1 2 3
Tom1200
Tom1200 HalfDork
11/21/18 9:48 p.m.

So this past weekend I was instructing at a track day and both my student and novice driver were a bit taken a back by my show them the merits of steering and trail braking. Basically it was a completely foreign concept. The new student had some autocross experience and the novice driver had a done one track day. 

When I show people how to steer with the pedals it usually is a foreign concept, even those with a bit of experience, so this was nothing new but nevertheless I'm still surprised that more enthusiasts aren't aware of these concepts.

Granted I had a leg up coming from motorcycles where one uses the throttle and brakes to rapidly change directions. Also as a broke teenager I read every race driving book I could find in hopes that I'd actually be able to race someday.

So out of curiosity how many folks on here are still trying to tighten their line mid corner using steering rather than simply lifting off the throttle a bit or doing all your braking in a straight line? 

loosecannon
loosecannon Dork
11/21/18 10:20 p.m.

I learned this after starting a kart track and it was hammered home in Evolution Autocross school. They taught us to turn the steering wheel in a sweeper then adjust the arc with the gas pedal: more gas to increase arc, less gas to decrease arc. I've really practiced trail braking and I think it's the reason my staff cannot beat me on the kart track. They race me and follow my racing line but they haven't figured out the trail braking yet because you can't really see that happening while following another driver.

Ransom
Ransom PowerDork
11/21/18 11:06 p.m.

I don't know when I started practicing it, but I started reading driving and chassis books obsessively years before I could get my driver's license.

EDIT: Watching this thread unfold, I feel like I should note that I think I have a good understanding and use the concepts constantly, I would not claim any sort of mastery. This is one of those things you can improve forever, I think.

Jay_W
Jay_W Dork
11/22/18 12:53 a.m.

From the getgo. My ol' man put me in a kart when I was 8, you can pick the rudiments of that sort of thing there and then if you do stage rally you get better at it.... but not *really*good in my case. Consarn it. I did not seem to show enough talent at all this stuff to do what those F1 drivers-that-started-in-karts do...

LanEvo
LanEvo HalfDork
11/22/18 5:23 a.m.

These skills used to be taught on the skid pad.

When I started doing HPDE events with the BMW CCA about 20 years ago now, most chapters offered a “car control clinic” (or even a “ground school”) that was mandatory for novice participants. They wouldn’t let you register for an on-track HPDE until you had done the classroom sessions and spent some time on the skid pad. It was all about throttle control , braking, and steering. 

Knurled.
Knurled. MegaDork
11/22/18 6:14 a.m.

The ability to steer with the pedals is 99% of why I don't like V8s or other large displacement engines.

 

The amount of engine mass vs. engine braking is nowhere near as controllable as a nice higher revving smaller engine.

mazdeuce - Seth
mazdeuce - Seth Mod Squad
11/22/18 6:50 a.m.

It's hard to learn in autocross for beginners because everything is happening so fast on a usual course. For the first couple of years (or so it seems) if they don't actively seek out instruction people tend to plateau at quickly navigating the course. As an instructor this is the point where I try to get people to take a school, do a track day, go rallycross, something to introduce them to new ideas about driving. As far as road course guys not knowing, I put that down to the very very small number of passenger ride alongs people do, especially once they're cleared to drive solo. There is only so much you can teach a person without saying "it feels like this" and showing them. 

Keep in mind that I'm a mediocre driver on my best days and my main job as an instructor is to get new people excited about the sport and comfortable with the group. Beyond that I teach people to listen to their cars and then pass them off to the "good" instructors. 

T.J.
T.J. MegaDork
11/22/18 7:12 a.m.

This is a skill that can be learned playing games. For example, take Project Cars 2, use a GT3 car around Fuji and the long right hander is a perfect place to figure the concept out. 

Knurled.
Knurled. MegaDork
11/22/18 7:38 a.m.

In reply to T.J. :

This is not untrue.  I learned to get more turn-in with brakes and lift-throttle by playing lots of Hard Drivin' and Race Drivin' as a preteen.  (1980s arcade game with force feedback steering)

 

IMO it is only a primer, and there is way much more to learn.  I don't consider myself fully educated, either.

GameboyRMH
GameboyRMH MegaDork
11/22/18 7:50 a.m.
T.J. said:

This is a skill that can be learned playing games. For example, take Project Cars 2, use a GT3 car around Fuji and the long right hander is a perfect place to figure the concept out. 

Road America's Carousel is another corner where you can take your time and learn this stuff. In fact the technique I use on that corner is basically to settle on a steering angle and fine-tune the cornering with the gas.

Edit: Or just any big oval track, where this technique is basically the meat and potatoes of driving.

P3PPY
P3PPY Reader
11/22/18 7:54 a.m.

So it's all foreign to me. Are we basically talking about using throttle or brake to control a skid you're already in?

bobzilla
bobzilla MegaDork
11/22/18 7:57 a.m.

Since I was about 16 driving a manual trans Tempo on gravel roads. throttle was more important than the round thing my hands had a hold of. The Elantra was just as bad when auto-x'ing. Pushed like a pig (it was nicknamed Porky) but would get snap oversteer with throttle lift. The C4 was the opposite... more throttle to get tail out. The truck.... well it's a work in progress. 

GameboyRMH
GameboyRMH MegaDork
11/22/18 7:59 a.m.
P3PPY said:

So it's all foreign to me. Are we basically talking about using throttle or brake to control a skid you're already in?

More generally talking about using accel/decel (via more or less gas) to control rotation by shifting weight. A car rotates more on decel and less on accel.

 

When you're in a skid these rules still apply but controlling a skid is more about pushing and pulling different ends of a car, the technique for which varies by powertrain layout and weight distribution. For FR it's accel to extend a slide to decel to shorten/straighten it, for FF it's the other way around. MR is somewhat similar to FR and AWD tends to be similar to FF. RR tends to transition when you lift in a slide, sometimes so violenty that it whips the car into a spin toward the outside of the corner, in which case you want to stay on the gas and hope you picked a good line when you started the slide, because there are no backsies surprise

mazdeuce - Seth
mazdeuce - Seth Mod Squad
11/22/18 8:13 a.m.

I wonder if this might have been easier to learn "back in the day" with bias ply race tires that operated over a larger slip angle range than modern tires. 

GameboyRMH
GameboyRMH MegaDork
11/22/18 8:18 a.m.
mazdeuce - Seth said:

I wonder if this might have been easier to learn "back in the day" with bias ply race tires that operated over a larger slip angle range than modern tires. 

Perhaps, but bias ply tires also had less directional stability...

Knurled.
Knurled. MegaDork
11/22/18 8:23 a.m.
mazdeuce - Seth said:

I wonder if this might have been easier to learn "back in the day" with bias ply race tires that operated over a larger slip angle range than modern tires. 

Could very well be.  Bias plies had a very shallow, forgiving slip angle curve.  Max grip was at a shockingly high (to radial-bred mindsets) level of slip, and the consequences of exceeding max grip were low, since the grip didn't fall off a cliff like it does with radials, especially low-profile radials.

 

In this respect, I really really like rallycross, because the speeds are low, and the ground surface determines your slip angle curve as much as the tires you have on the car do.

Tyler H
Tyler H UltraDork
11/22/18 9:17 a.m.

I think part of the reason this concept is foreign to newbies is the mantra of HPDE instruction designed to just get people safely around the track.  Between lower barriers to entry, increased grip and HP of modern cars, and electronic fun police, get them to solo and let them explore the limit on their own.  

I've been told as an instructor 'no trail braking' before.  Point and shoot only.

I think one of the best places to learn how to drive these days is 24 Hours of Lemons.  It's a safe environment (safety gear and cars with low limits) with a lot of seat time to get you over the learning curve in a weekend.

Ian F
Ian F MegaDork
11/22/18 9:23 a.m.
mazdeuce - Seth said:

I wonder if this might have been easier to learn "back in the day" with bias ply race tires that operated over a larger slip angle range than modern tires. 

I also wonder if it's more prevalent with older drivers who learned to drive in snow before traction control and other electronic "aids"?  

I got reasonably good at using the pedals to position/hold my TDI during autocross runs and somewhat acceptable in my old R52 Cooper.  I've yet to "get it" with the current R53 JCW.  Partly because I still tend to autocross that car with too much sympathy out of fear something is going to break.

conesare2seconds
conesare2seconds Dork
11/22/18 9:25 a.m.

Left foot braking is a fantastically useful technique.  IMO, the biggest difference in technique between a beginner and an experienced autox driver is looking ahead.  The biggest difference between an experienced driver and a fast experienced driver is left foot braking. 

adam525i
adam525i Reader
11/22/18 9:34 a.m.

I was at a "track school" hosted by our local time attack organization earlier this year and after lightly trail braking into a corner the instructor asked me to explain what I had a done wrong and I didn't know what to answer. He explained how I was about to lose control doing something like that and I needed to be done ALL of my braking before turning in. I didn't learn a lot that day and decided this group wasn't for me.

He races a Subaru, I'm not sure how he ever gets that thing to turn in.

Steering with the pedals is second nature to me as we get to practice all winter here on snow covered roads, it pays off at the rallycross and on track.

Adam

snailmont5oh
snailmont5oh Dork
11/22/18 9:38 a.m.

Two things: Driving a car with nowhere near enough tire or tracking in the rain can help to learn this skill.

My first ride in a C7 Z06 with the Z07 package at Summit Point Main, I watched the driver go around the carousel (T6), and he turned the wheel mid-corner and changed his line. I said, "You're not even pushing this thing!" He admitted that he wasn't, and asked how I knew. I told him that the only way he should have been able to change his line like that was by lifting the throttle, and he agreed. 

Patrick
Patrick MegaDork
11/22/18 9:46 a.m.

In reply to Tom1200 :

Been doing it since i can remember.  I recall many years ago on a certain camaro forum where someone mentioned lifting in a curve to turn tighter and all he got was “that’s dangerous!!!! The tail can step out on you!!” replies.  

Snrub
Snrub HalfDork
11/22/18 9:51 a.m.

I have little in the way of skills. I can't say I always trail break effectively. It depends on the corner, comfort level, etc. I'm better with the throttle.

More modern cars have much better suspension which controls body motions. Older cars had body motion all over the place, so it was easy to feel the sensations of weight transfer. The suspension in modern cars reacts better, so you're more likely to to be able to trail brake. One has pros for learning, the other for actual application. I was much more confident trail braking in my RX-8 vs. Miata track car. I haven't tracked my 6th gen Camaro, but trail braking on the street feels comfortable.

P3PPY
P3PPY Reader
11/22/18 11:14 a.m.

I guess I'll have to find a few explanation videos or something. I'm not getting how short of tire slip you could change the direction a car is going without changing the direction of the front tire. I'm anxious to peer into this new world though!

GameboyRMH
GameboyRMH MegaDork
11/22/18 11:44 a.m.
P3PPY said:

I guess I'll have to find a few explanation videos or something. I'm not getting how short of tire slip you could change the direction a car is going without changing the direction of the front tire. I'm anxious to peer into this new world though!

It is a tiny bit of tire slip, within the bounds of maintaining good grip, not enough for the car to get sideways or appreciably plow. When you shift weight forward (decel) the front tires slip less and the rear slips more causing greater rotation, when you shift weight backward (accel) the front slips more and the rear slips less causing less rotation.

1 2 3
Our Preferred Partners
gld3OOiLu71VcL8JCTGnWCJEgyzhpcsobt1fLhZ7JcIi6c4UbI7hvjjjsLGcPy8O