Q: “I keep hearing that “smooth is fast,” and I want to learn to drive smoother, but how? Is there a way to practice to be smoother?”
A: As difficult as it is to answer your question, I love it. Why? Because we’re all told that smooth is fast. I even tell drivers that over and over again. But rarely are drivers told how to drive smoother. So, let me take a crack at answering your question in a few very specific ways.
- Rate your current smoothness level: On a scale of 1 to 10, rate how smooth you think you are as a driver. Keep track of this rating in a notebook, along with the date, track, session, car, weather, and track conditions. The act of knowing that you’re going to rate yourself in this area primes your brain, and often this has the biggest impact on how smooth you drive. You might even want to break this down into various specific techniques, such as steering, braking, and acceleration.
- Deliberate practice: Break down your driving technique into smaller components and focus on refining each one. Some examples include turning the steering wheel, applying the throttle, and releasing the brakes.
- Focus on one technique at a time: Instead of trying to improve all aspects of your driving at once – instead of trying to be smoother in every part of your driving – concentrate on just one technique and practice it on both the street and the track.
- Practice on the street: Since you spend more time driving on the street (I know, that’s a wild assumption, but I’m pretty sure it’s accurate!), use this time to practice being smooth. This will help you develop good habits that will transfer to the racetrack.
- Maintain concentration and motivation: Practice in short, focused sessions, and stop when your concentration or interest starts to fade. This will help prevent the development of incorrect patterns or movements.
- “Groove” your car-control techniques: Just like a golfer or tennis player practices their swing, practice your driving techniques to make them more natural and automatic.
- Avoid bad habits: Be mindful of any bad habits you may have while driving on the street, such as improper hand placement on the steering wheel or resting your hand on the shifter. Practicing good habits on the street will make it easier to apply them on the racetrack.
Smooth is fast, but I’ve seen drivers who are so smooth that they’re slow. For sure, one way of being smooth is to drive around at one MPH! But that’s not the point, and it’s not the challenge we want from our high-performance driving. As you increase your speed and improve your lap times, use the above suggestions as ways to fine-tune your smoothness.
NOTE: If you don’t want to wait for me to answer your question(s) here, you can always use my new SpeedSecrets.ai by signing up at SpeedSecrets.ai. The real beauty of using this app is that you can get out of your car after a session on track, and immediately ask it questions and get your answers, as well as what you should work on for the next on-track session. Since it’s “trained” only with my content, it really is like having me with you at the track.