Being a skilled racing driver might seem like an extremely demanding job that only a superhuman could master. But with the right wisdom and a little determination, anyone can drive like a professional, even if you’re just out on a casual track day. Here, we lay out some top tips for mastering the track like a pro.
Forget What You Know About Regular Driving
It might seem like an obvious point, but it’s worth stressing that just because you’re a good driver in normal life doesn’t mean you’ll be good on the track; driving on a race track and driving on normal roads are completely different.
Get Used to Left Foot Braking
Unlike regular drivers, race drivers normally brake with their left foot. As driver Bobby Thompson explains, you need to be able to accelerate and brake at the same time in order to get the right balance of speed and control around a bend.
Sort Out Your Driving Position
What happens before you get on the track is just as important as what happens when you’re on there. One thing you need to get sorted straight away is your driving position. You need to be able to see as much as possible, in all directions. You need to be able to hold on to the steering wheel, even when you’re thrown about in fast corners. You need to ensure that you have a lot of room to move around, and won’t get cramped after a long time sitting down.
Keep Your Cool
If you’re nervous all the time you’re driving, you’ll overreact and make dangerous mistakes. It’s very important to maintain a cool head and take things as they come. Keep your movements smooth and fluid.
Get Off the Line First
A head start is a great added bonus in any race. You need to learn how to get off the line as fast as possible. Position yourself over tyre marks so the rubber will give you extra grip. Hold the throttle at the most efficient RPM (you will need to look this up for each model of car), lift the clutch up gradually and squeeze the power on at the same time. Don’t press too hard with the throttle, or you’ll create wheelspin.
Hold the Steering Wheel Right
Learner drivers are normally told to keep their hands at “10 and 2” and to feed the wheel around corners. This is not the way professional racing drivers steer. Instead keep your hands at 9 and 3 and never lift them off the wheel. Instead of feeding the wheel, keep your hands on there in the same place as it goes round. You may end up tied in knots, but it will give you a much better feel for how much you need to steer in each corner.