You’re Doing it Wrong – Common Driver Errors Often Mistaken for Handling Issues


#3 – Don’t drive out to your exit point, end up there

Instead of driving the car out to your exit point, let the car go out there.  I see it all the time where people will hold the car down at their apex way longer than they need to before unwinding the wheel and tracking out.  It’s a safety thing, most of the time they don’t even know they’re doing it.  If you do it right, you’re unwinding the wheel and adding throttle at the precise point where your car will end up at the very edge of the track on exit.

Running your vehicle all the way out to the edge of the track without having to steer there is the goal.  The rubber marks show that some people are even tracking out a little further than this.

Most people’s minds tell them to hold the inside just a hair longer to the point where they start releasing the wheel and adding throttle and by the time they’re pointed straight they're a car width away from the edge.  That way feels safe, and it is safer but it’s not as fast.  The longer you hold your apex the longer you have to wait to get back to the throttle and they only time you’re going faster is if you’re on the throttle.  Let the car go out toward the exit, don’t drive it there.  If you end up in the middle of the track then start unwinding your steering a little earlier.  If you’re unwinding right at the apex and you’re still not making it all the way to the edge of the track then apex a little earlier.

#4 – Happy hands

Note the compact dimensions of this steering wheel found inside the K-PAX Racing Volvo S60 and the handy reminder for Randy that new front pads have been installed.

Have you ever seen the inside of a DTM car and noticed how they have a small Formula 1 style steering wheel?  I mean, you understand why they have those types of wheels in Formula 1 cars because there’s just not enough room for a traditional round wheel but in the closed cockpit DTM cars?  Why wouldn’t they want their drivers to use a round wheel that they can move their hands around on?  Here’s why; you’re supposed to keep your hands in one spot on the steering wheel if at all possible and the hairpin on the Long Beach Grand Prix circuit is the only turn I have come across on a race track where you have to take one hand off the wheel.  If you’re shuffling the wheel in your hands through the turns you’re doing it wrong.  Your steering wheel is your direct connection to feedback from the front tires.  Your car sends you messages about what the front tires are doing directly through your steering wheel.  Your hands sense those messages and report what’s going on directly to your brain then your brain tells your hands how to respond.

Driving the HG Motorsports FIAT 500 Abarth with hands at 9:00 and 3:00 position on the wheel.  At 10:00 and 2:00 you'd quickly find your arms crossed up when trying to negotiate the turns.

Moving your hands around on the wheel is like trying to have a conversation when one person’s cell phone has bad reception, there’s going to be some things you miss and you may not get the whole picture.  Keeping your hands in one spot on the wheel will help your subconscious mind correct small mistakes before they become bigger ones like understeer and oversteer by giving you a much better sense of your traction level.  It’s also important where you keep your hands on the wheel.  9:00 and 3:00, not 10:00 and 2:00 like you learned in driver’s ed class.  Having your hands too high or too low on the wheel makes it harder to be smooth with your steering.  Don’t grip the wheel too hard either, the harder you grip the less sensitive your hands are to small vibrations and feedback from the wheel.

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