Race & Performance Driving Tip

The Handling Debrief

Want to help your car handle better? A couple of tips ago I suggested that you start by asking yourself the Big Question: If I could have the car do just one thing better, what would it be? That’s where you should start, especially if you don’t have much time before the next track session.

But then, ask yourself these 5 questions:

  1. What is the car doing? Understeering, oversteering or neutral?
  2. Where is the car doing it? Which corner(s)?
  3. Where in the corner(s)? Entry, mid or exit?
  4. What am I doing when the car does this:
    • Braking?
    • Trail braking?
    • Releasing brakes?
    • Coasting?
    • Maintenance throttle?
    • On power?
    • Slowly turning steering wheel?
    • Crisply turning steering wheel?
    • Steady steering?
    • Unwinding the steering wheel?
  5. Is it the car or me? Am I inducing the handling problem, or is it the car?

If you follow this process, and not be afraid to keep digging by asking the same question over and over again, you’ll learn more about what your car is doing. And with that info, you’re far better prepared to actually make changes to your car’s setup.

A mistake I see a lot of drivers make is that they don’t define what the car is doing (what, where, when, how, etc.) well enough before they start making adjustments. And that leads to “bad things.” If, because you haven’t gone through the process and defined the problem enough, you make a change based on what you think the car is doing, it might actually make its handling worse. If only you’d taking a few more minutes, and followed the process above, you would have better defined what your car needs.

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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