How Fast Drivers Use The Throttle

Performance & Race Driving Tip

Speed Secret: When Coasting Makes You a Faster Driver

“Your right foot should either be on the brakes, squeezing the throttle down, or flat to the floor.”

Speed-Secrets-bookYes, I wrote that in my first Speed Secrets book. And it’s a pretty good general rule. But you know what they say about rules – they’re there to be broken.

What you can read into my Speed Secret is that one should never coast – you should either be on the brakes or on the throttle, but never in between with nothing going on.

However… that’s not always true. So I’m going to contradict myself here, or refine what I wrote in the past.

With some cars, in some corners, there is a need for coasting. Why? Because some cars will begin to understeer – even just slightly – if you immediately go to the throttle after braking. And when that happens, you have to breathe the throttle a little before getting to full throttle. In many cases – but not all – this squeeze on the throttle, breathe it, and then back on the throttle is actually slower than if you simply waited – coasted for a tiny bit and then went fully to the floor.

But rather than thinking of this as coasting, think of it as hesitating before applying the throttle. It’s a deliberate thing, used to let the car finish changing direction – rotating – through the corner before getting on the throttle.

The problem with any “rule” is that there is always an exception to it. In this case, there are cars and corners where coasting, or hesitating, is not only okay, it’s faster. Your challenge is to test whether that’s the right way to go fast or not.

Check back here often for more tips and advice for performance drivers, race drivers, high performance driving instructors, and anyone else interested in learning to get around race tracks quickly.

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3 Comments

  1. Isn’t that just a fancy way of saying “throttle management” & “throttle steering”?

    Reply
    • You could say that, but most drivers, if you say “throttle management” are not entirely sure what that means. Which is why I wrote what I wrote – to explain what that is. But I’m not talking about “throttle steering.” In fact, I’m talking about not even being on the throttle, so it’s not steering the car with the throttle – because you’re not on the throttle. I hope that clarifies my thinking… Thanks for the question, Doug. Good stuff!

      Reply
  2. Basically waiting for the car to “take a set” then, before easing into throttle?

    Reply

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