using every bit of available pavement, if
at the traction limit of the tires. Which
leads directly to tip number seven...
Drive the shortest possible distance. If you are not at your rubber’s maximum
traction, don’t drive any farther out.
Tight and tidy. This is a secret of the
best autocrossers, too. Example: The
OPM Autosports Spec Miata I last
drove could easily do Road Atlanta’s
Turn 12 flat. After a few laps on the
normal line against the grass, I thought,
“Do I need to be way out here?” Next
time by I came down the hill in the
middle of the road. Made 12 easily.
Gained three tenths. Every lap. Saved
60 feet of driving, 30 over, 30 back.
Example two: Mid-Ohio’s Turns 8 and 9,
depending on the numbering system
choice of the day. Coming over that
great “yump” all the way to driver’s
right makes it too far and too much
drag to get all the way back left for
entering Turn 9.
Full acceleration to full deceleration as quickly as possible. No lazy lifts
allowed. Goes double for autocrossers
and is one reason left-foot braking
“Charge into the turn, charge
out, blending it all together
seamlessly and smoothly”
harder into the road surface. It’s
downforce, of a sort. Use it. When a
corner goes skyward, carry lots of
speed into the corner by turning early
and using a very light trail brake. The
hill will catch you; wait for it. Wait, wait,
wait to go back to power, because
when you finally do, you’ll transfer
weight off the steering tires and
probably understeer. So, if you can,
trail brake all the way to the apex.
A personal secret of mine, which
I will share with you here late in my
pro career, is to do this at Watkins
Glen’s Toe of the Boot, Turn 7.
And the inverse; when the track
goes downhill, the car lacks grip,
so apex later for the best exit.
So there you have a neat package
of all the fundamentals of turning
better laps, strictly from behind
the wheel. Share with friends and
write me on Facebook with the ones
I forgot (most likely) or haven’t yet
discovered (always eyes wide open).
USING ALL OF IT
Minimizing lap times
a number of driving
skills, but don’t go
for it all at once
or you may go
a bit too far.
works for some in The Game of Cones
at the Tire Rack Solo National
Championships. There is a
tremendous amount of time available
to you if you’re currently rolling off the
gas. Go gas-to-brake instantly.
Shift well. Shift as fast as possible without hurting your gearbox. Shift less, because
shifts cost speed when you stop
accelerating for a moment to change
gears. Know how to match revs on
downshifts, or you’ll never be as quick as
you could be – otherwise, you’ll have to
over-slow to keep from locking wheels
(this is more important in rear-drives;
you can get away with it better in front-and all-wheel drivers because they won’t
lock rear tires). Oh, and modern racing
boxes are so good that most of this
advice is now obsolete. But there will
always be the Bugeye Sprite.
And number 10: Know your elevation. For faster laps, the driver
must take advantage of the extra
cornering power available when the
car is going uphill. When the road is
gaining altitude, the inertia of your
racer’s mass is pushing your tires