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Favourite racing book


mender
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4 minutes ago, Team Infiniti said:

Want to loan me a few?

Sorry, Ed, not really wanting to let them out of my sight but if you have specific questions about any of them, I'll certainly answer!

 

The Senna book (1993) is about $300 these days but a lot of these books are still available new for under $40.

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1 hour ago, jakks said:

@mender, other than the Senna book what’s your favorite one?

I figured someone would ask! It's like picking a favourite child!

 

It depends what mood I'm in. For the basics and some history, "Driving in Competition" by Alan Johnson and "Driving to Win!" by Al and Bob Holbert are good (pictures of the DeKon Monza as a bonus!). As usual, Carroll Smith does a thorough job of explaining the technical and more car oriented side of things in his "Drive To Win", and Ross Bentley is very good for high level driver and personal development in his books. "Thinking to Win" is a good all around guide to racing.

 

I like the alternate thinking in "The Perfect Corner" books, yet another approach to finding the ideal line. "Going Faster!" is a more in-depth treatment for those who like math of the physics involved in racing and how to make use of data. "Think Fast" is good for those who are getting past the club racer stage, and "Driving on the Edge" is a peek into professional level driving and racing. Published in 2015, it's my newest book.

Edited by mender
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Cruising the books and found this little tidbit:

20221210_001037.jpg.e2a52782ef97accad16c609630a72afe.jpg

As you can see, this was something that was considered responsible for a half second improvement in lap times.

 

Then I found this:

20221210_001059.jpg.19755aac440b56b203e062486ec3070a.jpg

This was an observation by another professional driver but about 1/3 century later, and with data to back it up.  

 

Interesting!

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22 hours ago, mender said:

Cruising the books and found this little tidbit:

20221210_001037.jpg.e2a52782ef97accad16c609630a72afe.jpg

His graph is all kinds of goofy… shift point changes between approaches?? Car accelerated faster in the new approach all the way up to the shift point (clearly shown by the diverging velocity lines)?

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51 minutes ago, enginerd said:

His graph is all kinds of goofy… shift point changes between approaches?? Car accelerated faster in the new approach all the way up to the shift point (clearly shown by the diverging velocity lines)?

I agree. I think the graph you quoted was his concept of the "New Approach" but it looks like he took the opportunity to help it a little...

 

That's why I posted the second chart, still not a perfectly clean comparison but one that at least is based on the data. And of course one has to consider the type of car used to generate the data. The first example is the DeKon Monza; the second is a high downforce and quite powerful formula car.

 

For those who are happy with their corner exit and mid-corner speed but unsure whether they're getting eveything available on corner entry, "Driving on the Edge" is a very good book as the author analyzes the hows and whys of braking at the professional level. There's lot of other good info but that was one of the more interesting ones for me.

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Don't forget all of that is hugely dependent on the car.

 

My kids started in karts and one day I gave it a go.  At the end of the day I commented about being on the brake at the apex of a particular turn.  One of my kids pals laughed out loud at me (then apologized for being rude which I thought was funny).  Recently we were dealing with a car with a bad push and I told the kids "trail brake in, it will help the push".  When looking at the data afterwards my son commented "holy crap, you're on the brakes forever, you really are at the apex with the brake on".

 

Difference is the karts are solid axle and the other car has a good diff and therefore entirely different driving styles.

 

Books are good, but data from other drivers in the same car/same day and driving multiple cars in a short amount of time will help more.

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Not so much a book, but here's some printed words I encourage all to read and have handy at the track.  It really helps establish a method when you're going in circles struggling to tune out some bad behavior.  Some of the causes and effects are surprising and have gotten me out of a jam before.

Carroll Smith's Engineer in Your Pocket: Smith, Carroll: 9780965160018: Amazon.com: Books

 

 

 

Capture.JPG

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5 hours ago, MMiskoe said:

Don't forget all of that is hugely dependent on the car.

 

My kids started in karts and one day I gave it a go.  At the end of the day I commented about being on the brake at the apex of a particular turn.  One of my kids pals laughed out loud at me (then apologized for being rude which I thought was funny).  Recently we were dealing with a car with a bad push and I told the kids "trail brake in, it will help the push".  When looking at the data afterwards my son commented "holy crap, you're on the brakes forever, you really are at the apex with the brake on".

 

Difference is the karts are solid axle and the other car has a good diff and therefore entirely different driving styles.

 

Books are good, but data from other drivers in the same car/same day and driving multiple cars in a short amount of time will help more.

That's why driving lots of different vehicles is important, helps sort out whether the problem is the car or the driver.

 

I had the opportunity to drive a winged dirt alcohol sprint car (a 360 car, 500 hp and about 1800 lbs) along with three other guys. The local dirt track was offering 10 laps (about three minutes worth) for $50 (many years ago but still a good deal). Interesting mix: one guy regularly and successfully drove a sports racer on paved road courses, one did Bonneville, one was a up and coming 14 year old that was doing well on paved ovals in various stock cars. And by that time I had driven FF, stock cars, ice racing, some bracket racing, karts, and of course when I was 14 and my parents weren't home I tore up the grass in the back part of my parents' acreage with my dad's '65 Custom Sport Pontiac Parisienne with the failed engine mount. The mount made things interesting because under full throttle the engine lifted up and kept the engine at full throttle until the trans shifted into second (powerglide so 60 mph tire speed), then the engine flopped down and released the throttle. Once I hit the throttle I was committed! Pretty exciting the first couple of times but I was young and stupid so no problem! 

 

Back to the dirt track. After a brief discussion of the driving technique required, the sports racer went out. He was not at all comfortable with getting the back end out and let off the throttle as soon as the car started to slide. Not the fast way around. The Bonneville driver was up next, and although he was able to slide the car, he wasn't used to planning his path through corners while sliding. Not bad, and he definitely picked up more speed on his second session. The young guy was game but didn't have dirt experience. He showed a fair bit of maturity by working his way into it. He was starting to get the hang of it by the end.

 

Me? After a lap or two I realized I finally had a car that handled well on dirt and had lots of power! And a wing! And one that didn't have a locked throttle! Woohoo! It was a blast! The car was set up nicely and easy to drive. I was a bit disappointed that by that time one end of the track was drying out so I couldn't do a full hot lap but the car hooked up well in the shaded end of the track. All too soon I got the flag to come in. Several people asked me if I had driven one of these before, and the track owner tried to rent me his car for the following weekend's events (which was the whole reason for that night's session, to get more people on track). In retrospect I should have ($500!) but that was a chunk of money for me those days.

 

So yes, there can be a lot of difference in driving style needed depending on the vehicle and venue. Same day/same car with data can help sort both the driver and the car quickly. Having a few different driving experiences/techniques in the driver's tool box also helps. And learning from other people's experiences via books is the cheapest way to improve my game, which is why I have lots of books!

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4 hours ago, ETR said:

Not so much a book, but here's some printed words I encourage all to read and have handy at the track.  It really helps establish a method when you're going in circles struggling to tune out some bad behavior.  Some of the causes and effects are surprising and have gotten me out of a jam before.

Carroll Smith's Engineer in Your Pocket: Smith, Carroll: 9780965160018: Amazon.com: Books

 

 

 

Capture.JPG

Good book, and it fit nicely in my back pocket when I was playing crew chief. 

 

"Carroll Tip: Always debrief, in detail, after every session - even if you have to debrief yourself."

 

Very important. Over the course of five years with one driver, we went from him never having been debriefed and me working through the corner phases and what the car or he was doing, to him telling me over the radio what the car was doing and what he wanted to work on next. It was as much a diagnostic for the driver as it was for the car.

 

We managed to find a few more causes for the effects but his checklists made it easy to quickly get to the answers.

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Since I started this thread, I'm going to do a derail of my own!

 

I have to give a bunch of credit to my dad. Despite my mom's best efforts, he managed to instill quite a few bad ideas in my head as I was growing up, sometimes after having a few too many. When I was young he told me not to be a mechanic and especially not to go racing, which was just like waving a red flag at a bull! I paid close attention to the stories of his dirt track experiences because I could hear the excitement that came into his voice as he described driving his '36 Ford flathead V8 at the local dirt track. He didn't have brakes but he did have a locked diff (poured lead into the spider gears, lasted longer than welding). He would lift and turn in for the corner and as soon as he felt the weight shift he would get back on the throttle and drift the car through the corner.

 

He also talked about driving my uncle's Karmann Ghia and doing much the same thing on a paved road. He lifted and turned, the car started to spin and he got back on the throttle and completed his u-turn on the road. He claimed it was all intentional but I might have to ask him about that! And a few other things now that I think about it! Pretty sure he knew what the chewed-up grass in the back 40 meant, especially when I mentioned that his car might have a broken engine mount. ;)

 

So yeah, I used his description of how he would set up and take turns on the dirt track. Lift off and turn in, feel the shift in the car then get on the throttle and drive it out. He's coming up on 90 this next spring but I'm sure he remembers it very well! I think I'll see if he has some stories he hasn't told me yet, and I have a few stories that I should probably 'fess up to as well, I think enough time has passed since those days. 

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All of this does not mean much to me. I get in the car. Ask what tire pressures are. Get my ergonomics right for driving. And boot it. 
 

Maybe that is why I have bent a lot of cars in my days. Crawl out from a few that were upside down. Perhaps those “graphs” are better than my Backside meter.
 

7 hours ago, mender said:

Good book, and it fit nicely in my back pocket when I was playing crew chief. 

 

"Carroll Tip: Always debrief, in detail, after every session - even if you have to debrief yourself."

 

Very important. Over the course of five years with one driver, we went from him never having been debriefed and me working through the corner phases and what the car or he was doing, to him telling me over the radio what the car was doing and what he wanted to work on next. It was as much a diagnostic for the driver as it was for the car.

 

We managed to find a few more causes for the effects but his checklists made it easy to quickly get to the answers.

 

19 hours ago, enginerd said:

His graph is all kinds of goofy… shift point changes between approaches?? Car accelerated faster in the new approach all the way up to the shift point (clearly shown by the diverging velocity lines)?

 

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3 hours ago, Team Tbird said:

All of this does not mean much to me. I get in the car. Ask what tire pressures are. Get my ergonomics right for driving. And boot it. 
 

Maybe that is why I have bent a lot of cars in my days. Crawl out from a few that were upside down. Perhaps those “graphs” are better than my Backside meter.

That's not far off of what most people do. It all depends on why you race as to what you put your effort into. I love to learn and understand so I deep-dive just about everything. Yup, I'm the one who overthinks it!

 

Data acquisition and interpretation is definitely one of those areas that appeal to certain people (nerds!) and for most people goes a few steps beyond what is needed or desired. Let me know if you are looking for info and what format you think would work for you.

 

I gave one of my original drivers a copy of "Think To Win" to get him started.

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I have read Donohue's book several billion times. The mix of technical info, storytelling, and history is so entertaining to me. The T/A Camaro chapter is worth the cost of the book alone :)

 

Carroll Smith's stuff is getting pretty old, but his knowledge/experience and weird sense of humor is priceless.

 

I think I picked up Alan Johnson's book in grade school (it was my Dad's) and I was way too young to appreciate it. I've been meaning to replace it.

Thanks for sharing this awesome picture.

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On 12/11/2022 at 6:04 PM, Team Tbird said:

All of this does not mean much to me. I get in the car. Ask what tire pressures are. Get my ergonomics right for driving. And boot it. 
 

Maybe that is why I have bent a lot of cars in my days. Crawl out from a few that were upside down. Perhaps those “graphs” are better than my Backside meter.

Did you take the time after each incident to figure out a plan B for a better outcome?

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 I have a few of those books. And others. Just busting my own chops. And…..sending a shot across Nate’s Bow. If I can find a few drivers to go to RA I want to see what all the Fuss about a Honda motored Bavarian Lunch box! Ha!!! It cannot be THAT good?! Or can it? 


Excuse the hijack. 
 

5 hours ago, mender said:

Dud you take the time after each incident to figure out a plan B for a better outcome?

 

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5 hours ago, Team Tbird said:

 I have a few of those books. And others. Just busting my own chops. And…..sending a shot across Nate’s Bow. If I can find a few drivers to go to RA I want to see what all the Fuss about a Honda motored Bavarian Lunch box! Ha!!! It cannot be THAT good?! Or can it? 


Excuse the hijack. 

I'm very tempted to come down there and find out myself... 

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Maybe we can work something out.

 

 

10 hours ago, mender said:

I'm very tempted to come down there and find out myself... 

Ah….most of the “incidents “ were arrogance on my part. Unwilling to concede racing real estate. Typical racing on bullrings. Now I did learn the others drivers involved excepted no responsibility no matter what. After a while I would ask myself “do I really want to take this beating” BEFORE I committed. Big wrecks hurt. Not just financially. 
‘Also crawling out of a burning car that is on its roof is not something one wants to do a lot of. Or…backing into a concrete wall at 100mph and come to a dead stop will put some sense into a driver. Hemorrhaging whites of your eyes scare a 5 year old daughter dramatically. She still reminds me of it 30 years later. 
‘My issues were not technical. It was to much manhood. No graph in the world can change that!!!! 

 

20 hours ago, mender said:

Did you take the time after each incident to figure out a plan B for a better outcome?

 

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15 hours ago, Team Tbird said:

Ah….most of the “incidents “ were arrogance on my part. Unwilling to concede racing real estate. Typical racing on bullrings. Now I did learn the others drivers involved excepted no responsibility no matter what. After a while I would ask myself “do I really want to take this beating” BEFORE I committed. Big wrecks hurt. Not just financially. 
‘Also crawling out of a burning car that is on its roof is not something one wants to do a lot of. Or…backing into a concrete wall at 100mph and come to a dead stop will put some sense into a driver. Hemorrhaging whites of your eyes scare a 5 year old daughter dramatically. She still reminds me of it 30 years later. 
‘My issues were not technical. It was to much manhood. No graph in the world can change that!!!! 

I've had a few incidents but I've been pretty lucky, mostly minor. No flips although I was expecting one when I went through the gravel sideways at Laguna after colliding with the other Fiero (!). Last fall I got really lucky when my stock fuel strap broke, allowing the fuel tank to drag, wear through, and spill about 15 gallons of fuel out in three laps with no fire.

 

On the oval, I mostly stayed out of trouble but wasn't afraid to stand my ground when someone tried to move me. I realized pretty quickly that winning required being on the track at the end of the race and that high risk/low reward moves were not conducive to podium finishes. And call me arrogant but I viewed the other drivers as nothing more than obstacles in the way of my next victory! The only one really worth racing was myself! ;)

 

Sounds like you learned from your experiences!

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