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Toyman01
Toyman01 SuperDork
2/23/12 5:03 p.m.

Any tips? I've been volunteered to be an instructor for a novice autocross school this Saturday. I've been autocrossing for about 5 years, but never been an instructor. Looking for suggestions, not necessarily on how to drive, but on what to have students concentrate on first, other than not getting lost.

DaveEstey
DaveEstey Dork
2/23/12 5:08 p.m.

Keep their head up. Commit to inputs. Breathe. No chopping steering wheel inputs. Breathe.

fast_eddie_72
fast_eddie_72 SuperDork
2/23/12 5:17 p.m.

I do the novice schools here when I can. For folks just getting started (I try to get the most novice novices I can so I don't feel slower than my "students") it's mostly about "look ahead" and being smooth. Slow in the slow parts, fast in the fast parts and understanding lines- why we late apex so much. Most of the time, we're talking about things like hand placement on the wheel and how to get thorugh the slalom. People who are starting out - and me- tend to be really late through the slaloms.

irish44j
irish44j SuperDork
2/23/12 5:24 p.m.

Here are a couple of good instructor videos:

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=jzrXwgMSy1Y

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=n1ngA4IHnAQ&feature=related

Toyman01
Toyman01 SuperDork
2/23/12 5:38 p.m.

In reply to irish44j:

I guess that would get me un-volunteered pretty quick.

jrw1621
jrw1621 SuperDork
2/23/12 6:48 p.m.

Absorb all that you can from here and then regurgitate the key points back to the young'ens.
http://grassrootsmotorsports.com/forum/grm/video-training-autocrossing-with-dick-turner/33988/page1/

wlkelley3
wlkelley3 Dork
2/23/12 7:02 p.m.

I've been assitant teaching novices for a couple years now at our local club. It's amazing how much you learn by teaching. Concentrate on the basics, hand and eye control, braking and accelerate smoothly and the rest will come. By you teaching the basics makes you concentrate on performing the basics for the student and that is where you just might learn something. I know I do everytime. This year I'm not teaching novices, teaching low power rear wheel drive (Miata's and similar). Shouldn't be to bad, I autocross a Miata. It's also fun to drive different cars too. Had a blast last year showing a student what his Z4M can actually do. You can measure your success by seeing a few of your student become regulars and then have them beat you later.

poopshovel
poopshovel SuperDork
2/23/12 7:11 p.m.

Scream "LOOK AHEAD" every 5 seconds. I am not joking. I got faster (NOT THAT I'M FAST) when I realized how important course memorization/looking ahead was.

Know the course. Tell the student where he/she should be looking. You should be able to shave significant time and be a f'ing hero. IF NOT: Brake later, Apex later, Commit, yada yada.)

Keep it really, really, really simple. You're not going to explain it all in ten minutes. I had one guy trying to talk to me about slip-angle and 'shuffle steering' and quantum berkeleying physics WHILE WE WERE ON COURSE! Keep it simple. Have fun, and most importantly, pretend like you know what the berkeley you're doing.

Flogger00
Flogger00 New Reader
2/23/12 8:45 p.m.

If you've done it for 5 years, you already thoroughly know the basics of what you want to share with them as far as driving. Keep it very simple. They are already nervous and will be able to absorb very few messages from you. Be selective, not because you're withholding information, but because you are trying not to overwhelm them.

Also keep in mind they probably know NOTHING. Make sure they learn what a grid is, what paddock is, how the event flows, what kind of work assignments there are and all that basic stuff we all take for granted. Emphasize safety, but at the same time make sure they have fun. You want them to come back. Oh, and make sure you have fun, yourself. IME, doing so requires a different mindset than competition days.

Toyman01
Toyman01 SuperDork
2/23/12 8:48 p.m.

jrw1621, Excellent videos, Thanks.

Thanks to everyone else too.

DILYSI Dave
DILYSI Dave SuperDork
2/23/12 10:35 p.m.

Noobs never brake correctly. They are either way to early, or they skid through E36 M3 and plow because they are entering turns too fast.

fast_eddie_72
fast_eddie_72 SuperDork
2/23/12 10:44 p.m.
poopshovel wrote: Scream "LOOK AHEAD" every 5 seconds. I am not joking.

QFT. I did the half day Evo school last summer. Now, I've yelled "look ahead" at novices a hundred times. When Andy Hollis told me I wasn't looking far enough ahead I thought he was full of crap. Then he drove my car. Oh. I see. I still have to yell at myself to look way ahead. I watch the fast guys in my region when I'm working course. I try to make a point of watching their heads turn down course. Fast guys look way, way ahead.

DWNSHFT
DWNSHFT Reader
2/24/12 12:45 a.m.

Try to have your students ride with you. Then tell them what you're looking at, and >then< they'll understand looking ahead. While you're on grid talk about seating position and hand technique.

David

kazoospec
kazoospec Reader
2/24/12 9:08 a.m.

The four most helpful things I got from my first instructor: 1. Look ahead 2. How to attack a slalom - i.e. - line up is key, control inputs need to be made early to allow the weight to shift, concentrate on developing a rhythm/steady speed.
3. Begin unwinding the wheel earlier in turns (Probably most useful for students driving FWD cars) 4. Minimize shifting, concentrate on the wheel.

JoeyM
JoeyM SuperDork
2/24/12 9:20 a.m.

I've never instructed, but I've done a few ride-alongs with novices, and I have one other thing to add WRT slaloms:

"smooth inputs" has already been stated, but make sure the student understands that this includes throttle. I was with a newbie one time who kept stabbing the gas as they passed each cone. I had to explain that this caused forward/backward weight shift. The novice had expected lateral weight transfer from steering, but hadn't considered transfer due to throttle.

Saying "smooth input" didn't get the idea across. I had to state it explicitly.

poopshovel
poopshovel SuperDork
2/24/12 9:29 a.m.
DILYSI Dave wrote: Noobs never brake correctly. They are either way to early, or they skid through E36 M3 and plow because they are entering turns too fast.

10 times outta 9, I still brake too early on an autox course.

plance1
plance1 Dork
2/24/12 9:48 a.m.

no offense but maybe you shouldn't be volunteering as an instructor if you're asking us what to do as... an instructor

mtn
mtn SuperDork
2/24/12 9:50 a.m.
plance1 wrote: no offense but maybe you shouldn't be volunteering as an instructor if you're asking us what to do as... an instructor

No offense, but maybe you should comprehend better.

Toyman01 wrote: Any tips? I've been volunteered to be an instructor for a novice autocross school this Saturday.
rosebartl
rosebartl
2/24/12 9:58 a.m.

I have instructed at a Solo School held by the Buccaneer Region of SCCA in Jacksonville. I have also instructed at a couple of the Tire Rack Street Survival Schools hosted by the Central Florida Region of the SCCA. Additionally, I have taken several Solo Schools; one at the Martin Club, a couple of SoloPro, and an Evo Advantage prior to a National Tour Event. Here's a little of what I have gathered from my two years in Solo....

First off, you must walk the course as often as possible as a beginner. Knowing the course is crucial to making it through without a DNF or other serious mistake. Once you have more experience, you will not have to course walk as much because you will understand the elements and set up and will be able to pinpoint key spots on the course that will require your best driving skills. You can now boil your coursewalk down quite a bit.

Look ahead. There is no substitute for this, but even experienced autocrossers will tell you it is one of the most difficult skills to maintain at all times. When the thrill of competition is close at hand, it is easy to become distracted and forget this most crucial technique, which will cost you dearly if you fail to apply it during your entire run.

I could go on and on about tires, car set up, etc., but I will leave that for another discussion. The purpose of this one is instructing new drivers. When I get in the car with them, I'm pretty much going to let them go at it on the first run and keep my mouth shut, unless I think I'm going to get killed. Then I observe their technique, so I can make suggestions for the next time around. It's usually a matter of getting them to develop skills like shuffle steering, not taking their hands off of the wheel, and setting up for execution that require the most attention. However, if you try to throw all of this at a new driver at once, they are going to be overwhelmed. The best you can do is guide them, make recommendations, and tell them to get in as much practice as possible. It's all about seat time!

I hope this helps. See you on the course!

bludroptop
bludroptop SuperDork
2/24/12 10:17 a.m.

Please don't scream at novices (I'll carve out an exception for a safety emergency). This isn't boot camp.

Focus on what they do correctly. Be positive, make suggestions for improvement, demonstrate technique and be sure to recognize steps in the right direction.

My first novice school was my first-ever autocross experience. I was painfully slow - as in grandma slow. My instructor never uttered a negative word. Instead he praised what I did right and then said "let's try ... next time". He also regularly asked for my feedback - what did I think about that last run?

wlkelley3
wlkelley3 Dork
2/24/12 11:32 a.m.
DILYSI Dave wrote: Noobs never brake correctly. They are either way to early, or they skid through E36 M3 and plow because they are entering turns too fast.

And often because of this they will try to correct by adding more steering input then can't catch up when the car slows down and spins. This is hard to teach but very rewarding once they get it.

fast_eddie_72
fast_eddie_72 SuperDork
2/24/12 12:15 p.m.
plance1 wrote: no offense but maybe you shouldn't be volunteering as an instructor if you're asking us what to do as... an instructor

Anyone who has a few years experience autocrossing has something to teach a novice. Actually, more than you probably realize. There is a massive, massive difference between a novice school and an advanced autocross school. You don't have to be a national champ, or even a local hot shoe to teach a novice school. You just need to understand the basics.

cliff95
cliff95 New Reader
2/24/12 1:59 p.m.
bludroptop wrote: My instructor never uttered a negative word. Instead he praised what I did right and then said "let's try ... next time". He also regularly asked for my feedback - what did I think about that last run?

QFT, ^^^This is key. Being a good teacher/volunteer is hard work, depending on how many students:teachers are in the session, you can be doing the exercise 3-5x more then the student it can get repetive quickly, and remember you were new once and we surely want them back as a competitor in the future.

  • stay positive, even the worst run a person has - they will likely have done something better then the last one, you should point it out especially if they are getting frustrated
  • ask questions of the student - how did that go/what went wrong, it keeps them involved and thinking
  • give them something to concentrate on for the next run, and when they do it well, let them know, even if it's just an incremental improvement
  • look ahead, seriously even further. If needed I've found giving verbal instructions on where I'm looking really does help some people get how far you need to, even if it's awkward initially
  • don't get too advanced, unless the student has some background or is making substancial progress, this is a novice school, they are likely already overwhelmed from just being there.
  • listen to their questions and answer them, if you don't have the answer say so and help them find it
  • offer rides, both at the school and future events
White_and_Nerdy
White_and_Nerdy HalfDork
2/24/12 2:12 p.m.

Great advice. I always try to point out at least one thing the driver did well, just to keep up a positive attitude. Then, if I notice the driver made 20 mistakes during the run, I only talk about the one or two most significant ones. Don't overload them, or else no matter how positive your attitude is they can come away with the attitude of "I made all these mistakes, I suck!" That, and they won't remember 20 things to do differently. They'll remember one or two.

One of the most common things I see novices doing is not going fast enough. Ironic, isn't it? Yet many start out timid, and go through an entire run without squeaking a tire once. You can still work on where to look (far, far ahead) and lines and such at low speeds, but personally I think the real teacher is when they kick up the pace. Small mistakes you get away with at lower speeds come back and bite you in the backside at higher speeds. I think a better teacher is to ALLOW them to make those mistakes, gain the experience, and then teach them how to avoid that situation.

Ridealongs are awesome, whether you're driving or riding. I'll take a passenger pretty much any time. I once had literally an entire family in my Grand Caravan at an ice time trial event. Even funnier was that was the same day I won the AWD/all-season tire class.

jstein77
jstein77 Dork
2/24/12 2:27 p.m.

The two I things I most frequently try to get across to novices are looking ahead and late apexing. I tell them that you often have to look out the side windows to see around a tight corner in order to set your car up for the exit. I also give them the rule of thumb, "wide entry, tight exit" in order to lead them to a late apex line. Most of the time they don't really get it until you drive them through in their own car. Talk to them as you're driving, saying things like, "See how wide I am here, now look how soon I can get on the gas because of that."

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