Archive for August, 2011

Speed Secrets

Posted on August 15, 2011. Filed under: Book Reviews |

While looking for some new and interesting quotes for TypeRacer, I stumbled upon a book called Speed Secrets: Professional Race Driving Techniques by Ross Bentley.  Although this book will not win any prizes for writing style, it’s a very practical and enlightening manual for anyone who wants to become a good race car driver.  While flipping through its pages, lots of Ross Bentley’s advice jumped out as being relevant to any form of racing, including our favorite kind – typeracing!

I wanted to share some quotes from this book with you: perhaps they will help you improve your own racing performance as you’re typing those same quotes on typeracer 😉

In most cases, there is more to be gained by maximizing the performance of the driver than tricking out the car. The most important factor is the driver, the ultimate control system of a race car.

If you want to drive a race car well, whether to win an Indy car racer or just have fun competing in the middle of the pack in an amateur race, you must be seated properly in the car. First of all, you must be comfortable, otherwise it will be overly tiring and very difficult to concentrate. Many races have been lost simply because a driver lost concentration due to discomfort from a poorly fitted seat.

Being comfortable in the car is critical. If you’re not comfortable, it will not only take more physical energy to drive, but it will also affect you mentally. A painful body will reduce your concentration level.

I often see racers, particularly at the back of the pack in amateur races, trying to go fast, with their arms flailing around, banging off shifts, jerking the steering into a turn with feet stabbing at the pedals — the car usually in massive slides through the turns. It may feel as fast and even look fast, but I’ll guarantee it’s not. If the driver would only slow down, the car would actually go faster. It reminds me of the saying, “never confuse movement for action.”

The less you do with the controls, the less chance of error. Steer, shift, and use the pedals smoothly, and with finesse – not with blinding speed and brute force. The slower you move, the faster the car moves.

Sometimes you concentrate more on racing the cars around you, rather than focusing on what you need to do. Having said that, some drivers actually perform best when there is a little extra incentive – like chasing another car. Plus, you may be able to get a good draft off the car in front. But be careful you don’t get too caught up in what the competition is doing. Focus on your own performance rather than on the competition.

Look and think as far ahead as possible. Often, a driver’s natural reaction is to look at the wall or the point you’re just about to get to. That’s not enough. You won’t drive a smooth, flowing line if you don’t look far ahead. And looking well ahead, and concentrating on getting to where I’m looking, seems to really help me.

We often believe the more we practice a skill or technique – over and over again, many times – the better we’ll get. This is not necessarily true. Experience is not always all that it’s cracked up to be. In fact, every time you practice a technique incorrectly, you’re increasing your chances of doing it wrong again. It’s easy to become very experienced at repeating the same mistakes. Practice doesn’t make perfect; only perfect practice makes perfect.

So don’t practice too much at first, or you’re likely to develop incorrect patterns or movements. Instead, begin with a few laps, maintaining intense concentration and motivation. Continue practicing only while concentration and interest are strong. If you begin to repeat an error, or if your concentration or attention starts to fade, if you start to become casual, then stop. Clear your head, get your concentration and motivation back, then go again.

Races are not won in the first corner; however, they are often lost there. It’s usually best to run as quick as you can for the first few laps, then settle into a comfortable, consistent pace – all the while ready to take advantage of any opportunity to pass. Never turn down an opportunity to pass – you may not get it again.

Most races are decided in the last 10 percent of the race.

Never give up, no matter how far behind you are, no matter how unlikely it seems you will catch your competitor in front of you. Keep pushing until the checkered flag falls. How many times have you seen the leader of a race have a mechanical problem with only a few laps to go? You will never be able to take advantage of their problems if you are not close. You have to be close to take advantage of luck.

— Ross Bentley, Speed Secrets: Professional Race Driving Techniques

I hope you enjoy typing these new quotes as much as I enjoyed reading them. And remember, if you find any interesting quotes you’d like me to add to the rotation, please contribute!

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