Reading this book will not turn you into a world champion auto racer. It can help you become a better, safer driver whether you are driving on the race track or on public roads. Unlike many books on driving, this one was explicitly designed to be used in conjunction with a performance driving school, taught at a racetrack. This book is designed to give you the background that you need to get the most from every minute of tracktime without going into so much detail that it would take forever to read. It is meant to be an introduction to performance driving, not the definitive text. There are many excellent in-depth books on the subjects of performance driving , racing, and race car preparationand the material in them should be helpful for any one who wants to continue improving their driving, or progress on to racing.
Even if you are not planning on taking a driving school at a racetrack, this book can help you improve your driving on the street. The principles are the same, even if the opportunities to safely explore the limits of handling aren’t.

This book has eight major sections.
Section 7 COURSE AND TURN DESCRIPTIONS ������������������������������������������

The ABOUT THE CAR section considers the subjects of traction and weight transfer. It also touches on gears and gear choices and braking. Some familiarity with the basic physics involved will make it easier to understand why things work the way that they do.
The ABOUT THE TECHNIQUES section discusses how to get the car to do what you want it to. Knowing the proper line is only part of the battle, you must beable to make the car drive that line . ������������������
The ABOUT THE ROAD section describes how and where to position the car on the road, what is a line , what is a good line , why some line s are better than others, how to select the best line and combination of line s.
The ABOUT THE DRIVER section discusses those things that affect the driver and his/her state of mind. Things that will improve or hinder your mental, emotional or physical state on the track.
This book is meant to be used in conjunction with a driving school. The ABOUT THE SCHOOL section discusses special considerations to be taken into account by both the students and the faculty.
IMPROVING YOUR DRIVING discusses analyzing your own driving so that you continue to improve after you no longer have the supervision of an instructor.
There is also a GLOSSARY in the APPENDIX. If you run across a word or phrase that you do not understand, look it up before you continue.

There are two sides to driving skill; knowing what to do, or the intellectual, and the physical ability to do it, or the kinesthetic. Knowing the line perfectly won't make you go anyfaster, if you can't actually drive it. Having perfect car control won't make you go faster if you consistently, deliberately, put the car in exactly the wrong place on the track.
By learning and understanding the underlying principles of what you should do before you get to the track, you will be able to devote your full attention to learning how to do it once you get there.
While this book can be read in a single sitting, there is too much material to absorb all at once. Give yourself several evenings so you can read and understand a little at a time before going on to the next section. Better yet, first scan through the book to familiarize yourself with its overall contents, then go back and read each section carefully, concentrating on a little bit at a time.
Treat this book as you would any textbook. Make notes and write questions in the margins and on the diagrams...then when you learn the answers, write them in next to the questions. If you do not obtain this book in time to study it fully before getting to the track, read the sections on Line (sub-section 3.1), Attitude (section 5.2.2) and Flags and Signals (section 6.2). You will also find it helpful to learn some of the terms in the glossary.

At the back of the book there is a short questionnaire. I need your input to help me improve future editions. Your cooperation in passing along your honest opinions will be appreciated.

Larry Colen
Felton, California
July 2003



This chapter explains the basic physics behind balance, weight transfer and traction. Many people find that this helps them get a better feel for what is happening to the car as they perform the various techniques described in this book. Other people are not as interested in why taking their foot off the gas will cause the car to turn more, it is enough for them to know that it does. I have attempted to take an inherently complicated subject and present it in the simplest possible terms. Read over this section. If you are the sort of person who enjoyed their science classes in school, you will probably find that it helps you understand why the techniques described in the following sections work. If, on the other hand, it just makes your brain hurt, skip on to the next section and don ’t worry about it.

Before I continue, I ’d like to give a quick explanation of the drawings that I use in this section, or "What do all those funny circles and arrows mean?"

The circles represent a concept called the " Circle of friction ". If the circle is just by itself, or is drawn in the middle of a car it represents the overall ability of the tires of the car to accelerate, brake or turn. The arrow represents what the driver is trying to make his car do. If the arrow is pointing forward he is accelerating, backward he is decelerating, to the side he is turning. If the arrow is completely inside the circle, the tires can do what the driver is attempting. If the head of the arrow falls outside of the circle, the tires will not be able to do what the driver is attempting and one or more of the tires will skid .

If the driver is trying to accelerate (or brake) and turn at the same time, the arrow will point at some angle that is not exactly either front-back or to the side. To figure out what the arrow would be, draw an arrow showing the forwards acceleration , now draw an arrow perpendicular to it showing how hard of a turn the driver is trying to make. Draw two more lines that complete a box made out of the first two arrows. Now draw an arrow that starts at the corner of the box in the middle of the circle and which ends at the corner of the box diagonal to the base of the arrow.

The term accelerate just means to change the velocity, either the speed or the direction, of the car. So any time a car speeds up, slows down or turns it is accelerating in some direction. The arrow is the acceleration vector. The direction that it points is the direction the car is accelerating. The length is how hard the car is accelerating.

When I draw the circles at the corners of the car, they represent the weight on each tire. The bigger the circle, the more weight there is on that tire. Since more weight on a tire gives it better grip, these circles can also be looked at as the Circle of friction for each tire. If a driver is trying to turn at one g and his front tires can take 1.1 g of acceleration , but his rear tires can only take 0.9 g of acceleration , then the acceleration vector on the front wheels will be inside their circle of friction and they will grip. The acceleration vector for the rear tires, however, will be outside their circle of friction and the rear tires will skid possibly causing the car to spin out, this condition is called oversteer .

Ultimately, your tires determine the limits of your car's handling. There is a concept used for describing the potential ability of a tire. A circle which has a radius equal to the maximum force that can be generated by friction between the tire and the road is known as "the circle of friction ".
For the sake of simplicity let's say that the tire can exert one pound of sideways force for every pound of vertical force pushing down on it. This is a somewhat simplified explanation of the technical term referring to the tires ability to take one g. (If one pound of downward force would only allow a tire to exert one-half pound of sideways force (before the tire started skidding ) it would be said to take one half or 0.5 g. In our simplified example we will assume that the tire can sustain one g, accelerate at one g (engine allowing), or turn at one g. If however, you are braking at .7g, there is only about .7g left over for turning. (This is where you could use the high school trig that you never paid any attention to). Likewise if you are turning at .8g only .6g remain for acceleration . (Use the Pythagorean theorem to make the math work out)
This means that if you go hot and heavy into a turn, using all of the tire's threshold braking ability right on the verge of lockup, and you crank your steering wheel hard over your car will... continue to go straight. There will be nothing left of the tires' abilities to make the car turn.
There is another aspect to the friction circle. The friction circle for each tire has a different size and shape which can be changed by driving technique. But there is a catch: What you give to one is taken from another.
For instance, the more force pressing down on the tires, the stronger their grip on the road. The downward force is varied is by braking or accelerating. When you brake, the car's weight shifts forward, putting more weight on the front tires while taking weight from the rear tires. This means that while the front tires hold better, the rear tires hold less well, and the car has a tendency to oversteer . Similarly, accelerating shifts the weight to the back, causing a tendency to understeer . (See section 4.6.4 for an explanation of under- and oversteer .)
So far the discussion has assumed a state known as "static" friction. If you are trying to slide something, it takes a lot of force to get it to move, but a lot less force to keep it sliding. Under normal conditions, your tires are in a state of "static" friction with the road. However, when they "break free" they then go into a state of sliding friction where it takes much less force to keep them sliding. This is why when you lose it, it seems to happen all at once. The force keeps building up until it exceeds the limit by a little bit. Then, all of a sudden, it is way above the new limit and Whee! Your rear end comes around to ask you what you thought you were doing.
Of course, if your car has enough torque , tromping on the gas causes whichever wheels are driving to start spinning, losing traction at that end and causing the car to either go straight off the road if it is a front-wheel drive car, or spin out if it is a rear-wheel drive car.

<DIAGRAM circle>
circle of friction

Speeding up, slowing down, turning, and going up or down hill each accelerate the car in some direction. When a car accelerates, weight (and therefore traction) is taken away from the tires in the direction that the car is accelerating toward and given to the tires the car is accelerating from.
When cornering, weight is transferred from the inside wheels to the outside wheels. During hard cornering, one of the inside wheels will actually lift off the ground. If the suspension binds or bottoms out, both inside wheels could leave the ground. When there is little or no weight on the inside tires, especially in cars with stock suspensions and performance tires, you can sometimes put them past the edge of the pavement at the apex of the turn without losing traction.
When a car is speeding up, weight is transfered to the rear wheels. Since the rear wheels always point the same direction as the car (unless something has gone horribly wrong) the car will be more stable. This is the reason behind the old adage "When in doubt, gas it". Remember, acceleration is your friend.
When a car is slowing, weight is transferred to the front wheels, making the car turn more. If overdone (especially in the rain) this will cause the car to oversteer , or spin out.
When a car starts up a hill, or reaches the bottom of a hill, it is suddenly accelerated upward. This transfers the weight to tires on the underside of the car. Since all of the tires should be on the underside of the car, they will all work better allowing more traction than on the flat.
On the other hand, when a car crests a hill, weight is transferred away from the tires and the car will not have as much traction as on the flat.


3.1 LINE
The path taken through a turn is known as the line . There are many possible line s througha turn (watch a beginner session at one turn to get an idea how many), but there are very few correct line s through a turn (watch professional racers take the same turn). Schools usually teach what is known as the qualifying line , the fastest, safest line around a racecourse without worrying about such subtletiesof racing as passing, or keeping from being passed. This section discusses the principles behind choosing the proper line .

3.1.1 THE APEX
Here we come to different uses of apex . The word can mean where your wheels touch (or get closest to) the inside of the turn. It can also be used to describe locations on the turn.
The middle of the turn is known as the geometric apex , the area on the inside of the turn before the center is known as an early apex , after the middle is a late apex .

The first principle of maximizing speed through a turn is to make as wide of an arc as possible. A physicist would say that lateral acceleration is inversely proportional to the radius of the turn and directly proportional to the velocity squared . A non-physicist would say that the wider you make the turn, the faster you can go. If you were to drive the largest possible circular arc through a turn you could, you would be able to go through the turn at the highest constant speed. This is the Maximum Constant Radius (MCR) line .
To drive the MCR line , enterthe turn at the extreme outside edge of the road and turn the wheel before the road itself turns. The inside wheels will touch the inside of the edge of the road at the middle of the turn.

Line of Maximum Constant Radius

<DIAGRAM: mcr>

While the MCR is the fastest line through a turn, maximizing the exit speed from a turn is usuallythe fastest way to get around the track. To maximize your exit speed, you will usually drive what is known as the Late Apex Line . Slow down more at the beginning than you would with a MCR line . This lets you to turn the car more sharply at thebeginning of the turn so you can make the later part of the turn wider. The wider turn means that at the same limit of handling the car can be going faster. Two ways of telling how well this works is to notice that you can start accelerating while you are still in the turn, usually even before the apex . The other way is to look at your speedometer at the exit of the turn and see how much faster you go when you do it right.

late apex line

<DIAGRAM: late>

If you apex too late, the car's speed will not carry it all of the way to the outside of the track on the exit. The problem with this is you have to slow down more at the beginning of the turn to make it to such a late apex .
This is done deliberately when it is desirable to exit a turn, yet stay to the inside, for example when we decide that it is worth sacrificing a little speed in the first portion of an ess curve, which looks like the letter 'S', in order to accelerate sooner and be able to exit the second turn in the ess at a higher speed. (See section 3.3.6) It is also a common way of setting someone up for a pass on the straightaway following a turn.

apex line

<DIAGRAM: rtnocar>

right, no car

If you apex too early, then at the end of the turn, your car will be pointing at the outside edge of the track. And one of two things will happen: You will drive off the outside of the turn, or have to turn the car even tighter to stay on the track. But, if you slow down in the middle of the turn, the transfer of weight (and hence traction) from the rear wheels to the front could cause you to spin.

Early apex line

<DIAGRAM: early>

In his book, Driving in Competition, Alan Johnson categorizes turns as class-one, class- two and class-three. ����������
Even the windiest race tracks actually have far more straight road than curved. The straights are where the cars can go the fastest. It makes sense to choose a line that lets you go the fastest where you spend most of your time.
Class-one turns, which lead onto straights, are therefore the most important. Every mile an hour that you have going into a straight, you carry all the way to the next turn, or until the car reaches its terminal velocity. Optimize your exit speed on class-one turns.
Class-two turns are those at the ends of straights. The longer you can carry your speed into it, the more time you can spend going faster.
Class-three turns lead to another turn. They are is important for setting up the turn that follows. The line through a class-three turn should be chosen to maximize the exit speed from the last turn in the sequence.
When planning your line around the track, first identify all the class-one turns and figure out what you must do to maximize your exit speed from them. Then look for the class-two turns and decide how deep you can carry your speed into them, without screwing up the line through class-one turn thast follows. Then you should find the fastest way through what is left.
Note that while a turn which connects two straights might be considered both a class one and a class two turn, it should be treated as a class one turn. It is far more important to carry the extra speed the whole length of the straight that follows, than the short distance between the early and late barking points.
Occasionally you will encounter an extremely long turn, such as the Carousel (turn six) at Sears Point. On turns like this, treat the entrance as a class-two turn, the middle of the turn as a class- three turn to set yourself up for the exit, which you treat as a class one-turn.

The most basic turn is a constant radius turn which separates two straights.

A turn that starts out sharp, then widens out, is called an increasing radius turn. If you were to drive around the inside edge of the turn, you would start with the steering wheel turned a lot (to go around a turn with a small radius) and would straighten the wheel as you went (as if you were going around a turn of a larger radius). Increasing radius turns are very fast because as you accelerate, more road is available on the exit. The fast line through one ofthese turns puts the apex earlier than it would be for a constant radius turn.

A turn that starts out gentle but tightens up is known as a decreasing radius turn . These can be very nasty if you are not prepared because all of a sudden you will find yourself running out of room at the exit of the turn. On a decreasing radius turn, apex later than you would a constant radius turn.

When a turn is properly banked (the outside of the turn is higher than the inside) is called an on-camber turn . The slope of the road as you go around the turn will help pull the car back down to the center of the track. Not only that, but the centrifugal acceleration actually pushes the tires into the road (rather than parallel) helping to push the tires into the road and improving the traction. An on camber turn can be taken faster than a flat turn of the same radius.
A turn where the road starts to go up hill, at the bottom of the hill, or where the hill gets steeper will act just like an on camber turn.

If the inside of the turn is higher than the outside, it is known as an off camber turn. Everything that worked for you in an on camber turn is now working against you. An off camber turn has to be taken slower than a flat turn of the same radius.
Turns at the tops of hills act like an off-camber turn because all of the weight (and traction) comes off of the wheels.

When there are two opposite direction turns immediately after each other, sacrifice your line through the first one to maximze the speed through and out of the second turn. Do this is by taking an extra-late apex in the first turn, which will allow you to set up on the outside edge of the ENTRANCE to the second turn.
It is important that you let the car settle between the two turns. Rather than turning the wheel from one direction to the other, pause briefly in the middle when the wheel is straight.

ess turns

<DIAGRAM: essflat>


One of the most important driving skill to develop is smoothness. It is necessary for using all of the abilities of the car without attempting to exceed them. There is a limit to what each car can do. When you are below that limit, you are throwing away performance potential. When you attempt to exceed that limit, you crash. If you are smooth, you can keep a car just below this limit. If you are not smooth, you will approach this limit, then back off, approach it again and back off again, or you will exceed those limits, which can mean problems, time loss, and often major expenses. Even when you are not near the car's limits, inconsistent and jerky driving techniques will lower them.
The limits of adhesion are primarily dependent on the abilities of your tires abilities to resist sliding or skidding . Tires do not approach a maximum and level off. They change drastically when they go from a rolling contact with the road to a sliding ( skidding ) contact. When a tire starts to skid , it instantly loses a large portion of its traction potential. A tire that is just below the limit may be able to generate 500-pounds of force, but when it breaks free, it may only be able to generate less than 300.
Achieving smoothness is easier said than done. It does not mean applying the controls slowly; it means not changing them abruptly.
Control changes should be applied progressively. They should be increased until they reach their maximum value, then decreased back to zero. Watch a good driver: he will turn the steering wheel in one motion till he is done, then bring it back to straight. A less-skilled driver will saw at the wheel, making all sorts of adjustments throughout the turn.
If you are not a smooth driver and you jerkily apply and release the brakes, throttle and steering, the car will bounce as the energy is released or stored in the springs. This bouncing will cause the downward force on the tires to rapidly increase or decrease, suddenly varying the tire-to-road traction. This makes it impossible for the driver to keep the car at the edge of these rapidly changing limits.
Not being smooth getting on the brakes will make it hard to keep the car heading straight while braking at the limits. Not being smooth letting off of the brakes will cause the front of the car to bounce up and down during turndown, causing the effective steering angle to change as the front tires load and unload.
When braking is done properly, a passenger would have a hard time feeling the exact instant that the driver starts to apply or release the brakes.
As you learn and practice the different driving skills, always strive for smoothness.

Your tires generate the most force when they are just on the threshold of losing traction in any direction, be it forward, backward or sideways. This is as true for slowing down as it is for accelerating.
Therefore, to stop or slow down in the least distance, you must apply the brakes as hard as you can without locking them up. If you brake too hard, one or more of the wheels will lock up and the car won't stop or slow down as quickly as it potentially can. You may also flat spot (grind tread off small portions) of the tires, wasting expensive rubber and reducing the tires abilities. On the other hand, if you don't brake hard enough, you will have to take your foot off the gas sooner, which leads to longer lap times. Either way, you end up spending less time at full throttle.
It is difficult to tell when a wheel is on the verge of locking up. (All four wheels rarely lock up simultaneously.) By noticing that one or two wheels are about to lock up, you can ease off the brakes a little bit and adjust the braking pressure to keep the overall braking force at its maximum.
You can tell that your wheels are locking up by feel and by sound. Since a skidding tire exerts less frictional force than one that is not skidding you can
feel for this loss of friction. You can also listen for the distinctive sound of a skidding tire, which also tells you to ease off on the brakes till the sound goes away.
At this threshold, note how the brake pedal, steering wheel and the overall balance of the car feel as the car goes in and out of the skid . This will train you to be able to recognize an impending lockup...before it happens.
If you are driving an open wheeled (formula) car, there is a very simple way to tell if either of the front wheels are locking up. Just look at them. Note that you want to practice seeing what the tires are doing while looking as far down the track as you can.
When you practice threshold breaking, do it where, if you make a mistake, you can lock up all four wheels and safely skid off into the dirt. On the track, pick a slow corner at the end of a long straight that has plenty of runoff room. Always make sure that someone won't rear-end you if (when) something goes wrong. Hit the brakes hard enough to lock up all four wheels, then let off the brakes until you stop skidding . Then put more force back on the brakes until the tires start to skid . Practice until you can reliably keep the car right on the threshold of going into a skid .
By the way, even if you have a safe runoff, try to avoid having to use it. When you go into the dirt, then come back onto the track, you will track dirt, which reduces traction, onto the track, messing it up for other drivers.
If your car has an Anitlock Braking System ( ABS ) and you can turn it off, do so when on the track. Not only can a good driver often stop a car quicker without it, but the point of a driving school is to learn, and you won't learn good braking technique if you let your car do the thinking for you.
If (When) you find that you cannot slow down enough for a turn and will have to use the runoff, remember that the car will have much less traction in the dirt. Let up on the brakes just before you go off of the pavement so you will not lose control as the car hits the dirt. Straighten your wheel, because if your car is trying to stop and it suddenly loses traction, unexpected and unpleasant things are likely to follow. In the worst case your wheel could dig into and catch in the dirt causing your car to flip. As long as you keep the steering wheel relatively straight (except to avoid holes and bumps in the dirt) until you have slowed enough to turn around, you should have no trouble even if you play Parnelli Jones in the runoff.
Remember not to practice this where people are not expecting you to suddenly slow down in such a dramatic fashion. Coming to a sudden stop in the middle of the main straight with a faster car right on your tail is stupid, but people often do stupid things, especially at driving schools.

Brake linings come in two flavors, street compounds that stop well when they are relatively cold but work poorly when they get too warm, and race compounds that work best once they warm up (to a point) but don't work very well until they warm up. This is because when driving on the street you will rarely use your brakes hard and often enough to significantly warm them up. Therefore, for the street you will want brakes that work well when they are cold. This is why you should not put racing compound brakes on a street machine.

If you are are using your street car with street compound brakes at a track school, you may find the stopping ability of the car decreasing as its brakes heat up. This is known as brake fade. If this happens, move your s back a little bit so you do not have to brake as hard to slow down enough for the turns. Your lap times will increase, but this is a school, not a race and it isn't worth the risk of losing your brakes which could end up causing you to damage yourself and/or your car.

If faster lap times and maintaining the structural integrity of your fenders are not reason enough, another reason for smooth application of the brakes is that they will last longer. When you slam on your brakes after a long straight, they go from cool to very hot very quickly. This thermal shock greatly reduces the life of the brake materials.
Smooth application of the brakes reduces this problem. Even if you don't mind the expense and bother of replacing brakes, many cars (especially Mustangs) can destroy a set of brake pads in a single day of track time. If the brakes aren't treated nicely, you may find it necessary to replace the brakes before the day is out. If you are lucky, you will notice the impending brake failure in the paddock, rather than at end of a 100 mph straight as you are going into a 30 mph turn.
You may find that the amount of pedal travel required before your brakes take effect increases to the point that it is difficult to heel and toe. A temporary remedy is to give the brakes a quick pump or two before applying them. You do not want to push the pedal down hard enough that the brakes actually engage, pumping that hard would cause the front of the car to bounce up and down, making it difficult to control. Just lightly press the pedal to the point that you start to feel resistance and quickly release it and reapply it. This pumps a little extra fluid from the master cylinder into the brake system, taking up the slack that caused the excessive pedal travel.
Note that this extra pedal travel can be caused by several things, none of them good. First of all, if your car has drum brakes on one or both ends, they may have worn down to the point that they are out of adjustment. Even if your brakes are self adjusting, you may be wearing them out faster at the track than they can adjust for. Secondly, there may be fluid boiling in your brake line s. Either you are using yourbrakes so hard that the brake fluid itself is boiling, or there is water, which boils at a much lower temperature, in your brake fluid. In either case, the pedal will regain it ’s “hard ” feel when the brakes cool down. In this situation, there is probably nothing that you will have time to do at a school and you should take my earlier advice about brake fade and brake a little bit easier for the rest of the day.
The third possible cause is air in the brake line s. If you have air in your lines, the pedalfeel will not return to normal when the brakes cool down. Unlike the case of the brakes being out of adjustment, in addidtion to excessive pedal travel, the pedal will also feel soft. Air in the lines can be a sign of serious trouble, and if you suspect it, you should not drive the car until the problem has been solved.

The two things that affect the choice of gear ratios are the engine speed and the mechanical advantage of the driveline. The lower the gear, the greater the mechanical advantage of the driveline. This is like using a longer lever. Each pound-foot of torque applied by the engine will produce more more pounds of force at the drive wheels, and hence better acceleration .
On the face of it, this would imply that if we were to just leave the car in first gear it would accelerate better and therefore go faster. There is a catch though. Internal combustion engines only work within a limited range of speeds. Although most modern small cars can comfortably drive down the road with the engine turning about 2000 RPM , they start making good power around 4000 RPM , their torque peaks around 5000, their power peaks around 5500 and they redline about 6500 RPM .
Torque is a measure of force-times-leverage. You get the same 100 lb-ft of torque by applying 100 lbs of force to a lever foot long, or 10 pounds of force to a lever 10 feet long. With the longer lever you get more torque for less force, but you have to move the lever a longer distance. The ratio of the lever pushing to the object pushing back is called the mechanical advantage.
Horsepower is calculated by multiplying torque times RPM times a constant that makes the numbers work out. The faster the engine turns, the further it can push a lever in the same amount of time, so more work can be gotten from a given amount of force.
This might make us think that by running the engine faster we could get more power. This is only true to a point, because if you run an engine too fast, it will break. The speed at which you start risking breaking your engine is called the redline.
Most tachometers have three regions, black, yellow and red. If the tach reads in the black, the engine can turn at that speed all day long without problems. If the tach is in the yellow, you can run the engine at that speed for short amounts of time, but not for extended periods. When you push the tach into the red, you risk doing expensive damage to your engine.
What this boils down to is that (on the race track) you should keep the car in the lowest gear possible without overly risking your engine. On the street you will usually want to keep the car well below redline. The higher the revs, the more stress you put on your engine, also the more fuel you will use.
Select an RPM for upshifting . This will be your shift point. Choose it according to the relative importance of laptimes and engine life. The more important your laptimes, the higher the shiftpoint. The more important engine life is, the lower. The premise is that you don't want to abuse your engine any more than you have to; breaking engines is both very expensive and very inconvenient. Besides, if you blow up your engine, you will miss out on track time. Choose the shiftpoint at or slightly below the yellow range on your tach. (What I refer to as yellow might be shown as orange or even a dashed red line as opposed to a solid red at redline).
As you learn the track, you will probably find a point where your car hits your shiftpoint to go up a gear just a couple of seconds before you must start decelerating for a turn, then shift right back down into the gear where you are now. When this happens, you may find it expedient to put a little extra stress on the engine for a short time and save a lot of stress on your clutch and transmission. Ruining your clutch is only slightly less expensive and incovenient than breaking your engine, and a lot easier to do.
At what point should you downshift ? If you are going uphill and the car slows down, downshift when it is at the point where it will be below redline in the lower gear. Unless the gears are evenly spaced, every gear in every car will have slightly different speed where this happens. A rule of thumb to start your experimenting would be to use about 2000 RPM below redline as a downshift point.
When braking for a turn, downshift while you are braking in a straight line. Use your brakes to slow the car down, using the engine won't make that much of a difference. If the shifting is not done smoothly it can break the wheels free, which can be bad for you, for your car and for your nerves.
Downshift going into the turn so your car will be in the proper gear when you start to accelerate out of the turn. Do not shift while you are turning because not only will it upset the balance of the car, but you will be too busy concentrating on turning the car to do a good job on shifting smoothly.
If you are entering a turn where you will need to downshift more than one gear, either go through each gear in turn, or skip the gear(s) in the middle. The advantage of skipping gears is that you only have to concentrate on one gearshift. leaving your attention for other things. The advantages of going through all of the gears is that it is easier to do correctly when you are only doing one gear at a time. While learning, it is also good practice at shifting while threshold braking.
If you are in a sequence of turns, it may be better to shift at a lower RPM if it means you can shift in the straights between turns. This is known as shortshifting.
If the turn is on a steep downhill, or you have not yet mastered the technique of heel-and-toe down-shifting (described next), you may be better off staying in a higher gear for a turn, especially if you would be upshifting after the exit.

There is more to changing gears than putting the clutch in, moving the shift lever and letting the clutch out. If that is how you shift, whenever you change gears the car will jerk.
When downshifting , you should to match the speed of the engine to the speed of the wheels at the lower gear. If you are driving a car without a synchromesh transmission, you will have to double-clutch as described in section as well. HEEL-AND-TOE DOWN-SHIFTING
Matching revs while simultaneously braking and down-shifting is a technique known as heel-and-toe down-shifting, or just heel-and-toeing. This is a technique where you simultaneously apply the gas and the brake by using both ends (or sides) of your right foot. while downshifting
The premise behind heel-and-toeing is that when you downshift , you do not want the engine to suddenly decelerate the driving wheels, which puts undue stress on your clutch, driveline, axles etc. Also, the jerkiness could cause you to lose traction and and control of the car.
On most cars, the easiest way to perform this technique is to place the ball of your foot on the brake and either the heel or the side of your foot on the gas. On many cars, you have to do it the other way around. On some cars, it is not possible to reach both pedals with the same foot, although most can be modified to make the heel-and-toe possible.
Find a position that works for you, then practice just blipping the throttle. With the car parked, the parking brake on, in neutral, and with the engine running, put your foot in the heel-and-toe position and quickly tap the throttle so the RPM rises to about 2500 RPM , then drops back to idle. The RPM should not be above idle for more than about a second or two.
While braking, when you slow down enough so you should be in a lower gear: put the clutch in, put the car into neutral, and blip the throttle so the revs go slightly higher than the engine will be turning at that speed in the lower gear Then, as the revs drop to the desired speed, shift into the lower gear and let out the clutch.

heel and toe <a href= downshifting" width="681" height="700">

If you want to be even nicer to your car, let the clutch out briefly while shifting through neutral. This will match the speed of everything in the transmission with itself. Then put the clutch back in while you shift into the lower gear. This techique is known as double-clutching.
Eight-steps are illustrated in the diagram. Note that the brake is being applied through the entire process. If you are downshifting because the car slowed down going up a hill and you need the added torque of the lower gear, follow the same procedure, but without using the brake.

1) Accelerating before the turn. Full throttle, car in 4th gear.

2) Braking.

3) Disengage the clutch.

4) Shift to neutral.

5) Re-engage the clutch and blip the throttle to bring the engine speed to where it will be in the lower gear. (Steps five and six are only absolutely necessary in cars without synchromesh transmissions)

6) Disengage clutch and shift to the lower gear.

7) Blip the throttle to match revs of engine to the revs represented by the current road speed in third gear.

8) Re-engage the clutch, and continue braking.

If you are having difficulty with heel-and-toeing when you get to the track, don't worry about it. There are plenty of other things to concentrate on. However, it is a very good thing to learn and practice in daily driving. The ability to heel-and-toe, also eliminates the question of whether to downshift before or after braking.

While it is not absolutely necessary on cars with working synchros in their transmissions, I highly reccomend always using heel-and-toe and double- clutching when downshifting . As an example of how this can extend the life of the clutch, my street car has 130,000 miles of mostly mountain road driving and over 20 hours of track time all on the original clutch.
It is equally important to be smooth when upshifting . You should be able to shift using three fingers or the heel of your hand.

<DIAGRAM: dblclch>

double clutch heel and toe THROTTLE STEERING
When going through a turn, increasing or decreasing the throttle will change the handling characteristics of the car by transfering weight to different wheels. Letting off the gas will transfer weight to the front tires, and the car will turn more sharply, even without changing the angle of the steering wheel. Add throttle and it will turn less sharply. Adjusting your line through the turn in this way is knownas throttle steering .

If you can't always do it the same; then you can't always do it right. There are two aspects to getting the car around the track as fast as possible. Knowing where to put it, and being able to put it there. Without the first, the second doesn't do you much good. I am referring to knowing exactly where in the turn to apex, not just knowing that you have to get your inside tires in the same zipcode as the inside of the turn towards the middle. In other words, if you can't hit the apex every time, you won't be able to hit the apex right every time.
How, you may ask, does one always do it the same way every time? By using reference points. Note things about the track that mark where you want to do certain actions: where to brake, where to turn in, where to apex or where to put a wheel. Then simply connect the dots, smoothly.
Pick reference points that will not move. Often times a school will mark reference points with orange cones, which although easy to see have a nasty tendancy to get moved by cars hitting them. Find a permanent feature near the cone to use as your reference point. There are all sorts of amusing stories about someone using a cone as a braking marker, then the cone was got knocked a little way down the track by another car. Another story tells about a driver who noticed that another used a particular rock as a braking marker, so that night he moved the rock. And of course there is the story of the driver who discovered that the rock he had been using as a braking marker was actually a tortoise when he later saw it move under its own power.
While reference points are an important tool for consistent driving, you do not want to be looking at them by the time that you reach them. By the time that you have reached the reference point, you should already be looking down the track and thinking about the next several things that you will be doing. Peripheral vision and a sense of timing are two tools for achieving this.
You can gauge how well you just took a turn by noting your RPM (or speed, if you have a speedometer) at the exit. You want to maximize your speed at the exit of the turn, or sequence of turns. Another good way of telling how you are taking a section of track is by where your shift points are. As you start driving a section of track faster, you will have to upshift sooner.

One of the commonest mistakes is turning the steering wheel more than needed. Turning your steering wheel slows you down. The more you turn it, the more it slows you. The longer you keep it turned, the more it slows you down. It is very important, especially in an underpowered car, to take a single smooth line through the turn that allows you to turn the steering wheel as little as possible.
As soon as you have completed your turndown in a turn, you should unwind the steering wheel as much as you can and still clip the apex , and exit at the edge of the track without falling off.
On many turns, when a car is understeering , turning the wheel beyond a certain amount doesn't do anything but slow you down and wear rubber off of the front tires. If you find yourself pushing, try letting out the steering a little bit and gently ease off of the throttle. How do you tell if the car is "pushing"? First of all, turning the wheel more does not cause the car to turn more. More importantly, as a car starts to understeer , the effort required to turn the wheel will suddenly drop. When you feel the steering go "light" is the time to back off of the steering just a little bit.

Be smooth, drive through it, don't do anything abruptly.
The most common kinds of trouble that a student will find are: getting off of line , runningout of road, finding something in the road, and loss of traction. When things start to go wrong, don't make any sudden moves. Especially, don't suddenly take your foot off the gas, especially in the rain. Decelerating will transfer weight to the front wheels from the rear, often causing you to spin. I have caused some of my most spectacular spins by taking my foot off the gas at the wrong time.
Be very careful when you see someone off of the track and/or pulling back onto it. He probably just scared himself silly and may not be thinking too clearly.
If someone has a wreck, don ’t stop and help. If by chance it is a corner (or an unsupported practice session) where there are no corner workers you will do more good by driving back to the pits so they can send out the emergency crew.

Everyone occasionally finds themselves off the line . You may be passing someone, you maybe being passed, you may be avoiding an incident, or you may simply have screwed up. The important thing is to get back onto the line .
The most common situation is to apex the first of two turns too early, screwing up your approach for the second. Chances are, you will be entering the turn too 'low' with no chance of getting across the track for the normal entrance into the turn. No problem. Brake a little early so you slow down enough to take the turn on the 'inside' line , until you reach the apex . At this point you are back "on the line" and can continue as you normallly would have.
If, on the other hand, you tried to get back on the line at the entrance, chances are you wouldhave just been set up wrong for the turn, blown the apex and therefore the exit as well as the line through any turns following. Make the best ofa bad line .

When you put two wheels into the dirt, keep your foot on the gas, (letting off will just make you spin) and gently drive back onto the course. Another option, is to straighten the steering wheel FIRST, before going off of the track. Then, when the car is straight gently let your foot off the gas. Once you have regained control of the car, you can either come to a stop, or gently pull back onto the track.
Be very careful when pulling back onto the track. Remember, the guy coming up on you might be so intent on what he is trying to do, he might not notice you pulling out into his way. Or he may notice you, but be too close to the limits of his car to do anything about it. A yellow flag being displayed doesn't guarantee that the other drivers saw it. Be aware that students are often concentrating so intently on one thing, they can fail to notice other, far more important, things.
Look to the flaggers for reentry. If they say it's clear, double check (if you can see) and go. If they tell you to wait, then wait until you get the clear sign.
After you have had an off road excursion, remember that you now have all sorts of dirt and gravel on your tires. Dirty tires do not stick as well as clean tires. Even dirt that got on the track because someone else spun reduces traction. Watch out for it. It is often a good idea to pull into the pits the next time around to make sure there are no rocks or gravel caught between the wheel and the tire.
Take your time getting back up to speed. One of the times you are most susceptible to making a mistake is when you're already rattled from making a previous mistake. Shake out your arms, relax, check the gauges and drive 7/10s until your heart rate gets below 300.
It is important to remember that it is usually better to smoothly drive off of the track and back on than to pinch off your exit trying to stay on the track. Of course, if there is a large rut, a serious drop-off at the edge of the track, or something to hit, then do what you can to avoid hitting it.

It is much easier to avoid trouble by steering around it than trying to stop in time to avoid it. If you must slow down, signal the other drivers by putting your hand in the air. Watch your mirrors. Make sure that you don't get punted because you tried to avoid someone elses mistakes.
It is just as important to watch your mirrors when making an emergency stop on the street, perhaps more so. People driving on the street are very prone to not paying attention to what is going on around thm.

<DIAGRAM:getting back on line>
When your front wheels lose traction first, it is known as understeer , plowing, or pushing. The steering wheel becomes very easy to turn, but turning it more has no added effect. The car steers less than you want it to.
Let the steering out until turning the steering wheel takes effort again. All that turning the wheel beyond this just slows the car and wastes tires. Gently let off the gas to put weight, and traction, back on the front wheels. Be very gentle and smooth, lest you over-correct for the understeer and find youself in an oversteer situation.
When the rear tires loose traction first, it is known as oversteer , tail-happy, or loose. Point your tires in the direction that you want to go. If you over-correct, the tail end will whip past center and the car will try to spin out in the other direction. When you are experiencing oversteer , don't suddenly take your foot off of the gas. All that will do is transfer the weight to the front tires causing the car to spin out.

understeer and oversteer

<DIAGRAM under/ oversteer >

Eventually you will find yourself in a situation where you know that you are going to spin out. The car is oversteering and opposite lock is not going to help.
To regain control of the car when you spin, simply straighten the steering wheel and depress the clutch.
Remember that tires would much rather roll forward (or backward) than slide sideways. So, if the brakes aren't locked when the car has spun 180 degrees (you are facing backwards) it is a lot easier for the car to roll straight backwards than to continue spinning. It is important to depress the clutch to keep the car from stalling. When the car is rolling backwards, you can simply drive backwards to a safe place to turn it around.
If you want to try being fancy and bring the car back around so that you are heading forwards again, turn the wheel to the side of the road on which you want to end up. If the wall is to your right (while looking out the windshield) turn the wheel to driver's left.
A simpler technique is referred to as "in a spin, both feet in". Put your left foot on the clutch and your right foot on the brake. Your car will come to complete stop, with the engine still running, so you get going again as soon as traffic allows.
A rule of thumb is: If you hit the brakes, you will usually spin to the outside. If you stay on the gas, you will usually spin to the inside.
If a car is spinning in front of you, aim at where he is when he st, because he probably won't be there when you get there. Cars usually spin to the inside of the track. Be careful though, sometimes they hit something and bounce back out. Be very carefull about lifting your foot off the throttle lest you cause yourself to spin out.
Many spins are caused when a driver sees someone getting into trouble in front of him , and lifts off the throttle to slow down. If the car is on or near it's handling limits, when the weight comes off of the rear tires, the available traction becomes less than the traction being used and then two cars are spinning.

When the car is acts up and slows down, put your hand in the air to warn the other drivers.
Don't stop in the line orin an impact area. If there are a lot of skid marks pointing to where your car is parked, it is not a healthy place to hang out.
Try not to get stuck in mud or sand. If you pull off of the course, do it where you will be able to get back on safely.
Do not park in tall, dead grass. Hot exhaust pipes and catalytic converters are excellent fire starters.
Before taking your car to the track, make sure it has tow points so that the tow crew can pull it without damage. Be pleasant to the tow crew; it isn't their fault that your car broke, or you crashed. IF YOUR CAR GOES DEAD ON THE COURSE
If your car is dead on the track, or in an impact area, unless it is on fire, stay put and keep your helmet and belts on until you receive instructions from the corner worker. The car is much better protection from other cars than is a driver's suit.
Do not work on or inspect your car unless it is well protected. It is much better to lose track time, than be run over because someone lost control of their car while you were working on yours.
When you get out of the car, get out on the side away from traffic. Get well back from the edge of the track. Do not let the barriers give you a false sense of security. Cars, and at the very least, parts of the cars can easily go flying over the barriers in a high speed impact. To quote a flagging trainer: "There is no place on the track a car cannot go, only challenges not yet met".

There is less difference between driving the two than many people think. Front-wheel drive cars tend to understeer more than rear-wheel drive, but some rear-wheel drive cars plow worse than some front-wheel drive cars. You won ’t need to worry about the subtle details. Most drivers who are new to the track, take several track days to just become able to get their cars consistently within walking distance of the apex . The minor difference in the ideal apex for each type of car is not important at that point.

One of the differences between a front-wheel drive and a rear-wheel drive car is power oversteer vs. power understeer . In a front-wheel drive car , if you apply too much power in a turn, you will experience power understeer . Your steering will become very light and will have little effect. This is a bad thing.
If this happens, keep the front wheels pointed in the direction you want to go. When the front tires regain traction, the car will suddenly accelerate in whatever direction they are pointing. If the wheels are pointing at the side of the road, or another car, bad things could happen.
The appropriate response to power understeer is to gently let off of the throttle while letting out some of the steering until traction is regained. When you exceed the front tires' abilities, turning the wheel more will only slow the car down and waste expensive rubber.

There are three types of differentials, open, limited slip, and locked. An open differential allows the wheels to turn at different speeds when going around a turn. Unfortuaatly, if a wheel loses traction, as when the inside wheel comes off of the ground, no power will be applied to the wheel that still has traction. A locked differential acts like no differential at all. Both wheels will turn at the same speed, as if they were on a solid axle. This makes it harder for the car to go around turns, because one of the wheels will be scrubbing against the pavement. A limited slip will allow the two wheels to turn at different speeds, within limits. This allows the car to easily go around turns, and still get power to the road when one of the wheels does not have any traction. The problem with limited slip differentials is that they are expensive.

Carroll Smith has an excellent discussion of differentials at the back of "Drive to Win".

Most street cars have open differentials and relatively soft suspensions. What this means, is that if you are cornering hard and the inside wheel comes off the pavement, the wheel will spin freely if you apply the throttle. If you find yourself unable to get any power to the ground when you are exiting a turn, try taking a later apex line . By slowing down and turningdown more at the beginning of the turn, the car will be cornering less hard at the exit, which will help keep the inside wheel on the ground.

4 .8.2 LOCKED DIFFERENTIAL ��������������
Since an open differential can be converted to a locked differential with about $0.50 worth of welding rod, it is a common performance modification. Although this will solve the traction problem of an open differential, it causes some problems of its own.
The first problem is that cars with locked differentials want to go straight. This makes it tough to get the car to turn down. It may be necessary to trail brake (see section 4.10) more than if the same car had an open differential. On the plus side, since both driving wheels want to turn at the same speed, the car will be very stable under acceleration , making it very easy to "plant" the rear end in rear-wheel-drive car by accelerating out of a turn.
The other downside of a locked differential is that since power can get to the outside wheel in a turn, it is easier to break the outside wheel free in the rain, which can cause a spin in a rear-wheel drive car.

The next few pages cover how to drive the late apex line through a turn. (It does not cover the details about why. They are covered in section 3.1.)
Study both the small and the large drawings in this section.
The small drawings in the margins show the weight-balance and the acceleration vector drawings for their associated paragraphs. They show what is happening to the car at each of nine phases of the turn.
The two full-page drawings show the line through a right angle turn and a hairpin turn, illustratingwhat is happening to the car during each phase. The position of the car at each phase is indicated by a miniature of their balance-vector drawings.
The circle in the center of each drawing of a car represents the circle of friction , or the acceleration potential, of the tires. For simplicity, we will assume that the tires can generate the same amount of force in any direction. The arrow within this circle represents the acceleration vector of the car. If the car is speeding up, the arrow points forward. If the car is braking, it points to the rear and if the car is turning the arrow points to the side. Note that at no time can the arrow extend outside of the circle.
The car used in the example can only accelerate at half the ability of the tires, which is a reasonable model of most street cars. While some cars can spin their driving wheels when driving in a straight line just byputting on the throttle, most cannot.
The amount of downforce on each tire is shown by the size of the circle that represents that tire. The more downforce on the tire, the larger the circle. Note that the weight transfers away from the acceleration vector. A car that is speeding up will have more weight on its rear tires. Keep in mind that the greater the force pushing down on a tire, the greater the sideways force it can generate.
Although passing in the turns is not allowed in the beginner's section of most schools, you should watch out for it anyways. People break the rules. You should be aware of where the other car is, lest you hit someone who is passing you. Eventually, you will be driving in sessions where passing in the turns is allowed. It is better to develop good habits early than to try to break bad ones later.
While I break the turn up into discrete steps, in reality they all blend one into the next. Concentrate on smoothly connecting each phase of the turn so that they blend into on smooth and flowing manuever.

A) Before the turn, line the car up all the way at the outside edge of thetrack. Check your mirrors, don't pull into someone who is trying to pass you on the outside. If someone is immediately behind or in front of you (in a school) brake a little early to give yourself room in case their car cannot stop as quickly as you.
While you are preparing to brake you should note where your braking point is going to be. You should not look at it again until the next lap.

B) When you take your foot off the gas, weight will transfer to the front wheels. Do this smoothly so that the car does not bounce up and down. Let the car settle for just an instant before applying the brakes.

C) By the time you reach your braking point , you should be looking through the entrance portion of the turn to the apex . One of the skills that you need to develop is an awareness of where you are so you can do things at the same place every lap, without looking at your reference points. At your braking reference point, apply the brakes. Quickly, but gently, squeeze them on until wheels are on the verge of lockup.
(In section is a discussion of heel-and-toe double-clutching. For most manual transmission cars it is the smoothest way to slow down for a turn. If you can learn and practice it before going to the track, do so. If you do not know heel-and-toe braking when you get to the track, do not try to learn it along with everything else.)
If you don ’t heel and toe, you will need to brake earlier, to give yourself time to downshift between braking and turning down. When you downshift , do so quickly to minimize the time when you are neither braking, accelerating nr turning. Even if you don't heel-and- toe, you should match the revs on a downshift by blipping the throttle while you shift through neutral.

D) When you take your foot off of the brake, weight transfers from the front to the rear wheels. Do this smoothly so that the car does not bounce up and down. While you do not want to coast for a long time going into the turn, wait an instant between letting off of the brakes and turning the wheel to let the car settle.

E) Before you turn down, make sure that there is not a car where you want to go. By this point you should be looking past the apex to the exit. So the trick is to know where the cars around you are, while looking further down the road. Do this with your peripheral vision and a quick check of your mirrors.

The place you start turning the steering wheel is called your turndown point. Since turning the wheel will scrub off speed, spend as little time with the wheel turned as possible. Wait as long as you can to turn your car and still make it to the apex . It also means you should dial in your steering as quickly as you can smoothly do so, so you waste as little time as possible in transition.

4.9.4 APEX
F) By the time the car is a little past one-third of the way through the turn, it (technically the inside wheels) should be aimed at the apex . The correct apex for a turn will usually be between one-half and two-thirds through the turn.
When the car is aimed at the apex , let out the steering as you apply the throttle. A low powered car on a dry track will often be able to use full throttle by the apex . Be carefull though, too much power could cause the driving wheels to lose traction, possibly causing the car to spin out.
There are two things to keep in mind about an apex . The first is where you apex the turn, i.e. where the car is when it reaches the point where it is closest to the inside of the turn. The second is the direction the car is facing when it reaches the apex .
How deep into the apex should you go? As deep as you can without upsetting the suspension of your car. The closer to the inside of the turn you are, the more track you have to the outside, and the faster you can take the exit. Leaving any space between you and the edge of the track at the apex is effectively just throwing away that much track on the exit. However, putting all four wheels into the dirt on the inside of the turn will probably just do nasty things to the tires, the suspension, and possibly the bodywork.
Most racetracks have concrete berm at the insides of the turns. This concrete protects the edge of the track to keep the asphalt from crumbling as cars drive right on the edge of the road. The softer a cars suspension is, the more it will lean and the less weight will be on the inside wheels. In the some cars one of the inside wheels will be off of the ground. Therefore the softer a cars suspension, the higher on a acceleration you can drive.
If you hit the acceleration in a car with a very stiff suspension, you will upset the suspension, launch the inside wheels into the air, and end up going slower through the turn.
Either way, when you hit the acceleration just right, you will feel a slight bump. Not enough to upset the car's suspension, just barely enough to notice.
On your warm-up and cool-down laps, when you are not driving all out, it is a good idea to solidly drive up on the berm . This helps you learn exactly how wide your car is, and exactly where the berms are.

These berms , and about eight inches of track next to them, are usually painted red and white. This paint does not give as good traction as does bare asphalt. In the dry, there is so little weight on the inside wheels that this does not cause a problem. Therefore, in the dry, you should put your inside wheels well onto this paint.
However, in the wet, his paint becomes one of the best friction-reducers known to mankind. Careless application of throttle with your drive wheels on the paint will cause an immediate loss of traction. With many rear-wheel drive cars this will almost guarantee a spin. In the wet, put your wheels right next to, but not on the paint.
You should be aware if anyone is trying to pass you on the outside. When this happens, keep the car close to the inside edge longer, making it a very late apex in order to exit the turn without hitting the other car.

4.9.5 EXIT ��
G) Will blend into H.
H) Once past the apex , you should be increasing throttle and unwinding the steering. Remember, turning the steering wheel is like putting on the brakes. The more the wheel is turned the slower you will go. At this point in the turn you are entering the straight and should be treating it as such.

I) Your speed should carry you all the way to the outer edge of the track at the exit. You should finish unwinding the steering wheel when your car reaches the outer edge and your wheels (and car) should be pointed down the straight.
Except for the situation where you are sacrificing the ideal line in one turn to set up forthe next, you should always exit all the way to the edge of the track, even if your speed does not carry you all the way out . There are two reasons for this.
The first reason is that as your technique improves, your increased speed will be carrying you to the edge of the track. It is best to learn your line s putting the car where it will eventually be.
The second reason to use the whole track is the tighter your steering wheel is turned, the more speed you will scrub off. Therefore the less you turn your wheel and the sooner you straighten it, the faster you will go. Get into the habit of using as little steering as possible.
Look at the difference between the line of maximum constant radius and the late apex line . Note how turningsharper earlier in the turn lets you accelerate during the turn rather than waiting until the car is on the straight.

right turn with car


hairpin turn with car

<DIAGRAM hairpin>
If you have a car that understeer s, use trailbraking to improve its ability to turn down. By trailing your braking deeper into the turn you keep weight on the front tires during turndown, making the car turn in better.
Trail braking also has the advantage of allowing you to wait a little longer before you have to start braking.
Just before the turn-down marker, start releasing the brakes. As you turn the steering wheel, release the brakes more and more. The steering wheel should be turned the most just about as the brakes are all the way off.
Trail braking is an advanced technique. Wait until you have had a day or two of track time before you try it. Even if trail braking would help your car's handling, all not trail braking will mean is that you will need to slow down a little bit more under straight line braking to make the turn.
There is another technique known as the "confidence lift". When a car has the handling to take a turn at full throttle, but has difficulty turning in at full throttle, you can briefly lift your foot off the gas as you turn in.
However, people will often lift at the entrance of the turn, not because the car has trouble turning down, but because they have trouble convincing their foot to stay down. When this happens, try this trick. Lift your forefinger from the steering wheel. This often fools the brain by making it feel you are lifting your foot, while you stay at full throttle.

Trail braking and trailing throttle, either in a car that tends
to oversteer or in the rain will likely cause the car to spin.

<DIAGRAM: trail braking >

���������� SECTION 5

Performance driving is anathletic activity. As with any sport, it requires strength, stamina and concentration. When people first get into performance driving they are often surprised at how much effort it takes just to steer the car. The better the tires and the sharper the turns, the more strength is required. So, if you have the time to start working on your upper body strength for a while before you go out on a track, do so.
You don't have to join a health spa; just get in the habit of doing a few pushups and pullups each day. Do not start working out one or two nights before going out on course. All this will do is make you sore.
Stamina is also very important. Even without regular exercise there are things you can do to improve your stamina at the racetrack. Try to sleep well the night before you go out. Chances are you will be all keyed up and will have a hard time getting to sleep. If you live several hours from the track, find a place to stay near the track so you can sleep in till 6 or 7 a.m., rather than having to get up at 4:30 after laying in bed wide-awake till 2 a.m.
If you can swing it, having a motorhome at the track is very nice. Not only does it give you a zero minute drive to the track in the morning, but it gives you a comfortable place out of the wind, sun and rain during the day.

Granted, driving a car with skinny street tires and power steering takes a lot less strength than driving a car with manual steering and fat racing slicks, but after a while you will get tired from driving at speed. The less energy you waste, the more you will have at the end of the day, or race.
Make sure your seatbelt is tight. Not only will it work better if you need it, it will hold you in your seat. This leaves your arms free for steering the car, rather than trying to hang on. Use long straights as a chance to check your belts and gauges and to relax. Use the "dead pedal". Many cars have a place to brace your left foot, to help hold you in the drivers seat.
Try to stay relaxed. Tenseness tires you out.
Go to the bathroom before the track session. Even if you don't think you need to. Few things are more distracting on the race course than a full bladder. At what track time costs, why risk wasting a session, when one minute in the outhouse could have prevented the whole problem?
Eat and drink well at the track. See section 6.4 on what to bring .
As obvious as it seems, it still bears mentioning to abstain from any alchohol until the day is out. Most clubs actively prohibit open alcoholic containers until after the final checkered flag. It is also a good idea not to drink the night before you drive. It is impossible to be your best when you are hungover.
Check with your doctor about any drugs you take, whether prescription or not, for medical conditions. Anything that will hinder your concentration or abilities turns you into a hazard on the track. Recreational drugs are out; don't do them at the track.

The name of the game is car control. You cannot control the car to the best of your abilities if you are not comfortable. You should be able to reach all the controls comfortably and you should not be cramped.

5.1.3 HOW TO SIT
Sit so you can reach all of the controls easily when strapped in. Do not sit so far forward that you are cramped and cannot move freely. I like to sit so that at full pedal extension my legs are not quite fully extended.
You should be able to touch the top of the steering wheel with both wrists while your back rests firmly against the seat. This gives you enough arm strength to work with. On cars whose wheel is more horizontal, it may work better to use the bottom half of the steering wheel.
If you steering still requires enough strength that it tires you out, try moving the seat closer so you get better leverage with your arms.
Never lock or overextend a joint. Knees and elbow joints should always be at least slightly bent, even when the steering wheel is turned all of the way or the pedals are fully extended.

Hold the steering wheel with your hands directly across from each other with the horizontal line connecting them going through the center of the steering wheel. If the wheel were the face of a clock you would be holding it at the positions marked with a three and a nine. Hold the wheel lightly but firmly. Too tight a grip will tire out your forearms and make you sore.

If the turn requires turning the steering wheel less than 120-180 degrees, don't take either hand off the wheel.
If the turn requires more steering than you can comfortably do without taking your hands off the wheel, then, as you turn down, reach over with the hand on the inside of the curve (on a left-hand turn this would be your left hand) and grab the wheel just above the other (the right) hand. Do not cross your arms, turn the wheel with that one hand, letting the wheel slip through the other, until it is back in its original position. You are now holding the wheel at nine and three, with the wheel upside down. Continue turning as if it were a regular turn. As you unwind the wheel, when you get back to the inverted nine and three position, reach across with the outside hand and bring the wheel back to straight.
On the very rare instances (usually while something is in the process of going horribly wrong) where you have to turn the wheel more than 360 degrees, this can be repeated. Keeping your hands at nine and three also helps you remember which way to point your wheel so the car will eventually go straight.
Always keep your hands at either "nine and three" or "three and nine". Never let the steering wheel slide through both hands at once. If something happens, the steering wheel can be yanked completely from your grasp.
In the drawing, the steering wheel is shown from the drivers point of view. The left hand is represented by the white circle, the right hand by the black. The bottom of the steering wheel (when the wheels are straight) is represented by the solid black spoke.
Hold the steering wheel with your hands in the 3 o'clock and the 9 'clock positions (also called "3 and 9"). You should be able to turn the steering wheel 180-degrees in either direction without letting go of it.
On some turns it may be necessary to turn the steering wheel more than 180- degrees. This example shows turning the wheel 360-degrees to the right.
A) Shift your left hand down slightly, then move your right hand to the "nine o'clock" position.
B) While turning the wheel with your right hand, let the rim slide through your left hand.
C) When you have turned the wheel 180-degrees, again grip the wheel with your left hand and continue turning for another 180 degrees.
Unwinding the wheel at the exit of the turn is the opposite of the above with your left hand moving over and the wheel slipping through your right hand.

steering technique

Diagram...Steering technique

An alternative to the above technique is to only move your hands 90 degrees at a time rather than 180. You will still only turn the wheel in specific increments, but you may find your arms don ’t get as tangled up as with moving your hand positions 180 degrees at a time.
If you get into a wreck, seat belts will save your body from all sorts of unpleasant damage. However a good set of seatbelts does more than just this. A five or six point harness, properly tightened down will hold you in place while going around turns. This means you don't have to use up all of your strength holding yourself in place.

Autocrosser trick of "prelocking" inertial belts.... SEAT
Along with seatbelts, a good seat will do wonders for holding you in place. It will also give added protection in the event of a crash.
It is vital taht the seat be securely mounted. In a crash, if the seat tears free, then there will be nothing holding the driver in place. If an accident causes 12.5 g's of deceleration, a 160-pound driver will put 2000 pounds of force on his seat. HELMET
Helmets are extremely important safety gear. When you buy a helmet there are several important things to consider: type, rating, weight, fit, features and cost.
I prefer a closed face helmet. If things go seriously wrong, a closed face helmet will protect your face as well as your head. If a fire were to happen in the car, closing the visor would go a long way toward protecting your face from the flames while you escape the car. If you will be driving an open top car you will be required to wear a closed face helmet.
If I am going to be driving late in the afternoon, I will take a strip of racer's tape and put it across the top of the visor, just above my line of vision. When I am driving into the sun, I can tilt my head down to shade my eyes with the strip of tape. You can also purchase shaded visors to put on the helmet.
Several organizations test and rate helmets. The best known is the S nell Foundation, which has two rating schemes: M for Motorcycle and SA for Special Application (i.e., auto racing). Approximately every five years they update their minimum ratings. The SCCA currently requires a ehlmet to have either an SA 85 or the stricter SA 90 rating. The difference between the SA and the M ratings is that SA helmets have a fireproof liner and the number and severity of impacts they will protect against is different. Also, while it is legal to wear an SA rated helmet on a motorcycle, many sanctioning bodies may not let you wear an M rated helmet driving a car on the track.
All things being equal, you will want as light a helmet as you can afford. Holding a heavy helmet up as you go around high-g turns can tire your neck muscles and make you sore and uncomfortable.
The fit of a helmet is critical. A helmet that is too loose will not properly protect your head. A helmet that is too tight will give you headaches and make it difficult to concentrate. Each brand and model helmet will fit a little bit differently. It is important to try on the helmet you intend to buy. Buy one that is a little snugger than ideal because it will loosen up and conform itself to your head. If you are going to be wearing a fireproof hoodsock with your helmet (a good idea), bring it along when you try on helmets.
Helmets come with wide variety of features, such as various vents to keep you cool or to keep the visor from fogging up. The only way to find out if they work well is to ask around. You can save yourself a lot of money by finding out helmet X which costs $200 fogs up horribly in the rain, while helmet Y which costs $300 works just fine in the rain.
Helmets vary greatly in cost. An old adage says that if you have a $20 brain then buy a $20 helmet. However just because a helmet costs more does not mean it will protect you better. As long as the helmet has the requisite safety rating, you can assume it will do a reasonable job of protecting you.
If you are going to a drivers school as a one-time or an occasional thing, you might be able to borrow a suitable helmet from a friend. FOG SHIELD
I recently discovered a wonderfull device known as a Fog City Fog Shield. It costs about $20 and is available at motorcycle shops. It is a clear piece of plastic, with a thin strip of adhesive around the edge, and it glues to the inside of your helmet visor. It is nearly impossible to fog one of these up. The down side is that in some cases it will increase glare from oncoming lightsbut this is seldom a factor on the track.
When installing it, make sure that the inside of the visor is absolutely clean. Some come with a token anti-fog coating. It is very difficult to line up one clear piece of plastic on another, so before applying it, take a white board (dry erase) marker and mark where you want it to go on the outside of your visor. When it is installed, simply wipe the marks off of the visor. NECK SUPPORT
It is a good idea to get a neck brace, often called a horse collar. This fits around your neck between the helmet and the shoulders. It does not hinder turning your head, but does limit tilting the neck. It greatly reduces the chance of neck injury in the event of an accident.
Another system, called a HANS (Head And Neck Support), is more effective than a horse collar. The downside is it costs several hundred dollars.

The major difference between a race and a driving school is you CANNOT win a driving school. But you sure as hell can lose.
Things tend to go wrong at race tracks. When driving at the car ’s limits, you are pushing the car and all of its components to their absolute limits. If anything is marginal, it will break. Even if nothing breaks, drivers make mistakes. If not you, then maybe someone else.
Watch out for what racers call the " red mist ", where you get so wrapped up in passing the other guy you forget to be afraid. The problem is, you also tend to forget about such things as the laws of physics, the limits of the car etc. Your attitude changes from "If I brake any later than this, I will crash" to "If I don't brake for this turn, I can pass the other car". What often happens is you pass the other car, just before you crash.
Even though taking a performance driving school will improve your driving and make you a safer street driver, DO NOT TAKE YOUR CAR ON THE TRACK IF TOTALING IT WOULD RUIN YOUR LIFE. Wait to take the class until, if the worst case happened, you could afford the loss.

If you are primarily interested in driving as fast as you can but don't want or feel the need to learn anything, then there isn't much you will learn at a school.
You think of yourself as a very good driver. When most people take a track school for the first time they are already one of the best (and fastest) drivers they know. Yet few people who have not driven a car on the track really understand what a car's limits are and how to drive it at them.
Learn to take criticism. Don't argue with the instructor or make excuses: it just wastes time. He isn't telling you that you are doing something wrong just to make you feel bad.
Let the instructor teach his own class. If he wants your advice, he will ask for it. No one seems a bigger fool than the student who tries to lecture the instructor.
If you have problems with your instructor, go to the head instructor and get another. It is nothing to be ashamed of, some people just do not work well together.
Do not take advice from people other than your instructor. Learn from one person at a time.
Be especially wary of people who tell you the great lie of racing, "I take that turn flat out." They either drive a Schwinn or are lying. Either way, their advice does you no good.
Don't bother arguing with track officials.
If you don't know something, ask. If you aren't comfortable with something, ask. There are no stupid questions, just stupid mistakes.
Be predictable. Many incidents are caused by a driver doing something unexpected while he is being passed. Keep on the racing line . If passing is allowed on the turns, keep on the line so the overtaking driver will knowwhere to expect you to be. If passing is only allowed on the straights, point faster cars by on the straights. If the car behind you is much faster in the turns, but doesn't accelerate as well, back off the throttle and let him pass.
Don't take a driving school to prove to the world that you are the best driver that ever lived. Take one to become a better driver, no matter how good you are. You won't become a better driver by making bonzai passes or blocking the other guy. You definitely won't become a better driver by driving beyond your abilities and rolling your car up into a little ball.
You should be driving the car, it shouldn't be driving you. If you are spending all of your energy trying to keep it under control, you don't have any left to spend on doing things correctly. Slow down to go faster.
A friend read a draft of this just before taking a drivers school, afterwards, he sent me a note with these comment
Driver attitude...Well I think this is essential. I decided several things before I showed up at the track...
1 I am there to learn.
2 Therefore I will attend and listen in the classroom.
3 I will ask questions when I do not understand.
4 I will ask for repetition if I still do not comprehend.
5 The instructor(s) know(s) more about performance driving than I do.
6 I will try to ride some with at least one instructor and observe how he
drives the course.
7 I will learn from better drivers.
8 I will drive the line the instructor teaches me. ����
Concentration and focus are very important. If your mind wanders, you will miss things.
Visualize the entire line through the turn or sequence of turns. If you just concentrate on your next "target", your driving will be jerky as you "connect the dots". Also, you may miss exciting things happening ahead of you such as a car spinning out at the exit of the turn while you are focusing on the apex .
In his book " Twist of the Wrist" , Keith Code talks about an attention budget . When you first start driving on a track, you have a lot to concentrate on, and not enough time to concentrate on it. As you get more practice, many things (such as shifting smoothly) will take less concentration, which will leave more for other things.
Slow in the cockpit means fast on the track. When you start driving "over your head" and overspending your attention budget you get flustered and start making mistakes. This is another way of saying "Slow down to go faster".
Think about this: You can never go faster than you want through a corner.

One of the great paradoxes of performance driving is often, as soon as you stop trying to goas fast as you can, your lap times decrease. There is a good reason for this: when you are pushing yourself and your car to the limits you will make mistakes. Then you will have to correct for these mistakes, which can cause you to be in the wrong place a little further down the track. Soon you find yourself spending a lot of time and energy reacting to and correcting things that have gone wrong.
On the other hand, when you slow down and concentrate on doing things correctly, you do a better job of driving the line . When you aren't pushing yourselfso hard, you drive smoother and make fewer mistakes, leeting you drive closer to the limits of the car.
This principle works for experienced drivers as well as novices. I was co-driving a friend ’s car in a three hour enduro. The track had been wet for my practice session, so I was not very familiar with how the car handled in the dry. Since it was a race, I was driving as fast as I could. I kept making mistakes, missing apexes , and not driving smoothly. Each time I'd make a mistake, I got upset at myself and a little bit tenser. I finally realized what was happening and concentrated on relaxing and "centering myself" (a concept familiar to students of martial arts or meditation). I worried less about driving fast and more about driving well. As a result, my laptimes improved significantly.

People have been known to do incredibly stupid things at the race track. For example, concentrating so hard on the person trying to pass them, they forget to brake for the turn at the end of the straight. These mental lapses are referred to as brain fade . The more tired you are, the more likely you are to exhibit brain fade . If you notice yourself doing stupid things, do yourself a favor and pull into the pits to rest. It's better to pass up a few minutes of track time than to do something stupid and destroy your car, hurt yourself, or worse yet, destroy someone elses car and hurt them.

There are several exercises you should do that will demonstrate various principles in this book. Do them to reinforce the book learning and improve your driving. All you need is a large, empty parking lot and a few plastic cones or garbage cans. EXCESSIVE STEERING
Find someplace flat and level, put your car in neutral, turn off the engine and take off the brake. Straighten the wheel and push the car. Now turn the wheel so your front wheels are turned about 15 degrees. It's not very much is it? Now try pushing the car. See how much more difficult it is to push. HOW WIDE IS YOUR CAR?
Take a couple of plastic garbage cans or pylons (that won't do damage to your car) and set them up so you have a foot of clearance on each side of your car. Practice driving through them. Then move them closer together and repeat. THRESHOLD BRAKING
This requires a parking lot where you can safely get your car up to about 30 miles an hour and come to a stop in a straight line . Get your car up to speedand practice braking as hard as you can. Learn what the car feels and sounds like as the wheels start to lock up. HEEL-AND-TOE DOUBLE-CLUTCH DOWNSHIFTING
Practice this technique in your everyday driving. At first you may want to simply try heel-and-toe downshifting (one press of the clutch and blip of the throttle).

In order to walk a turn, first walk through each turn noting important landmarks. When you get to the exit point (where the car will be at the outside edge of the track and pointing down the straight), turn around. Now that you know where you have to be, you have to figure out how to get there.
By looking backwards from the exit, you can see where you have to apex to make it to the exit.
Now walk countercourse along the line to the apex . From the apex you can see what you have to do at the entrance to make it to the apex . Walk back to the entrance/turndown point.
Once you know where you have to go, walk the turn from where the driver's seat would be. During this whole procedure make notes in your driver's journal. Note that landmarks that may be very obvious when walking the track at three mph will disappear when entering the turn at upwards of 90 mph. Go back and modify your notes after driving the course.
If you are faced with a series of turns, you may have to repeat this whole procedure for the entire series. Start at the exit of the last turn and walk back to the entrance of the first.

Almost all of the techniques taught here can be practiced on the street. I am not refering to driving the car at the limit of its abilities (or yours) but to such things as proper line , smoothness, steering and shifting techniques. One exercise that can be done on the street to learn exactly how wide your car is, is to just barely nick a single Botz dot when you apex a turn. This also requires that you decide where to apex the turn before you enter it. Of course, you must make sure you don't hit a car in the other lane while trying this.
There are many advantages to using performance driving techniques on the street. The mostobvious is safety; it gives you more control of the car at any given speed. Another advantage is smoothness; unsmooth driving seems faster and is less comfortable (both physically and psychologically) for the passengers. Therefore, if you are driving smoothly your passengers are a lot less likely to complain about you driving too fast, even if you are driving faster.
As far as a test of skill goes, it can be more challenging to see how smoothly you can drive a windy road than how fast you can. But be careful, often when you slow down and work on smoothness, you end up going faster. Unfortunately neither police nor judges seem to appreciate that by driving more smoothly you are actually safer at 10 mph above the speed limit than you were before you took a performance driving school.

Concentrate on smoothness rather than on speed. Over time, you will notice improvement in your driving as you assimilate all of the skills you started to learn on the track.

1) Autocrossing , also known as gymkhanna: Autocrossing is very good practice. You can autocross just about any car. It is relatively cheap. It teaches you about line , setting up sequences of turns and how to learn a track in a hurry. It does not provide wheel-to-wheel competition (This can be either a bug or a feature). Many people complain that you only get a few minutes worth of track time for the day (or half day) spent at the autocross. Think of it as spending the afternoon hanging out with some friends, and getting in some driving while you are at it.
I have noticed that autocrossers tend to do better on road courses than roadracers do on autocross courses. Autocross courses tend to be slower and tighter than road race courses, top speeds rarely exceed 50-70 mph. They are also designed to be safe to drive at (or beyond) the limit in street cars.
2) Malibu Grand Prix : Similar to autocrossing, except the course doesn't change, you're thrashing someone elses car and you don't have to spend all afternoon for three runs. It can get fairly expensive, but as dollars/hour and hours work/hours of play go it is still pretty cheap track time. Some people have difficulty fitting in MGP cars though.
3) Video games such as Hard Drivin' and Virtua racing: These can be a fairly realistic model of a cars driving characteristics. You lose a lot in seat of the pants feel and there is no recovery from a spin, but many of the same theories about line , smoothness and car balanceapply.
4) Stupid little go-kart tracks : I recently went to a track which charged three dollars a session to ride around on underpowered little go-karts. It was more fun than I expected. It really rewarded proper line .It was also wheel-to-wheel, so the benefits of the qualifying line versus the defensive line became very apparent.
Drive your own car. Chances are the other students are doing it wrong, otherwise they would be the teachers. If you imitate another student, you may be learning it wrong.
Again, remember, you can't win a practice session. Don't wreck your car trying some stupid stunt.
Be polite. Watch your mirrors. If someone is dogging your tail through the turns, point him by on the straights. A Bugeye Sprite on racing slicks can go around turns like it's on rails, but there is not a chance in the netherworlds it can out-accelerate some V-8 behemoth from Detroit.
When learning a racetrack it is prudent to brake early and apex late. Slowly move your apex back, until you are using all your handling and all the track at the exit. Then move your braking point up so you are using all your braking and handling to get to the apex . You could try it the other way around, late braking and early apexing , but that can get a bit expensive in replacing your car.
If you are working on a series of turns and are having trouble with a later turn, you could be taking the early one(s) wrong, setting you up wrong for the later turn. Remember that speed is more important exiting the turn leading onto the straight than in a turn leading into another turn.
If you are working on taking a series of turns flat out, take the first one flat out before you take the last one flat out. You might be able to take the last one flat when you brake for the first, but when you start taking the first one flat you find you run out of track if you try to take the last one without lifting.
If you are behind an instructor, follow his line . There is a reason he's the teacher and you arethe student, he will almost certainly be taking a better line than you. Often a teacher will tap or point to the roof of his car. He is not telling you a bird just left its calling card. He is signalling for you to follow him and to drive the same line as him.
When in a follow-the-leader session, follow close. This isn't the public highway where you will get a ticket for tailgating. If each student leaves a lot of space between him and the car in front of him, it will be well nigh impossible for the last student in line to see what the instructor is doing. If you can't keep up through the turns, catch up on the straights.
Be aware that teachers do make mistakes. If you are doing exactly what he does and it doesn't work, remember what you did and avoid doing it in the future.
Don't crowd other drivers unnecessarily. Leaving more room gives you a chance to start accelerating earlier out of the turn to help set up a pass on the exit. This is known as setting up a pass. As you become more advanced, practice different line s through turns, but do not vary your line from the standard "qualifying" line until you have become goodenough to consistently hit every apex and exit point. Ask your instructor about various line s and when you should start trying them. IF YOU ARE STUCK BEHIND A SLOWER DRIVER
Pull into the pits and wait for a break in traffic. If someone is caught behind you, wave him past. There are few things in life more frustrating than being caught behind some dufus in a big hulking car who rockets down the straights and parks it for the turns.
If your lights are taped over with a plus (+) of tape rather than completely covered, try blinking your lights to get his attention. Don't distract him by honking your horn when he is at the apex of the turn.
If the person ahead of you is only a little slower than you, back off a bit and work on driving better rather than driving faster. This will give you a chance to see how it feels to hit all the apexes . Often the other driver of the slower car is better than you on some section of track. Note what he does different and learn it.

To make them easy to remember, I have tried to keep these hints as short and simple as possible. Discuss them with your instructor.

Look down the track. The further you look ahead, the more stable the car will be. Also the more time you will have to avoid any unpleasantness ahead.
Look where you want to go. It is a funny thing, but people tend to drive where they are looking. This means that if you look where you want to go, you will likely end up there. It also means that if you look at where you don't want to go, you will still end up there. This is known as target fixation. Often times, when cresting a hill, it is impossible to see the apex to aim for it. Usually there is a speaker post, or lamp pole or a tree you can use for a reference point.
An extension of this concept is that you want to look at where you want to go, not where you want to be. In other words, on the entrance of the turn you should look through the apex to the exit rather than fixating upon the apex .
Talking around a track. I find it helpful to come up with a monologue for a track. I talk about what I will be doing next. This has two benefits. It helps me remember reference points and also helps me to focus on what I am doing (driving) rather than other things.
When riding with students, I occasionally have them tell me what they will be doing a few steps ahead of where they are, for example, by the entrance of the turn they are telling me what they will be doing at the exit. There is almost always a significant improvement in their technique while they are doing so.
Looking and thinking ahead. Thinking ahead is very important. If you are not aware of what is happening, and what will be happening, YOU WILL get in trouble. It is better to note that the car up ahead is apexing early and will probably spin, than to suddenly find your apex filled with a spinning car and wonder where the hell you can go now.
Watch the workers. Not only is it important to see things such as yellow flags, but by watching the body langauge of a worker, you can see him reacting to an incident before the flag even comes out. Also, in a race, the flaggers communicate with hand signals. They tell each other all sorts of interesting things: the session is half over, one lap to go, there is a checkered flag out, there is oil on the track, put up the oil flag.

5.4.2 RAIN
Learning in the rain is a great opportunity. You can be driving at the limit and not be going too fast. That way when you make a mistake, it does less damage to your car. Learning in the rain also really teaches smoothness.
Rain is the great equalizer. It doesn't matter how much horsepower someone has if they can't get it to the track.
On a damp (not wet) track, the line is dry. Conversely if you get off the line , you willlose a lot of traction. Be very careful when attempting to pass on a damp track.

Anti-freeze is almost invisible. If someone dumps coolant, hopefully "grease sweep" will be put down. Look for the grease sweep. Be thoughtful of other drivers and use either pure water or a product like Red-Line's Water Wetter (tm) instead of Ethylene Glycol.
If someone dumps a bunch of oil or coolant exactly on the line , there is no need to driveoff line . Straddle the spill.
If on your warmup lap you notice a bunch of grease sweep in or near the line , drive throughit and help clean off the track. You should be going slow enough on your warmup lap that driving through grease sweep shouldn't cause you to lose control.

Watch your mirrors. Let faster drivers pass so both of you can concentrate on learning at your own pace.
Wave to the workers. At the end of the session, wave to the workers, thank them for being out there. Remember: no wave, no save.
Be ready to go on track before your session starts. Not only do you not want to miss track time, but you don't want to make your fellow student miss any time.

On a rough surface, you can ’t push as close to the limits of adhesion as you can on a smooth surface.
Cars are more stable when accelerating. When in doubt, gas it.
Fast in the fast parts, slow in the slow parts. Experience (or your teacher) will tell you which is which.
If you consistently have trouble in a particualr turn, slow down more or sooner, entering it. Some turns, when done right, give you the feeling you could have gone through them a lot faster. But when you go faster, you end up overcooking the entrance and blowing your whole line through the turn.
Stirling Moss once said about turns: "Better in slow and out fast than in fast and out dead."

DIRTFT (pronounced "dirt foot") Do it right the first time. Don't fudge on car preparation. Don't assume something is adjusted properly. Make sure everything is done properly before you get to the track, or you will have to fix it at the track.
Keep a driver's journal. A driver's journal can be incredibly valuable. My budget doesn't allow me to go racing every weekend, but by looking at my notes on a track, I can get a major head start bu using what I learned in previous driving sessions. I am also putting together a library of video tapes of walking and driving different courses with narration.
Bring a reliable car to the track. You can't learn about driving if you spend the day fixing the car.
Make sure the car is reasonably quiet. It doesn't matter if you are a couple of horsepower down, a school is not a race. Some tracks won't let you run if you are too loud. If you have any doubt about passing the sound check, bring an extra silencer you can bolt or clamp on the end of your exhuast pipe.
Until you become very consistent (+/- 0.5 seconds a lap) don't make a lot of adjustments to the car. You won't learn anything. Was the change in lap time due to the car or the driver?

Drive a variety of vehicles on a variety of tracks.
Learning how to compensate for a weakness on a vehicle where it is very pronounced makes it a lot easier to correct for it in a vehicle where it is less obvious. For example, driving an underpowered car will emphasize the importance of unwinding the steering wheel as early as possible while exiting a turn. While not as noticable, it is just as important for getting the maximum performance out of higher powered cars.
Cold tires don't stick as well as warm tires. For that matter "cold" drivers don't drive as well as "warm" drivers. Take it easy the first couple of laps to give you, your car and your tires a chance to warm up.
Slicks have a much greater difference in traction between dirt and pavement than do street tires. Two wheels in the dirt is not much to worry about with street tires, but it can be very exciting on slicks.
If you are driving on street tires that make a lot of noise as they approach the limit, use the squealing as feedback on how you are driving. As you turn in, the noise should increase, then it should stay at the maximum and smoothly decrease. If the squealing does not smoothly ramp up, then down, but comes and goes, you are not driving smoothly.

5.4.8 SCHOOL
It is up to you to make sure you receive the amount and type of attention you need. Different instructors give different types and amounts of feedback to different students. If you are not getting the amount or type of attention you need, ask for it. If it still is not forthcoming, change instructors.
If you have the opportunity to take a school several times, try to get different instructors. Each one will be better at teaching different things.
At the beginner level, the fact that your instructor drives a different car than yours is not important. Vehicle differences do not start becoming important until the intermediate level classes.
Don't blame the equipment. Your goal is to learn how to get the most out of your, car, not to go faster than someone else.
You can learn only so much by reading.
Read the rules and know them.
Anything that can go wrong will.
Things that can't go wrong will.
Never underestimate human stupidity.

There are certain mistakes everyone makes while they are learning. Some people only make certain mistakes for a short while, some people never break the habits.
Not using the whole track: Students seem afraid to take their car all the way to the edge of the track on the entrance or exit of the turn. This is bad for several reasons. First of all, you cannot go as fast through the turn. Second, turning the wheel more than you need scrubs off extra speed. And third, when you start driving fast enough to need the entire track, you won't be used to driving there.
Passengers with arms outside the car: Many schools do not allow students to take passengers for rides. At those that do, I often see passengers holding onto the roof or side of the car with one hand. Bad idea-if the car rolls, they lose their arm.
Passengers talking to the students: I once saw a student drive his car off the track because he was trying to pay attention to the advice his passenger was giving him. Unless the he is the instructor, the passenger should keep quiet and let student con centrate on what he is doing.
Taking foot off the gas and coasting up to the : It has been said that when you are racing, you should have your foot either all the way on the gas or all the way on the brakes. It would be more accurate to say that unless you are specifically setting up a sequence of turns, you should keep the car on the edge of . Coasting for 50-100 yards before you put on the brakes does neither. Practice, smoothly, and quickly, taking your foot off the gas and putting on the brakes.
Turning in too slowly: The quicker that you smoothly turn in, the longer you can wait to turn in and still make it to the apex . Except for the middle of class 3 turns where you are sacrificing a little bit of speed to set up a more important turn later, your car should either be accelerating, braking or turning at the limits of its ability. Don't waste time in transition. If you turn in too slowly, even if you start your turn in where you should, you will miss the apex , or apex way too late.
Playing with the gears too much. Shift as few times as possible while keeping the car in the powerband. It ’s generally not worth shifting if you will only be in that gear for a couple of seconds.
Talking to the instructor when he is riding with you. (Admittedly instructors are often guilty of prolonging conversations) When on the track, concentrate on your driving. If you have a question you MUST ask, do so on a straight when you aren't busy doing other things.
Overdriving the cooldown lap. Driving the cooldown lap at 90 percent while your brain is at 50 percent. Slow way down on the cooldown lap, and use the lap as an opportunity to make sure you get every turn perfect.
Focusing on the car ahead or behind and not paying attention to your own. If you concentrate too much on what the car ahead is doing, you will probably just make the same mistakes as him. If you spend too much time looking in your mirrors, you will probably miss your reference points and not brake or turn soon enough to keep your car on the track.
Fixating on reference points rather than using them. The result is a jerky "connect the dots" style.
Not letting out the steering as soon as possible. The more and the longer the steering wheel is turned, the more you slow down the car.
Resting a hand on the shifter. Keep both hands on the wheel, except when you must take one off to do something, then put it right back.
Not making one smooth turn out of the curve. Increasing and decreasing the amount of steering several times through the turn.

5.4.10 RULES TO LIVE BY ������������������������
Keep the round black things on the flat black thing.
Keep the shiny side up.
Keep the clear glass things in front of the red plastic things.
Don't attempt to violate the Pauli principle.
Enjoy yourself.

�������������� SECTION 6


Flags, signals, etiquette.
Braking, turndown, apex and exit points
Establish visual markers
Finding and consistently using good shift and braking points s

Brake modulation.
Move up braking point s to threshold straight line braking.
Trail braking (if appropriate to car)
Throttle modulation learn to steer with the throttle.

Counter steering, deliberate oversteer .
Add speed, rotation drifting
Fine tuning of skills per individual need.

Know, respect and OBEY the flags.
Respect the flaggers. If it weren ’t for them, you wouldn't be able to be out there having fun. White clothes, however, are not as good protection as a roll cage. They aren't much protection at all. If there is an incident there may be flaggers responding to it, so slow down and be extra carefull for the sake and safety of the flaggers.
Wave to the flaggers after the session.
Go out and do some flagging, it is a hell of a good way to learn a corner. It is also a lot of fun.
If someone is faster than you, point him by by pointing to where you want them to go. If you point to your left, you are telling them to pass you on the left. But be careful: they may pass you on the right. I once pointed someone by on the inside (to the left), but he didn't see my signal. Fortunately no damage was done when I pulled over to the right to let him by, and forced him into the dirt. The overtaking driver does not have to go where you point. Be predictable. As long as he can tell where you are going, he can make sure he doesn't hit you.
If you have to slow down, or if you are pulling into the pits, put a hand in the air.



(As used by the SCCA and NASA, in northern California.)

Standing Yellow Caution, Do not pass until after the incident. Slow down. ������������������������ Acknowledge the flag.

Waving Yellow Prepare to stop. Do not pass until after the incident. Slow down. Acknowledge the flag.

Red and Yellow Stripes There is stuff on the track. Usually called the oil or the surface flag. Although it may be anti-freeze, dirt or bits of race car.

White Slow vehicle on course. Usually a tow truck or ambulance. Or it may be a race car at 1/2 speed or slower. It does not mean one lap left.

Blue and Yellow Check your mirrors. It does not mean move over.

Red Carefully come to a stop. First, check your mirrors and make sure there isn't anyone right behind you. Don't do any sudden or stupid moves. Pull to the edge of the track and come to a stop so that the people behind you have a place to stop as well. In the San Francisco Region of the SCCA it is displayed only at the Start/Finish line. There will be black flags displayed at all stations.

Black Black flags are only displayed at black flag stations. At Sears Point this is Start/finish, turns 5 and 9.

Furled black You were naughty; don't do that again.

Open black Come into the pits and talk. Stop at the black flag station in pit lane.

Meat ball ( Black flag with red dot) There is something wrong with your car. ��Report to the black flag station.

Black flag all (B.F.A.)Everyone pull into the pits. In a B.F.A. there will be yellows displayed all around the course.

Pace car ���� Group up behind the pace car. Do not pass it or other cars. Drive slowly near the incident but at a good clip elsewhere. Watch out for workers and emergency vehicles on the track. Often there is a sign saying "Pace Car" displayed at Start/Finish.

Checkered ����The session is over. Take a cool down lap and pull into the paddock.

Fire Bottle ��������In the San Francisco Region, when turn workers wave a fire bottle at you, it usually means your car is on fire. Pull off close to a turn worker with a bottle so he can put out the fire. Do not park in tall grass if you suspect that your car is on fire.

Driving a car on the track puts much more stress on it than street use. A marginal part that could last for thousands of miles of street driving will quickly break at the track. At the very least this will cause you to miss track time. At the worst it could cause you to have an accident and hurt your car, someone else's car, yourself or someone else.
Clean all mechanical parts of the car. Not only is it easier to detect leaks, but the process of cleaning everything forces you to look at everything. Many serious problems have been found when cleaning the offending part.
A clean car gets through tech inspection a lot easier.
Make sure all nuts and bolts are tight, especially on the suspension and exhaust.
Make sure the brakes are fresh. If the car can be driven on the street, bed them in before going to the track.
Make sure the car is running properly. If the car is running poorly you will spend your concentration trying to figure out the problem with the car, rather than the problems with your driving.
Remove hubcaps and trim rings. They might come off under hard cornering.

Food Do not assume there will be food at the track. Even if there is, and you can afford it, and it is edible, you may not have time to wait in line to buy it. Bring real food, not just junk food. Driving is an athletic activity: eat like an athlete, protein, fruit, complex carbohydrates.
Water Drink lots of water. Avoid caffeinated drinks during the day. They dehydrate you, impair concentration and make you need to use the restroom when you should be concentrating on your line . Bring some fruit juiceand "sports drink". There are two things to know about sports drinks: they are more palatable when mixed down to about half concentration and, if they taste good, you need them. If they taste bad, then water will do you as much good.
Clothing Be prepared for any kind of weather from blazing hot to freezing rain. It is a good idea to wear a driving suit on the track. At the very least, wear long pants and shirt made of a natural fiber. Washing them in borax will add a little bit of fire retarding ability.
Chairs Bring something to sit on at meetings or between sessions.
Hat Wearing a hat between sessions makes it a lot easier on you. It will keep the sun or rain out of your eyes and keep you from getting as sunburned.
Sunscreen You will be outside almost all day long. Unless you are habitually outside all day, if you don't wear sunscreen you will get sunburned. This discomfort will distract you and make it harder to concentrate on driving.
Notebook Start a driver's journal. Make notes about your driving technique and how to deal with specific turns. Write a description of a lap of the race track. Also note your instructors comments and suggestions. Writing these things will help you organize your thoughts the day of the school. They will also be valuable when you next go to that track.
A couple cans of cola For the drive home. It is common to not realize how tired you are until you start to relax about an hour into the three hour drive home. The little boost from the sugar and caffeine in a can of cola can help you keep alert. If you extremely tired, do yourself a favor and pull off the road and take a nap.
Gas Make sure you have a full gas tank when you get to the track. Bring extra gas for the course of the day. Cars get miserable gas mileage while on the track, often less than half of what they get on the highway. There is often a place that will sell gas at the track, for about 50 percent more than the normal cost, if they are open and haven't run out.
Oil Bring a few extra quarts of oil. Sometimes cars do weird things when you start pushing them hard.
Coolant Cars that usually run cool will often overheat at the racetrack. People rarely drive their cars flat out for a half hour at a time on the street. Use either pure water or an additive such as Redline Water Wetter (tm). Antifreeze (ethylene glycol) is extremely slippery, and is nearly invisible on the track.
Brake pads and fluid Cars go through brakes a lot faster on the track than they do on the street. Some heavy cars (like Mustangs) can go through two sets of pads in a single day at the track.
Tools , including:
Lug wrench ��������Make sure your lug nuts are properly torqued down.
Tire guage Make sure your tire pressures are set correctly before you leave home
Jack A good floorjack will pay soon for itself in time and bother saved.

Jack stand ����������Never leave a car up on a jack. Jacks are designed to lift the weight of a car, but not to hold it up.
Boards to put under jackstands ����To keep the jackstands from punching grooves into the pavement.
Steel wire: ��������aka safety wire.
Duct tape ���� The force. It has a light side and a dark side and it holds the universe together.
Hose clamps ����Get the good stainless steel ones, with a strip to keep the grooves from cutting into the hose.
Window cleaner ���� Life at the track is much more pleasant when you can see clearly.
Paper towels ����For cleaning windows, spilled oil, wiping off your hands. Even

if you bring shop rags you will want to have clean paper


Bring someone to help you. Having a crew will allow you to concentrate on learning to drive without having to worry about logistics.
There are two very important jobs: the Crew Chief who takes care of the car and the Pit Mom" , who takes care of the people. If need be, both jobs can be done by the same person.

Crew Chief ����������Before every session the crew chief should check the car. Here is a minimum check list:
All of the fluids are at the correct level.
The car isn't leaking anything,
The windshield and windows are clean.
The car has enough gas.
Nothing that is supposed to be tight has come loose.
The brake pads are in good shape.
Clean everything between sessions.

Pit Mom When people are excited or stressed they often forget to take care of themselves. This is why it is important to have a Pit Mom to make sure that people:

go to the bathroom before going out on course
are ready to go on track on time

The following checklists were provided Scott Griffith, a friend who frequently takes his Mustang GT to track events. Feel free to make copies of the checklists.


Front suspension: Rear suspension:

_____Wheel bearings cleaned and repacked
______ Rear control arm mount bolts checked

_____ Wheel bearing play checked
_____ Rear control arm pickup points checked for fatigue

_____ Wheel bearing preload nut cotter secured
_____ Rear shocks adjusted to track settings

_____ Dust cap peened in
_____ Rear shock eye bolts tight

_____ Ball joint stud nuts tight, cotters secured
_____ Pinion seal checked for leakage

_____ Ball joints lubed, excess wiped dry
_____ Pinion drive flange bolts tight

_____ Strut to spindle mount bolts checked
_____ Gear oil changed
_____ Axle shafts checked

_____ Antiroll bar mount bolts checked ____ Outer bearings checked

_____ Antiroll bar end links tightened and checked
_____ Rear cover bolts retorqued, rear cover dry

_____ Front control arm mount bolts checked
_____ Gear oil level checked

_____ Control arm bushings lubed (if applicable)
_____ Axle breather tube checked

_____ Struts adjusted to track settings
_____ Race rubber mounted

_____ Strut mount plate nuts torqued
_____ Wheel nuts torqued

_____ Bump stops checked
_____ Tire pressure set

_____ Race rubber mounted

_____ Wheel nuts torqued Rear brakes:
____ Tire pressure set
______ New pads installed

_____ Rotor health check
Front brakes:
_____ Caliper bolts tight

_____ New pads installed
_____ Caliper mount plate bolts checked

_____ Caliper bolts tight
_____ Brakes bled, bleeders tight and dry

_____ Rotor health check
_____ Fluid reservior full

_____ Ducts in place, mountings checked
_____ MC mount nuts checked

_____ Brakes bled, bleeders tight and dry
_____ Max pressure pedal check

_____ Fluid reservior full
_____ Flex lines checked

_____ MC mount nuts checked
_____ Seals and unions checked and dry

_____ Max pressure pedal check
_____ Rear axle outer seals checked for leakage

_____ Flex lines checked

_____ Seals and unions checked and dry

_____ MC flare nuts tight and dry

_____ Prop valve/hard line tee flare nuts tight and dry

Cockpit: Steering:

_____ Fire bottle bracket mount checked
_____ Steering centered

_____ Fire bottle in place, charged, pin in place
_____ Rack mount bolts tight

_____ Harness mount eyebolts secure
_____ Tie rod stud nuts tight, cotters secured

_____ Belt check
_____ Tie rod jam nuts tight

_____ Seat mount bolt check
_____ Tie rod ends lubed, excess wiped dry

_____ Brake bias set to baseline
_____ Steering coupler upper and lower bolts tight

_____ Ohshit lights in place
_____ Steering coupler fabric disk health check

_____ Power steering fluid checked
_____ PS fluid seals and unions tight and dry

_____ Check brake light function

_____ Battery holddown secure

_____ Battery connections insulated

Engine: Transmission:

______ Oil changed
_____ Clutch free play checked

_____ Oil level checked, cap tight
_____ Clutch cable checked

_____ Sump plugs in place, torqued
_____ Trans oil changed

_____ Filter in place, torqued
_____ Trans filler and drain plugs checked

_____ Water level checked
_____ Trans tailshaft seal checked and dry

_____ Plugs installed and torqued
_____ Rear main seal dry

_____ Plug wires tight and clear of headers
_____ Gear selector lever mount bolts checked

_____ Serp belt checked
_____ Gear selector mount bolts checked

_____ Fuel lines and unions checked
_____ U-joints checked

_____ Oil lines and unions checked
_____ All gears engage

_____ Oil cooler checked for cracks

_____ Oil cooler mount checked

_____ Water hoses and clamps checked

_____ Valve cover bolts checked

_____ Throttle return springs checked

_____ Throttle plate opening checked at WFO

_____ Header bolts checked

_____ Collector bolts checked

_____ Exhaust system hangers checked

_____ Air pump plumbing clear of headers

_____ Clutch cable clear of headers

_____ Air filter cleaned

_____ Air filter housing secured

_____ Air inlet plumbing checked

_____ Catch tanks emptied

6.6. Spares box checklist:

_____ Motor oil

_____ Trans oil

_____ Gear oil

_____ Synthetic grease

_____ Brake fluid

_____ Brake pads

_____ Front brake rotors

_____ Brake cleaner

_____ Throttle return springs

_____ Wheel bearings

_____ Cotter pins

_____ Caliper mount pins

_____ Serp belt

_____ Spark plugs

_____ TFI module

_____ Fuses

_____ Front hub dust caps

_____ Nuts and bolts box

_____ Hose repair kit

_____ Windex and towels

_____ Duct tape

_____ Duct tape

_____ Duct tape

6.6.2 Pre-tech checklist:

______ Lights taped

_____ Numbers in place

_____ Brake light function checked

_____ Fire bottle charged, mount tight, pin in

_____ Spare tire well empty

_____ Belts in place

_____ Helmet bags in car

_____ Throttle return spring checked

_____ Wheel bearing play checked

_____ Leak check- rear main, trans tailshaft

_____ Catch tanks in place

_____ Battery mounts secured

_____ Trunk empty

_____ Passenger compartment empty

_____ Glovebox empty

6.6.3Pre-grid checklist:

_____ Tire pressures checked, caps installed

_____ Struts at track settings

_____ Shocks at track settings

_____ Wheel nuts torqued

_____ Engine oil checked

_____ Power steering fluid checked

_____ Water level checked

_____ Brake pad health check

_____ Rotor health check

_____ Enough fuel?

_____ Brakes need bleeding?

_____ Tires need rotating?

_____ Anything dripping or dragging?

_____ Passenger seat back secured

_____ Helmet in car

6.6.4 After the day is over:

_____ Remove tape from lights

_____ Clean up Paddock

_____ Thank and feed crew

_____ Write up / update track description and track notes.

Teaching isone of the best ways for an experienced driver to improve his driving. It forces you to think about all those little things you have forgotten. However, it is also very to get caught up in your ego. Remember, you are here to teach students how to drive, not to show them how well you can.
In the "follow the leader" session exaggerate your line and have your students do the same. Put two wheels off on the entrance and exit, put your wheels way up on the acceleration at the apex . This will teach your students the real width of the track. (Use common sense as to the speed and location that you put wheels off, don ’t do it when it would cause your students problems if they followed you) Emphasize that they need to follow you closely. Give them signals to give you if they are uncomfortable with the speed.
Show your students a signal that means "follow me" or "follow me closer". Usually tapping on the roof above your head.
Have your students drive the exaggerated line on the warm up and cool down laps as well.
Show the students the difference between a quick turndown and an abrupt one. Have them do turndown exercises with you in the paddock.
Show them still hands-signal, smooth progressive motion on the wheel.
If you are taking your students for a low speed drive around be sure to show them:
Apexes and turn down points.
Places where braking and shifting can be done, if needed.
Turn worker positions. Remember, a single turn may have a communicators stand, a fire station, and two flaggers stations.
Taking your students for "hot" laps is an excellent way to give them a seat of the pants feel for what a car can do. There are several things you should keep in mind:
Use your own car. On more than one occasion an instructor has rolled a students car up into a little ball showing them "how it's done".
Don't drive 10/10ths. The point is to show them the right way to do it, not how fast it can be done. Back off a little bit so you smoothly hit all of the entrances, apexes and exits.
Don't fall into the ego trap. It is very easy to scare the students. Remember, not only have they never driven this fast, but when you are giving them a ride, they have no control of the situation. Something many people find even more frightening than the speed.
Demonstrate, at half speed, how to go four-off and how to get back on safely. (This can be done at turn 10 at Sears Point and turn 3 at Laguna Seca. )
After a track session, have the students critique themselves and each other.
Bring some small toy cars to use as teaching aids. Make sure however that the "track" is in scale to the cars.
Teach the "what to do when things go wrong" section early. Students seem as able to get into trouble in their first session as their last.
Good flaggers are very important. Get trained flaggers from the local SCCA or equivalent.
Ask students for feedback at the end of the day.
Mark the instructor cars on the front as well as the sides and back so students can see it is an instructor behind them.
If you are riding at speed with a student, or one with you, don't try to hold a conversation. If you must make comments, keep them short, few and easy to understand, and only talk to your student on the straights. It is hard to hear on track and talking uses up too much of the "attention budget".
Don't frighten the students. There is no need, or excuse, for bonzai passes by instructors.
Some students gain confidence slower than others. Be patient.
Remember, your first obligation is to teach . Hopefully you will have fun, and maybe even get some track time in as well.
Ask students about experience and goals. Tailor your lectures and emphasis to your students needs and goals. Except for schools oriented towards racing, most students take performance driving schools to improve theirstreet driving, or just to have some fun driving fast. Attempting to teach these students racing techniques is not very productive.
Find out if any students are uncomfortable with following close, or with being followed closely. Make sure that they are at the back of any "follow-the-leader" packs.
How to deal with a student who won't listen. Is he actually a hazard to himself or others? If not, then let him have fun. If he is only a hazard to himself, warn him that if he doesn't do things differently he is likely to learn a very expensive lesson.
If you feel that someone elses student is a hazard on the track talk to either the instructor or the school administration. It is not possible for an instructor to see everything that all of his students do.
Have students describe a lap of the track. Describing a lap while in the paddock makes it easier for them to remember what to do when they are on the track.
Bring someone to crew for yourself as well. If you have to deal with your own car, you won't be able to devote 100 percent of your attention to your students.



At start of day





Instructor assignments


At start of day

Passing rules



Late Apex




Seating Position

After drive around in instructor car

Talk a lap of the track

Use whole track

Follow instructors

After each session

Discuss what students did right and wrong.

More advanced material as appropriate.


At start of day

Review of beginner material

Friction Circle and weight balance

Threshold Braking


Tailor the lecture to the needs of the individual student.


Some guidelines for grading follow. It is difficult to come up with hard and fast rules for grading subjective subjects. For each subject, I mention things to consider when grading, then list some grades with actions or traits I consider indicative of someone earning that grade.


Technique can be broken down into numerous sub-topics:

Line, Smoothness, Consistency, and Full use of the car's abilities. Does the student use all of the track on the entrance and exit of the turns? Does he make it to the apex ? Does he apex in the right place? Does he brake, turn-down and apex in the same place every lap? Does he apply the controls smoothly and progressively or is his driving jerky? Does he use all of the car ’s capabilities when braking and turning? Is he getting on the gas before the apex and unwinding the steering wheel when exiting the turn?

The student's driving (and grades) should improve with each day on the track.

Here are five benchmarks to help evaluate a student's abilities.

1 No idea of what an apex is, not smooth
2 Drives down middle of track, brakes in middle of turn
3 Knows what an apex is, sometimes makes it, uses most of track on ����������entrance and exit.
4 Usually gets close to acceleration when apexing, uses most of track on entrance and exit.
5: Should be an instructor, not a student. Drives a perfect lap every time.

These are what I would consider to be average grades per level of experience:

First session on track 1.5
after first day 2.0
after second day 3.0
after third day 3.3
after fourth day 3.5

Novice permit ������������3.7

Instructor �������������������� 4.5


Is the student there to learn or just to get his ya-yas out? Is he a hazard to himself or others? Is he thinking with his brain or his ego?

Does he...
think he should be the teacher, not thestudent.?
miss most lectures and/or argue with the instructor?
show up for lectures, but doesn't participate because his attention is elsewhere?
listen to what the instructor has to say, then ask relevent questions?


Judgement goes hand in hand with attitude. Students with poor attitudes often show poor judgement. They attempt to do things which are beyond their ability, are not allowed, or are just not safe. A student with good judgement will avoid bad situations before they become situations.

Does the student...
make illegal foolish Banzai passes?
start a pass under yellow?
lets the instructor drive his Ferrari, Dodge Viper, etc. and borrow it in the evening?
make legal, but foolish Banzai passes?
complete a pass under standing yellow?
make illegal, but safe pass?
stay out of trouble?
doesn't even come close to getting into trouble?


It is difficult to judge reactions without seeing how a student handles a bad situation. A driver with good judgement will have far fewer opportunities to use his reactions than one that is always pushing his luck. When a situation does occur, does the student respond calmly and correctly? Or does he freeze up or freak out?

Does he...
cover his face with his hands and slam on the brakes?
hold the wheel in a death grip and slam on the brakes?
correct for a slide, maybe fishtails a little bit?
remember to put in clutch and maybe hit the brakes when in a spin?
correct, but not over-correct, when in a slide?
put in the clutch and straighten the wheel, when in spin?
react to situations so quickly and smoothly that they never become bad situations?


Is being on the track with him the next best thing to having the track to yourself...Is he pleasant to share the track with? Does he hold up traffic? Does he thank and acknowledge the workers?

Does he...
cut people off, and seldom or never use his mirrors?
wave people by on straight, then tromp on the gas?
notice when someone is behind him and waves them by?
wave at the workers at end of session?
see a faster car and is wave it by before the flagger can show him the blue ��������flag?
pull into pits to let a pack of cars get by?


This section must be graded relative to the capabilities of car. Although the student should drive fast enough not to be a hazard, he should realize that doing it right is more important than driving fast.

GCR (General Competition Rules) KNOWLEDGE

How well does the student know the rules?

Does he...
know what the GCR is?
know a few of the chapters of the GCR?
know where to where to look in the GCR to find the answers?
know and remembers the important sections of the GCR?
quote the GCR verbatim, noting the section number?


Does he...
know any of the flags?
pass under yellow or miss black flags?
become confused about what to do in Black Flag All and Red Flag ��������situations?
know all the flags, but has to think about them?
acknowledge the flagger when shown a flag?
instantly recognizes all flags and knows what to do?

Teaching Performance Driving

teachperfdrive.txt Time-stamp: ##2003-05-15 16:48:48 lrc##

It needs a lot of work, but I think that it has valuable information in it. I need to include some of Nikka's comments about exercises for looking ahead.

I've been teaching performance driving since 1989. I've never done itprofessionally, but I have taught with several clubs, with many different styles and techniques of instruction. What follows are my opinions based upon my experience. Most of what I say will be most applicable to a school teaching novice drivers 0-3 days of instruction. The student may only take one day of instruction, or several. The student's goals can be anything from a fun afternoon playing with their car to this being the first step towards a competition license.

It is important to remember that there is a large and vital difference between the techniques that will give the student the best instruction possible, and the techniques that will give the student the best instruction possible with the available resources.

When learning performance driving , the student faces two kinds oflearning, Intelectual (book learning) and kinesthetic (body learning). Without an intellectual understanding of why they should do something, the student will just be learning techniques by rote, and it will be harder for them to internalize the techniques. Also, while it would be ideal if the student could learn the basics intellectually before getting to the track, in reality, they won't fully understand the the physics until they feel it with the seat of their pants.

It is important to remember that there is only so much that a student can learn intellectually at a trackside drivers meeting before they go on to course. All too often I see these meetings drag on for over an hour as the instructor tries to impart 5, 10, 15 or more years of driving experience in one dose, when the students are distracted by being at the race track, thinking about how they are going to be the next Juan Manuel Fangio, compounded with the fact that it is usually simply difficult to hear the instructor over the myriads of background noise.

The primary advantages of covering all the material in a group meeting is that it guarantees that all the students will be exposed to the core material, and that it frees up the other instructors to do other things. Assuming of course that the other instructors don't have to wait around during the meeting for their students to be assigned.

The ideal situation would be to have a lecture a few evenings before the track date, in a quiet room, where the students can easily hear the instructor, take notes and ask questions without it taking from vital time taking care of all the various details that crop up at the track. If it were possible to have one of these classroom lectures ahead of time, I would suggest giving the students a pass whereby they can leave the initial drivers meeting once the information critical for the day has been covered.

Rather than trying to cover all the material in one shot at the track, I would suggest prioritizing the material, and covering as much as can be (as long as the critical stuff gets covered) in some shorter, specified period of time.

I am considering the possibility of making a video tape that covers all of the basic material that students could watch in the comfort of their own home. I've written a book that covers this material, but it can be difficult getting people to actually read. I'm also working on a more interactive online version of the book.

Critical before going onto track:

Safety rules, flags, passing etc. ettiquette follow me signals Basics of line .

Important to know: proper way to sit how to hold wheel fast turn down

Good to know: basic physics- wight transfer, circle of friction, basically why we are doing this. How do you teach physics without using scary terms or numbers?

Assigning instructors:

Sometimes trackschools assign students to individual instructors, sometimes they just have a pool of instructors for each run group. The problem with the latter is that it is too easy for the students who most need help to get skipped over, and not get any help. At the very least there should be some sort of assignment such that each student has an instructor specifically keeping an eye on them. It is also often a lot easier for the students who most need help, to ask questions in small groups, rather than in front of the whole group.

If you don't have time to assign specific students to the instructors, take a couple of moments at the brief initial meeting, to introduce the instructors, mention what they are driving, and say a little about their experience:

Larry's been racing since 1988 and teaching since 1989. His current track car in a 1969 MGBGT, but he has track experience in everything from a Honda stationwagon to a 280Z.

Then take a break to allow students a chance to pick and meet their instructors, trying to keep the number of students per teacher fairly constant.

If you have novice instructors, have them co-teach with a more experienced instructor. They'll still be available to do lead-follow on the track or ride along with the student, but the experienced instructor can also keep an eye on them.

Learning on track:

Group download meetings after a track session can be very valuable. However, I feel that they should be kept short so that the students can have more time with their own instructors. Also, if the downloads are schedules at the same time as the instructor's "play sessions" students should be excused from the group meeting if they have an opportunity to ride with their instructor. If there is some issue in particular with a student, try to catch them as they come off the track from their session. This could be done via a white board with the car numbers of students that need to check in at impound posted at the track exit.

There are various means of watching students and giving them feedback. Each of them have advantages and disadvantages.

instructors watching from turns:

This has the advantage of keeping instructors "out of harms way", and allowing more students on the track as you have fewer, or no, instructors cars out there. Instructors can theoretically take written notes and don't rely on their memory about who did what. Also, instructors can listen to the students and hear who is properly modulating their throttle and who is constantly on and off it. The disadvantage is that by the time the student gets any feedback it's half an hour to an hour later, and they've already finished the session.

unassigned instructors on track:

Have instructors driving on the track with students. If they see a student having a problem, they can signal a student to follow them. They are also observing who does what during the session and can give feedback at a group download. Students can make mistakes and never have anyone around to notice them. Instructors have to be able to see and remember car numbers, or at least something distinctive about the car (an especial problem in marque club schools where everyone is driving nearly identical cars).

lead and follow with one student:

This is my favorite way of teaching a student the line . It is theclearest way to show a student where to drive short of grabbing the steering wheel from the passenger seat and steering the car for them. When students follow the instructor it is a lot easier for them to keep on the line and they are often able to be "towed around" thetrack significantly faster than they can go on their own. It is important to let the student pass and try the line on their own,before taking the lead again and reminding them of where they should really be. All too often, students can become excellent at following an instructor without developing the skills of finding their own refernce marks.

lead and follow with several students:

If an instructor has several students in the same run group, it is not possible to give them each the level of attention that a single student will get. Have the students line up together, with theinstructor in front. It's generally best to have the best student immediately behind the instructor, and the student who needs the most help at the back of the group. Make sure that the students stay as close to each other, and to you, as they comfortably, and safely can. If they get too spread out, it is impossible for the last student in the group to see what the instructor is doing. Let each student follow for a lap or two then wave them by so that the next student can follow immediately behind the instructor. You may want to give the students the option of rather than passing you, just pulling out and letting the other students in the group pass, and falling in at the end of the group.

When the student passes the instructor, they can either keep back with the group, or run ahead and fall in behind the next instructor and group of students they catch.

riding with student:

While a lead and follow can be the best way of showing a student where to put their car on the track, riding with them is the best way of teaching them how to put their car there. Many students have reasonably clean line s at the low speeds of their first day on thetrack, but have many bad habits which will cause them problems when they start picking up speed. Also, by riding with them you can tell if they make common mistakes like too slow of turn in, not being smooth on the gas, turning in, steering away from the apex, then turning back in and so forth. Also, by riding with a student, you can tell them that they missed the apex, and by how much, as it happens.

It is very important to not only tell the student what they need to hear, but to shut up and let the student concentrate on their driving. Don't overwhelm them with advice, you aren't going to be able to correct all of their mistakes in one session, or even one day. Concentrate on a couple turns, or a couple of skills each session.

There are several exercises I've found to be very helpful for students, when I'm riding with them. On their warm up and cool down laps, I have them drive an exagerated line , and actually drive up onthe berms (unless it is raining), so that they can feel where the edges of their car are. Once they get good at that, I have them just barely tick the edges of the berm enough to feel it, but not enough to upset the car.

The complement to this exercise is to have the student concentrate on entering a turn all of the way at the outside of the track, waiting for the turndown point, and making a quick clean turndown. Probably the two most common mistakes of students are too slow of a turn-in, and "cheating their turndown point", i.e. edging in to the middle of the track before so that when they turn in, they are already several feet from the edge of the track.

It can really help a student think ahead and focus if you have them "teach you the line ", and tell you what you should be doing about twoseconds before you get there. Tell the students that they don't have to speak in complete sentences, or even in English, but they should at least vocalize their thoughts.

Every so often, a student just won't understand where you want them to put their car. They may not see where you are pointing, they have preconceptions, or just don't believe that the car will go there. In these cases, it may be helpful to actually steer the car for them. Before doing this, ask them for permission, and have them slow down a bit extra as it is harder to steer from the passenger seat. Often, feeling the difference of the improved line will help thestudent understand where they should drive and why.

Often, when a student is on a track for the first time, I have them shift as little as they can. If they have a car with a broad powerband, I have them leave the car in fourth gear as much as possible, and concentrate on the line . I remind them that if they letroom build up beteen them and the car ahead of them, then they have more room to drive fast in the turns without being caught behind slower cars.

Once a student has a pretty good understanding of the line , have themalternate between driving as slow as they have to in order to drive a perfect line , and driving as fast as they (safely) can. Thealternation of fast and a little sloppy, and slow and correct is one of the fastest ways to get them to reasonably fast and reasonably correct.

Another good exercise, for the student who is starting to push the car a bit harder is to have them practice threshold braking. There are usually a couple of places on a track where a student can safely lock up the brakes, if there isn't any traffic near them. These are usually turns with lots of runoff at the end of a straight. Have the student make sure that there is no traffic behind them and practice threshold braking, or using their ABS when it is clear.

videos of student:

I am just starting to use a camcorder at the track, and haven't fully explored it's potential. Being able to go back and watch my own line sas shot with my in car camera is very helpful, as is being able to take verbal notes while I'm driving. I've also had the chance to watch videos that were taken by someone following me, and those were extremely enlightening. I can see that videos taken while following a student could be quite educational, especially for the student who swears that they are hitting the apexes, when they are barely in the same zip code.

student riding with instructor:

One very helpful way of showing a student not only what they should do, but why, is to take them for a ride in one of the fast run groups. Having the speed of the car carry it out to the edge of the track on the exit of a turn, or going fast enough that you need to let the car settle between lefts and rights in the esses can really help bring home to the student why you tell them to drive a particular line . Remember, the point of this ride is to show the student how todo it, not to scare them. There is also a fine line between demonstrating your abilities and "showing off".

Taking a student for a ride can be a good opportunity to show them not only how to do it right, but how to do it wrong. Show them the difference betwen a very early and a very late apex. Show them how to handle two (or four) wheels off at the apex. Tell them what you're going to do, and make sure that you do it in a safe way.


First day at track

credentials of instructor goals of student background of student

Go through critical, then important book learning

How to sit, hold wheel Basics of line

(if time) circle of friction/weight transfer

Lead and follow session Exercises on warmup/cooldown laps of hitting berms Work on line , student follow for a bit, then a couple laps on own,then follow again

talking: stuff from important to know and good to know lists discuss specific issues Once student has weight transfer/circle of friction give the what to do when things go wrong lecture

Give student ride in instructors car in fast group Shows the student why they need to do the things we are telling them Establishes credentials of instructor

Instructor ride along make sure student keeps hands on wheel de-emphasize shifting, heel and toe, just work on line Work on quick turndown


Miscellaneous bits, that haven't been fit into the structure yet.


scheduling: sharing cars time for instructors to change cars time for instructors to play

It is best if the day can be scheduled so that if the same person (an instructor) or car (shared between two students) is going to be on track in two different run groups, that there is at least one run group between them. This isn't always possible, but it's something to try to keep in mind.

Also, try not to schedule instructors to be in meetings during the sessions that they are allowed to go and play on the track. Free track time is not the only reason that people teach, but it is a major incentive, and it's annoying to have to choose between going to "mandatory meeting" and getting track time.

racing and teachin the same day

I've tried to both teach and race on the same day. I found it so exhausting to teach in two run groups before racing that my performance in the race was definitely affected.

Slow laps in the teacher's car before the students drive are of limited usefulness. The students don't have a frame of reference to hang what they are seeing on. These laps, later in the day, can be very useful.

Students with particular issues:

Teaching women, how is it different?

All generalizations are false, especially ones about women. That disclaimer aside, there are a couple of characteristics that I've seen more frequently with women than with men. They tend to be less aggressive, and more conservative on the track. They can have finely perfected line s, but not only will they not push the car to the latestpossible braking point, they may not even use full throttle on the straights. This isn't really a problem, unless they are holding up traffic and not checking their mirrors to let people past.

I'm not sure how to correct this, or if it even needs to be. I did have a friend knock something like 20 seconds off her lap time at Malibu Grand Prix after I took her for a ride in the two seater car. Once she realized that the cars would take turns that much faster without spinning out, flipping over and bursting into flames, she went that much faster.

I think that a lot of this comes from the fact that very few women consider their femininity closely tied to their ability to drive fast, and as such have rarely, if ever, approached the handling limits of their cars. I've seen a button that said "There are two things every man thinks he does well, one of them is drive". But I've never seen the same said of women.

Oftentimes a woman comes to the racetrack with little prior knowledge or interest in performance driving . She may have just gotten a sportylittle car and wants to learn how to drive it, or she may have been talked into coming out to see how much fun her boyfriend's or husband's hobby is. She didn't grow up reading car magazines, has never heard terms like apex, getting sideways and lateral acceleration before. You may have to assume far less background knowledge and explain a lot more. On the other hand, she may have fewer bad habits to unlearn as well, and may have less ego getting in the way of admitting that someone else knows more about this than she does.

What to do with the student who is conviced that he knows more than the instructor?

One thing that sometimes helps, is telling the student that while your technique may not be the fastest way for the car that the student is driving that day, one day they will likely be in a situation where by having your techniques in their "mental toolbox", they'll be able to pull them out and go faster. Also point out that when you are learning a new technique, things will usually be worse before they get better. Ask them to give your techniques a try for the day. If they don't work, they don't have to use them ever again, but they may just find the situation where it's actually handy to apex on the berm rather than drive down the middle of the track.

Sometimes taking them for a ride at speed can help. Remember that you aren't trying to scare the student, or show off per se, but if they realize that you can actually get around the track faster in your stock honda civic than they can in their camaro, you might actually know something.

Sometimes, the chemistry just doesn't work between you. In which case it is best to try to trade them with another instructor who may work better.

Sometimes this student is just a hazard. They won't believe that they are doing anything wrong (though vidoes of them missing the apex by a car width may help) and continue to drive over their head. In this case, it may be best to ask the student to leave, even if you have to give them a full refund.

The student who is clue-immune.

Every so often you get a student that just doesn't "get it". They may not understand english. They may have preconceptions. They may just be slow at picking up new physical skills. For these students, you have to ask the question "are they a hazard"? If not, it's often best to just let them be, and maybe they will eventually get it.

How to teach physics without using numbers

For a lot of people it is a lot easier to learn what to do, if they understand why they should do it. For performance driving , the "why"is basically physics. Unless your student is an engineer, there's a good chance that if you describe the physics using physics terms and formulas, their eyes will just glaze over. Describe the effects qualitatively rather than quantatively. Use small words, that may not be quite so technically accurate, but which are easier for non-technical people to understand.

What props to get or use.

Fast line vs. school (safe) line .

I prefer to teach a line that has the apexes later than I would use ina race. I'd rather have a student, when they start pushing their car, have a little bit of leeway in their line . If they try for a late apexand apex earlier than they want, they end up on the racing line . Ifthey try for the racing apex and apex earlier than they want, they end up on the tire wall.

Exercises off the track:

Before going out on track, have students mime a fast turndown. They may feel like idiots standing around the paddock pretending that they are going from straight to turned, then slowly letting the wheel out, but it helps them get it into muscle memory.

If you can set up a couple of cones for them to drive through in an empty stretch of paddock, then move them closer, the students can learn the actual width of their car.

benefits of teaching: free track time learning to critique driving
recognizing your own mistakes giving back to community helps organize
your own thoughts about driving

teaching is not about the teacher, it is about the student

Copyright (C) 2003 Larry Colen
Most recently modified by lrc at Tue Jul 15 01:16:41 PDT 2003