“You either have to be on the brakes or the throttle” How many of you have heard this quote before from someone at the track? It seems to be one of the most commonly used pieces of advice from experienced drivers and instructors everywhere, but is it actually true?
While it may be a good piece of advice it actually leads most drivers down a bad path. There are a ton of different factors that go into driving racecars and on track we need a priority list in terms of what we are executing on from the driver seat. From our experience drivers often take this advice too far and sacrifice more important areas of their driving to try and accomplish this.
How Is It Taken Too Far?
When Blayze works with teaching drivers what their priorities are on track one of the very first things we look at and speak about is, where are they picking up the throttle? Forming the foundation of getting to the throttle in the correct spot is far more important than trying to always be either on the brakes or the throttle.
What we often see for beginners who first learn about needing to always be on either the brakes or the throttle is they are applying the throttle too early in the corner. Especially when they are taught “braking is done in a straight line always” which in our opinion should not be taught no matter a drivers level, it is just wrong.
In the beginning, most drivers will over slow the corner entry, that is totally fine except when it throws off their technique. Because they have been taught they always need to either be on the brakes or throttle and they usually feel too slow after turn in they then think they have to immediately get back on the throttle. See the problem here?
The intentions of telling drivers they should always be on the brakes or the throttle is good but we can see right away how the application of it is often incorrect.
How Should It Be Taught?
Step 1 - Correct Application Spot
The initial emphasis should not be on needing to be on one pedal or the other but instead on finding the correct spot to get to initial throttle application. It is totally okay to have a long coast period as you are learning, it is more important to build the correct foundation of picking up the throttle in the correct spot.
Where Should I Apply The Throttle?
Want to learn how to know where that correct initial throttle application spot is? Here is another one of our great free coaching articles
Coasting seems to be a negative word in most circles and while long coast periods is by no means the ultimate fastest way to drive it is far superior than braking totally in a straight line and immediately getting back to the throttle. In fact, at the pro level, we probably coast more than most would believe.
Step 2 - Lessen The Coast Time
Once the driver has the strong foundation of finding the correct initial throttle application spot then we can work on the second half of the braking zone. This is where we work on getting rid of that coast period by focusing on releasing that heavy brake pressure and slowly adding in trail braking.
Now we can use the phrase, “you want to try to always be either on the brakes or the throttle, BUT don’t let this effect where you are picking up the throttle.” If you notice that this leads drivers to start picking up throttle before the apex point again then you revert back to step one. The single most important thing here is to build the discipline of knowing where to pick that throttle up.
We hope this article is helpful and can help continue to improve our education system in this sport! We want to hear from you! What are some other typical phrases racecar driver coaches or instructors say that may not necessarily be true or are just flat out wrong?