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Originally posted by Bill Strong

http://www.bellmotorsports.com/school.htm

By Bob Booth

DRIVER SCHOOL TIPS:
Highlights for first-timers and maybe something useful for you Pro's! .While mostly for the road or circle track racer there are many tips in here for straight liners, karters, ralliests, hill climbers, destruction derby racers, mud pullers, solo and autocrossers?.

GETTING READY . .
Driving school is an intense experience and thorough physical and mental preparation is essential. Thirty days before the first school session have your car ready for technical inspection and driving gear purchased. Try it on for fit and comfort, this will allow you time for exchanges, corrections, improvements and repairs. Physical, membership and entry forms should be in the mail. Leave nothing to the last minute, i.e., trailer, crew, replacement parts and tools. Make a check list. Keep a notebook of all technical information on your car and a list of phone numbers (day and night including weekends) for every machinist, welder, wrecker, parts house, dealer and owners of similar cars. Something is bound to break and it won't be one of the spares you carry. Study proper lines and braking techniques in the book, "Driving in Competition" by Alan Johnson or "Going Faster by the Skip Barber School staff. Scan the entire rule book and Supplementary Regulations. Be sure to read the section on flags and rules of the road until you know them by heart. Attend races, observe lines, technical inspection, tire pressures, registration - everything. It's a good idea to try to work on a pit crew of a similar car for a few races. ASK QUESTIONS. Knowing your way around, where Race Central is, how registration works and what the technical inspectors want is half the battle.

If you have purchased a prepared car - and it was reasonably competitive - make sure you get all suspension settings, tire pressures and tune data. If building from scratch, try to locate a similar competition car for basic spring rates, shock, bar and alignment settings. Use the same tires and pressures these settings call for. If possible, rent a track for a day and have a driver experienced with a similar car test for you. When he feels the car is neutral, leave it alone until you graduate. A properly set up race car only handles correctly at racing speeds, it will "push" otherwise as it is not in a "drift" mode. It will not feel "right" to you until you approach its limit. Then you can tinker, test and tune to your hearts desire! (During school you won't learn anything if every time out the car handles differently.) Learn to drive what you have, then change one thing at a time and see if it helps or hurts your lap time.

I recommend you use a stock, worn engine for school. While not as fast, it is dependable. This will allow you to learn to drive rather than play race mechanic trying to figure out why the car sputters on the straight and the super trick race plugs won't fire on a cold morning. Nothing is more upsetting than arriving at the track only to be told "the car isn't safe" and you can't race. Your car does not have to be legal for school, but it must be 100 percent safe. In fact, you may choose to take Grandma Minnie's DeSoto (with cage, belts, etc.) through school if your super trick race car isn't finished in time. Have a technical inspector (or a competitor with a similar car) come to your home and check everything so you have time to make corrections before school.
 

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Discussion Starter #2
The most common errors . . .
Battery not mounted firmly, terminals not insulated
Insufficient tire clearance due to suspension / body work
No fan (race cars overheat at low speeds ? may remove after school)
Restrictive fuel filter, Spark plugs too cold (try stock for school)
No captive washers on front suspension /rear radius rods
Inferior bolts (use at least grade 5 or grade 8 subjected to shear)
Unsoldered electrical wires, wires breaking from vibration (use tie downs)
Loose lug nuts, missing clamps on oit, fuel or water lines

I suggest you torque every bolt in the car. Apply a dab of yellow paint to the nut/thread juncture. As soon as something starts to loosen (and it will), the paint cracks and is visible. Another caution is do not use more than 50 percent coolant. It has a lower specific gravity than water and will not conduct heat as well causing overheating.

(I use 100 percent water in all my race engines, except showroom stock.) Redline Oil "water wetter" will also lower engine temperatures significantly.

Don't spend money on the latest trick slicks for school, get a reasonably fresh set of used tires- these will last longer and you will find they are more predictable. (Meaning, they won't stick like snot until the last .0001g and then throw you into the wall completely out of control with no chance of recovery.) Don't use tires that are so old or of a non-competitive brand that you become accustomed to no adhesion so when you get decent tires you're afraid to take them to the limit. Have full depth rain tires. (This appeases the Gods and means it won't rain.) If it does, be smart - slow down. The best advice here is you can't drift in the rain and braking should only be done in the straight. To prevent loosing acceleration adhesion, go up a gear so less torque is applied to the wheels. Brake as though there was a raw egg on the pedal. Rain racing is fun - just at a slower speed! If you forgot anti-fog for your visor borrow a cigarette, wet it, and rub on the inside.The nicotine will prevent fogging up.

Finally, take plenty of "pit" clothing for both the cold morning and hot afternoon - including a pair of moccasins to slip in and out of. Also, the one thing I always forget is enough rags. (Paper towels are handy too.) A water spray bottle is handy for cleaning visors, and to use as a "shower" for face and underarms after a hot session.

SCHOOL DAYS . . .
The night before your first track session get a good night's sleep. Concentration is a must. Walk the track and observe the "dark line." Know the turn-in, breaking, and shift points before your first on-track session. Any driver will feel honored to have you ask his opinion, but never believe everything he says. (Believe me, he breaks 50 feet sooner, uses third instead of fourth gear in "Kamikaze corner," and lifts when he says "flat out" (but his ego will not allow him to say so). When your instructor says, "brake here," add 100 feet the first time. Then, and only then, brake ONE foot deeper each and every lap thereafter until you feel uncomfortable. Keep this braking point until you're confident you can cut off another inch - then go by inches thereafter to the limit. This tip will allow you to learn the line, eliminate "brown underwear" syndrome, and make you the fastest driver by the end of school. The idea is to learn progressively. Don't try to be the fastest driver the first time out. In 15 years of teaching I've learned, the fastest driver the first session always totals his car before school's end. Remember, you can not finish school if your super trick, full bore engine explodes.

Every circuit has one turn that has a huge runoff area and nothing to hit. (You can spin to your heart's desire.) This is the only turn where you want to learn the limits of your car. In order to learn to go fast reasonably safely, make this turn scare you more than the others. Then, when you finally do loose it in your learning curve all that happens is a red face and a dirty car. This need not be the fastest turn on the track, you can experience the same thrill in second gear as in fourth.

Check everything after each session. (You will be in a critique session with your instructor so you must leave this to a trusted crew member.) Gas up, set tire pressures and check fluids ASAP, don't wait for the start of the next session. I always leave my helmet, gloves and neck collar in the car, as nothing is more frustrating than trying to find them after the five minute pre grid warning.
 

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Discussion Starter #3
ON A PERSONAL NOTE . . .
Take my hard-earned advice and always wear earplugs! After 25 years of racing (some of them in a rotary-engine car), I've reached middle age only to find out that I'm nearly deaf from race engines. After the fact, I've learned that every loud noise can degrade your hearing later in life. The condition is call "Tintinitis," a constant ringing in your ears that garbles normal conversation and creates an almost total inability to hear sounds above 3500 cps. This condition is not correctable by a hearing aid, nor is there currently any cure. The loss is cumulative with time and exposure and, it's irreversible! Earplugs can significantly reduce the damage and the danger of Tintinitis. So follow the simple instructions, Use them and keep your hearing!

Remember, everyone else is in the same learning curve you are and butterfly stomach is common, (you are not alone). Constipation from nerves will set in about three days before school begins. Eat plenty of apples, (you can't concentrate if you're full of s___). Do not wear underarm deodorant, your body keeps cool by sweating. Drink lots of fluids on hot days. Increased body temperature does strange things to the brain, and I believe accounts for a lot of late racing incidents caused by "brain fade." Another point - you can't concentrate with a full bladder and your lap belt cinched tight. Hit the outhouse 15 minutes before the start of every session. If you take a wife or girlfriend, let her know in advance you are there to learn. She is on her own to make friends with the other race widows, and is expected to be the number one gopher for parts, lunch and tools. My final advice is do not take children or pets, you will be irritable and have a short fuse.

You are joining the greatest group of people you'll ever hope to meet. I suggest you re-read this several times and then go have a ball!

Bob Booth, BELL Motorsports
 
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