Tip Sheet

5 Racing-school lessons you can use in daily driving

'Position is everything'
PHOTO: Matthew Galang

Who doesn’t dream of going to a motorsport driving workshop? Learning about racing lines and braking points is enough to have almost anyone feeling like they could be the next lead of a Fast and Furious film. Even the very word ‘motorsport’ evokes the sensation of speed, leading people to believe that joining such an activity will have them chucking a car around corners at unreasonable speeds.

In reality, what a racing school teaches is actually the opposite. Smoothness and efficiency are what’s important, not flat-out speed and mashing the accelerator as hard as you can.

The Automobile Association Philippines (AAP), in partnership with Mazda Philippines, invited us to participate in the first module of the AAP Motorsport Development Program (MSDP) for 2019, where local racing legend Vip Isada imparted some of his Yoda-esque wisdom on the ways of driving a car. 

Here are a few of Coach Vip’s lessons that work both on and off the racetrack:

1) Balance goes four ways.

Balancing the car from left to right is one of the first things Coach Vip teaches students.

The steering wheel is what the driver uses to balance the car from side to side. Another important concept that Coach Vip drilled into our eager minds is that the car also has to be balanced from front to back, this time with the gas and brake pedals controlling how much the car pitches toward both ends.

Once the concept of balance in four directions is mastered, you’ll be able to turn, stop and accelerate with butter-like smoothness.

2) Position is everything.

Before even starting the car, it’s important that you adjust your driver’s seat and steering wheel so that your body’s in the optimal driving position. When in the correct position, your muscles are relaxed. This means driving fatigue is significantly reduced.

A good rule of thumb is to make sure that when you stretch your arms out with a very slight angle, the steering wheel should be at a distance where your wrist bones will rest naturally on its top. This way, your arms will be much comfier.

3) Use your eyes.

Both in racing and in day-to-day driving, knowing how to use your eyes and what to look at will coax your body into responding the proper way. Making use of visual aids and parts of the road to gauge your braking points and turning points takes a lot of stress and guesswork out of driving.

4) Make full use of your brakes.

One thing that Coach Vip and MSDP instructors always seem to observe is that students are very conservative when it comes to braking. This leads to longer braking distances and slaughtered traffic cones.

As the instructors told us: “Mura lang naman brake pads.” It’s better to fully brake and use up one of the car’s consumable items than to brake halfheartedly and end up in an accident.

5) Learn to commit.

In any of the actions involved in driving a car, once you’ve started, you’ll almost immediately see results.

Turning the wheel, for example, has to be done in one complete motion. Turning the wheel a little bit and deciding to turn a bit more after that won’t work, as the first motion is what the car will follow. Trying to correct yourself mid-motion, like when braking, results in jerky, kadyot-like movement from the car.

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PHOTO: Matthew Galang
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