Page 34 - PCA Metro NY Region POST April 2018
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Track Ramblings Conitnued
-- you de-clutch as usual with the left foot and then give a little rev matching jab on the gas pedal with the heel of the right foot as you shift down and then let off the clutch pedal. If you do it properly you have continued braking at full intensity and matched the engine revs so that you get a smooth downshift.
If that all sounds complicated, you should be thankful that you aren’t driving a car made pri- or to 1952 which is when the synchronized (“syn- chromesh”) gearbox, invented by Dr. Porsche himself, was first made available to the public in the Porsche 356. [It had been utilized by the WW2 German military in the Kubelwagen often seen in WW2 movies, which was a derivative of the Porsche-designed Volkswagen.] In those an- cient days if you wanted to downshift without causing a loud possibly damaging crunch to emanate from the gearbox, you had to “double clutch”. Double clutching is much more compli- cated than heel & toe. Here are the steps: Say you are in 4th gear approaching a 3rd gear turn. (1) Declutch and shift from 4th gear into neu- tral; (2) Re-engage the clutch by letting off the clutch pedal; (3) apply gas to match the revs as explained above; (4) declutch and shift from neutral into 3rd gear; (5) Re-engage the clutch; (6) step on the gas and motor away. And of course if you want a good lap time you’d bet- ter use heel & toe technique during that entire process. The synchromesh gearbox is one of the very important contributions of Dr. Porsche to modern civilized society.
A piece of trivia: You may have wondered, (but likely not!) why the full name of the mostly self- taught Dr. Porsche, is often shown as “Dr. Ing. h.c. F. Porsche”. The ‘Dr Ing.’ part means that Ferdi- nand was a doctor of engineering. It’s the ‘h.c’ part which is interesting. It is an abbreviation for the Latin ‘honoris causa’ which means “for the sake of honor”. Academic degrees “honoris causa” are granted to people who did not fulfill the requirements of the degree but whose ac- complishments merit the granting of the degree. Ferdinand definitely was worthy of the degree. Practice, practice, practice
Obviously, you won’t improve in any activity un- less you put time into the activity. (That’s why my piano playing doesn’t improve much.) But
just sitting down at the keyboard or driving laps at the track won’t turn you into Horowitz or Hamilton. Seat time alone will not automatically cause improvement – in fact, it may serve only to cement bad habits.
”Purposeful Practice” is the concept of taking an overall goal, such as “I want faster lap times”, breaking down this overall goal into its compo- nents (such as “brake later”, “don’t coast”, “use the full width of the track”), and focusing on im- proving the components one by one. It is gen- erally recognized that we can’t focus on too many things at once. Consequently we should try to master one thing at a time and then prog- ress to the next one.
There is nothing wrong with simply attending DE events, enjoying being on the track, driving at more than 100mph (legally!!) in your wonderful Porsche and talking to track buddies about the experience. That is a perfectly valid way to at- tend our events.
On the other hand, if you want to improve and get promoted to higher run groups, perhaps graduate to racing, and generally be as good at this activity as possible, it takes effort to learn the skills. You can drive a track 100 days, but you won’t become really good at it unless you put in the effort to learn the craft of track driving. I have mentioned the ‘Speed Secrets Weekly’ ( email blast from Ross Bentley. Each one discusses a specific concept or method. I recommend that you subscribe if you’d like to learn what’s on the mind of top drivers and coaches. Even more important, though, is how you use your track time. Make a goal for every session, such as “I will work on hitting the turn-in, apex and track-out points on every lap” and concentrate specifically on that goal. These goals should be bite-sized and re- alistically achievable to you at that moment in your development. It would not be realistic to set a goal of “I want to hit the track-out marker at the top of the Watkins Glen esses at 160mph”, unless you are in a 911 Turbo S and are already a top-level racer. It would be realistic to have a goal at those esses of being full throttle the whole way up the hill.
I’ll see you at the track. You can always contact me at [email protected]

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