Smooth is Fast.
Slow Hands on Corner Entry.
Slow In, Fast Out.
The Holy Trinity of proper racing technique is completely wrong — at least if you want to be a champion driver. Onboard videos from F1, WRC and the various touring car series show there is so much more to it. The racecar is thrown into corners with supreme confidence and caught with the deft but quick hand movements that seemingly defy all laws of physics, running completely counter to the smooth is fast dogma.
So why do modern ultra-competitive racing techniques look nothing like what you were taught in driving school or read in a book?
The answer lies mostly in reducing the transition times between maximum acceleration and maximum cornering.
Trust me on this: You will start your trackday career because you love cars, but if you are any good at it you will end up hating cars.
Allow me to explain.
Though I’ve been a Judge at The 24 Hours of LeMons for over 5 years now, it wasn’t until a brush with Stevens-Johnson Syndrome that I decided to amp up my Mad Bribery Skills.
Not just with cash, that’s horribly un-entertaining unless it involves getting busted F1 style. So like any good criminal, let me boast about my bounty of ill-gotten booty in a tale that’s sure to please.
The Nissan Micra has already staked itself out as the most affordable new car on sale in Canada, with a base price of just $9,998 CDN. And at $19,998, it’s also the cheapest race car in the country.
Well, clearly racing does make money for someone, at least enough to be a mini-industry. Does it though make sense for the Fords and Hondas of the world? Two students staked out roughly opposite positions on racing’s value as a technology driver; I’ll leave my thoughts to the end.
I am pacing back and forth in a 200 square foot wooden building that I had exchanged for a 1996 Volvo 850 sedan back in 2008.
“What the hell am I going to write about? I know nothing about racing! Zip!”
“Well Steve, maybe we can arrange for a few interviews.”
“Would they be racers?”
“Owners? Hookers? How about the guy who fires the gun?”
Once upon a time, the Sprint Cup was the Winston Cup, Rothmans decorated Porsche 962s in Group C, and the Marlboro chevron was everywhere a wheel turned in anger. Though those days are long gone, energy drink makers like Red Bull and Monster have stepped in to fill the financial void left behind by Big Tobacco. At least for now.
How would you like to get insider access all weekend long to a major motorsports event, complete with a catered lunch every day, a commemorative shirt, hat and lapel pin, free parking and an invitation to a gala post-race party, all for just fifteen bucks? Well, the Chevrolet Detroit Belle Isle Grand Prix still needs about 100 volunteers to make up the balance of the approximately 1,100 volunteers who make the race possible. Okay, so technically it’s not just $15, you also have to agree to work one 8 hour shift each day of the three day event, but it still seems to be a great bargain and a terrific way to get an inside look at big league racing, in this case back-to-back Indycar races, a race in the TUDOR United SportsCar Championship, a Pirelli World Challenge Series race and the first appearance at the CDBIGP of Robbie Gordon’s SPEED Energy Stadium SUPER Trucks Series. (Read More…)
Image courtesy of Mstyslav Chernov: http://tinyurl.com/k8atv8o
“Cool photo. Is that your grandpa or something?” Mark pointed to the sun-bleached black and white photo that hung on the wall of the garage. A smiling, grease-stained man in mechanic’s overalls stood proudly in front of a 1950s dirt-track racer. Sitting at his feet was a trophy.
Aside from “real racers” who insist The 24 Hours of LeMons is a joke, everyone else understands this series’ willingness to embrace engineering and artistic creativity, providing somewhat-wholesome entertainment and—best of all– giving away a metric ton of track time for little cash. As a member of the LeMons Supreme Court in their Texas races, well, bias from judicial bribes and heartless praise bestowed upon me aside…
…here’s a dirty little secret: you can go LeMons racing in any fully depreciated machine with ZERO PENALTY LAPS, no matter how awesome the vehicle was when new. Provided you bend (not break) the rules with your whip. And give everyone a good reason to love/hate you. The Poorvette is proof positive. (Read More…)