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Old 11th December 2008, 17:51   #1
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Default Essential Guide: To driving fast!

From when I was a little boy, I used to wonder if driving fast only involved pressing the A pedal as further down as possible and seeing the speedo climb. Now after a couple of years I just figured its actually quite far from just that.

Often, we have had people say they drive really fast, but is driving fast that easy? No, I don't think so. Its an art, that has no perfection. Its a talent, that not everyone is born with. Its certainly not for the faint hearted.

In my limited experience of driving, give and take around 1.5 lakh kms in a period of 4 years I have driven all sorts of cars, at all sorts of speeds, on all sorts of roads to figure out what it takes to be able to drive fast, confidently and most importantly, safely. Here is my take on this subject, if your views are different kindly feel free to put them across.

To begin with, in our minds we all think we can drive really fast. That if given a chance we could be right up there with Michael Schumacher, but truth is most of us are far from that. The first essential rule to fast driving is:

1. Know your physical limitations: Many of us are faint hearted. Accept the fact if you are one. Like they say its better to be safe, than sorry.

- Always do speeds you are comfortable with. Remember, never compete with a fellow road user if you aren't comfortable. It could lead to disastrous results.

- Never drive when you are sleepy or under influence. Reflexes tend to slow down, concentration is at its weakest. Let alone driving fast, one musn't take the wheel even if you are just going to cruise @ 10kmph while you can barely keep your eyes open.

- When you are driving fast, one needs to concentrate a lot harder. Reflexes must be sharp. As speeds increase so should the field of vision. One must look a lot further into the horizon.

- Anticipation skill: One must be able to anticipate how other road users will move/react given a particular circumstance. Always think one step ahead, take precautions necessarily and preferably well in advance. Never wait till the last minute to react. The saying, better late than never doesn't apply here.

- Calm mind: While driving fast, one must have a calm mind. Once you start to panic, your thought process gets fuzzy, you tend to commit mistakes that you would normally never do. For eg: When you panic, the first thing most people do is "sit on the brakes". What this does is, locks up your brakes and doesn't allow you to control the direction of the car. How many of us remember to release the brakes when the tires lock up? And try to steer the car out of danger? Or modulate the braking to ensure safe stopping? Very few do, most of us panic.

- When you are in a group and are driving fast, always take sometime to know how the other person drives. Get to know how he brakes or accelerates. Most importantly watch if he is smooth with the steering or likes abusing the steering a lot. The most important factor to driving fast in a group is to know how your fellow mates drive, once you can judge how a person will react to a particular situation, it gets a lot safer. This judgement can come only with time and by having a keen eye.

- Use common sense and follow least risk path method: Just because someone zipped past you doesn't mean you take unwanted, unnecessary risks to catch up with him. Choose the least risk path, by this I mean if you think there is just enough gap for you to squeeze between a truck and a divider DO NOT TAKE IT! Instead, slow down till you have a safe passage and then try to make up for the time in the safest way possible. Remember, if you were slowed down by traffic, there is a good chance the other person might get slowed down due to traffic too.

- It is imperative to know the roads well before you start to drive fast on them. Knowing the road demography, where to brake, when to accelerate, how sharp a corner is goes a long way in helping you drive fast and safe.

- Never be over confident that you will not crash or make a mistake.

- My sincere suggestion is to make a trip to the track atleast once to be able to learn the knack of driving fast. Trust me, track is the only place where one can touch the limits of the car and himself without risking others life.

- A good driver is one who knows where the limitations of his car and himself are. Once you know these limitations you are a far better driver than you earlier were. Best way to learn to drive fast, is to lose it once to know these limits.

Once you have realized your own limitations, its time to understand the limitations of the car.

2. Know the limitations of your car: Not every car is meant for high speed driving. Take time to know if your car is built for it. To be able to drive fast one must realize that it is important for a car to meet the following criteria:

- Ability to accelerate quickly: As silly as this sounds, it is very important. Often I have noticed that people take unwanted risks to test the top speeds of their cars just to see what it can do. Remember, the longer it takes, the more risk one is taking with traffic around. I know some who just wont give up and take unnecessary risks till their goal is reached. If you have a car that accelerates quicky, you will reach your goal quicker, and probably will ease up a bit once that goal is achieved.

- Brakes: One of the most important factors for fast driving is to have good brakes. Anyone can go fast, given the time & space, but to be able to stop in time is what is MORE IMPORTANT. Its brilliant to hit top speeds, but would it be of any use if you were to end up crashing into a truck? Or a pole? Check your brakes peridically, change brake pads as and when necessary. Never neglect brakes, in the end brakes are what save your life.

Contrary to what most people believe, ABS helps a lot in fast driving. It prevents us from making the most common human error. Sitting on the brakes and locking up the tires. So if your car has an ABS option and you are one of those who drive fast, kindly take it. You won't regret it later. Anything, anyone else says is all rubbish.

In case you do not have a car equipped with ABS, kindly remember this rule. Never panic and lock your tires. Always keep in mind to release the brakes and see if you can steer the car to safety or learn to brake well in advance.

- Suspension: Suspension plays as important a role as brakes while driving fast. If one is just driving fast in a straight line, suspension plays minimum role. But trying taking a corner at high speeds, you will know how important it is to have a good suspension setup. To be able to take a corner quickly, what a good suspension should do is to keep body roll to its minimum and keep the rear end from stepping out. If your suspension setup is not upto the mark, you can get your springs stiffened or go for height, damping adjustable suspension kits.

Tires: Tires play as important a role as brakes do. Remember the only form of contact between the car and the road is tires. Respect that, if you want to be safe & quick. Softer compounds give you tremendous grip while at the same time they have less life. If you are one of those who drives fast, do not compromise on tire compound to longetivity of tires. In trying to make sure tires long laster, you might end up shortening your own life. A complete NO NO!

Vehicle dynamics: Remember how weight trasfer takes place on a car. When you accelerate, the front end lifts, pushing all the weight to the rear. Similarly when you brake, all the weight comes to the front. When driving fast, if you approach a corner too fast, remember never to brake hard into a corner. Because what happens is, the weight transfers to the front, the rear end of the car being very light will tend to step out and hence you lose control of the car. Best remedy is to, brake early and start accelerating through a corner.

Engine Braking: Remember, the quickest way to stop is to use a combination of engine braking along with the B pedal. It ensures you are always in control of the vehicle. Contrary to what most people think, engine braking is one factor that could improve your braking distances by miles. Don't bother about what damage it could do for your engine, bother about your life. Engine braking is something that will not come to everyone through instinct. It needs practise.

Kindly remember that to be able to drive fast and safely its important to keep all these points in mind. Like I mentioned before, after following all these points too one is not GUARANTEED that you will get away by driving fast all the time. Driving fast is an art, that has no perfection.

PS: If I have missed out on any points kindly feel free to add them to the list.

PS2: Kindly request all the members to contribute to this thread technically. All comments like do we really need to drive fast? How can you drive fast on Indian roads? Are you nuts? What do you get by driving fast etc can be reserved for another thread. Kindly request you all to co-operate.
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Old 11th December 2008, 18:03   #2
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Quote:
Originally Posted by mclaren1885 View Post
When you are in a group and are driving fast, always take sometime to know how the other person drives. Get to know how he brakes or accelerates. Most importantly watch if he is smooth with the steering or likes abusing the steering a lot. The most important factor to driving fast in a group is to know how your fellow mates drive, once you can judge how a person will react to a particular situation, it gets a lot safer. This judgement can come only with time and by having a keen eye.
I don't know whether to laugh or cry at this particular point. When I did this on the Yelagiri drive, people pounced on me saying that I was blaming the new drivers for my slow driving. I was even accused of assessing new drivers and apparently I had no right to do it. Poor new drivers. And now you have yourself said the exact same thing that I have been saying all along. So was I right or wrong on Sunday?

PS: Actually I think I will laugh.
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Old 11th December 2008, 18:04   #3
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my 2 cents

If you enjoy driving fast - build up pace over a period of time. for e.g first get comfortable driving at speed - X and then try speeds like x+10 and so on

being faint hearted may not necessarily be a "physical limitation" - but then its something you can get over slowly by doing the above

field of vision - COMPULSORILY GOES DOWN AS YOU GO FASTER. as you go faster, it becomes narrower and narrower
so there is NO WAY one can increase field of vision as you go faster
...BUT YES - you need to increase your concentration by leaps and bounds to make up for that decreasing field of vision

Last edited by narayan : 11th December 2008 at 18:05.
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Old 11th December 2008, 18:08   #4
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Quote:
Originally Posted by vikram_d View Post
I don't know whether to laugh or cry at this particular point. When I did this on the Yelagiri drive, people pounced on me saying that I was blaming the new drivers for my slow driving. I was even accused of assessing new drivers and apparently I had no right to do it. Poor new drivers. And now you have yourself said the exact same thing that I have been saying all along. So was I right or wrong on Sunday?

PS: Actually I think I will laugh.
Boss what I said is don't "BLAME" new drivers for you to drive slow. If you really want to drive fast "get ahead" of all of them and kindly do speed. That said, if you do not appreciate someones driving, walk upto him and tell him so face to face. Rather than making a general statement referring to all on a thread. That was my point. Coming to the point I made here, I said to drive fast "in a group" you need to know the others. Since you did not wish to "drive FAST in a group" like the RS, elantra, SX4 were doing keeping a safe distance behind the other that rule doesn't apply to what you were pointing out to on the other thread.

Quote:
Originally Posted by narayan
field of vision - COMPULSORILY GOES DOWN AS YOU GO FASTER. as you go faster, it becomes narrower and narrower
so there is NO WAY one can increase field of vision as you go faster
I meant as you go faster, you need to look that much more into the distance as you will catch up with the objects in no time. Maybe I phrased it wrong. Thanks for correcting.

Last edited by mclaren1885 : 11th December 2008 at 18:13.
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Old 11th December 2008, 18:24   #5
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Quote:
Originally Posted by mclaren1885 View Post
Boss what I said is don't "BLAME" new drivers for you to drive slow. If you really want to drive fast "get ahead" of all of them and kindly do speed. That said, if you do not appreciate someones driving, walk upto him and tell him so face to face. Rather than making a general statement referring to all on a thread. That was my point.
Where did I ever "BLAME" them. Did I ever tell you or anybody else that "oh that stupid new driver did not let me overtake and hence I was slow". All I said was I am not going to drive fast with 30+ cars and 30+ drivers whose driving style I am not familiar with. I appreciated everybody's driving.

Infact all the new people drove extremely well. The time when I hit 180 I overtook a couple of vehicles and they all let me go without causing any problems.

Quote:
Originally Posted by mclaren1885 View Post
Coming to the point I made here, I said to drive fast "in a group" you need to know the others.
I was also saying the exact same thing. "To drive fast in a group you need to know the others".

Quote:
Originally Posted by mclaren1885 View Post
Since you did not wish to "drive FAST in a group" like the RS, elantra, SX4 were doing keeping a safe distance behind the other that rule doesn't apply to what you were pointing out to on the other thread.
What would you define as fast and what would you define as slow? I think this rule would apply to driving at any speed, be it fast or slow. What makes you say that since I was cruising at 100 - 140 this rule does not apply to me.

Last edited by vikram_d : 11th December 2008 at 18:31.
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Old 11th December 2008, 18:36   #6
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Good informative post, other expert fast drivers please add/correct mclaren's post.
It will indeed help new drivers who want to be 'Fast 'N Furious'.

Rahul, could you elaborate the technique of engine braking for the uninitiated?
Regards,
Hari.

PS.
All said and done, I'd like the knowledge, but I'd rather remain way behind the pack.

Last edited by Lukeskywalker : 11th December 2008 at 18:37.
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Old 11th December 2008, 18:42   #7
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At the risk of going OT, this seems to be more about driving a fast car rather than driving a car fast. Say, some might consider driving a car at 50 kmph in the mountains as driving fast!

When I saw the topic I was actually expecting a "quick" guide...like tips about changing gears, foot work and weight transfers!
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Old 11th December 2008, 18:55   #8
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Watashi - This thread is just about driving any car fast and what to do and what not to do while driving fast.
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Old 11th December 2008, 21:49   #9
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Vikram, unless you are trying to point out that your car in only powerful enough to be driving in a "group" with stock-mildly modded swifts, zens, esteems, baleno's, city's etc your theory really doesn't hold good. Knowing how powerful your TCed swift is, I doubt most other cars would be able to catch up with yours or keep you company for most part of the journey once you go past them.

For eg, if you overtook the other 2 swifts at full pelt, would they be able to keep up with you? The answer is NO. Once you are past them, does it really matter to know them? You will be seeing those two cars for probably a few seconds after which you would have disappeared from their sight. Unless you chose to drive at similar speeds keeping the other two swifts within 5ft of each other to your car I don't see why you should fret about these new drivers. Thats the point I am trying to make.

When I said "driving fast in a group" I mean x number of cars all driving together at full pelt maintaining the same distance between them or closing down the gap on the other. When you drive together in a "closed bunch", it helps to know who drives how. When you just go past a few cars with your added boost and don't have a chance to see them closing in on you again, I doubt it helps to know how the driver of that car you just zipped past drives because he will never be near your car again. Get the point? Or is this the effect of too much KF ? According to your theory, you should never speed again. Because almost every car, bus, lorry, truck driver is "new" to you. But I doubt, you would slow down so much as to say I contained myself from not driving fast because they were new to me. What you would do is go past them, forget them and continue driving your way.

If you look back at your posts you indicated that you didn't drive fast because of new drivers around your car. My point is, if you "wanted" to drive at full pelt why didn't you get past all these slower (comparatively to your car) and then be in the group that the elantra's, RS, SX4 were in? Like you yourself agreed on the other thread, you normally don't drive fast enough over a long duration, just short bursts of high speeds. We appreciate that, lets stick to that FACT shall we than derailing this thread?

PS: I have already quoted all the "excuses" you gave for not driving fast on the other thread. Would not like to repeat myself here.

Quote:
Originally Posted by watashi75 View Post
When I saw the topic I was actually expecting a "quick" guide...like tips about changing gears, foot work and weight transfers!
That forms the next installment. Right now its just the basics to begin with.

Last edited by Rehaan : 12th December 2008 at 17:43. Reason: Posts merged. Please use the EDIT button to add to an existing post within 20 minutes instead of posting another consecutive post.
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Old 11th December 2008, 21:59   #10
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I am not a fast driver. Having said that, I'd much rather drive a car with good acceleration; I may only want to drive at 30MPH, but I don't want to spend all day getting there!

However, I can really relate to the comments about engine braking. One could generalise by saying that one should always, at any given moment, be in the right gear. This is to do with both having a good feeling for your car and how to handle both acceleration and deceleration and also having good anticipation and observation of the conditions. If this is not instinctive, it should be learnt and practised until it is ---Even for us slow drivers!
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Old 11th December 2008, 22:29   #11
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mclaren, I hope you can provide some info about various situations one can get into when driving enthusiastically and methods on how to get out of them safely during your future installments (things like getting the tail back in line in case it steps out, how FWD and RWD cars handle differently and how they behave to different extreme steering/throttle input etc).

It would help us folks who don't have a track to go to nearby to test things out like that.

That said, thank you very much for the info. Looking forward to more!
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Old 11th December 2008, 22:35   #12
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Quote:
Originally Posted by mclaren1885 View Post

Engine Braking: Remember, the quickest way to stop is to use a combination of engine braking along with the B pedal. It ensures you are always in control of the vehicle. Contrary to what most people think, engine braking is one factor that could improve your braking distances by miles. Don't bother about what damage it could do for your engine, bother about your life. Engine braking is something that will not come to everyone through instinct. It needs practise.
How exactly does engine breaking work ? Im sorry im a newbie and google dint turn up good!
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Old 11th December 2008, 22:36   #13
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One thing that all need to be very careful about is using clutch while driving fast. I have noticed many people with a tendency to depress C pedal at the first sight of a disruption in their path, much before B pedal. Realize that this is a very dangerous thing to do especially when driving fast as it will negate the effect of engine braking and could possibly result in loss of control.

Last edited by appuchan : 11th December 2008 at 22:37.
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Old 11th December 2008, 22:36   #14
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what about wearing seat belt? That would be pretty important as well especially while driving 'fast'
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Old 11th December 2008, 22:42   #15
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I think this engine braking thing is overrated, at least for diesels
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