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Old 03-31-2012, 06:35 AM   #1
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Professional Driving Instruction

I've always heard that getting some professional driving instruction would be valuable so I spent yesterday at Willow Springs Big Track (open track/testing day) with the POC Chief Driving Instructor. Its amazing how much better I got in just one day! I litterally took seconds off my previous best lap times.
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Old 03-31-2012, 08:37 AM   #2
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Dave Gardner?
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Old 04-01-2012, 11:41 AM   #3
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What were some of the techniques that made the difference?

Mike
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Old 04-01-2012, 06:29 PM   #4
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Dave Gardner?
Marty Mehterian, Dir of Driver Development and all around great guy.
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Old 04-03-2012, 10:04 AM   #5
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What were some of the techniques that made the difference? Mike
1. Building confidence in me and in the car - at several parts of the track, I was no where near the limits of the car (even though I thought/felt that I was). Call me a wimp if you like, but overcoming that fear or hestitation and trusting the car (and my driving skills) to handle even higher speeds proved to be a significant step forward that I would not have easily made without someone skilled coaching me.

For example, I had alwasy tapped the brakes on entry to the Turn 2 fast sweeper to set the front tires and ease turn in. Well, the car has much more capability there than I was exploiting. What I was really doing was scrubbing off speed to where I was comfortable (about 83-84 mph) and then accelerating through the corner at full throttle.

By the end of the day with coaching, I was entering the corner without touching the brakes at 93mph and holding it at full throttle all the way. This increased my entry, middle, and corner exit speeds accordingly.

2. Corner line and exit speed - we worked on different lines through the corner with the goal of increasing exit corner speed. On several turns, I was able to get +5-7mph. This was especially important on exiting the corners onto the back and front straights and directly increased my max speed down the long straights.

3. Unwind the steering - we worked on unwinding the steering as soon and as quickly as possible. In some cases, turning more quickly and getting the steering back to straight as soon as possible resulted in faster exit speed than doing a more leisurely turn and rolling back to straight (which just scrubbed speed).

4. Relaxing in the car and looking further up the track - both are simple and obvious but I wasn't doing either of them. We experimented with seating position and found that moving the seat closer to the steering wheel allowed my arms to relax which relaxed my shoulders and entire upper body. Also, rather than looking straight out the front, we worked on looking further up the track which smoothed out my immediate driving and better placed the car position for transitioning to the next section.
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Old 04-03-2012, 11:12 AM   #6
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1. Building confidence in me and in the car - at several parts of the track, I was no where near the limits of the car (even though I thought/felt that I was). Call me a wimp if you like, but overcoming that fear or hestitation and trusting the car (and my driving skills) to handle even higher speeds proved to be a significant step forward that I would not have easily made without someone skilled coaching me.

For example, I had alwasy tapped the brakes on entry to the Turn 2 fast sweeper to set the front tires and ease turn in. Well, the car has much more capability there than I was exploiting. What I was really doing was scrubbing off speed to where I was comfortable (about 83-84 mph) and then accelerating through the corner at full throttle.

By the end of the day with coaching, I was entering the corner without touching the brakes at 93mph and holding it at full throttle all the way. This increased my entry, middle, and corner exit speeds accordingly.

2. Corner line and exit speed - we worked on different lines through the corner with the goal of increasing exit corner speed. On several turns, I was able to get +5-7mph. This was especially important on exiting the corners onto the back and front straights and directly increased my max speed down the long straights.

3. Unwind the steering - we worked on unwinding the steering as soon and as quickly as possible. In some cases, turning more quickly and getting the steering back to straight as soon as possible resulted in faster exit speed than doing a more leisurely turn and rolling back to straight (which just scrubbed speed).

4. Relaxing in the car and looking further up the track - both are simple and obvious but I wasn't doing either of them. We experimented with seating position and found that moving the seat closer to the steering wheel allowed my arms to relax which relaxed my shoulders and entire upper body. Also, rather than looking straight out the front, we worked on looking further up the track which smoothed out my immediate driving and better placed the car position for transitioning to the next section.

Thanks nice write-up. I find your #4 was a key for me...had to learn it myself though... Look up and linearize every group of turns in front of (ahhh then there is the blind apex track up here) and slice right through...way less work and overdriving of the car

I am going to try your number 3. How abrupt did he have you unwind?

High speed straight entry into a sweepers are still something I find hard to push and judge towards full capability of the car...still hesitant. What were his cues there?

I have been driving a jeep all winter so I am going to do some karting in the hope that it will tune me up a bit
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Old 04-04-2012, 12:25 PM   #7
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I am going to try your number 3. How abrupt did he have you unwind?

High speed straight entry into a sweepers are still something I find hard to push and judge towards full capability of the car...still hesitant. What were his cues there?

I have been driving a jeep all winter so I am going to do some karting in the hope that it will tune me up a bit
The instructor had me unwind very quick as in "back to center NOW!" and I'd pull it right back to center. He did this so I could get the feel for how much quicker the car would accelerate without the front wheels turned. It made a big difference but I wouldn't recommend driving this way regularly, the goal was to get me to understqand the importance of unwinding quickly yet you still want to keep the car balanced. Quick and smooth.

The cue to rolling into a sweeper faster was to relax, trust the car, look farther ahead to smooth out the arc, and have confidence that if it starts to slide you know what to do to catch it - so catch it and drive it away. I just kept pushing faster until I found the limit, caught it and drove it away. With that under my belt, we worked on keeping the car right on the limit through the sweeper.

Karting is a good way to keep your reflexes sharp and to feel where the kart's going but it can't substitute for track time because cars really don't handle exactly like a kart. But compared to a Jeep, yes it will definitely help!
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Old 04-04-2012, 03:22 PM   #8
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Sounds like you had a great day Thomas. I have talked to Marty many times but never driven with him. Definitely a good guy to have as an instructor. When I get a very experienced driver in the right seat the comment is always "unwind". We can unwind the wheel a lot quicker than we think and still maintain our racing line. All those little things matter.

So flat... no lift into turn 2 at WSIR ??? Major cajones.
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Old 04-04-2012, 08:03 PM   #9
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Lightbulb Willow Springs

Very impressive explanation. Willow is my home track too. But I ran mid-engined formula cars. There are a lot of strange things out on the desert. One day I was coming out of turn nine and I saw what looked like a giant spider go out on the track just before turn one. Then that thing took off like a rocket. Of course I could see when it got into the turn that it was a Kart.


Karts is just a wast of time, if you can get in a real car on a real track instead. Drivers in Karts can go fast in cars with proper suspension, but fast drivers in suspension cars do not necessarily go fast in karts.

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Old 04-19-2012, 01:40 PM   #10
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So flat... no lift into turn 2 at WSIR ??? Major cajones.
Since I'm still on the stock suspension, I can't carry quite as much speed out of Turn 1 and into Turn 2 as the Spec Box's can. So for now, yes, back on full throttle out of Turn 1 and leave it there, allowing the car scrub some of the speed on its own through Turn 2 ....

Faster but still pico cajones.
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Old 04-19-2012, 02:35 PM   #11
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Thanks nice write-up. I find your #4 was a key for me...had to learn it myself though... Look up and linearize every group of turns in front of (ahhh then there is the blind apex track up here) and slice right through...way less work and overdriving of the car

I am going to try your number 3. How abrupt did he have you unwind?

High speed straight entry into a sweepers are still something I find hard to push and judge towards full capability of the car...still hesitant. What were his cues there?

I have been driving a jeep all winter so I am going to do some karting in the hope that it will tune me up a bit
What I do is slowly ramp it up. At first, approach the corner at a speed you know you can make without lifting. Lets say you know you can take the corner in 4th at 4k rpm. Next time around go through at 4.3k rpm on an even throttle without lifting. Keep going up in small increments until you reach your limit. Set your speed well before the entry, even if it means backing off halfway through the straight and concentrate on looking through the corner for your turn in point.
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Old 04-23-2012, 07:47 AM   #12
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****UPDATE****

Here are some hard numbers showing the improvement since the professional driving instruction (all times are from Willow Springs Big Track and no changes were made to the car during this time);

December, 2011: 1:45 (min:sec)
February, 2012: 1:44

This is where I felt that I had plateaued and wasn't getting any faster on my own so I had the professional instruction in March and...

April, 2012: 1:40

One day of professional instruction took 4 sec's off my lap time!
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Old 04-25-2012, 09:13 AM   #13
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Originally Posted by thstone View Post
****UPDATE****

Here are some hard numbers showing the improvement since the professional driving instruction (all times are from Willow Springs Big Track and no changes were made to the car during this time);

December, 2011: 1:45 (min:sec)
February, 2012: 1:44

This is where I felt that I had plateaued and wasn't getting any faster on my own so I had the professional instruction in March and...

April, 2012: 1:40

One day of professional instruction took 4 sec's off my lap time!
Nice tuneup! Marty seems to be unshakably calm. Have you seen the Willow instructional video on Pelican, great video.
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