Ask Ross

Q&A with Ross Bentley


Q: Can you address racecraft, passing and race traffic?

Q: “I race in the Champcar Endurance Series, formerly Chumpcar. One of the many things I’d like to get better at is dealing with traffic. Sometimes it’s cars that are a lot slower than ours, sometimes close in speed, and then there are the ones that are faster. I’m a long-time autocrosser and the addition of others around me can be a serious overload of stimuli. We just finished up our 4th season so I’m better at this than I was, but still feel like there’s a long way to go. To add to the challenge often we are on a new-to-us track, or one that we only go to once a year. Can you address this topic?”

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Q: Can you recommend a driving simulator setup?

“You are a big proponent of simulators. I have a sim seat at home and use it to learn tracks, but my seat, wheels, and pedals just don’t feel right for learning habits. Can you recommend a sim setup (as in actual parts) that will work for most people? I think it is the biggest barrier to entry since there are so many options.”

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Q: How tight should my grip be on the steering wheel?

Q: “I’ve been told to have a light grip on the steering wheel, but I’ve also had it almost ripped out of my hands while going over a bump in the track. So how hard should I grip it?” A: I created a YouTube video all about this question a while ago, so please take a look at You’ll learn what I mean by a “3 grip.” The lighter your grip, the more sensitive you’ll be to the feedback coming through the steering. Keep in mind that the steering wheel is not just an input device (something you use to make the car do something), but it’s also an output device (you get feedback about how the car is handling, as well as sensing how close the tires are to their limits through it). Of course, as you’ve experienced, with too light a grip you can lose control of the steering wheel – and your car! So you may have to tighten your grip in certain areas of the track, and lighten it in others. I will say that your steering wheel design and surface of the wheel play a big role in how lightly you can grip it. I highly recommend you take a look at what Ed Dellis does at PersonaGrip ( By custom-molding the wheel to your hands, you can use a lighter grip while feeling confident you’re not going to lose grip of... read more

Q: How should I adapt my driving to a Front-Wheel-Drive car?

In an article you wrote on adapting braking style for each type of corner, you state that fast turns should be approached with a ‘brush of the brakes’ so that the car will be balanced at turn in. In this scenario, there isn’t much need for trail braking to help rotate the car. However, FWD is best characterized by understeer. Thus it seems to me that even in fast turns, trail braking is needed to help load the front wheels to minimize understeer at turn in. Can you address this question?”

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Q: How do I learn to drive an aero car – deal with downforce?

Q: “I raced in the T4 class in SCCA for two seasons, sold that car, and now I have a formula car. I’m hoping you might have a few pointers for me in transitioning to an open-wheel car with wings. I know my cornering speeds will be much higher, but how do I go about safely getting used to taking advantage of the aero? I plan to get 3-4 track days before the season, and want to take full advantage of my practice time.”

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Q: Does ‘slow in – fast out’ always work?

Q: “Does ‘slow in – fast out’ always work? I hear the advice all the time, but I seem to do good going into corners really fast. My car control is really good, so that might be why. Is it because drivers with bad car control need to be slow in to be fast out of the corners?”

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Q: How do I find & select a driver coach?

Q: “How do I find and select a driver coach?”

A: First, I have a personal interest here, so be forewarned and take that into consideration. And there are many factors to consider when finding and selecting a driver coach, so this is not as simple a question as it seems! It’s a big topic that I could almost write a book on – so this is not a short answer!

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Q: When do I stop trying new approaches to performance driving?

Q: “When I listen to your podcast, a question always pops up to my mind. I know an open mind is very important in all the learning process and I am always trying to keep my mind open. But sometimes other drivers will introduce their method to me, for example, a very different line and braking technique in a certain corner. I tried a few times however it didn’t work as good for me or I didn’t see much different. But I did see some other very reputable drivers also do that. So my question is that in these cases, should I keep trying until it works for me (open mind) or go back to my original driving (not so much open mind?)? Is there a boundary like open mind and too open mind? In this case I want to go back to my original driving, however I am afraid that I am just being closed minded. Thank you!”

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Q: How do I stay focused on improving my performance driving?

Q: “I’m not a racer, just a guy who tries once a month from May through September to do open tracks days. This past summer, I’d go into a track session planning on working on a particular thing, but a few laps into the session I’d get lost in the moment and stop working on what I wanted to improve.  Any suggestions on how to stop this?”

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Q: How do I adjust my suspension & driving to reduce understeer?

Q: “How does the Bump/Rebound/Spring Ratio settings in the rear suspension affect a cars handling? I’m driving a FVee with zero roll suspension. So I don’t know how the suspension basics differs from a more conventional suspension. My main struggle with this car is that it turns in well, but mid-corner when I try to get back on the throttle it understeers a lot, so I end up having to release/accelerate a few times during the corner to get the car to the line I want. A few times I managed to get the car in the perfect mini-drift that rotated the car just enough to be able to get on throttle and exit cleanly. But it wasn’t easy to replicate. So how much of this can I improve with my driving and how? And what can I do with the setting to help out?”

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Q: Why do drivers drive over apex curbs?

Q: “I have seen on some racetracks sometimes driver skip the apex ‘kerb.’ I mean they do not go for those red and white kerb. Instead, they turn far away from the apex and quickly back to straight line. Does this supposed save time and make the car go faster? I have seen it in Formula One sometime as well. It might be in Hungary Grand Prix. Could you please clear the idea for me? Is it always necessary to touch the kerb in the middle of a corner (apex)?”

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Q: How can I improve my corner entry speed?

Q: “I keep hearing that corner entry is the most important part of the corner, and how you come off the brakes will dictate how much speed you can carry. What are some good drills we can do on track or on the street to try and improve our braking and turn-in phases of the corner? I’ve found with practice, I can match mid-corner speeds of some of the top guys, but they’re killing me on entry. I’m doing something wrong during application of the brakes and turn-in that’s losing me a good chunk of time.”

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