Skip to main content
HOME   |   ABOUT   |   NEWS   |   TECH ARTICLES   |   AT THE TRACK   |   REVIEWS   |   VIDEOS   |   CONTACT ME

Street vs. Track Driving Tips


I haven’t done a post like this in quite a while so I figured it’s time to do one. I have someone helping me for this one, though. Meet Bridget Rebecca. Bridget is a bit more sensible than you'd have to be to waste as much on track driving as I do, but why would you need two track rats working on one post? You've got the best one right here (Kidding!). She's a real gear head, though. If you don't believe me, she's got a pretty good rap sheet. She owns a manual car. That car has a V8 in the front and sends power to the back. Manual, front engine, V8, and RWD, right out of the sports car gospel. She also drives that car in the winter. Did I mention that the car is an Aston Martin V8 Vantage? The same car that won the 2005 Top Gear Award for Best Noise of the Year. Told you she's a gear head.

This isn't her first gig. She's got her own Tribe under her name on DriveTribe and they recently sent her down to SEMA 2018 to provide coverage for the show. She's also active on Instagram as @bridgetrebecca. Living in Toronto with a sports car means she knows a thing or two about city driving so she’ll be writing about driving in the city. I've managed to convince her that I know a thing or two about track driving, so I’ll be writing about driving on track. We both agreed we’d rather drive on track, but since you have to first drive on public roads to get to a track, I figured I’d start with her part.

City Driving: 



Keep a Safe Following Distance

Don’t be that guy/gal that aggressively tailgates people as if their life depends on passing someone. Yes, I know some people sit in the left lane and it’s beyond infuriating, but how about we all try to keep calm and be the better person in this situation. If you’re in the city, keeping a safe following distance is both courteous to others and a healthy habit to develop. Keeping a safe following distance can ensure that:
  • You have enough time to react when someone stops in front of you,
  • It provides you with enough space to stop when dealing with bad road conditions or when driving larger vehicles,
  • And it ensures that you are not solely focused on the driver right in front of you and are thus looking ahead and scanning the road.
If you drive as aggressively in the city as you do on the track, you will essentially:
  • Irritate everyone around you,
  • Either scare the crap out of everyone around you, or make people retaliate by slowing down even more,
  • And be referred to as a, “Knob, wanker, or muppet.” (I’m working on my UK slang for you guys, how am I doing? It doesn’t sound as good with my accent.)
As you can see, city driving requires a calm and collected driving attitude. Something that none of us seem to actually have. Oh, and one more thing, drafting is not allowed.


Do You Have a Sense of Direction?

Giving people advice on track and performance driving is one thing, but correcting people on their city driving is on a whole other level. City driving is rather personal, and I doubt anyone really wants to read a discussion about how to drive in your own neighbourhood. So, instead I’m going to discuss driving outside of your neighbourhood. What I mean by this is that it’s important to learn how to navigate through various cities. Don’t be one of those drivers who is always blindly following their GPS. It’s beyond annoying to get stuck behind one of these people where their turn signals will come on and then go off, and then come on and go off again. This is generally mixed in with sporadic braking for no reason and poor attempts at turning onto oncoming one way streets. I would highly recommend looking at a map and having a vague idea of what route you need to take prior to leaving your house. While familiarizing yourself with local road rules can seem like a waste of time, doing so helps avoid frustrating situations such as whether or not you can turn right on a red light. This will overall help you know the general layout of an area and prevent you from looking like a clueless tourist.


To Mod or Not to Mod, That is the Question

I don’t know about you, but I feel like my vehicles are extensions of myself. Your car expresses your personality and is like a portable metal haven in society. After all, it’s the only place where you can talk to yourself in public and no one really cares. Modifications to your car take personalization, appearance, and performance to the next level.

In the city, one would generally modify their vehicle by adding cool rims, interesting decals, or a high quality stereo system. Sometimes, people like to create the illusion of owning a track car even though they don’t drive five miles past their local supermarket. In this case, they would get new coilovers, add a new aftermarket exhaust, and do everything humanly possible to make their Civic as loud as possible. Unfortunately, these individuals are missing crucial aspects to having a true track car. This involves your vehicle needing to be equipped with a roll cage, fire extinguisher, and a 6-point harness. You might want to actually go to the track at some point and post a bunch of photos on Facebook so that people know you went at least once. After all, the motto these days is that, “If it’s not on social media, it didn’t happen.”

Track Driving:



Those Who Are Last Shall Be First

I find that the biggest challenge for new track drivers isn't necessarily any particular task or skill. Rather, it's being overwhelmed by all the various tasks you have to do either at once or one right after the other and how to blend the transition smoothly. That means it's best to not make it a goal to pick up pace at first until you get the basics right. Quicker pace means things are happening even faster, corners are coming up sooner, and you get even more overwhelmed.

Being overwhelmed is a double-edged sword. Not only are you struggling to keep up with things that are happening right now, you're also far too busy thinking. You're trying to figure out where you're supposed to be on track (i.e. your line), things you're supposed to be doing (braking? accelerating? turning? any combination?), and how you're supposed to do them (how much turning, how smooth, how much power, etc.). The result is that you're far too distracted to listen to what the car is trying to tell you about grip levels, weight transfer, yaw, etc... the car could be yelling "I DON'T like this!" about what you're doing and all you can think about is whether or not you just missed that last apex. Pace will automatically pick up if you get the basics right.


Start Slow to Go Fast

It's always best to start in a slow, softly sprung car. The softer suspensions and lower grip levels always make for much better learning because all weight transfer is exaggerated by body movements Since new drivers are often overwhelmed, feeling weight transfer without much body roll or pitch (i.e. in a stiff car) is often missed and you don't get a real sense for how the car reacts to inputs. Low grip levels also mean lower speeds if you run out of talent (and grip), so spinning out is safer or - worst case scenario - an off-track excursion is less likely to hit something (or hit something hard).

The softer suspension is also more forgiving of little corrections. New drivers always second guess themselves. “Should I be here? Should I be there? Oh, I missed my line, better yank the car over there!” Stiff, responsive cars can punish those mistakes. There's also nothing that better teaches response time delay than a softly sprung car. I've seen people in very fast cars which have lightning quick responses so that's all they know. They miss the concept that there is a delay between your input and the car doing what you want.


Because Racecar

Don't do a bunch of mods at once. This probably sounds like a broken record, but it's only broken because it gets played so much. You'll hear it from a lot of track guys and gals. It's far harder (sometimes impossible) to pinpoint what mod actually helped and by how much when you combine a bunch of them at the same time. Some mods might even hurt with a particular car, a particular driving style, and a particular track. You may never know what that was if you can't isolate and benchmark each change.

Your best bet for mods is to first figure out a car's weaknesses on track (the vast majority of factory cars have a whole bunch). It's best to also get first hand experience by doing a few track days completely stock (aside from basic track prep likes brakes and brake fluid), but it's good to also scour forums for your car to confirm what you've found and find out about things you might've missed yourself. Make a list in order of most beneficial or best bang for the buck and start from the top. Do one at a time and if that mod is adjustable (coil overs, adjustable antiroll bars, etc.) tune it before you move on to the next so that you better understand how that affects the car and how to best tweak when you do the next mod.

That's (not) All She Wrote

As it turns out, we both had so much to say about what we were writing so the post starting getting too long and we decided to split it into two parts. Hope you enjoyed reading Part 1 (and found it useful!). Stay tuned for Part 2 coming soon!

Follow Bridget on Instagram and DriveTribe


Comments

  1. What a great post that you have shared here. You make information effortless for us that we get good facts about it. Thanks for this informative blog. Driving Lessons Caterham

    ReplyDelete

Post a comment







Does An Aftermarket Grille Really Increase Airflow?
I put a Saleen S281 grille to the test to answer that question.

Stock Suspension S197 Mustang With Square 305/30/19's
What you need to fit a proper size square tire setup.

How Limited Slip Diffs Make You Faster on Track
What you need to know about how they put power down and pros and cons.

Can Telemetry Explain Schumacher's Talent?
A comparison between Schumacher's and then team mate Herbert's data.






Cayman GT4 Track Review
The first Cayman with proper (911-challenging) power.

Is an EcoBoost Mustang any good on Track?
Two days at the track in a Mustang short 4 cylinders.

2016 BMW M4 DCT Track Review
It's quick (properly quick). But is it fun?

Can a stock Golf Diesel handle a Track Day?
Not your every day track beater.




🔥 Most Visited This Week

Michelin Pilot Super Sports vs Firestone Firehawk Indy 500 - Street Review

I've been a huge fan of Michelin PSS tires and exclusively bought them for the Mustang over the last four years. So how did I end up here? This year, I was hugely interested in trying an "R-comp" tire. I had my eyes set on Bridgestone Potenza RE-71R's for two simple reasons: price and reputation. Although not a true "R-comp" tire on paper, it performs like one by the account of every single test and review I've read (down to wear rates...). They seem like they're easily the most affordable (from a big brand) R-comp tire and combine that with a reputation for having tons of grip, it was an easy top contender. I had my concerns, though. For one, I'm told and have read that they are an autox tire, not really designed for high speed, pressure, and temps associated with open track. For another, the Mustang is a heavy car (as far as track cars are concerned) being roughly 3,800 lb. (including driver), which will amplify the unwanted open track load

Michelin PSS vs Firestone Indy 500 - Track Review

A couple of weeks ago, I posted my first impressions of Michelin's PSS vs Firestone Firehawk Indy 500 tires. I've run PSS's for several years on the Boss, but I'm trying the Indy 500's for the first time. In short, I was worried about the narrower tires (I was running 285/35/18 PSS but could only find the Indy 500 in 275/35/18) and tread squirm, but I was happy with them up to that point just driving on the street. I had the chance to drive on them for three track days now. So what were they like? After my first session, they made an impression that basically persisted for the rest of track sessions on them. Phenomenal, unmatched value. Now, if value is something that stands out above all else, it typically means the compromise between qualities you want and those you don't is less than ideal, but the value is attractive. This is no different. I'll start with the bad, which really boil down to two: ultimate grip and grip longevity. Grip is noticeably l

Bridgestone Potenza RE-71R Track Review

2012 Boss 302 on square 305/30/19 RE-71R's at AMP - Graham MacNeil © For better or for worse, I have heard and read so much about RE-71R's. Everyone swears by the grip but complains about the wear. Generally speaking, the pros are: 1. They grip as well or better than most R comps. 2. They don't wear as quickly as R comps if driven occasionally on the street. 3. They work better in the rain than R comps. The cons were limited to overheating quickly when used on track (being an autocross tire) and wearing too fast on heavy cars like mine. In the popular 200 TW category, they are faster than the popular Hankook RS-4's and BFGoodrich Rival S's according to published Tire Rack Tests. According to plenty of reviews, they are also faster than well established R comps like R888R's (which don't seem to work too well on heavy cars anyway) and the venerable NT01's. But I was still hesitant for a while until I talked to a tire tech support gentleman

Michelin Pilot Sport Cup 2's vs Bridgestone Potenza RE-71R's

I never thought I'd ever run Michelin Pilot Sport Cup 2's on my 2012 Boss 302. The cost is astronomical and they are supposed to last the least of anything comparable. So how did I end up with (nearly) fresh Sport Cup 2's? A complete fluke. I came across a lightly used set with only a few hundred miles and no track time; 305/30/19 takeoffs from a GT Performance Pack Level 2 (GT PPL2). I knew my 71R's were getting very worn before the season started and likely wouldn't last the whole season, even this short one. The price was far better than a new set of RE-71R's, a little more than half, and local Time Attack rules (Canadian Automobile Sport Clubs) recently made 180 and 200 TW tires equivalent, meaning no PAX or PIP point penalty for going with 180 TW tire like the Pilot Sport Cup 2's. I have been very curious about how PSC2's compare to RE 71R's but I stayed away due to their being painfully expensive and, up to last year, their 180 TW rating would