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The Learning Curve


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Ok Chumpsters. I have done 5 races now with CC. 2 at Fontana,1 each at Laguna,Chuckwalla,and last weekend at Sonoma

I don't think suck at it!  My question is other then keep doing it,how does one get better?

My lap times are ok,but wildly inconsistent. Need some ideas on how to get better. It has been suggested "that when you get passed,follow as close as you can for as long as you can"

I found that works well until I try to brake with the Miatas! 

How does one honestly asses their ability to drive,and drive well?

I have started this later in life,turn 55 this month. I find the driving fun,exhilarating,mentally and physically challenging,and at times terrifying(when I try and brake with a Miata and it doesn't work).

I want to better develop my skills to be a better teammate.Any suggestions would be appreciated.

 

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Ooh, following up @chip's idea, get somebody very talented to drive your car, take video of them, and have them coach you on where the differences are and why they do what they do.  Nothing like seeing what the car you're trying to race is capable of in the hands of somebody more talented.

I drive a car that is well sorted and fast. (It's not mine) The fastest drivers best lap was 7 seconds better then mine. We do video and I watch them all. Compare what they do to what I do. All the other team members have considerably more experience then me. Lots of circle track and then 7+ years of CC with their current platform.

This is all great stuff,Thanks and keep it coming.

Edited by Ian Moone
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I agree on having someone faster take your car for a rip.  Watching their video and getting their tips is a huge help.

 

I will add that if someone faster is driving your car, have a lap timer in the car.  They will set a fast lap and you can use that to see in real time where you are losing time and focus on those areas of the track.  It will also likely highlight (give you a kick in the butt and say "you can go faster, the tires have more grip, stop being a little wuss") as to where you just aren't at the limit of the car. 

 

You can also use the lap timer to help refine your lap vs a personal best you have set.  Example, I am entering a turn and am 2 seconds off of the best lap, after exiting the turn I am 3 seconds off, lost 1 second.  Think about how you took that corner, your brake points, line, etc.  Next time by, change your line and see if you lose or gain time, try braking deeper/less, get on gas earlier, etc. and see what it does to the time difference to the fastest lap.

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Our fastest drives best lap at Sonoma was 7 seconds better then mine.

My team is the same in that we have a wide gap amongst the drivers.  We are currently signed up for spring race school with all the drivers attending.  For most it will be the first formal training.  Im excited to see how this helps.

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@Ian MooneKudos on being open to learning new things to improve your driving.  An open attitude is what good instructors want to work with to maximize improvements.  In terms of priority I think instruction and seat-time are the fastest ways to close that 7 second gap.  Have you looked into quality high-performance driving schools in your area?  In California there's bound to be some great ones (Skip Barber?).  Couple that with ample seat time at local HPDEs to practice the lessons and you're going to close that gap.  Unfortunately there's no easy button, have to put in the time, effort and money to get on-track and practice.  

 

In terms of simulator, I don't use one (no time) but I can see how it's helpful.  Many of the skills can be practiced intentionally, like looking ahead, being smooth with the controls, choosing different lines, etc.  Also, physical fitness plays an important role.  I find a nice balanced regimen of strength and cardio training definitely helps on-track performance in those long hot stints. If you can lose a few pounds in the process all the better, less mass for the car to haul around.  

 

Personally, I did several schools when I started HPDE driving but then for ~10 years I just did the occasional track day a few times a season.  Sure that helped my skills by getting seat time but I think I was been held back by not seeking coaching.  I've seen more improvement since starting ChumpCar in 2014 by sheer seat-time compared to those years of track days.  Although I'm one of the faster drivers on my team, there's always room for coaching and I'm sure I will return to the classroom in future.  

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If you have someone on your team 7 seconds faster then you have a built in coach on your team, in your car, on the same day, in the same conditions.  On my team we are all usually within 1 second but when one of us is lagging the fastest driver will describe how he is driving the track from start to finish, where he is shifting, turn in point, braking for how hard and how long, cues like a tree or skid mark that he looks for before braking or turning, usually in "X" gear by this point, ignoring the upshift for 0.5 seconds because he is just about to hit the brakes, waiting for this bump in the track to turn, throttle to the floor in this turn, etc. 

 

If after going through that at a number of races you are still 7 seconds behinds then maybe it is your traffic management skills (tougher to teach).  It could also be your general line, maybe you are not tracking out right to the edge of the track going into and coming out of a turn. 

 

Whenever my team encounters a new track I was always the slowest, I discovered that this was because I was just leaving huge margins everywhere since I didn't know the track that well.  The margins were braking way early, track width going into a turn, turning in too late so I couldn't make the apex, and not tracking out after the turn - I now heavily concentrate on correcting this at a new track and have certainly closed the gap here.

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If you have someone on your team 7 seconds faster then you have a built in coach on your team, in your car, on the same day, in the same conditions.  On my team we are all usually within 1 second but when one of us is lagging the fastest driver will describe how he is driving the track from start to finish, where he is shifting, turn in point, braking for how hard and how long, cues like a tree or skid mark that he looks for before braking or turning, usually in "X" gear by this point, ignoring the upshift for 0.5 seconds because he is just about to hit the brakes, waiting for this bump in the track to turn, throttle to the floor in this turn, etc. 

 

You mean them saying   "you just need bigger balls" doesn't count as coaching?

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You mean them saying   "you just need bigger balls" doesn't count as coaching?

 

We tried that on our team, and still say it of course, however if everyone on your team seriously sits down between races and talks through a complete lap everyone, including your fastest driver, should pick up a few or a bunch of tips.  Everyone will be faster for it.  

 

Even the Formula 1 teams do it.  Back when they could coach from the pits, "Fernando is braking 3 metres later than you going into turn 1".   When the driver pits in practice or qualifying they are given sheets of their lap vs teammate vs fastest comparing brake points, speed, etc.  

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Old school here. None of that in place. Thanks for the offer.

 

As previously mentioned, that will be one of the bettter ways for you to get faster.  There are numerous free apps that you can run on your phone.  SpeedFreq is available for free on the google app store and is developed by a chump.  We use it with an old android phone that we got for free that has an internal gps, so it is completely free to use.  The gps only reads 1x per second, but that is good enough for our purposes.

 

 

You mean them saying   "you just need bigger balls" doesn't count as coaching?

 

I don't know you so didn't want to say something like that, but....  Hahaha.  As Ron says, the fast driver telling the slow guys how to go faster is great, but if no matter how many times I say to them "only a slight lift for T4, you may even be able to take it flat" and they brake for T4, well.... the results are telling!

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Yeah, the "bigger balls" thing is just gonna get someone or some metal hurt.  Hopefully one of the faster guys on your team can provide some coaching better than that.  I'm fortunate that one of my teammates has been mentoring me for nearly 30 years.  We speak the same language when you are standing around making fake steering motions and squirming around corners.  Seven seconds?  I would say either you're not using all the tire ( when I started I was amazed at the difference between what I thought was the limit and where it actually is) or not using all the road.  The other thing I catch myself doing is trying too hard.  Charging the brake zone and getting in so hot that you have no chance of turning in or just spending the whole turn trying to save it and not making any time.

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If you get into the car thinking about how your 7 seconds a lap slower than your teamates it's going to be tough to improve.

Don't worry about everyone's lap times. That's to much pressure.

Strap yourself in, get on the track ,and go have fun. 

I have a teamate that is a few seconds slower than the rest of us. When he gets in the car thinking about lap times, he over drives the car. When he's not worrying about lap times he's a much better driver.

 

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Lots of good points here.  I've only got 5 races under my belt too but between Road Atlanta last year (2nd race) and the race a few weeks ago, I ran at Amp in a race and test day, Sebring until we broke, and 2 DEs at Sebring.  I dropped 5.5 seconds off my fast lap at Road Atlanta from last year but I consistently ran in the low 1:50's when not in traffic.  I bet I spent close to 20% of my laps being faster than my fastest lap last year, and that includes my night stint.

 

Two things REALLY helped me.  First, I rode as a passenger with one of our fast drivers.  That taught me that the car WILL stick in the turns.  Second, I had an instructor at one of the DEs who worked with my braking and when to get back into the gas.  My line still needs more work, but that will come with more seat time now that my limits are slowly getting closer to the car's limits.

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 How often do you race or drive on track ?  More seat time no matter what type just more of it .. instruction is great get some .  As I have said many times get on those kart tracks with timers the feel relates, and it's cheap track time .. the kids there will school ya fo sho .. When Conner and I went to Charlotte last year we went to one and this dude gave me a fit about every time out . I went over to talk to him   hey dude your pretty good do you race anywhere?  Yup dirt super late models he was still wowed when I told him I was running  at Charlotte Motor Speedway the next day ..

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HDPE is probably the solution you're looking for. There are a lot of other great solutions here as well. 

 

If your times are inconsistent I would guess that you're not picking markers at each corner and driving to them every time and then adjusting to them as needed. Ask your fastest driver what he's using as braking and turn in markers. If you're new at using markers, figure out one turn at a time, find the marks that work best for turn 1, once you got that down work on t2 and etc until you get the whole track down. Turn in curbing is good for turn in markers, for example always turn in at the second red strip for Turn one and so on. 

 

Once you get that figured out, work on getting through traffic without.losing much momentum.

 

Good luck and have fun.

 

 

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