Ask Ross

Q&A with Ross Bentley

 

Q: What does “taking a set” mean, and how do I use it?

Q: “I’ve been track driving for a good while and don’t understand the car “taking a set.” How do we sense when the car sets, why do we need it to set, how do we take advantage of car set? My Tahoe does what might be described as taking a set on entrance ramps, and when it does it will take more throttle. My V8 944 with Moton suspension never seems to “set” when running on track.”

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Q: Why do I sometimes go slower in the afternoon?

Q: “Sometimes I go to the track and set my best time of day on my third or fourth lap in the first session of the morning. It makes for a discouraging afternoon. I suspect tire pressure build up might be part of it, or maybe track conditions, but I think it has mostly to do with me. I usually don’t see lap times till the session is over. Any suggestions?”

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Q: Do drivers talk about getting into an altered state?

Q: “What I’d like to ask you is, do drivers ever talk about the altered state of being while behind the wheel? I love it, it’s total focus, no drifting of thought, time is irrelevant, here/now/input/output blazing away. I like to think it’s getting in touch with Fight or Flight, eat or be eaten. 99.9999 percent of our lives is not in that realm, thankfully. But it feels so wonderful to pull into the paddock, drained, mentally and physically.”

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Q: How do I know if I’m over-slowing by left-foot-braking?

Q: “I am very comfortable using left-foot-braking and have found many situations where it seems to be an advantage, but other than lap times, how can I know if I’m really using left foot braking too often or too much? I switch between right and left foot, depending on the corner, and sometimes I feel that I over-slow the car when braking with my left foot.”

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Q: How far ahead should I be looking on track?

Q: “The brain takes 1/4 second to process and recognize visual images from the eye. At 100 mph you’re traveling at 146 feet per second, or 37 feet per 1/4 second. What you “see” is 1/4 second in the past. So, at 100 mph, when you “see” your tire at the apex, you are actually 37 feet past the apex. We are essentially driving in the future. This doesn’t take into account the time to send a signal from the brain to body to control the car, around another 1/4 second. There is something going on here rather mysterious to me. Experiments show brain wave activity occurs prior to consciousness and movement. When we look ahead at where the car is going maybe we provide input to allow the mental calculations of position. Maybe when we are in the zone, groove, rhythm, we are in some predictive state allowing driving in the future. So do we need to look 1/2 second ahead?”

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Q: When should I trail brake & when shouldn’t I?

Q: “Through the years I was taught trail braking and using the rotation of the car to aid in getting through the turn. Everything has worked well for me until I had a professional driver and coach sit right seat. This pro driver suggested all the braking be done prior to entering the corner and be sure the vehicle is settled well in advance of the corner. We were able to implement this technique and see positive results. I would classify it as a medium speed corner but that may be because it’s at the end of the front straight and I’m hard on the brakes. Now I’m confused.  I have two different approaches to driving and want to continue building my skill set, however, I want to solidify and build on a technique that is safe. What are your thoughts?”

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Q: Any recommendations for data acquisition books?

Q: I am about to venture into using data analysis. Is there a good book you can recommend to a neophyte on this quest? Subjects such as what to expect, how to make sense of data, relationship between data and what me and or the car are doing, and what to do different to improve my racecraft would be welcomed. Among others subjects that you believe are important.

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Q: When should I “blip” the throttle when heel & toeing?

Q: I have a question that’s kinda bugging me about heel-n-toe downshifting. Is there a noteworthy difference of when to “blip” the throttle (while selecting the new gear OR after selecting the new gear)? I know that the ultimate goal is a smooth shift with the clutch engaging at appropriate engine and transmission RPM’s so that the car is not unsettled.

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Q: Any guidelines for how to set and monitor brake bias?

In the afternoon race on Saturday at Thunderhill, I had two snap spins going into T10. The first time it happened, I was trying to go a little deeper before braking, and I did mash the brake pedal pretty hard. The second time, I went maybe a little deeper, and got on the brakes what I thought was with moderate pressure.

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