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Old 05-04-2011, 11:41 AM   #1
Veloce Raptor
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Exclamation ASK THE COACH

OK, folks, Bob Rouleau has agreed to let me start a Sticky thread. it is called Ask The Coach, where folks can ask specific driving/racing questions, and they can be answered by any of the coaches who post on RL.

It is not a place for coaches to pimp for business (we do that elsewhere...LOL!) or for arguments. Rather, it is a place for folks to ask any question, from the most basic to the most sophisticated, and have it answered in thoughtful, credible way(s).
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Old 05-04-2011, 12:07 PM   #2
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And actually, I will kick it off answering several recent questons various folks have emailed or PM'ed me.

First, it is critical to use all the track. You paid for all of it...use it! it's amazing how much exit speed is lost by leaving 4' of track at the exit.

Second, realize that in rear drive cars, regardless of where the engine is located, the front tires (and thus the steering wheel) change the car's direction. The rear tires (and thus the throttle AND BRAKE PEDAL) steer the car. Most cars on most tracks should be seeing more tire pressure gains in the rear than the front. If you're not, you're not using the rear tires as much as you need to (IMO).

Third, soften the inputs of your hands & especially your feet. That doesn't mean drive in track like you to gettting groceries. However, the sharper the steering & brake (and throttle) input, the more we reduce chassis stability and pitch the car in ways that kill speed. Soften up initial brake application a little bit, and the car will squat on all fours during braking, rather than pitching forward so much. And (especially in a 911), smoothly come on the gas. When you hhit the gas too hard, it lifts the nose (especially in a 911), which reduces froont grip, which causes uundersteer, which forces the driver to lift a bit to get the front to stick, which then pitches the car to the nose a bit, lather rinse repeat. ONE throttle application is fastest.

Fourth, consider starting your turn in way earlier than you think. That does NOT necessarily mean early apex. But begin the steering input earlier & much more gradually, and you will be rewarded with a car that takes a set muuch easier & carries a whole lot more mid corner speed.

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Old 05-04-2011, 12:28 PM   #3
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Hey, this is great. Thanks, Dave (and Bob).
To the above - we have been taught that smooth is good; you just gave a succinct, effective explanation of why - and that is good.
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Old 05-04-2011, 12:28 PM   #4
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How do I ensure that I always win my DE?


























jk Good idea Dave.
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Old 05-04-2011, 12:36 PM   #5
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Thanks, guys! Chris, the #1 way is to keep up those fantastic avatars.

Rick, I know a guy who lives here in Austin...half my age...and likely a better driver. He is so smooth, high HP or low HP. I watch his in car video, and there is very little drama, and the car just flows in all axes. He (and I) drive every car like a momentum car.
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Old 05-04-2011, 12:44 PM   #6
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Why are you so awesome?
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Old 05-04-2011, 12:45 PM   #7
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Trying to keep up with you, my friend.
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Old 05-04-2011, 12:50 PM   #8
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What does it mean when a car "takes a set".
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Old 05-04-2011, 01:04 PM   #9
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Quote:
Originally Posted by wanna911 View Post
What does it mean when a car "takes a set".
IMO it means that the suspension loads as much as it is going to load (and hopefully properly) for a specific corner, thus maximizing the available grip from all 4 contact patches. Other coaches may answer differently.

I also received this question via PM. I have paraphrased it a bit for clarity:

in track driving there is a typical simplification to separate all corners into 3 categories with one before straight where you want to go late apex to maximize exit speed, a corner at the end of a straightaway with trailbraking into the turn and a corner that connects 2 other corners - and there is usually a prioritization scheme of how to look at any track corners to choose your most optimal line.

in autocross it is typical to look at any corner from slightly other perspective of a corner to be of a constant radius, a decreasing radius and increasing radius corner - all that will essentially control the way how you choose your entry point, entrance speed and in-corner throttle control as we always work on dual task of having to compromise between shortest possible travel distance and maximum possible speed, essentially you build a scheme of entry points and think much more of how to keep most of your momentum with having car properly positioned for a next relevant entrance.

I assume it should be some theory to connect those concepts, and if it exists - can you post your response describing it?


First, I have never driven an autocross, so others here can probably bettter address the autocross concepts. I have never even been to one. However, I have to agree that those two sets of concepts should be connected. in addition, none other than my friend Andy Hollis, multiple national champion pro autocrosser, agrees. He did an article for Grassroots Motorsports several years ago called Private Tutor where he addresses ways to be faster in auutocross thhat directly correlate to road courses as well. I have the physical article but it doesn't say what month/year GRM it was from, only says Page 122. I may try to scan & post it. Some of his concepts include "position first, then speed", "turn earlier and less", brake earlier and less", "use your right foot to modulate car position, not the steering wheel", and "hands follow the eyes, and car follows the hands".
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Old 05-04-2011, 01:09 PM   #10
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I am not an expert, but I will post this interview (for one more time) here..



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Old 05-04-2011, 01:15 PM   #11
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Dave, great idea.

I'd like your thoughts on something that I've been thinking about lately. I see videos of Walter Rohl throwing a 911 style car around at high speed on the Nurburbring, breaking the rear loose and never losing control. Of course he has many, many years experience in car control. That being said, even race car drivers have wreaks. Then you see DE drivers crashing in the dry at lesser speeds without any fierce competition going on. Besides the sheer amount of experience between the two types of drivers, what is the car control skill that allows one to maintain control at track speeds? Where does one's attention need to be in this equation? Dancing on the edge seems to be a double edge sword, it can be thrilling, and in my case, could end my track enjoyment if I ruin my car. I am a white student in my forth year of doing DE's. I hope I am not just stating the obvious. I have tried to live by the statement I read in "Going Faster". The writer said, " To find the edge, you slowly tiptoe up to the it. You don't find it by deliberately going over it and losing control of your vehicle."

Is it all related to slip angle awareness?
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Old 05-04-2011, 01:24 PM   #12
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John, that video is a masterpiece...from the master. Thanks for posting it.

Larry, again this is my opinion only. But I see the most glaring difference being that folks like Rohrl are mentally and physically WAY ahead of the car, both with regards to where it is on track (thinking 1 or more corners ahead) and with regards to what the car is about to do at any given point (understeer, oversteer, pitch, roll, etc.). Their inputs generally anticipate what is to come, rather than reacting to it after it has happened. Whereas many lesser drivers are mentally way behind the car....and that is where bad stuff tends to happen more often, IMO.

Watch some of Leh Keen's race videos on YouTube, such as the one from Road Atlanta or Watkins Glen. Watch what he is doing, and watch the attittude of the car. Or Chris Cervelli's videos too.

I am definitely NOT a believer of the common adage that "if you don't go off track, you aren't going fast enough". Sometimes it does happen, and I guess that has some benefits (you know what it feels like & can test your instincts when it does), but not on purpose. Yes, I believe in tiptoeing to the edge....and then staying there when possible.
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Old 05-04-2011, 01:26 PM   #13
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Veloce Raptor View Post
the front tires (and thus the steering wheel) change the car's direction. The rear tires (and thus the throttle AND BRAKE PEDAL) steer the car.
Please clarify what you are saying here. Are you just making the distinction between steering w/ the wheel vs throttle steer (and trail braking) or is there a larger point I'm missing? How do you define "changing the car's direction" vs. "steer"?

Quote:
Fourth, consider starting your turn in way earlier than you think. That does NOT necessarily mean early apex. But begin the steering input earlier & much more gradually, and you will be rewarded with a car that takes a set muuch easier & carries a whole lot more mid corner speed.
I recently saw a video of me in front of a friend's car. At a couple of late apex turns I was turning in much later than him, making more of an "L" out of the the turn rather than his more rounded approach. His car appeared much more stable and further away from the limit at the same speed. Your point above is exactly what I thought about. Nice to hear I was on the right track.

Great thread. Looking forward to reading more.
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Old 05-04-2011, 01:27 PM   #14
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How do the pros (or very fast/talented amateurs) learn new tracks so quickly?

I've spent a lot of time on technique and professional driving instruction, and my pure lap speeds are pretty good at tracks I'm familiar with. But when it comes to new tracks, I'm like rainman... and not in the good card counting way. Any tips/advice would be great! Thanks. :-)

-mike
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Old 05-04-2011, 01:31 PM   #15
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Quote:
Originally Posted by kush07 View Post
Please clarify what you are saying here. Are you just making the distinction between steering w/ the wheel vs throttle steer (and trail braking) or is there a larger point I'm missing? How do you define "changing the car's direction" vs. "steer"?

Great question. Yes, pretty much that is the distinction. For example, as you start turning, the front tires are doing the work. What you do next predicates how well the car will work in the corner. In other words, do you keep adding steering because the car is pushing (asking even more from overloaded front tires)? Or do you transition to throttle (even a little bit) to move the center of gravity of the car more to the rear & continue the rotation with the rear tires? I assure you, the latter scenario works a lot better! Many folks don't realize how well a bit of throttle helps the car rotate. They are so worried about oversteer that they miss the boat....and kill the car with understeer.
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