line of confidence in your car?

Anonymous said...

Also, to bad you can"t comment on Token white guys post. My advice to him is "Everything works fine. Congrats on FTD @ Plainfield."

dan said...


i think you should drive like an asshat and try the dukes of hazzard jump! that's a great way to break in the sti!

are you REALLY going to autox?? too bad i won't be there to witness it.


Christopher said...

Nice write-up Dan as usual. Yeah you always tell me that my car has more grip than I trust it. Hopefully my new powersteering pump has more power than I can steer it!

dan said...

oh rich,

i think you should find your comfort level, and push that edge a little.. don't drive too far beyond your abilities. keep it in control and you'll be good.

this writeup was more geared towards people that have done a few or more.. but not progressing as fast as they could.


Anonymous said...

Great posts guys. Someday, I will fill out an application for the Holunfie. lol. Keep up the great work, the blog is a very interesting read/.
-Matty D