Sunday, December 14, 2008

Smoothness counts in a MINI Cooper

When you have an opportunity to ride with a very good driver, you’re bound to be impressed with how smoothly they drive, especially in the transitions from acceleration to braking, and into and out of turns. We didn’t say these transitions were done slowly; we said they should be done smoothly. In advanced driving classes, the instructor will be telling you to “roll on to” the brake and “roll on to” the accelerator.

To develop that smoothness yourself, as you drive pretend that there is a cup sitting on the dashboard, filled to the brim with water. Try to make your transitions and the consequent weight transfers as smooth as possible so that not a drop splashes out of your imaginary cup as you accelerate, brake, and turn.

At the very least, your passengers will enjoy the ride much more if they’re not being thrown around, and we guarantee your smoothness will make you a better driver, staying safer on the streets and becoming faster on the track.

Did we mention that the position of your head also matters in how well you drive your MINI around the corners? That may seem silly, but in fact most driving instructors can tell a lot about how well a student is driving just by looking at the direction of their head. This all comes back to the point made in the last chapter. To drive well, you must look and think way ahead of where you are.

When you’re driving into, through, and out of a corner, you should be looking as far ahead as you can see. It’s a proven principle that the car will go where you are looking. If you’re looking straight down the racing stripes on your hood, you are unconsciously going to be steering in that direction as well.

So as you come up to the corner, look around the corner as far as you can see. When you start to exit the corner, instead of looking straight ahead at the curbing ahead of you, you should be looking as far past the exit and down the road as you can see. This focus ahead gives your arms and hands the information they need to steer your car around the corner efficiently.

Focusing ahead also insures that should an obstacle appear by surprise as you round the corner, you’ll have as much time as possible to react to it. Keep your head up and your vision focused far ahead and your speed into and out of the corner will be improved, not to mention your safety.

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