Saturday, May 2, 2015

Driving Faster, Better

Skip barber's race school is famous and has been since the 80's.

What I Learned:
1. Making time on a track is about how fast you do the straights. How fast you do the straights is about how fast you exit the corner (and enter the next corner.)
2. Go through corners fast by picking the right line. The right line makes your rear tires travel in a constant-radius arc, touching at the turn-in, apex and track-out. Precise placement counts.
3. I usually turn in too early. If you are going to make an error, it is better turn in late. (Better because it gives you more margin, so more options.) This surprised me.
4. Brake late. Brake hard. Keep braking into the turn, easing off as you get into the turn.

Some of these things you can practice on the street or in a parking lot: precise position, choosing a line within your lane, late braking, getting on the throttle and doing it all smoothly, so the net acceleration is constant in magnitude, so that your passenger doesn't spill his drink. If you want to know how your car will behave at its limit, go to a race school or an autocross. I know of two on the island.

You can't learn car control on the street. It's not because your skill or natural talent is too low. It is because if you are driving at 98% (or 80%) and a dog runs onto the road, or you hit gravel, or a tourist stops erratically in front of you, the crash that will happen is out of your control. There is nothing you can do but wreck that car, or kill that dog, or worse. Courage is about accepting worthwhile risks that are within your control. Approaching vehicle limits on public streets fails on both counts.

Backup Books

Going Faster from the Skip Barber racing school accompanies this video. It gets good reviews.

Of course, if you want to learn performance driving at a price available to us mortals, autocross is your ticket. I see that Ultimate Speed Secrets and its (Kindle-only) autocross sibling are the top sellers at Amazon.

How to Autocross and Secrets of Solo Racing also look good, rank well and get good reviews

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