Friday, April 25, 2008

Don't ask too much of your car

Don’t ask your car to do too many things at one time. Sounds simple enough. When you think about it there are really only four things you can ask of a car. Speed up, slow down, turn, maintain speed. I seldom use my brakes when driving on the road. Yes, of course I use them to stop at red lights and stop signs, but I usually drive at a speed where I can safely get through corners without braking. At the track the very first thing I learned is you have to use your brakes to slow down for corners. If not you are either going slow or you are going to end up in the grass or tire wall.

What you don’t want to do is ask the car to slow down and turn simultaneously. Get all the slowing and gear changing done with the car going straight. Settle the car then turn. Why? Turning unsettles the car, braking unsettles the car, shifting unsettles the car. Together, these unsettling events reduce the speed at which you can safely get through a corner.
On approaching a corner just ask the car to slow down and get in the right gear. When you have the right speed, a speed you can maintain to the apex of the corner, and the right gear you can turn. Before you turn you have to be off the brakes and give the car an instant to settle down. Now you ask the car to turn and maintain speed. At the apex you start to unwind the turn and add speed.

Easy stuff but watch other folks when you drive around. Most people are on their brakes when turning not getting off the brake until they are well past the apex of the turn.

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