Smooth is Fast Autocross Performance: Daily Practice

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The amount of roll stiffness at the front of the car, relative to that at the rear roll couple distribution , determines how weight transfers to the outside wheels during cornering. More rear roll stiffness heavier rear bar or springs causes weight to transfer to the outside-rear tire and helps to equalize load on the front tires. More front roll stiffness causes weight to transfer to the outside-front, while distributing the load on the rear tires more equally. Front-wheel-drive cars are necessarily nose-heavy, and have a natural tendency to overload the front tires in hard cornering leading to understeer.

At that point, the outside rear tire is carrying percent of the rear weight, and load on the front tires is distributed as evenly as possible, so understeer is minimized. Once that inside-rear wheel is in the air, the rear anti-roll bar has no effect. Like the wheel itself, it could theoretically be unbolted from the car in the middle of the corner. Under SCCA Stock category autocross rules, front anti-roll bars are free—meaning they can be changed, removed or added—but rear bars cannot be touched.

On a front-wheel-drive car, more front roll stiffness reduces roll and keeps the outside front tire from leaning over, but at the same time it increases the loading on that tire, and decreases load on the inside front, resulting in increased wheel spin. Whether the car ends up faster or not will depend on the individual car and perhaps the course. If you are not sure whether your car would benefit from roll stiffness changes, you may be able to test it by loosening the end link bushings to make the existing bar less effective, or by installing harder bushings to increase its effect.

If you are dialing-in the car for competition purposes, do this only when you have the opportunity to make back-to-back timed comparisons, so you will not be misled. During steady-state cornering on a smooth surface, shock absorbers have no effect except where they are part of a structural link, like a MacPherson strut, and even then, the damping characteristics make no difference.

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The faster the suspension moves, the greater the effect of the shock absorber. Stiffer rear shock absorbers act like a stiffer rear anti-roll bar during transient maneuvers. They may help a car turn in better, but can make it tricky to drive through slaloms. Stiffer front shock absorbers can make the car respond quicker to steering inputs, but may also momentarily overload the outside tire, unload the inside tire, and provoke wheel spin.

For every car that is enhanced by the proper application of aftermarket shock absorbers, there are probably two more that are turned into evil-handling beasts by excessively stiff shock absorbers. My personal approach is to keep the shock absorber settings fairly light and let them simply serve their original purpose, which is to damp unwanted spring oscillations.

This is another area where what feels best may not be the fastest, and back-to-back time comparisons are essential. Although front-wheel-drive and rear-wheel-drive cars may differ greatly in their designs, the basic principles involved in racing them are similar. There is not as much difference as some people think.

smooth is fast autocross performance daily practice Manual

In either case, the driver must take the car to the cornering limit, then balance the car at that limit through delicate use of the throttle, steering and brakes—the only controls available. Subtle differences in technique can be used to extract maximum performance, and each car will respond differently to the inputs of the driver. Correct Line: In all race cars, on all race tracks, it is essential to be on the correct line, which is generally the most gentle curve that can be fit through the maneuver.

Precision is vital in autocrossing, even more than in road racing since the size of the track is scaled down. If a pylon is keeping you from straightening out a maneuver even more, then you know that you will have to nearly touch that pylon as you pass by it. To leave room next to it is to give away valuable time. Aggressiveness is important, but only up to the point at which precision is compromised. The winning driver is the one who can coax the car around the course on that ideal line while maintaining the maximum possible speed, just shy of sliding off-line.

A common habit of front-wheel-drive pilots is the tendency to turn the steering wheel too much. As simple as it sounds, this is a major limitation on the competitiveness of many drivers. Front-wheel-drive cars nearly always understeer, and the driver may tend to crank in more and more steering as the car strays from the intended line.

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The poor, overloaded outside front tire is already operating at an excessive slip angle, and more steering just makes things worse. Along with too much steering, drivers tend to apply too much power to their front wheels while cornering.

Give those poor front tires a break. If you want them to deliver maximum cornering load, then you had better not ask for much acceleration or braking force at the same time. Easing off the throttle will generally allow the car to turn better, although in those rare front-drivers with limited-slip differentials, application of power can help pull the car around a corner. Try this experiment: The next time you reach the limit in steady-state cornering, lift off the accelerator and see if you can feel the car turn in sharper. All methods have their pros and cons, and their proponents and opponents.

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Times when my speed is limited by steering, not by cornering force? Do I tend to steer too much? Do I lack the strength to turn the wheel fast enough at times? The goal is to gently transfer vehicle loading from braking to cornering. Ideally, trail braking enables later braking, and the heavily loaded front tires will respond well to initial steering input. The transition from braking to cornering can be tricky for the driver to master, however, and the additional braking forces may simply overload the outside-front tire.

Also, the lightly loaded rear wheels are susceptible to lockup, a condition that can start the back end sliding around. That may be good if the driver is expecting it and uses it to get the car started around the corner, but can be very bad when the car ends up backing into the turn.

For various reasons, some cars respond better than others to trail braking. Our Honda Civic Si, for example, loved a little trail-brake to get it started around a corner, while our A2-chassis VW Jetta never seemed to care for the extra load on the front tires.

Each time I drive a new car, I make a point of trail braking into a corner one with runoff room to see if it makes the car turn better. If the car seems to like it, I make it a standard practice for that car. Trailing throttle can be thought of as a kinder, gentler form of trail braking. As discussed previously, most cars turn in more sharply under lift-throttle conditions, whether front- or rear-wheel drive. Left-Foot Braking: Left-foot braking has become popular among autocrossers in the last decade, but it is not a technique that I practice or recommend.

In theory, a left-foot braker can make a quicker and smoother transition from acceleration to braking, and vice versa. In practice, my observation has been that most left-foot brakers use the brakes far too much, resulting in slower times, loss of steering precision, and overheated brakes. Personally, I have tried the technique, and simply not found it to be beneficial, but I know several top level drivers who practice left-foot braking religiously. The only type of car in which I believe it would be valuable is a turbocharged car with an automatic transmission, where it would allow the driver to maintain boost and eliminate turbo lag by keeping a load on the engine.

Slaloms: Slaloms are the playground of front-wheel-drive cars, one place where they can make up time on the rear-drivers. Typically, the rapid transitions of a slalom promote instability of a car, in a manner that I call the Pendulum Effect. It has a technical name that sounds more sophisticated. You know the feeling: The tail swings a little bit one way, then farther the other way each time the car turns, wagging its way through the slalom until the car either scrubs off speed or spins out of control.

The front-wheel-drive car, with its forward weight bias, tends to be more stable here. If the tail swings out, the driver need only apply power and keep the front wheels pointed the way he wants to go, to pull the car out of the incipient spin. In fact, an aggressive front-wheel-drive racer can power his way through slaloms with abandon, rolling off the throttle a bit if understeer takes over. The instructors were very good, knowledgeable, thorough and supportive. Thank you for the driving experience.

How to Slalom with Mike Junior Johnson of Evolution Performance Driving School

I thoroughly enjoyed the entire experience. I just want to let you know that we took home a trophy from the car show we entered the day following my driving course with you. Driving a race car has been a lifelong dream of mine. Judy has taken me from watching racing on TV, to owning and driving a championship winning race car.

She has the skills and the knowledge to take you wherever you want your driving to go — from a fun afternoon of driving hard in your own car — all the way to winning races. If you have the urge, see what you can do… It might be the best call you ever made. I came to Faasst Driving School as a total beginner. I received a full day of classroom instruction and lots of track time.

Basic rules and techniques were taught as well as driving exercises were individually critiqued. I just wanted to say thanks again for all your help at Mid-America. I started the day not realizing how unprepared I really was to drive the race car and walked away at the end of the day not only feeling totally prepared but feeling like I could go out and be competitive at any track. Your passion for racing is inspiring and your commitment to building champions makes me very proud to add being a graduate of your school to my resume.

With the tools you provided me I know I can continue to improve and really feel like I can be competitive on a National level someday. I let my license lapse for a number of years and a good friend convinced me to start it all back up again. The next day was race day, and after the first session, everyone came over and asked me who I was and how the hell did I do that. I still call her and ask for tips on new tracks, questions about technique or just to BS. I made a good friend and a fantastic Maestro. I showed up at the track not knowing what to expect and found myself with a thorough understanding of high performance driving, from the technical aspects of vehicle dynamics to applications of techniques on the track itself.

FAASST left me with enough knowledge and techniques to fill many lap days with practice, and I couldn't have started my racing hobby at a better place. Completed SCCA driving school. Won 1st in the DS race against some young talent. Came in third out of six Miatas in today's regional race. Just want to say thanks for your support. I came to the FAASST performance driving school expecting to learn new driving skills, what I left with was something much more valuable; a new perspective and a fresh attitude. Its difficult to describe - I look at a race car differently, I feel different inside one, and I execute with a confidence that I never thought I'd have.

The FAASST curriculum provided me the knowledge and resources needed to succeed in racing: from mental to physical, pre-race to post-race, practice to podium. I highly recommend the Faasst Performance Driving School. Faasst definitely knows how to get the most out of you and your car. After already garnering 5 national titles in 3 different disciplines over the years, I believed I could quickly take that experience into a big formula open wheeled car series and do pretty well.

That was my first mistake, assuming that some talent in other race disciplines was enough. The tiniest lessons made the biggest differences, and I for one, appreciated the no nonsense, to the point tuition, that I was given at the Faasst Race School. The Faasst instructors understood each student as the individuals they were, with the different needs they demanded. Faasst made it easy and comfortable , when I left, my ego was still in place, I was faster, smoother, more confident, and more importantly, a safer driver. Thanks so much again for everything. The class was worth every penny.

I feel like I learned about 5 years worth of track experience, in 1 day, amazing! And when I do, I guarantee you I will be hitting the podium regularly, all thanks to you. Faasst is the real thing when it comes to racing! They have the knowledge and the ability to impart racing facts that will make you a better driver. I would highly recommend the Faasst Driving School. Your method teaches the important fundamentals in a way that will stay with me and I'll be able to practice and improve on for the rest of my life.

My son and I 64 and 40 respectively recently attended the Faasst Performance Driving School safety course and track day at PMP, and were really pleased with the experience. The safety class, the inspection process which is mostly educational , and the opportunity to have unrestricted track laps at the conclusion of the 3 hour safety course were a fantastic bargain. The Faasst School also provides performance driving classes for those that might be interested. And for the record, the instructors are excellent with racing backgrounds and fantastic insights into providing individually tailored training for students based on their own experience level, car interest, and learning situation.

I learned a lot about myself and my car after a full-day at Faasst. My lap times came down, my effort went down and my fun level went up. First I found that the performance limits of my car are way, way further out than I thought. Find More Posts by soundbomber. Find More Posts by 98vtec. I wish I could find some driving classes around here. The Weather Man. I didn't run my car - 'cause its not ready; however, i did see a LOT of cars that were all "fast" but they had horrible times. Mainly 'cause the driver didn't know how to drive.

The black z She knew how to drive. Yes, i said she. That bitch was fast also. But just got know how to push your car to the limit. THere was a stock Plymouth Laser there - and that dude had some good times. Send a private message to The Weather Man. Re: The Weather Man. Any tips on getting to be a better driver? Re: flipwhip. Create a "course" for yourself that you can drive every day, memorize it, know exactly how your car's weight will shift in the 5th corner, etc, etc.


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It's lots easier if you have easy access to a track or even a rural airport, anywhere you can drive without other traffic. Drive Drive drive. Send a private message to null. Visit null. Find More Posts by null. Re: nullexe. After you have done a few autoxes you prolly need to decide what class you will run in. THAT is going to be the major deciding factor in what mods you do to the car. Youd hate to spend money on some new Azenis and then realize later that your carbon fiber hood puts you in SM which requires R compound tires example.

Once you know for sure what class you want to compete in, the first purchase is usually tires. It will have the biggest impact on your times besides driver capability.

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Send a private message to nikolai. Find More Posts by nikolai. Re: nikolai. Its most definately fun though. Very fun. Oh, and don't try to memorize any track. Its just not going to work. Because every single auto x event is different. All you can do is walk the course once or twice. Then you have to wing it. Good thing about it is you get multiple runs. Just try to improve your time every run. Do things differently. When you're walking the course, just visualize yourself driving.