7 Driving Techniques You Should Learn from a Race Car Driver & Why

Original Post by Auto Loan Solutions

Driving your conventional 4-door sedan may not seem to have anything in common with the experience of driving a $10 – $15 million Formula 1 (F1) car. The former is for average folk, while the latter is for the exceptionally gifted drivers out there, and it’s fair to assume all racing skills are only useful for race tracks. But they’re not worlds apart. In fact, there are a number of driving techniques you can learn from a race car driver, that will help make your daily drive to work or those summer road trips better. Not only are they good for improved performance, they’re actually great for your safety as well.

  1. Use your eyes like a camera

Let’s start with your eyes and brain here. On the track, a race car driver uses his or her eyes like a film camera, capturing different “shots”, primarily focusing on what’s far ahead of them or where they want to go. They’re not fixed just on what’s directly in front of them.

This is an important skill for you as a driver. Too many people fix their eyes on the car ahead of them, rather than the flow of traffic in the distance. For a race car driver, doing so means putting yourself in a bad position. For you, that could mean ending up in a serious or fatal accident. Keep this in mind: your brain needs time to process the road conditions ahead, and you can only do so if you have time to see what’s taking place beforehand. That calls for looking into the distance, not the foreground.

  1. Brake “left-footedly”

Like the left hand, you have individuals who use their left foot more than their right. Some of the best race car drivers are in this category, preferring to brake with their left foot. Braking with the left significantly reduces the time it takes to slow down, which of course, is vital at times when driving. The reason for this stems from the fact that your left foot is closer to the brake.

Drivers of race cars need to often decelerate from speeds of 250km/h to 80km/h around sharp corners, so quick braking is essential. For the average citizen, quick braking matters not for the finesse of turning around bends (although it is impressive), but to avoid losing control of your car or prevent a rear-end collision. A second can mean the difference between escape or impact. Braking with the right usually wastes that precious fraction of time, which often translates to a distance of 30 – 50 feet travelled. Left-foot braking, however, cuts that time down by several seconds. In turn, you stop much faster than you would with traditional braking.

  1. One move at a time

For some odd reason, a lot of drivers think the busier they are behind the wheel, the better their driving skills are. They believe the constant steering, braking, accelerating and shifting of gears makes them more skilled since they’re able to multitask so well. They are mistaken. Watch a race one day – the occasional dash cam footage will show a level of stillness you may have not noticed before. The driver is usually focused on turning the wheel.

They maintain this focus to avoid losing control of their cars. Anytime they accelerate, brake or steer, there is the potential of breaking traction, which isn’t always desirable. A loss of traction is something you certainly don’t want as a driver, especially when the roads are slippery due to rain or ice. Unless you have refined chops as a racer yourself, you’ll want to maintain a smooth and steady drive by focusing on one thing at a time, without steering or braking/accelerating too hard.

  1. Grip the wheel…and pull

Here’s a strange tip: don’t just grip the wheel, pull it. Race car drivers practice this weird little hack to gain superior control of their steering. So if the driver has to turn left, for example, they’ll pull down with their left hand (or if making a right, they’ll push down with the right) as if this allows for more dexterity and as a result, more control (although some recommend pulling down and pushing up with one hand).

For both race car drivers and yourself, more dexterity and control means a better driving experience. In terms of safety, you can weave around obstacles such as potholes, or distracted drivers instantaneously. Also, sharp turns that require plenty of stability won’t faze you.

  1. Regaining control after sliding

Remember too, that racing isn’t all about speed, and safety plays a big part in the sport as well. That’s why drivers practice how to escape a slide at length since it can actually happen on a race track. Of course, there’s a difference between sliding and drifting (which is common in some motorsport such as rally racing). Drifting is controlled – sliding is not and since it puts the racer in danger, they must put their eyes where they want the car to stop, turn the wheel in that direction and maintain that position while slowly braking.

For both the race car driver and the average joe, doing so can prevent a collision with another vehicle. However, this technique is even more paramount for the average driver, because other motorists most likely won’t have the skills of a professional racer who can quickly dodge an out-of-control car.

  1. Driving in wet/slippery conditions

Racing in the rain is no doubt riskier than racing on dry pavement. So the race car driver has to keep his vehicle balanced, in order to not spin out on the slippery surface. In motorsports, there’s a “racing line”, which is the path they should follow to complete a course as quickly as possible. However, in rainy weather, racers can’t follow these lines completely, and they’ll have to focus more on finding patches of road that offer the most grip.

Of course, rain can be dangerous both to the racers and regular drivers. But how can you abandon your “racing lines” to find your grip? Well apart from equipping your vehicle with the appropriate tires, you should take your attention off doing the speed limit and trying to beat the amber light. Rather, focus on early braking, maintaining your distance with other cars, and looking out for slick patches of road that may cause skids. The goal here isn’t to get to your point B faster, but to get there safely.

  1. Surviving a tire blowout

Tire blowouts occur on race tracks too. It can be devastating for the driver since it may cost them the chance of a winning title, like what happened to F1 racer Sebastian Vettel last fall. Nevertheless, drivers remain calm and keep their car moving straight until they’re moving slow enough to drive off to the pit stop. They don’t stomp on the brake or try to steer off the road, as this could cause their car to spin out of control, smashing into other vehicles.

This technique can be hard to pull off because it goes against everything your mind is telling you in such a frightening situation. But it can save lives. Again, this driving technique is probably more urgent for the average citizen, because a lot of drivers out there don’t have the reflexes, poise and muscle memory to stay away from you if you’re out of control. So remaining in a straight path will keep you and all those around you safe.

Learning from the masters

There are a ton of racing legends out there who have their own tips on how to drive a car. Of course, classic heroes like Mario Andretti or modern phenoms such Lewis Hamilton have their own tricks which they may not share with you. However, they all follow some basic driving techniques that you can also use. And they’re not only useful for performance, but your safety as well. So the next time you see something about a race car driver, don’t dismiss them as overpaid young men who get to sit all day – their skillset has relevance for you as well.

Talk to us here at Dale Adams about all your performance vehicle needs.

 

A Beginner’s Guide to Buying a Classic Car

Editor’s Note: This is a guest post from Mark Purtell that was originally posted on artofmanliness.com. 

Many men have the classic car bug hit them at some point in life. Maybe they want that car they dreamed about in high school (or actually drove, and still miss). For others, it’s the idea of taking a rundown classic and restoring it to mint condition. Some guys just like buying investment-grade cars with hopes of profiting off them in the future. No matter what your reasoning for wanting a vintage automobile, before you buy one on a whim, let’s dig into the reasons you might buy a vintage car, along with developing a plan for getting the best car for your budget and lifestyle.

Why Are You Buying a Vintage Auto?

As noted above, people buy vintage vehicles for all kinds of reasons, and being realistic about why you are buying a classic car is essential if you want it to be an enjoyable experience rather than one filled with rancor and regret.

The key is to buy for all the right reasons for you.

For example, you might want to get a 1965 Mustang convertible to go get milkshakes with the family. A rust-bucket/project car, assuming you have the time, money, and dedication to restore it, is going to take several years before it is roadworthy. By that time, your kids are in high school, and they have no interest in hitting the malt shop with Mom and Dad. In this case, a turnkey, ready-to-drive option may be the best bet for you.

If you’re someone with lots of spare time (and perhaps money as well) who enjoys fixing anything mechanical, a full restoration project might fit your profile.

If you want to buy a unique car in immaculate condition with strong investment potential, that car is going to be doing a lot of sitting without much tinkering or driving required. But as I’ll explain next, it’s important to understand that most classic cars don’t actually turn out to be a good investment. 

Most Classic Cars Are Not an Investment

We’ve heard of the guy who doubled his money on a car sitting in his grandmother’s garage, but most attempts to flip a vintage vehicle for profit don’t turn out that way.

The truth is that these old cars are simply that: old cars. They have carrying costs: storage, maintenance, insurance, etc. Depending on the car, these costs can run hundreds to thousands of dollars per year.

And that’s not to mention restoration costs, of both money and time. That Mustang we referenced earlier might require $15,000 in work to get it in the condition you desire and it will still be worth about the same price you paid for it. A 1960s Corvette might cost $40,000, require $60,000 in restoration work, and now be worth $70,000-$90,000. Even if you do the repair work yourself, you might save tens of thousands of dollars in labor costs, but spend hundreds of hours in the garage away from your family. This begs the question: What is your time worth? If you like cranking a wrench on the nights and weekends, go for it. If you are thinking you will spend a couple hours a week working on a project car, you could lose interest long before its appreciated in value.

If your plan is to buy an investment-grade vehicle that you don’t plan to drive but will instead park in a temperature-controlled garage, waiting for demand to push the price up, do your research carefully on what car you buy. For example, many cars from the 1950s and 1960s have had no price appreciation for a decade. One theory is that the collectors, generally aged 60+, who used to desire these cars are either dying or downsizing their collections. Meanwhile, cars that were popular in the late 1970s to 1990s are experiencing price appreciation as the children of this era approach middle age with discretionary income to burn on collector cars.

Where to Buy Your Throwback Machine

Buying a classic car is not the same thing as buying a brand new Honda from the local dealer. You can’t just walk into a dealer, pick your comfort package, engine size, interior/exterior colors, and drive home that day with exactly what you want. To find the car you really desire, it’s going to take some work.

When buying a used car (emphasis added because racing stripes and polished wheels may make it seem new in your mind), constantly remind yourself of the phrase caveat emptor — “buyer beware.”

Buying at Auction

Classic car auctions are sexy. The crowd, the excitement, and the potential to get a deal on your dream machine all sound appealing. Here are some pros and cons for going this route:

Pros:

  • Auctions do a great job bringing in high-end cars that may have never sat in a consignment dealer’s showroom. Some of the most desirable (i.e., expensive cars) have sold at auction rather than by private party or dealer.
  • Auctions can often be accessed via phone or internet, giving you the opportunity to buy a car from the other side of the world.
  • You can get a deal on a car with a no, or low, reserve. If only a few buyers bid on the car, you could walk out with a steal.

Cons:

  • The buyer has limited options for inspection. Aside from walking around the car and maybe hearing it turn over, the chance of a complete inspection is non-existent. Only after you buy the car will you begin to discover all the surprises in the car you just purchased, and remember there are no “do-overs” at auction.
  • The seller and buyer premiums added on to the sale price can tack on 10-25% in fees to the price of the car compared to a private party transaction.

Buying From a Dealer

Just like people, there are good dealers and bad dealers. Most classic car dealers run a consignment shop, where private car sellers leave their cars on the lot for sale. In return for handling the advertising and drumming up a buyer, the dealer receives a percentage of the sale proceeds. Some dealers will buy the car directly from the seller and attempt to flip it for their own profit.

Pros:

  • Good dealers will run their inventory through an inspection before selling it. A reputable dealer will have no problem with you conducting an in-depth inspection of the car along with bringing in an outside inspector to verify that the car they advertise is the one you are buying.
  • There’s good negotiating power. The dealer will try to get you to come up on price, but they’ll also try to get the seller to come down on price; they want to get the deal done. This is a negotiation, so do not be afraid to go in 20-25% below the asking price when starting out.

Cons:

  • Dealers are in the business of turning over inventory. They often do not have intimate knowledge of the car’s history outside of what an inspection might garner. 
  • Dealers are middlemen. This means you indirectly pay a higher price because the seller will be paying a commission of 10-15% of the total sale price.

Buying From a Private Party

This method takes a lot more work than buying from a dealer or auction, but you can get a great deal on a classic car if you put the time into your search.

Pros:

  • You deal directly with the seller. Oftentimes, they will be long-time owners, or at least more intimately know the history of the car. Some of these owners look at selling their car as giving away a child and want it to go to a good home. These collectors are the ones you want to buy from because the car’s condition will generally reflect the seller’s passion.
  • You can get a much better price here without the fees of a dealer or auction house acting as a go-between.

Cons:

  • This method takes work. You need to scrounge for sale ads on every car site you can find. Many sellers only list on 1-2 sites and assume that is good enough to market the car. Unless you are searching all the classic car classified sites, you might miss your deal.
  • You might be more likely to blindly trust a passionate private seller. Each claim the owner makes about the car should be verified, if possible. If the deal does not pass the smell test, keep moving. No one is going to sell you a rare 1970 G.T.O. Judge for half off market prices just to avoid paying auction or dealer fees. What he is probably selling is a G.T.O. he’s made to look like a Judge in order to outsmart an uneducated buyer.

Use an Inspector Whenever You Can

When you’re buying from a dealer or private seller, and have the possibility of bringing in an inspector to look at the car, it really behooves you to do so.

An inspector acts as a second set of eyes that will make sure the car is exactly as described in the dealer’s sales literature or private owner’s claims. An inspector also functions as an important reality check: reining in your emotions is important to make sure you’re not overcome with the excitement of getting a classic car and end up with an overpriced toy needing more work and money than you’re comfortable with.

To find a good inspector, ask for recommendations at local car clubs or classic car dealers. Another option is calling a restoration shop that specializes in the car you are buying and hire them to do the inspection. Even if the shop can’t do it, they may be able to suggest someone who could.

In addition to hiring an inspector, you will also be well served by taking the car to a mechanic who can make sure it runs correctly too.

A Short Word on Prices 

Classic cars come in all prices and conditions. You can pick up a near-mint condition Model T for around $10,000-$15,000. You can’t even find a project Porsche in that price range.

As a broad rule, more money spent upfront will save you gobs of money throughout the life of the car. As you scroll through classic car ads, you will often see statements such as “$75,000 invested, asking $45,000 or best offer.” Is the seller lying? Probably not. Restoration projects, especially those done at professional shops, involve hundreds or thousands of labor hours plus parts. Once the work is done, the owner may drive it around for a couple years, get bored with it, and dump it on the market. This is where you move in to save yourself thousands of dollars.

A collector car usually has no functional or practical value. Just like you wouldn’t depend on a 1982 Commodore 64 for finishing your work report, you’re not going to jump in your 1982 DeLorean DMC-12 to pick up your son from basketball practice in the middle of a snowstorm. In many ways classic cars are valued and priced the same way as other fine art is: condition and demand. Scarcity may add to the allure of a car, but does not always guarantee a high price. Compare this to how your kindergartener’s art project is one-of-a-kind, but won’t be on the block at Sotheby’s next to a Klimt or Dali.

What Car to Buy — A Few Ideas for Starters 

To continue to read the rest of this article please visit the original post at artofmanliness.com here. 

Thanks for reading!

Dale Adams

  1. If your car is hot inside you can cool it down by 5-10 degrees really quickly.

    hot in carThough you look like you are a bit crazy, if your car is sweltering hot inside here's the trick to cool it down really quick.

    Simply roll down your driver's side window all the way, then get out of your car and walk around to the driver's side of the car, or better yet have a passenger help. Then just open and close the passenger door about 10 times to create an air flow inside the car. Boo yeah, much cooler. You don't have to close the door all the way so don't feel like you have to slam the door.

  2. Contrary to popular belief, you actually save gas by using the air conditioning while driving fast rather than rolling down the windows.

    For those who want to save on gas costs many times we have heard that driving with the AC off will save on gas costs. Though true at slower and moderate city type driving, at faster speeds-like on a highway-it is more economical on gas to actually roll the windows up and use the AC. Show this article to the disbelievers.

  3. You can drive for free if restaurants are nice and let you have their used cooking oil.

    classic deep fryerIf you drive a vehicle with a diesel engine, it is possible to drive it without ever buying any diesel. With the addition of a conversion kit, you can actually run such vehicles on vegetable oil—such as the used cooking oil discarded by fast-food restaurants each day. Since you’re basically burning trash, your fuel bill can be reduced almost to zero. Plus, you’re both eliminating waste and running on renewable, 100% bio-based fuel. The potential downside: according to some users, it makes your exhaust smell like french fries.

  4. Horsepower doesn't really relate to the power a horse can exert.

    horse powerBy the formal definition of horsepower-the power required to lift 33,000 pounds by one foot in one minute-a real horse musters only about 0.7 horsepower. Maybe the horses just need to install their own supercharger?

  5. Maybe we should let Big Brother drive.

    Though we have to get over our control issues and it would be less fun for us that enjoy driving, society would be better off if we let the computers take over. Self-driving cars could improve highway flow by regulating distances between cars and ease urban congestion by automating the search for parking (which causes up to three-quarters of city traffic). There would be very little traffic, less accidents and we could nap like champions to get rid of those extra adult beverages you had on a work night.

We hope you enjoyed these little factoids of ours. Please feel free to share any of your tips about the cars we all use and love.

The Dale Adams Crew