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Tuesday, July 11, 2006


Driving with your ears

A few glitches with the boards at Absolute Write had temporarly held up the third round of the AWChain. Now I'm picking up where Matt Dinniman left off, talking about Tae Kwon Do. I also took that sport when I was in elementary school, but I never got to do any of the chicken fighting that he talks about. This game, where combatants stand on one leg and try to knock each other over, requires one ability that is also very important to race car driving: Balance.

Carroll Smith mentions that great race car drivers have an excellent sense of balance briefly in Drive to Win, but he doesn't really elaborate much on why this is important. This may just be that he figures anyone with experience at driving a race car will know why. I'm just a wannabe when it comes to driving race cars, but it didn't take me long to learn.

I would say that one of the key reasons a sense of balance helps is that it allows you to gauge whether your car is starting to misbehave. In normal street driving, your car goes more or less where you point it. When pushing a car to its limits on a race track or autocross circuit, though, you're likely to feel the car starting to slide around. Usually street tires will also make a lot of squealing, but this isn't necessarily true with race tires. And often, the biggest clue that your car is beginning to slide doesn't quite seem to be what you see, as much as what you feel. You just feel that the car is starting to rotate in an odd way, that the back end is coming around or the car is going sideways.

This skill can also be useful for street driving on icy pavement or other times you run out of traction.

I've sometimes thought that one reason I often have trouble with racing video games is that they can't replicate this. Even with the force-feedback controls that you'll see at an arcade, there is no way to give the driver the sensation that the car on the screen is starting to slip. Video games take away one of the most important senses in racing. It's not quite like driving blindfolded, but sometimes it almost feels that way.

Now I'm passing the AW Chain torch to Kelly Curtis, whose blog happens to be called "Pass the Torch."

My son loves videogames. But he forgot his Gameboy in Georgia a few months ago. Oooops.

My husband would love your blog - I'll bring him by sometime.
My husband has gotten be addicted to F-1. I always thought it was just a bunch of good looking men driving real fast. The intricacies are FASCINATING!

You know if someone invented a video game that DID make that slipping feeling, can you imagine how much money they'd make!! Hell, real race car drivers could use it to train with!!

That should be "gotten ME addicted"...
I know the feeling. Of slipping off the road, that is. :) I learned to drive in northern Alberta where the winters are more than six months of the year... Hick towns, which we lived in primarily, tend to not have snow plows, and you're lucky if they salt the main road. Driving tends to be... interesting. Well, and ya learn to carry spare blankets, water, antifreeze, oil, brake fluid, jumper cables, wrenches, dry food, gloves, winter boots and the like in yer trunk... :D

It gets even more funner (yep, that's grammatically correct, that is) when you're driving in the mountains, can't see over the top of the hill, and you hit a patch of black ice and hope you don't wander over to the edge of the road to plumment 250 feet or more...

Ah, yes, living in Sri Lanka is quite nice. :D
One of my sisters decided to keep her kids away from TV during their formative years. So they played car racing games on the computer instead. There is something addictive about cars going fast, even on a screen.
Never thought of balance in connecting with driving but it makes sense. Which explains a great deal about why both my daughter and I had issues with learing to drive and we are both about as greaceful as washing machines.
I stink at racing video games. I either run off the road and crash or hit something like a sign or another car. Maybe it's a good thing I don't have a driver's license.
That's funny- from martial arts to race-car driving...you guys are channeling my husband here! He's a blackbelt in karate though- no Tae Kwon Do for him- and his dream job is to test-drive cars. Humph. Men. :)
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