Ask Ross

Q&A with Ross Bentley

 

Q: How do I know I’m progressing if I have 3 different HPDE instructors telling me different things?

Q: “My question to you is, how do you progress while having three different instructors in three different events. Yes, they were all helpful in their own ways, one even guided me to your books, but it is hard to track progress without any basis. My only basis to know I am progressing is becoming able to drive my car comfortably at the limit of my tires. I don’t have any information gathering devices to know track times, but I have taken videos of my events. Any advice?

read more

Q: What’s better for learning – endurance or sprint racing?

Q: “I’m wondering if I should start by getting my competition license and doing sprint/club racing first, or endurance racing with series like AER/ChampCar. I get a lot of conflicting info about this and I’m wondering what’s your take on it. Endurance racing offers more bang/buck seat time and a lot more passing (and being passed), but sprint racing seems to be about raw speed in which it allows you to make decisions passing some very competitive people.”

read more

Q: How do I improve my racecraft – passing, being passed, setting up passes?

Q: “My race results have been very inconsistent. I am far less experienced with racing and I’ve found myself unknowingly putting myself in committed situations/lines that may result in contact when making a pass or defending. I think it’s part impatience/not knowing when to concede, part being off my line, and part not anticipating other drivers lines. Would it be possible to cover some of these concepts and perhaps divulge some exercises I and others can do to improve the bumper-to-bumper aspect of my driving?”

read more

Q: How can I improve my braking footwork?

Q: “As I’ve gotten quicker, I’ve been able to hone my technique and get tangible results. One area that I just can’t seem to get comfortable with is braking. I’m starting to chase tenths, and I feel like I’m leaving a few tenths out there because of sloppy braking. There’s no real consistency. Sometimes I even miss the brake pedal and that’s a terrifying half-second as I then frantically get my full foot on the pedal into threshold braking, and blow the rev-match for the downshift because my foot is not in position. And of course, the lap is now gone… What gives?”

read more

Q: How do I adapt to a new (rear-engined) car?

Q: “I’ve recently bought a 991 Carrera after owning (and tracking) a 1999 Porsche Boxster for 6 years at various PCA DE events. In light of the obvious bump in horsepower and the different placement of the engine, I was wondering if you had any tips on how to approach taking the 991 out on track coming from the Boxster.”

read more

Q: How can I get better at remembering what I felt when driving on track?

Q” “Something I’ve been pondering lately goes well with improving the mental game, I think. I guess it’d be called mindfulness? I go out in the car for an HPDE session with a plan of a few things to work on and I think I do pretty well sticking to that – most times anyway! 🙂 But then I get out of the car and while I can remember certain moments from the session, like a huge pucker factor moment carrying too much speed into a turn, the rest of it is all a blur. Is there some sort of corresponding technique to visualization for this?”

read more

Q: Why should I start racing in an open-wheel car?

Q: “Hey, I have a quick question. I can’t remember if I read it from the book you wrote or one of your online conversations/blogs, but I think somewhere you stated that starting in an open wheel car was the best way to start off racing. Is there any specific reason why this is the case in your eyes?”

read more

Q: How much rotation into a corner is the right amount? And what’s the difference between rotation & oversteer?

“How does one determine the amount of rotation that should occur in a corner? Given that there are appropriate turns and areas to invoke different amounts of rotation during cornering, how does one determine how much is the right amount? What are signs that that you are under, over or have accomplished the desired rotation? Also please differentiate between rotation, drift, slide and oversteer.”

read more

Q: Given the chance, do I pass now or wait to the last lap?

Q: “Imagine a scenario: I am in the second position trying to grab first place as the car is close to me in front. I have many laps to go. Should I try to overtake as soon as I can or wait for the race to come down to only a few laps to the finish, and then make my move? What type of strategy do you think is best? Should I hold back a little and wait to make a move later or just try to overtake him as soon as possible while I have more laps?”

read more

Q: Will lowering tire pressures help over bumpy surfaces?

Q: “I am driving a 2000 Porsche Boxster S at Porsche Autocross events and when I drive my Boxster over a bumpy section my Traction Control comes on and slows my car. I don’t have a switch to turn off the TC. To help with traction should I lower the tire pressure? Would raising the rear spoiler help with this issue as well? The spoiler raises at 75 mph but I can raise manually.”

read more

Q: How do we select a performance driving/racing school?

Q: “How do we know if a racing school is legit/worth it? Most new drivers want to go to a school, but there is no list or certification or anything to know if a school is really worth the time or money. Reading reviews could be biased or misleading. Is there a way to tell if you’re being taught the correct way, by true instructors? Or is it a fly-by-night school that is just trying to make some cash and not really teaching you anything? Are there questions we should ask of the school or things we should be aware of when looking for a performance driving/racing school?”

read more

Q: Any insights on tools & procedures for tire temp & pressure management?

Q: “I have been bleeding the tires when they are hot, to a targeted pressure and using chalking to try and determine if the targeted pressure is high or low. This has worked okay, but not ideal as I still ended up burning off the three middle sections of my rear tires with little wear on the outside sections. I’m looking to doing tire temp readings after each run, checking inside, outside and middle to determine if the tire pressure is correct. My challenge is I’m usually by myself at the track and getting the 12 temps and 4 air pressures after a run, in time to be valuable will be a challenge. Any insights on tools, techniques for tire management in the dry and wet would be greatly appreciated.”

read more

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?”

read more