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Old 12-13-2005, 11:50 AM   #8
Carrera26
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Join Date: Aug 2004
Fan#: 12237
Location: Gainesville, FL
What I Drive: 2005 Mazda3 2.3/2003 VW Passat GLX

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3 BIG tips that will help you more than anything.

LOOK AHEAD!!! This is probably the most important technique there is. The vast majority of people look just a few feet ahead of them, and that tendency increases with speed. That's a very bad thing though, because when you're focussing on turn 1 you're making a 100% charge at that corner, and not seeing where you need to go when you get there. It's not just about taking that corner at the fastest possible speed, but lining up for what comes next. Let's take this graphic as an example.



The red and yellow lines are the incorrect lines, but are one's many people take, simply because they aren't looking ahead.

With the red line, the driver is probably staring right at the inside of the corner, charging full speed at it. When he gets there, though, he looks up and realizes that he isn't pointed at near where he wants to be, and to get going he'll have to brake and lose a ton of momentum. He'll get to that corner .3 seconds faster, but he'll get to the next one 3 full seconds slower.

The driver on the yellow line probably has their eyes glued to the tarmac right in front of them, concentrating on keeping his/her speeding car straight and on track. By the time they reach the corner and look up, it's too late. They again have to scrub off a ton of speed just to get turned into the corner and get going to the next one. Not as bad as the red line, but they are still far behind the wise Mr. Green Line. This is, by the way, the most common way people take corners.

The good driver on the green line, let's call him Carrera26 , knows to start looking at the next turn way back on the straight. Not only that, but he's looking at the straight coming after the turn. Because he sees it early, he can see with great accuracy where he is going to have to start turning, and how much he'll have to turn in to make it through the turn with the least possible steering applied. Referring back the friction circle, he can maximize his braking and acceleration the entire time because he is keeping his cornering forces to a minimum. He'll know to slow down enough that he will be able to carve a single shallow arc through the corner, and not only come out of it with the highest speed, but also with the greatest ability to accelerate. And by the time he is close to the turn, he has already seen what the right line is, so he doesn't have to pay the corner any more mind. It's already taken care of, as he made that decision back on the straight. Now he's keeping an eye on the outside edge of the track to make sure his left wheels stay on the tarmac, and then down to the next turn. I would say by the time he reaches the apex, he's already looking down track to the next corner.

Never look where you are, or where you will be in just a second or two. Especially on track, you're going so fast that no matter what you see there, you won't be able to do a damn thing about it anyway so what use is it? Every time you are in a turn you should be looking at the next turn or even 2-3 turns ahead at the AutoX.

This is especially important on tighter courses or sections. Let's say you have the turn in the picture, and then a sharp left at the end. If you are looking ahead, you will already know that you need to be on the right of the track in time to set up for that turn. If you are looking right in front of you, you might get that first turn OK, but now you are screwed for the second turn. And in fighting to get back in line for turn 2, you'll not only lose time but probably screw yourself for turn 3, and so on and so forth.

You push your successes and failiures ahead of you. When you biff one turn, you probably screwed the next 2 or 3 turns as well. So if you do end up missing something, don't try to rush and make up time, because it'll just lose you even more. Calm down and get the next one as right as you can, and you'll be right back to where you should be.

BE IN YOUR EXIT GEAR GOING IN Turning is delicate and tough enough without having to worry about shifting at the same time, not to mention doing so will throw your balance off. If you are going to need 1st gear coming out of the turn, get into 1st before you get there. Do it while you're heading straight(ish), while you have a little time to slow down and do it right and sure. You might sacrifice .2 or .3 seconds because you get there slower, but like the turns, you'll lose 1 or 2 full seconds if you come out of the turn at 2500 RPM in 2nd gear with no power and taking a half second to shift when you could be accelerating. Often, in your rush, you'll miss the gear entirely and really screw the pooch. Many times, shifting at all takes so much time and concentration away that you shouldn't even worry about it. My instructor did one run at the AutoX School in 1st with a ton of power (and wheelspin) and shifted a couple times. Then he ran it again, short shifting to 2nd right away. Felt a ton slower, but he cut 1.2 seconds off his time on a 30 second course. He's a professional instructor, so he can shift with the best of them and was going 100% both times, and 1.2 seconds is huge. Without taking time to shift and worrying about wheelspin, he did massively better.


LOOK AHEAD Umm, did I mention how important this is?!?! Seriously, everything will become simple and easy if you are looking ahead right. When I did it right, it honestly felt like the course just melted away. Even though I hadn't looked at a single turn I went through for several seconds, I never touched a single cone. I could see exactly how fast I needed to go, when to turn, how sharp to turn, where I could go fast, where I needed to go slow, etc. etc. etc. The whole thing stopped being such a mystery, and it became obvious what I needed to do.
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Don't waste another minute waiting on parts, or anything else. Just get out there and start racing! You will suck at first, and you will be slower than many other cars, but the only thing you will regret is not starting earlier...

Last edited by Carrera26; 12-13-2005 at 11:56 AM.
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