By on May 22, 2009

It was just another day at the “Tail Of The Dragon” for the group of experienced sportbikers clustering around the Robbinsville, NC, gas station. Fresh from multiple high-speed runs down the famed road, they were reliving their victories when a long-haired old man in some girly convertible asked them to “show him the fast way through.”

“Fuck off. We don’t wait for old cagers,” was the reply. As fate would have it, they didn’t have to. Five of the six knee-draggers had to yield to that old man in his Porsche-with-panties before the halfway point. The sixth and fastest made a mistake, went off, and snapped his fairing into three pieces. The nice old man stopped and helped him carry his bodywork to the “Tree of Shame” at the Dragon’s end.

Contrary to what you read in Car and Driver, we can’t drive “10/10ths” on back roads. In Speed Secrets, Ross Bentley talks about the bell curve of tire traction. The more we ask from the tires, the more we get . . . but as we reach the limit of traction, the rate of slip increases. As we pass the “peak” of traction, the tires “fall off” at the same rate . . . but now we have no safety margin for gravel, road waves, animals, and whatnot.

We need to stay on the safer side of the tire-traction curve. That means we drive up to the audible squeal but not past it. To make this happen, we drive what I call the “Safe Line.” This is what I teach to novice racing students, and it’s the only “racing line” we can use on back roads.

Approach each turn at the very outside edge of the pavement. For right-handers, this means either the edge of the double-yellow or the far edge of the road, depending on your vision and personal risk tolerance. Brake in a solid, single swift motion, “squeezing on” and “easing off.” If you over-slow the car, that’s fine. Wait longer next time. But don’t re-accelerate this time. When you have completed braking, turn your head past the “clipping point” of the turn, which is either the inside curb or the double-yellow, focus on the exit, and make a single turn-in motion. Keep constant throttle until you reach the clipping point, then unwind the steering wheel before applying throttle for the exit.

Since we are not on a racetrack, we don’t trail-brake, we don’t “adjust” the car in mid-corner with left-foot braking or throttle inputs, and we don’t even think about applying power until the car is pointed properly to the exit. Most importantly, we take the absolute latest apex, which is to say that we wait as long as possible to turn the car into the corner before turning sharply. This reduces mid-corner speed, but it also reduces inadvertent corner exits.

To do this quickly, you need “traction sensing”: the ability to guesstimate potential corner speed the first time you see a turn. I can’t give that to you. You’ll have to earn it over time by steadily increasing the speed at which you approach known corners until something goes wrong.

Racetrack time doesn’t help much here. Racetracks don’t have pavement waves, big bumps, salt, gravel, dead animals, or Amish people in horse-drawn carriages. If you see any of those, you’re either on the road, or you’re at Nelson Ledges Road Course for a “Friday Funday.” Forget what you know about on-track traction sensing. You can be an SCCA champion and still finish your first Ohio backroads drive in close proximity to a guardrail or tree. Ask me how I know.

Between corners, we accelerate at full speed until it’s time to brake for the next. The exception to this is when we run “The Pace.” The concept of “The Pace” is an old sportbike maxim: set a maximum speed between corners and treat it as a hard ceiling. On the backroads group drives in which I occasionally run, that ceiling is 110mph. Go faster than that, even for a moment, and you can go home alone. No exceptions.

If you enter a corner too hot, straighten the wheel and apply full ABS. Chances are you will go off, but you will go off slow. If you find yourself “saving” a turn by braking in the middle, guess what? You had enough traction to make it through on the throttle.

When you are in mid-air from a “whoop,” do not hit the brakes. Relax your hands and make sure your thumbs are clear of the steering, and keep the throttle at the same place you had when you left the ground. Oh, yeah: keep your eyes up for other road users and treat ’em with courtesy, of course. Pass with care.

Part IV is the finale, in which we discuss suburban and urban techniques.

[Click here to read Part I or Part II of this series. Note: as these editorials have triggered some strong emotions, I've turned off our no-flaming the website/author policy. Ish. I reserve the right to douse particularly egregious examples, in an entirely first amendment friendly sort of way.]

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94 Comments on “Maximum Street Speed Explained, Part III...”


  • avatar
    Billy Bobb 2

    More scroll wheel paragraphs.

    So glad you’re treating public roads as your test track.

  • avatar
    Mirko Reinhardt

    Controversial editorials -> lots of angry commenters -> lots of page views -> ad revenue -> profit?

  • avatar
    superbadd75

    Seriously guys, if you don’t like the editorials, don’t read them. How hard is that?

  • avatar
    Ronman

    i don’t get it, where’s the part where you tell us how to evade police cruisers by hiding behind a tree and starting back from the place we were spotted at…. and what about oncoming traffic, on a highway they can stay in their lane, on a dual lane country road, they will be spooked they will steer right or left with a 50% chance it would be you on the receiving end, or even worse a tree or tractor or whatever…

    I had my share of fun on a winding road in the south of spain on board a cayman, through a combination of 3 off camber uphil hairpins, i lost the tail as i over accelerated out of the last one onto a sweeping right hander, with the Cayman’s tail a bit off center, i could see an old man coming in a Peugeot 604, his facial expression wasn’t anything to laugh at, he was terrified to death, my moments of fun were suddenly replaced by utter guilt, i cleared his car with room to spare, but he almost clipped the guardrail on his side giving me space, which i appreciated. the dude came out of nowhere, but i should have known better.

    this was a near miss, or a near catastrophe, and i wasn’t going very fast either. as fun as it is to fly on those types of roads, there’s always the other people factor. your car is great, your skills are to match (perhaps), but other people are not controllable, and they cause you to crash, but it’s your fault for not respecting them.

    this is why my utmost respect goes to rally drivers, without the other cars on the road, these guys have guts of steel and balls made out of unobtanium, and even with their super cars and skills they still get very very very lucky.

  • avatar

    Mirko Reinhardt

    You must have missed the memo. In any case, rest assured I’m not pimping this ride.

    Look for William C. Montgomery’s reply . . .

  • avatar
    TZ

    Robert Farago :
    May 22nd, 2009 at 8:07 am

    In any case, rest assured I’m not pimping this ride.

    Oh, but you are.

  • avatar
    tuck

    Nice discussion. Driving quickly and safely on the street is indeed a very different story from driving quickly on the track. You need different skills, and a very different approach.

    And for the the folks who don’t approve, please keep to the right. Thanks.

  • avatar
    Ken Strumpf

    Please RF, just make it stop.

  • avatar
    Ken Strumpf

    @superbadd75

    Seriously guys, if you don’t like the editorials, don’t read them. How hard is that?

    I used to recommend this site to friends. I can’t do that any longer with these irresponsible articles, they’ll think I’m crazy.

  • avatar
    LastResort

    These editorials are the literary equivalent of the Jeep Liberty; trading long held public opinion of brand excellence for short period of individual notoriety.

  • avatar
    commando1

    RE: My previous comment in MSSE Part I:
    “Has TTAC jumped the shark?”
    Now with Part III:
    YES.

  • avatar
    frizzlefry

    This part is better than the other two. It actually has driving tips in it. Not sure what I was reading before.

  • avatar
    Ken Strumpf

    Part IV is the finale, in which we discuss suburban and urban techniques.

    You mean like how to drive 80mph through a school zone at 7 AM without getting caught? Can’t wait.

  • avatar
    Strippo

    No matter how you look at it, this series is quite the car wreck.

    Must. Avert. Eyes.

  • avatar
    tdoyle

    Please, keep them coming!

  • avatar
    EricTheOracle

    Ah the photo shows a guy crossing the yellow: Fail. Take it to the track.

  • avatar
    h82w8

    Oh, the horror! Oh, the humanity! Please, oh please make it stop!!! My tender sensibilities can’t take it any longer! I might go out and commit a heinous act of wanton vehicular aggression against humanity because I can’t separate titillating prose from reality. Oh please, RF, save me from the clutches of Baruth’s evil writings!!!

  • avatar
    PeregrineFalcon

    Serious question.

    If I write a how-to on stealing cars, will you run it?

  • avatar
    TaurusGT500

    It was just another day at the “Tail Of The Dragon” for the group of experienced sportbikers clustering around the Robbinsville, NC gas station. Fresh from multiple high-speed runs down the famed road,

    Shenanigans! Tail Of the Dragon … yes, absolutely, uber-famous….. …. as well as uber-patrolled and enforced these days.

    File under Hunter S. Thompson Channels Brothers Grimm

  • avatar
    tedward

    Actually this is good, sane advice, utterly unlike the how to go 140 in traffic piece (which I also enjoyed reading).

    Everyone seems to be on a hair trigger with these, but there’s no evidence here of any behavior outside of punch it on the straights, brake early and stay inside the limits of traction. There are roads I drive every weekend where you could easily squeal all four tires without breaking the 55mph mark (in the turns obviously). Given the very nature of curvy back roads any forays into triple digits have to be limited to short bursts, and the author himself advocates setting an upper limit regardless of how much room you have. Where’s the beef? Seriously.

  • avatar
    andyinsdca

    For right-handers, this means either the edge of the double-yellow or the far edge of the road, depending on your vision and personal risk tolerance.

    And whether or not you give a shit about the poor bastard that’s on the other side of the yellow. I’ve seen enough bikes hit by assholes who go over the double-yellow that this isn’t even funny.

    Fuck you.

  • avatar
    tedward

    andyinsdca

    You aren’t even supposed to stay in your lane on back roads (largely due to center doming and the likelihood of animals) at the speed limit. What are you talking about? If I get a turn that allows visibility I always take both lanes. Not doing so is dangerous when moving at speed.

  • avatar
    Stein X Leikanger

    I’ve always wondered about the graffitti artist who is marking the roads with all those yellow stripes. Such patience, makes for an interesting, iterative effect though.

    For a while I thought they were relevant to traffic flow, but now I understand they’re just decoration.

  • avatar
    krhodes1

    I too use the whole road if there is clear visability through the turn. There is a BIG difference between a blind tree-lined corner in the woods and a corner in the middle of an open field.

    I have to assume that Jack is not insane enough to go extremely quickly where sight lines are extremely limited.

    Of course in my case, driving my ’74 Spitfire means that I can drive it nearly at its limits and hardly break the speed limit. Driving a slow car fast is so much more rewarding than driving a fast car at less than it’s capabilities.

    I will also say that I would rather have Jack come flying past me than be around the typical SUV-driving cell-phone-wielding Soccer Mom. At least he is paying attention to what he and everyone else around him) is doing!

  • avatar

    If you even TOUCH the double yellow on the dragon with anything that remotely looks like a sports car the TN cops will come out of nowhere these days and ticket you.

    But a semi stretched across both lanes trying to navigate a corner on a road he shouldn’t be on… no problem, no ticket there.

  • avatar
    TexasAg03

    @andyinsdca

    You aren’t even supposed to stay in your lane on back roads (largely due to center doming and the likelihood of animals) at the speed limit.

    That may be good advice in practice, but it’s probably not legal. I can’t speak for any other state, but Texas law says you do have to stay in your lane if it is marked. If you are on an unmarked road, you are required to “drive on the right half of the roadway”.

  • avatar
    Nicholas Weaver

    If you EVER cross the double yellow going into or out of a turn, you are an ASSHOLE who’s vehicle should be crushed into a little cube and who’s drivers licence and right foot should be put into a wood chipper.

  • avatar

    The douchebag in the photo is over the center line–just like the 18-wheelers the Route 129 aficionados like to complain about it.

  • avatar
    AKM

    Billy Bobb 2 :

    Billybob from HQ, NJ?

  • avatar
    tedward

    TexasAG03

    “That may be good advice in practice, but it’s probably not legal.”

    who cares? It’s definitely dangerous to hug the shoulder when you have good sight lines on a back road. Any left hand turn leaves you off camber and the chance of hitting a deer skyrockets. Then there’s crumbling shoulders (ditch erosion) and the inevitable ruts created by traffic on infrequently repaired roads.

    A cop would have to be a real shithead to actually write that ticket, and I’d bet almost anyhing a local judge would just dismiss or reduce to a parking ticket equivalent.

  • avatar

    I’ll never forget the porcupine at the exit of the Kink at Nelson Ledges… just wandered in from the weeds. Don’t try this at home, kids.

  • avatar
    OB 50

    As a native of NC, I find this whole “Tail of the Dragon” business hilarious. That’s like going to New Orleans and eating at TGIFriday’s.

    Tourist.

  • avatar
    rocketrodeo

    I’ve been riding that road as an “experienced sportrider” for more than twenty years. The reason I can tell that the riders in this story are not in the same category is because they didn’t give you a wide, wide berth in the first place, or at least wave you around by Cooper Straight at the latest.

    Most of the experienced riders I know give the entire place a pass these days, mainly because it is now attracting asshat drivers the same way it has attracted asshat riders since the mid-late 90s. Even weekdays aren’t safe any more.

    And yes, I’m a member of the 10-minute club. I’ve baited more than a few riders who equated their own capabilities to those of their bikes, and made them suffer for it. I’m not at all proud of that anymore. This is how people get hurt.

  • avatar
    rocketrodeo

    A cop would have to be a real shithead to actually write that ticket, and I’d bet almost anyhing a local judge would just dismiss or reduce to a parking ticket equivalent.

    I’m familiar with the Blount County legal system, and I’ll happily take that bet.

    This is one better-than-average road in a region of superlative roads. The negatives these days so far outweigh the positives that it’s difficult to justify riding it, except strictly as an exercise in people-watching.

  • avatar
    Gunit

    These articles make a strong argument for getting involved in some type of motorsport, be it autox, Solo 1, road racing or what have you.

    There is no way you can get anywhere near the limit on the street, as is mentioned here, so why bother. A little spirited driving, fine, really fast, just stupid.

    As for not commenting if you don’t like the article, suck it, that’s why there’s posting space. A general moral guideline for all human activity is: risk your own life all you want, i.e. do drugs, jump out of airplanes etc. but not other people’s, i.e. driving overly fast on the street.

  • avatar
    tedward

    rocketrodeo
    “I’m familiar with the Blount County legal system, and I’ll happily take that bet.”

    That wasn’t a comment on TN or tail of the dragon law enforcement, I don’t think I’ve ever even driven through the state. I was addressing regular back roads in my state (NY) since the post deals with back road driving in general with this particular road serving as an example. I’d expect that cops would have a no tolerance attitude in areas that have become publicized mecca’s for fast drivers…I would never go there to speed.

    In fact, I don’t really get the need to travel long distances for that one perfect road, they’re everywhere! Any resevoir, any mountain pass, any high altitude valley system, they all have the right geography for the business. My personal favorites are winding local roads that were designed by state engineers because of some utility precense (thank you NYC watershed).

  • avatar
    radimus

    Somehow this series of articles reminds me reading mallninja posts (google it if you have to). That or the writings and videos of all the various martial arts experts selling their “new” method of disarming a knife wielding fiend with just their bare hands and without getting cut.

  • avatar
    holydonut

    GM says they’re building the cars people want to buy.

    Some say GM is not.

    RF says he’s posting valuable articles people want to read.

    Some say RF is not.

    – —————–

    Stage 2: UNDISCIPLINED PURSUIT OF MORE

    Companies sites in Stage 2 stray from the disciplined creativity that led them to greatness in the first place, making undisciplined leaps into areas where they cannot be great or growing faster than they can achieve with excellence—or both.

    Stage 3: DENIAL OF RISK AND PERIL

    As companies sites move into Stage 3, internal warning signs begin to mount, yet external results remain strong enough to “explain away” disturbing data or to suggest that the difficulties are “temporary” or “cyclic” or “not that bad,” and “nothing is fundamentally wrong.” In Stage 3, leaders discount negative data, amplify positive data, and put a positive spin on ambiguous data. Those in power start to blame external factors for setbacks rather than accept responsibility.

  • avatar
    dolo54

    Can’t find anything to complain about in this one. It’s pretty solid advice, and should keep you safe if you follow it. On any demanding twisty you should obviously work your way up to knowing and understanding the limits of your car and yourself at a relaxed and gradual pace. Don’t try to keep up with anyone at first. Here’s a great vid of someone in a brand new GTR trying to keep up with an Evo and making a very expensive decision: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=OHZKiWIBXIY

  • avatar
    OB 50

    Somehow this series of articles reminds me reading mallninja posts (google it if you have to).

    Oh god, this is great stuff.

  • avatar
    Caraholica

    Quite the firestorm being raised from this series.

    Newspapers dont endorse lawlessness by reporting terrorism, murder and other miserable failings of humanity. IMHO, Mr Farago is reporting here, not endorsing. The act of reporting should not be confused with participating or endorsing, its just information. This is the internet after all folks, not a 2nd grade PTA meeting. Thank heavens someone has the cajones to at least enlighten us plebians about this world. I’ll be looking in the mirror a little more carefully.

  • avatar
    jconli1

    Up to now, I could honestly care less about the words of this series… fun and harmless – hell I’ve had some exploits of my own.

    But that photograph and the notion behind it seriously makes my blood boil. Unless you’ve got sightlines galore, the double yellow is *never* crossed, especially playing boy racer in the twisties.

  • avatar
    Wolven

    With all the (self) righteous indignation being hammered out in these posts, I find it interesting that the self same righteously indignant folks never so much as breathe a whisper of discontent over the fact that 50,000 people in America die on the roads (99% while obeying the speed limit) because they are driving cars designed to kill them…

    Yet on most any Sunday you can watch cars run into each other and concrete walls at speeds of 150 to 200 (that’s more than a 70 mph head on) and the drivers unbuckle and walk away. Their silence on this point shows they have no moral highground, no rational thought process, no independent thinking ability, no analytical reasoning. They’re just sheeple.

    The fact is, they are driving over their ability to safely handle a vehicle even at the speed limit. Therefor, anyone going faster than them is OBVIOUSLY totally out of control… Maybe instead of spending all day trying to eliminate free thought on the internet, they should get a job and use the money to enroll in a real driving school.

  • avatar
    Jeff Puthuff

    @holydonut:

    If you’re going to repost Mr. Collins’ work, at least give him credit.

  • avatar
    Usta Bee

  • avatar
    agenthex

    This is the internet after all folks, not a 2nd grade PTA meeting.

    It’s as if these people just found the internets, and they will not stand for it.

  • avatar
    OB 50

    I don’t get why having a sense of personal responsibility and a respect for other drivers is now considered “Self-Righteous Indignation”

  • avatar

    Maximum Street Speed Explained Part V (the lost chapter)
    School Zones, Crosswalks, and Parking Lots

    I’m in a diner and three older women are clustered around a formica table. Outside three behemoth yellow school busses purr and rattle as the ladies discuss the loudness of their daily passengers. One of them pipes up that she’s got a charter run with a bunch of senior citizens on a gambling junket, another is just happy to someplace quiet. The last one, a burly woman with a beehive hairdo and spotted moo-moo complains that someone in “a black sedan I think” passed her while she’s stopped and had her flashers going, again. She says that she’s already talked to the local cops and the school department as the same car has whizzed past her three times already this month and she’s terrified that one or more of her charges will be turned into a “hood ornament for some asshole.”

    I smile down at my Mickey Mouse Pancake. “Amateur,” I think and order a second cup of coffee.

    We’ve already discussed highways, byways, rural, and suburban runs at the old double nickel, but I realized that in the midst of these other articles there was some detail missing that would prove invaluable to “enthusiast drivers” who want to make the most out of their motoring experience.

    Now, before continuing we must consider that high-speed driving in any circumstance, be it track, or subdivision, or supermarket parking area, requires that our car, our instrument of ultimate freedom, our very expression of manhood and status, be properly prepared for the course we wish to run. We won’t be rehashing the tires, camber bushings, fluids bits here, you can read those in the other articles. So, to really experience the best of your freedom-mobile, you will also need -

    1. Stolen license plates
    2. Window tint
    3. Gas cans
    4. Alibis

    Approaching the Behemoth

    I’m usually already close to the three-dings mark when I see the big yellow glacier ambling up the road, and admittedly it appears that the thing moves so slowly it’s going in reverse. I realize that part of that perception is my incredible manly speed. I punch the accelerator and, if on a little hill or semi-sharp curve, throw my ride down a gear. This accomplishes two necessary tasks:

    1: it throw my torque curve to peak so every stallion is available for work
    2: it generates a siren-like alert that I am about to pass

    School busses, by design, lack the backwards visibility necessary to clearly identify all but the most esoterically designed cars. Speed only muddies the waters, for lack of a better expression, for the driver. Bonus points of the screaming passengers further draw the attention of the driver away to prevent clear identification of your rear end and back license plate. My personal preference is to pass when the bus is sort of settled in between two small hills, which, if you live anywhere near me, is almost every road. This allows me to almost achieve flight as I crest the first peak, and it gives me the perfect vantage point to survey the course below.

    Remember those updated shocks and cambers? This is where they come into play. If I hadn’t bought the magnetically adjustable, bronze plated, silicon enhanced, struts/shocks and the neoprene bushings who knows how many MPH I’d squander on the old up-down-up-down? My Phaeton only bounces once, enough to send a shower of sparks over the wide-eyed school kids scrambling for the roadside, before I have full euro-control over the helm.

    On the rare occasion that some stunned 1st grader, no doubt standing in awe of your ultimate driving skills and fantasizing about driving the same way when he is old enough to have a sweet $100,000 ride, doesn’t leap, screaming, for the sandy shoulder –

    Well, he/she should know better. It’s a way of thinning the species, and offers the dual benefit of demonstrating to the other passengers that street signs, for all their good intentions, can’t protect them, it’s up to them to take charge of their lives and step up to the plate. I’m an enthusiast I have rights too.

    Always keep a full reservoir of washer fluid, preferably with anti-icing compounds (there’s good German stuff available at VW, I am not sure what others use) to clear off any debris you might encounter. As any enthusiast knows, back roads are notoriously rife with animal life who, at a nanosecond’s notice, will leap in front of your red-white-and-blue thundering patriotwagon for a closer look at the stud behind the wheel.

    Now, I realize that passing school busses isn’t technically “legal” but I pay taxes. Besides, if I can’t get to my office on time I get docked, and that costs the town money so theoretically, they should thank me whenever I fly past a school bus because those precious seconds shaved off my morning commute generate literal dollars of revenue to the town infrastructure.

    Speaking of infrastructure -

    School Zones? More like Record Breaking Zones!

    Generally it is good practice to be familiar with the road on which you expect to make these sort of intensely masculine expert maneuvers. Me, I live within a half mile of both an elementary school and a middle (or Jr. High) school, therefore I can achieve galactic automotive bliss almost on the same road. Again, generally, you may not have a route that takes you past the actual slowest speed limits in town, but with a little forethought you can use the approach to generate the necessary torque thrust to send you careening past the blinking yellow warning lights.

    Warning lights? Those are for little people who hate cars and the freedoms they embody.

    The best thing about school zones is that for only a little extra effort you can actually achieve super-car levels of relative speed to the posted limit for the least effort. I mean, a school zone is 20 miles an hour, better yet, they advertise the times of day when it’s best to shoot for a personal record. A 20 MPH speed limit allows even drivers of non-$100,000/non-Phaetons (I have 2, have I said that yet today?) to set braggable bests.

    Once, I did the deed in a late model Crown Vic with the Marauder cop package (not a bad rig for an enthusiast of limited means), I almost spun the rear end out when I hit the ballfield, but it was totally worth it. 140, that’s 120, a full double nickel and two dimes (or double nickel and ten pennies for you regular folks) above posted limit. I had so many kids waving and screaming I felt like a rock star. Hell, I WAS a rock star!

    I AM A FUCKING ROCK STAR!

    Other places where near Guiness-like records can be established are hospital zones, and an occasional favorite of mine -

    Supermarket-Mall-Grand-Prix

    While the speed limit at the mall, or your local supermarket is probably a little above that of the school or hospital record breaking zones, you can still demonstrate your complete mastery of all things automotive with little or not extra effort. I mean, we all need to eat, right? And we all need to buy clothes, and DVDs, and eyeball teenage girls, right? So it’s natural that we’d want to combine the necessary and the pleasurable. However, these driving environments provide some unique challenges that require additional consideration when trying to break a personal best.

    Speed bumps, first of all, can take a tremendous amount of fun out of the lap if you haven’t adequately prepared for them. I loosen my suspension just a little to help soak up some of the larger speed bumps. Generally, speed bumps only get replaced or repaired (and stay effective) when the Mall or supermarket is either mandated to repair them or they re-coat their parking area. As with any private business, these places are reluctant to make capital changes without some form of compensation, be it a tax incentive, or forecast business expansion. This works for you advantage as most speed bumps will be worn down enough that they don’t require any significant modification of your ride to get the most out of your god-given right to push your liberty-cart to the physical limits.

    Parking lots also offer loads of challenging obstacles to increase the sexual tension of your record-attempt-lap. Wayward carriages, employees, homeless people, shoppers, any of these abstract nouns can be used in place of double yellow lines, signs, or even competitors on the circuit, all it takes is a little imagination and the guts to stomp the pedal.

    The key to making the best time is to almost never let up on the accelerator, especially in the 90 degree corners at the edges of the lot. A RWD (the only way to be an enthusiast, all FWD drivers are feckless, dickless, pussies) transaxle facilitates drifting, break-steering, and rubber-burning hole-shots (to impress the ladies), so driving anything else is akin to Samson’s haircut/penis reduction surgery. To keep your speed into the drift, remember to ease the wheel into the corner just enough to swing the trunk crosswise then cut the wheel back into the direction of the trunk-slide. This will allow you to keep your forward momentum and slide around the corner.

    Careful though as parking lots can be sandy and you won’t want to scratch your metal-flake paint (ONE OF MY Phaetons sports brown metal flake paint. It’s way better than what you drive.) Also, the rear end can slide all the way out and turning your head-spinning, testosterone generating, Steve McQueen Dukes of Hazzard King of Awesome drift into a pathetic spin. It might be better to practice this skill somewhere without the pressure of the supermarket or mall. A back road maybe, or into/out of a fast food drive through (you don’t have to order anything, but if you do, get me fries and a large diet coke… LOL! I AM SO AWESOME).

    I may put another article together if the good people (and by that I mean Robert) agree that these articles are the pinnacle of freedom and artistic merit, about the next chapter in my Speeding Series. I am not sure what it will focus on yet, but I am leaning towards the titles, “Suicide by Cop”, or “Vehicular Manslaughter Wuzzat?” or “The Economy of Prison Cigarettes and my Asshole”.

  • avatar
    holydonut

    Jeff P:

    Yeah, I wasn’t trying to claim those stages as my own – I was just trying to reference some similarities with prior musings on this site regarding a topic TTAC holds near and dear to its heart. That topic would be failure.

    http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/gm-post-mortems-begin/

  • avatar
    DarkSpork

    I don’t get it. I thought enthusiasts enjoy driving briskly on back roads? It was my favorite past time when I lived somewhere that wasn’t completely flat.

    That being said, of course its stupid to cross the double yellow lines in a blind turn. I nearly hit a Lexus at about 45mph that was doing this a few years ago. I probably would have been killed (my vehicle had no airbags and was pretty light weight) and the likelihood of the family in the Lexus all coming out unscathed would have been pretty slim. I had to hit the brakes and guide my vehicle off the pavement within a second to avoid the collision. The person operating the Lexus was going below the speed limit and I was traveling at the speed limit. My point is that driving is dangerous no matter what the speed, which has been said a number of times already.

  • avatar

    For those whose comments include “if you don’t like it, don’t read it,” I’ll give the same advice. This is a forum for discussion and that includes both sides. If you can’t handle people saying they think this behavior is dangerous and selfish, maybe you should just stop at the end of the article.

    That said, having driven on enough back roads (at sane, almost legal speeds) and always trying to be aware of what’s going on, I don’t know how many times I’ve been surprised by people or objects that “came out of nowhere.”

    No matter how good or aware you think you are, there is an element of luck involved that is not worth it. People could die.

    Check that. People do die. All the time. Because of assholes who think they are good enough and don’t think about the consequences. Or the other drivers and their families.

  • avatar
    JellyMunchkin

    @OB 50

    I don’t get why having a sense of personal responsibility and a respect for other drivers is now considered “Self-Righteous Indignation”

    Because using these words to describe the opposition (unjustly) paints them as priggish, prune-pooting prudes. . . regardless of what they happen to oppose. It’s a cheap rhetorical trick that shouldn’t work on those who think rationally. Yet, all to often, it works like a charm.

    @ jrderego

    That was the hardest I’ve laughed in a good while. Brilliant.

  • avatar
    TaurusGT500

    Feel compelled to weigh in on this one: With all the (self) righteous indignation being hammered out in these posts, I find it interesting that the self same righteously indignant folks never so much as breathe a whisper of discontent over the fact that 50,000 people in America die on the roads (99% while obeying the speed limit) because they are driving cars designed to kill them… …. …Maybe instead of spending all day trying to eliminate free thought on the internet, they should get a job and use the money to enroll in a real driving school.

    …yes..and let’s not forget the ozone! …or those cute little baby seals…and yet, here we are – Philistines with traction control – wasting oxygen debating the finer points of apexing a school crosswalk at 9/10ths!

    (Sigh) …. we’ve gone so far astray!

    (Very deep sigh)… to paraphrase, if Willie May’s glove was where triples went to die, I fear that threads like this is where logic has gone to die.

  • avatar
    Ken Strumpf

    @Caraholica

    Newspapers dont endorse lawlessness by reporting terrorism, murder and other miserable failings of humanity.

    True, but neither do they publish detailed plans on how to construct a suicide bomb or the best way to slash a carotid artery. This series goes way beyond mere reporting.

  • avatar
    tedward

    jrderego

    you sir, are a credit to the species. Seriously, have many children.

    one slight nit to pick…”all FWD drivers are feckless, dickless, pussies”
    totally true, why the sarcasm?

  • avatar
    holydonut

    lol, jrderego’s article is way more informative and entertaining than the previous installments by Baruth.

  • avatar
    agenthex

    I don’t get why having a sense of personal responsibility and a respect for other drivers is now considered “Self-Righteous Indignation”

    Having a sense of personal responsibility and a respect for other drivers is not considered “Self-Righteous Indignation”.

    Acting like you’re preggered with hormone probs is considered “Self-Righteous Indignation”.

    It’s a cheap rhetorical trick that shouldn’t work on those who think rationally. Yet, all to often, it works like a charm.

    (Very deep sigh)… to paraphrase, if Willie May’s glove was where triples went to die, I fear that threads like this is where logic has gone to die.

    Oh yes, please lay out the logic and rationality.

    Plenty of people have fairly rationally pointed out the folly of crossing the yellows, or hooning on popular hotspot roads.

    Then there’s a bunch of prudes who apparently just had the internet and vags installed.

  • avatar
    josho

    Blah blah blah, the same ol’ stuff posted in the comments. Get a life and grow up.

    @PeregrineFalcon If you have stolen cars, I would love to read an article describing your experiences, what you’ve learned, and how you do it. It wouldn’t cause me to plunge into a life of crime, but it would be interesting. In fact, if you were a good enough writer, you could probably get a book deal out of it. Sadly, I suspect that you haven’t stolen any cars, and probably won’t be writing that article.

  • avatar
    OB 50

    agenthex :

    Acting like you’re preggered with hormone probs is considered “Self-Righteous Indignation”.

    Then there’s a bunch of prudes who apparently just had the internet and vags installed.

    OH SNAP! An internet VETERAN has insinuated that the opposition is acting like a WOMAN. Since true car enthusiasts are all aware of the inferiority of women, this is clearly a terrible insult. What will develop next?

    C’mon now. Is this Billy Dee Williams? If it’s you, just say so.

  • avatar
    commando1

    I hate this editorial series.

  • avatar
    Areitu

    I love this editorial series. (no sarcasm, I’m starting to enjoy this series)

    Being an inexperienced driver, I’ll take all the advice I can get.

  • avatar
    rodster205

    I’ve driven Deal’s Gap flat out in Miatas and rode in a Turbo Miata on DG with a 22 year old sport bike racer at the wheel.

    I do not claim a fraction of the track experience you have Jack, but I do have a little. And a fair amount of time at the Gap.

    I’m curious what your speeds were through the twisty parts, I know it was nowhere near that 110 unless it was on the flat part near the lakes on the TN side. I’m guessing a 40-70 swing between corner & ‘straight’ for the Boxster.

    As for crossing the line, there are many spots like that were you can see the road all the way around the next turn, so you know what is coming.

  • avatar
    rocketrodeo

    I think that Mr. Baruth’s primary error here was to juxtapose his tale of irresponsible squidbaiting with some otherwise useful pointers on performance driving. The rest of his tale makes perfect sense in a vacuum, assuming he’s applying it to a generic driver’s road.

    But he isn’t. Deal’s Gap is a highly technical, relatively low-speed road with a unique set of rules, a big dose of intangibles and an outsize reputation–and increasing numbers of people are treating it like an American Nurburgring. It brings out the worst in both drivers and riders; the red mist descends and suddenly you’re the only person on the road, just you against the mountain. Except that you’re not. All it takes is one other rider or driver with a similarly suppressed sense of situational awareness–or a momentary lapse of one’s own–and somebody’s toast. And UT’s medical center is one hour and forty minutes of response time away. I know this for a fact.

    Years ago rider/racer Nick Ienatsch developed a useful set of sportriding rules he distilled into a philosophy termed The Pace. Search if you like; it’s great stuff. Among his points:

    Your Lane Is Your Limit.

    Leaving your lane is a tacit admission that you lack the skills to control your vehicle and is tantamount to a crash. Fact: it takes more skill to contain your vehicle to one lane than using the whole road. Using both lanes is treating a public road like a racetrack and exhibits a lapse in judgment. And judgment is your most important skill.

    Safe speed is all about picking the right time and place. Those of us who understand the special circumstances at the site of Baruth’s example have ample reason to question his judgment. Especially those of us who ride.

  • avatar
    Robstar

    jrderego>

    That is simply the funniest, most entertaining thing I’ve ever read on TTAC. Keep up the good work!

  • avatar
    Joe O

    For those whose blood boils at the photo, or who advocate the absolute use of one lane:

    1. We have no idea why the car is placed that way in the photo. He could be steering around something on the road. He could be passing someone who waved him on and the road has visibility for a 1/4 mile. He could be doing something terrible. We don’t know.

    2. Living in a suburban enough area of PA where there are alot of backroads, dead animals, live animals, bicyclists, and weird old people randomly walking the sides of roads….

    I drive in offset to the center or IN the center whenever I’m familiar with the road and have tons of visibility. I’ve had deer jump out at me, or just jump into the first few feet of a lane. I’ve got lots of tree debris hugging the side of the road from storms around here. Potholes abound.

    And I do this regardless of whether I’m pushing my car or not. I want that extra 1/8th of a second to react.

    Sure, I can maintain my lane. But I buy myself the extra time to react whenever it’s safely possible.

    Reading this series reminded me of something I haven’t thought about in awhile. My wife used to get SOOOO mad at me when we’d take backroads because I’d power through turns and go rip-roaring from time to time. She never realized, I guess, that I was always careful when I was blind, I looked ahead and planned ahead, and that I was being ultra-aware while having fun.

    It takes a smarter person than me to know if I was being safer:
    a. Driving fast on the backroads but being ultra-aware
    b. Driving a normal speed and talking on the cell phone

    B never got a hard time in this marriage, and my wife still does that all the time which bothers me.

    Joe

  • avatar
    TZ

    jrderego :
    May 22nd, 2009 at 1:07 pm

    Maximum Street Speed Explained Part V (the lost chapter)
    School Zones, Crosswalks, and Parking Lots….

    Hilarious, appropriate and simply brilliant.

  • avatar
    agenthex

    An internet VETERAN has insinuated that the opposition is acting like a WOMAN. Since true car enthusiasts are all aware of the inferiority of women, this is clearly a terrible insult. What will develop next?

    Yes, women make for poorer drivers due to numerous biological/psychological factors.

    Similarly, due to those factors, their emotional responses are overactive.

    The internet is full of people who are smarter and know more than you, so beware of careless sarcasm.

  • avatar
    tedward

    Joe O
    +1

    although it could be everyone’s relying on different definitions of back road. A perfectly banked road with smooth pavement and healthy shoulders is no northeast B road, that’s for sure. If there’s as much traffic as rocketrodeo says on this stretch then it probably wouldn’t be cool to go much past tires just over the yellow (although that’s basically what the photo shows).

    If the “never go over the yellow” advice is applied everywhere though, it’s just wrong and dangerous, even on a bike. That kind of advice, just like the 55mph limit as a safety argument, is driving instruction for the lowest common denominator, and probably is best applied only to heavily trafficed and well maintained areas.

  • avatar
    OB 50

    agenthex :
    May 22nd, 2009 at 3:26 pm

    The internet is full of people who are smarter and know more than you, so beware of careless sarcasm.

    I have seen no evidence to support this fact.

    Also, my sarcasm is carefully hand-crafted from the finest materials: Righteous Indignation, Moral Highground, and a dash of Uninformed Superiority.

    I take offense that you would suggest otherwise.

  • avatar
    agenthex

    Well played, sir, no self-respecting internet nanny would admit to anything less.

  • avatar
    aug1516

    Great series, really enjoy reading them and looking forward to the last part.

  • avatar
    jkross22

    Yes, women make for poorer drivers due to numerous biological/psychological factors.

    Similarly, due to those factors, their emotional responses are overactive.

    No, the worst drivers in the world are those not paying attention. I’ve seen more women yapping on their phones, but more guys reading, shaving and playing the guitar (no joke). Equal numbers of men and women appear to be texting. Just my crack scientific observations…

  • avatar
    Kevin Kluttz

    I do not believe I have read anywhere in these three editorials that Mr. Baruth is ORDERING everyone to drive like this. Anyone out there with a shred of common sense will take this as fiction. Geez, LIGHTEN UP!!
    Bravo, Mr. Farago, for some thrilling reading, though. It’s written well enough so that the drivers among us can almost feel it…much like a football fan can “see” the game on the radio! Thank you!!

  • avatar

    @jrderego : Only two issues with your Part V:

    1) You’re at 1,737 words. RF lets us have 800, no more. Edit it down.

    2) I feel like there was room in there to mention my Phaetons a little more. When you spend that kind of coin, you really want your cars to take center stage, yo.

    The Route 129 photo and accompanying story are now pretty old. The fact that it’s a 2004 Boxster S with a temp plate might have clued some on you in, but I should have made that more clear. The “Dragon” is now heavily, heavily patrolled.

    Re: crossing the double-yellow. I do it any time I can see the clear exit of the corner and I’m in my own car. (Which is to say, if I borrow a car or am driving a press loaner, I won’t do it unless I have a spotter.) If I can’t, then there’s no benefit to taking the line anyway. Simple as that.

    I have no patience for self-righteous, victim-wannabe motorcyclists. I spent tens of thousands of miles on sportbikes and as a result I won’t be fooled by the hype. The “enemy” of sportbikers isn’t SUVs, soccer moms, cell phones, yellow-line-crossing, or al-Qaeda. It’s their (our) own stupid selves. The vast majority of sportbike accidents happen without outside assistance, plain and simple.

    For the record, it’s easily possible to get a Boxster S to 90+ mph between many of the corners of the Dragon. I was called out on this claim a few years ago on another forum, so I provided video. I won’t do that again; the reaction was positively Claybrookian.

  • avatar
    thefronge

    I find it disappointing that you teach novices, let alone anyone, how to drive on a track after writing something like this. You are a very irresponsible human being if you do any of these things you write about. Driving is a privilege for responsible people who don’t risk other people’s lives for their own little high speed jerkoff.

    Other than that it was pretty interesting. I like to drive my turbo Miata like that AT THE TRACK.

  • avatar
    Ingvar

    I’m all for a scandal now and then. There’s nothing like a big scandal to live up the community when you least expected it. At the end of the day, I’m thankful for the watershed of thoughts that TTAC really is, for better and for worse. There are no rights and wrongs, only different opinions. Well, cheers for you all, and good night and good luck. I’m all full of beer at the moment, and will retire to my bed and some movies and some jerking off. See you next wednesday…

  • avatar
    bdawg

    You’re at 1,737 words. RF lets us have 800, no more. Edit it down.

    Holy crap, you’re right… it’s more than twice as long as your piece. I didn’t even notice. Maybe that’s because it was twice as entertaining.

  • avatar
    AnalogKid

    RF,

    I wonder if you have considered the damage to the TTAC brand and your personal reputation that is being caused by the publication of these Baruth articles. It seems like you had achieved some Mainstream Media (MSM) credibility, with your recent TV appearance and some inclusion in other media.

    Now, anyone who wants to discredit you as an automotive industry commentator can just say “Aren’t you the guy who published those irresponsible stories about how to speed on public roads. I’m sure your opinions about____are equally irresponsible.”

    Is it worth it? All of us who dug The Gumball Rally in our youth are grown with kids now. Baruth is a clown who thinks he’s cool, nothing more. By associating your brand and reputation with him you are marginalizing yourself (you may disagree with that but time will tell.)

    What suffers most of course is your ability to advocate your point of view (which I largely disagree with) on a national stage. Perhaps that no longer interests you.

    There is still time to save your reputation. Apologize for these articles, admit your error in publishing them (like you did with the boycott) and never give this bozo another word on your site (he has his own site, he can post his stuff there.)

    I hope you consider my advice but I doubt you will. Good luck regardless.

  • avatar
    homeworld1031tx

    so basically, just don’t drive at 10/10ths and you’re good

  • avatar
    mxhi5

    Good article and comments – I’ve learned a few new tricks. Honestly I’d rather be on the same road with this kind of driver than a bunch of texting zombies anyway.

  • avatar
    ruckover

    TaurusGT–
    I believe that it was Tris Speaker’s glove where triples went to die.

    That said, Mays was the single greatest ball player I ever saw . . . and I only saw him when he was old and a shadow of his glory days.

  • avatar
    TZ

    Jack Baruth :
    May 22nd, 2009 at 5:07 pm

    @jrderego : Only two issues with your Part V:

    1) You’re at 1,737 words. RF lets us have 800, no more. Edit it down.

    Looks like you’re at roughly 2,400 and counting for this particular feature. Jrderego’s ‘response’ would seem to be a response to the series, not this particular installment, the Part number notwithstanding.

  • avatar
    Jeff in NH

    AnalogKid:

    My sentiments exactly. This sort of brand suicide reminds me of a company named General Motors…

  • avatar
    grifonik

    To see some of these teachings put into practice:

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=TclJW9v2dLU&NR=1

    Passing on right, check. Spotters aiding in police detection, check. Evading police by rapid concealment and exiting of vehicle, check (Well… sort of. I guess as well as you can hide a FordGT!). Turning left off exit, fail.

    3/4. 75% In Jack Baruths school of driving!

  • avatar

    if the goal is fun driving, why not just stay on your own side of the double yellow. If it taxes your driving skills more, and/or you have to go slower, what’s the problem? Or so much the better! I stay starboard of double yellows all the time.

  • avatar
    eh_political

    @RF:

    jrderego should have his response bumped up to an editorial rebuttal. Too many loyal and pissed off readers might miss it where it is.

  • avatar
    pechorin

    Okay…I’ll bite. Have to say, I’m genuinely amazed at the amount of righteous indignation these articles have stirred up. I mean, honestly: Where do you folks live? Fantasyland? Where is this wonderful, magical gumdrop land where everybody always follows the rules of the road and nobody ever gets hurt?

    I cross the double-yellow literally *every* week day on my way to work–every single G-D day–and endanger precisely NO ONE in doing so. Why? Because I can easily see that there’s no one in the other lane; because the speed limit on that stretch of road is ridiculously low; and because, in that area, the piss-poor design of the road means that staying completely within my lane at any speed up to five mph below the limit means that I’ll pass uncomfortably close to vehicles parked along the side of the road. If anything, by crossing the double yellow (when traffic allows) I’m making that stretch of road *safer*.

    I live in the Baltimore/DC area, routinely exceed the posted interstate limit by 20mph or more (typically being passed while doing so), and feel pretty damned conservative doing it most of the time. Why? For one, because it means I’m keeping up with traffic. For another, because I have some skill, and I’m doing it in a well-maintained, sharp-handling car while paying very close attention…rather than in a top-heavy SUV while talking on a cell phone and eating a hamburger. Don’t buy it? Join the commuter rat race around here for a couple of weeks and you’ll see exactly what I’m talking about. No joke: If it meant 10 fewer SUV-driving morons on cell phones during my daily commute, I’d gladly accept 10 Jack Baruths, any day of the week. At least they’d be paying attention to what they were doing, and have some appreciation for the kinetic energy they command.

    I’ve seen some really stupid, reckless driving in my time…and I don’t think the JBs of the world are the ones doing it. For every person who, like Jack, is honest about the way things work out there in the real world, there are a thousand who would never ‘fess up to anybody, but who nonetheless do the same exact sh**. And odds are they do it dangerously, with much less skill.

    Oh, and for those of you making the “don’t encourage lawbreaking” argument…why stop here? I’d suggest that you get out your crayons, color up some signs, and start protesting video games like “Burnout Paradise.” Do it right now. Ever seen the game? It blatantly encourages you to crash into other cars and obstacles while driving at insanely high speeds though crowded city streets. No consequences. Honestly, you might even get an idea of how to do those kinds of things in a a real car, if you paid enough attention. It’s terrible. Turrrrrrrible!

    Once upon a time I thought that the European stereotype of the dumbass, hypocritical, puritan American was a crock…but more and more I realize that it’s grounded in reality. “You’re endangering my family!!” he bellows…all the while inhaling a quarter-pounder, making erratic lane changes, and blinding oncoming traffic with his brights while simultaneously failing to signal turns in his three-ton SUV (sorry, forgot; he’s protected by his Jesus fish!).

    I don’t agree with everything JB says. I’ve never driven twice the speed limit with other vehicles in close proximity (though I have done it out in the “middle of nowhere”). But I honestly don’t see the harm in TTAC’s publishing his articles. And I can’t for the life of me understand why so many people who apparently have a giant stick shoved up their collective a** are actually interested in reading a site like this!

  • avatar
    ihatetrees

    pechorin :
    If it meant 10 fewer SUV-driving morons on cell phones during my daily commute, I’d gladly accept 10 Jack Baruths, any day of the week. At least they’d be paying attention to what they were doing, and have some appreciation for the kinetic energy they command.

    I sympathize. But I really have a problem with JB’s high speed antics in traffic. If JB actually hurts an innocent doing some of that crap, he should man up, plead to felony reckless endangerment, and take the sentence given. No seven figure lawyer need be involved.

    And I can’t for the life of me understand why so many people who apparently have a giant stick shoved up their collective a** are actually interested in reading a site like this!

    The outrage level is somewhat comic. It reads like a Prius drivers’ convention aching to subject Mr Baruth to their recently downloaded “Waterboarding For Dummies.pdf” from the Gitmo website.

    Of course, these same people would be appalled if harsh penalties were applied to other, common driver idiocies. Jail the lane changing, suv-chattering mom who splats the motorcyclist she “didn’t see”? For them, no way.

  • avatar
    Dynamic88

    I AM A FUCKING ROCK STAR!

    LOL!

    I’ll never again be able to take seriously anything JB writes.

  • avatar
    DearS

    I’m really happy that I read the entering (brake in a straight line only), handling and entering a corner part. I’ve been trying it, and it works so well for me. I feel much safer, clearer, more in control, faster, expansive, smarter, more responsible, more responsive, more reasonable, wiser, calm, harmonious, serene and happier after trying the techniques. I’m slower with these techniques then I am just driving at my regular legal speeds, but I can just tell it makes so much more sense. I can finally see that “Line”. I tried so hard before to figure driving fast out, and never felt the level of confidence, balance and vision I do now, I’m really excited about driving again, even at slow speeds. I can become a much better driver with my new wisdom.

    I asked God for this and I think I finally got it. I am happy and grateful.

  • avatar
    Greg Locock

    “Part IV is the finale, in which we discuss suburban and urban techniques.

    You mean like how to drive 80mph through a school zone at 7 AM without getting caught? Can’t wait.”

    Well, rather like Parts I and II, sure, you can do it, but eventually statistics will get you. If you are really lucky you just lose your license and pay a huge fine. If not you hit somebody else and get to have more sex than you really ever dreamed of.

  • avatar
    Stein X Leikanger

    @DearS

    Did you find that your “traction sensing” improved? I did, just by reading. Yes, Baruth said he can’t give it to me, but he did.

    I’m all apexed out.

  • avatar
    gzuckier

    this article is all good advice. if you don’t like the concept of people taking this advice at 100 mph, then think about them taking it on a wet icy highway at 50.


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