So you want to go fast like Ricky Bobby? Or maybe you just want two first names. Either way, everyone knows you’re either first or you’re last, and we’re here to make sure you’re never last. Forever.
On a more serious note, the purpose of these tips is to keep you safe if you do decide to drive fast; we’re neither condoning nor condemning it. So many accidents could have been prevented with some of these tips, so pay attention and share what you’ve learned with others.
Hitting the Apex of a Turn
When people refer to “hitting the apex” of a turn, they’re really referring to taking the quickest driving path through a turn. The apex of a turn is the point at which your car is closest to the edge of the road, which could technically be anywhere depending on your driving path. If you really want to be quick, you have to take the right path.
There are a few ways to accomplish this depending on the turn. For most turns, the quickest route is the widest one that allows you to maintain the highest speed safely. To execute this, approach and exit the turn at the widest angle you can (as pictured above). The sharper you turn the wheel, the harder you have to brake to maintain control. Imagine a string tied from your steering wheel to your gas pedal. As you turn, that string pulls the gas pedal up, but when the wheel is straight, the string has slack and the pedal can be floored.
The method pictured above works best when headed into a turn that leads into a straight away. Entering the turn late allows you to straighten the wheel earlier than the classic apex approach, therefore maximizing your acceleration time.
When to Brake and How
Braking is a huge part of racing. Knowing when, how long, and how hard to brake comes with time and practice, but there are some good tips you should know. For instance, professional drivers start braking hard before their turn and then trail off/coast as they make their turn. Then, just like the string example above illustrates, they start to accelerate as they turn the wheel straight.
Most professional drivers also keep their hands at 9 and 3 o’clock. Even while turning, no matter how twisted their arms get, they keep their hands at 9 and 3. This is because it helps them keep track of where their wheels are pointed. Just think about it next time you put your hands on the wheel.
Look Down the Road
Not down your hood. This, while difficult to explain, is a driving tip everyone can use. Looking as far as you can see down the road increases your total visibility, and makes driving feel more natural. We’re not sure why this works, but you’ll understand once you try it yourself.
A Final Word
Remember, you’re not Jeff Gordon. You’re just a person who now has a little more driving knowledge than you did when you read the title. If you want to become a better driver, these tips will help, but practice is your closest ally. Get out there and take your time exploring and getting to know your car – all according to the law, of course.