Lefty: day 1

Today is day 3 after surgery but day 1 of trying to drive left-footed. I decided I would use 2 typical test scenarios: Brands Indy and Karelia Cross. As usual, the car is NA Miata with default everything. There was a slight wrinkle this time, which is a left foot setup. That was simply turning off the throttle, turning the clutch into the throttle, and then setting the transmission to automatic. 3 clicks later I was ready to roll.

I know from previous experience that my benchmark times are approximately as below. My goal was to reach a “fast” time.

  • Brands
    • Personal best: 1:01.7?
    • Fast: 1:03
  • Karelia
    • Personal best:  1:02.8
    • Fast: 1:05

Brands Indy

First stop, Brands Indy for 20 laps. My first timed lap was a 1:05.34, which is not that bad. I then put in several crap laps before a 1:03.9. I was very surprised at that. Towards the end of the session I got better and more consistent, and my fastest 3 laps were 1:02.84, 1:03.26, and 1:03.63. Not a very tight group, but much better than I expected. But Brands Indy isn’t all that demanding of either pedal. Here’s a graph showing brake pressure, speed, and throttle position. Red is right-footed and blue is left-footed. This isn’t my best right-footed lap, but it’s a pretty good one. As you can see, my braking technique on the left side isn’t all that great. I brake gently at first, then too much, and then don’t modulate the pressure very well.

Karelia Cross

I love Karelia Cross and other dirt tracks because the low traction makes you really have to work. Unlike Brands, you can’t just drive from memory. Every lap is a little different. I had to jump back and forth between pedals quite a bit and a few times I think I was going for the clutch. My fast lap was a 1:05.42, which is faster than I thought I would go. I was thinking I would get there eventually rather than on the first session.

Muscle memory?

I have never actuated a throttle with my left foot before. I don’t have any muscle memory on my left foot for how to modulate throttle to prevent from spinning. And yet I found I was doing this automatically. Trail-braking was harder, but I could still do it a little. Shocking stuff. I’m not going to say I’m glad I have an Achilles injury, but I don’t think I would have done this experiment without an injury. If you’ve got a sim rig, you might give it a try. You never know, you might get into an emergency situation where you have to race left-footed and you’ll be glad you trained for it.

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