In slow, out fast, and other lies of the racetrack: part 6 of 6

6 Big Lies

It’s time to wrap up this series of posts on the suspect advice of so-called experts.

  1. Drive the racing line
  2. In slow, out fast
  3. The first driver to full throttle wins
  4. You should be on throttle or on brake, never coasting
  5. Imagine a string connecting your steering wheel and throttle pedal
  6. Separate braking and steering

Separate braking and steering

One of the first things I heard in my high performance driving journey is that one should separate braking and steering. As a novice, that was probably a good thing to hear because when you mix the two, you may end up spinning. However, once you’re beyond the rank novice stage, mixing braking and steering is exactly what you’re supposed to do. Trail-braking is probably the most important skill to master. It serves several purposes.

  • Smoothly transitions from a front-heavy braking stance to a balanced, corner stance
  • Adds grip to the front to aid steering
  • Lowers grip in the rear to aid rotation
  • Provides resistance on the steering wheel to help you estimate speed and grip

As a coach, I teach trail-braking from the first lesson. Not the aggressive form of trail-braking where you’re rotating the car, but the soft release of the brake pedal to keep the suspension quiet. Once you learn that, it naturally transitions to a bit of coasting, which is an essential, if brief, phase of cornering. The rotation-style of trail-braking is the curriculum of the high intermediate.

Separate throttle and steering

I think an alternative, and better lesson would be to tell people to separate throttle and steering. Cars turn better when you lift off the gas. As soon as you add gas, the front gets light and loses grip. If you keep adding gas, you may find you need to lift to prevent running off track at the exit. On the other hand, as soon as you lift off the gas, the steering becomes very responsive and you can really point the car where you want. Next time you’re in a corner and you feel the steering is a little heavy, get off the gas and let the car turn in by itself. Then add throttle and watch as it miraculously straightens out.

On a related note, if you’re trying to get some drift out of a corner, don’t mash the throttle to break the rear tires free. While that might work a little, you’re not using the weight transfer and suspension to help you out. Instead, lift off throttle and a wait a moment for the weight to transfer. Now add throttle and the rear will have an easier time breaking free. Plus you’ll have the weight on the front, which will help you with the steering correction to prevent spinning.

It’s a conspiracy!

Let’s summarize this whole series of posts, because it’s all a conspiracy to keep you safe slow. The typical expert advice you’re given is intended to keep you safe, and honestly, there’s nothing wrong with that. However, if you’re going to get good at driving, you’re going to have to go through some unsafe shit. This is the hard truth. There are only two things that matter.

  1. Driving the limit
  2. Rotation early in the corner

You can’t experience the limit without sometimes going over the limit. You can’t experience rotation without sometimes over-rotating. Practicing this stuff will get you into trouble. Make peace with that one way or the other. Meaning decide (a) that you’re not going to do this shit, or (b) that you are and you will pay for your consequences.

In slow, out fast on the racing line with separated inputs and nannies on is a safe way to experience a high performance car. It is not high performance driving, however. Muscle memory can’t be bought. It has to be earned, the old-fashioned way, with lots of falling down and getting back up. Is it worth it? I think some people see a mountain and have to climb it. Others can admire its majesty without conquering it. Enjoy your driving however you like it. Don’t let some fucktard on the internet tell you how to have your fun. That said, if your fun needlessly endangers other people, then you’re the fucktard.

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