Driving fast can be thrilling, and most people will never have the opportunity to drive an 800 horsepower NASCAR vehicle at blisteringly high speeds. There is, however, an activity that allows the average person a chance to have the thrill of real racing, without requiring a household detergent as a sponsor. Whether you are driving Karts or F1 open wheelers, there are several tips to employ to get that checkered flag.
Awareness and Line of Sight
Being a successful Go Kart racer begins with how your perceive your surroundings during a race. SCAAWiregrass.org says that looking ahead and constantly scanning the field as you move around a track is key to success. Keeping your eyes focused too closely in front of you as you drive can result in "speed blur," which can be disorienting and greatly reduces your reaction time to changing conditions as well as your ability to plan. For instance, when entering a corner, look ahead to the exit of the corner, which will aid in planning and properly hitting the apex that allows you to carry as much speed as possible through the turn.
Cornering I - Choosing Your Line
The apex of a diver's turn is the point where the Kart comes closes to the inside of the track. Every turn should follow an outside-inside-outside pattern, effectively flattening out a corner as much as possible in order to carry the maximum amount of speed throughout the maneuver. Oblique turns can allow an early apex, while sharper turns require the driver to apex late in the curve of the track. Anyone can drive fast in a straight line, but the driver that perfects choosing their line through turns and pairing that with masterful breaking has a huge advantage over those who do not understand these principals.
Cornering II - Braking
While it may seem tempting to keep your foot on the floor as you attempt to navigate turns in the course is a surefire way to miss your apex and wind up at the back of the pack, or worse, in the wall! Slipangle.org outlines the universally-accepted principal of "slow in - fast out." Braking should take place in a straight line prior to entering the turn. Timing and execution take practice, but the ideal is to break as late as possible, still allowing you to hit your target apex. After slowing, then negotiating the turn to the apex, it's time to accelerate! Adding speed as quickly as possible without creating wheel slippage or inability to stay on the track as you reach the outside of the turn exit is the goal. Many racing video games today provide cornering line coaching including breaking and acceleration cues. This is a great way to master the theory of these techniques.
Securitydriver.com gives excellent guidance on hand position during aggressive driving. Keeping your hands at the nine and three o'clock positions puts your hands perfectly in sync with where your front wheels are pointed.
When navigating a turn, keep these positions as much as possible. Moving one and, and feeding the wheel to the other while it remains stationary allows the driver to make smooth adjustments even when mid-curve. Hand over hand or spinning of the palm leads to slippage and loss of control when you need it the most!
Jill Dombrauckas currently writes for a biotech company in San Diego. Her work is published in scientific journals such as Biochemistry and medical websites such as Genetic Engineering News and Medical News Today. She received her bachelor's degree from the University of Dayton and Ph.D. in medicinal chemistry from the University of Illinois at Chicago.