Ask Ross

Q&A with Ross Bentley


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?”

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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.”

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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?”

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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.”

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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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