Performance & Race Driving Tip
Speed Secret: A Key to Driving Fast – Your Seat.
I recall being told a story about the time when Dodge Neons were the car to have in the SCCA Showroom Stock B class (a long time ago!). In their first season they were fast, but not dominant. During the off- season between year one and two, competitors lobbied the SCCA to allow them to use proper racing seats instead of the stock ones that came from the factory, and the rules were changed to allow this.
While the change was made primarily for safety reasons, along with just more comfort, it had an unexpected side effect that should have been expected. On average, with no other changes allowed, the Neons were about a second a lap faster everywhere they raced in the second season.
How can that be? It had nothing to do with weight, by the way. It all had to do with the driver being better supported and being able to sense the limits of the car better. Instead of having to hang onto the steering wheel for support, the drivers were now able to have a lighter grip on the wheel, and therefore received better feedback. And by being supported better, they could sense body roll, weight transfer, and balance more accurately.
Think about that, and how your seat may be affecting your lap times.
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.
Please do me favor and share this now with others who you think would either learn something from it, or enjoy it, by clicking on any of the links below. Thank you!
I was there! I raced my Neon just a few times before I got to install a racing seat. And my lap times did improve a bunch. But most of that improvement was due to my steep learning curve in my first experience racing in a front-wheel-drive car, so I never credited the seat with that. But I had to mount the seat at a slight angle from straight ahead for legroom reasons and I came to notice that it caused me to perform better in left-hand turns than right-hand ones!
Thanks for sharing your story, John. That’s cool! And with the way your seat was mounted, maybe you should have raced on ovals…
I know that if I had a hand throttle or my leg was strapped down would have changed the outcome of a little track I drove on. The bumps in a couple of turns would cause me to bump the pedal and rev the engine
A good seat also allows easier left foot braking as you do not need to keep your left foot planted on the dead peddle to keep you in place.
So true! I think this applies to harness and gloves. I speak from HPDE events. Recently I found I was faster with harnesses than without. In the past I’ve noticed I am faster with gloves than without, on an alcantera wheel.