Instructor Pages: Slowing A Student Down

Published: July 29, 2014

Sometimes you would have a driver who enters corners too quickly, but not with correct technique.

Rev Limit

First thing I did was restrict my student to a 5,000 rpm redline. A number around 3/4 of the car's actual redline works well. For example, in a 6,000 max rpm V8 this would give a 2.000 to 4,000 rpm usable range.

Imposing a rev limit has several benefits besides the obvious. First, I don't know about everyone but at least I feel more relaxed when driving at lower rpms. This helps to put the student into learning (listening, accepting) mode. Second, precise timing of shifts is not as important because the driver is not "going fast". As a result, some of the mental bandwidth used for shifting is now available for considering the line and reference points. Third, the number of downshifts is reduced. For example, shifts into second gear stop happening. Partially this is because of redline itself, partially because the driver is, again, not "going fast" therefore it's pointless to try to shift the car to eek every last bit of speed out of 2/3 the normal redline.

Altogether the artificial rev limit makes room in the driver's brain to intake new concepts. The second part is deciding which concepts to put in.

Reference Points

I concentrated on giving the driver reference points in every corner, but even more than offering reference points I wanted the driver to see and look for them on their own. Not only is being able to find reference points a handy trait for all drivers, and especially solo ones, thinking about reference points makes the driver concentrate on reference points rather than the gas pedal.

To accomplish this, I startes by giving the driver some reference points - a patch in this corner, a tire mark in another. Then I asked the driver to call out reference points they were going to use for braking and turning in each corner as soon as they thought about the respective points. I insisted that points be specifically and precisely identified - "turn here" was not acceptable, "the big patch" was. The goal with specific reference point identification, again, was to take the driver's mind off speed and concentrate it on reference points.

Smoothness

With reference points in place, we could start working on smoothness. A smooth turn essentially requires beginning the turn earlier and executing the steering wheel rotation over longer distance. I could simply instruct the driver to begin a turn one foot earlier, given their established reference point, and smoothness would naturally ensue.

Consistency

Reference points and smoothness naturally lead to consistency.

I do not have a recipe at this time to work on consistency itself. Often instrutors, myself included, just say "you need to work on consistency" but do not say how to do that. "Reference points plus smoothness" is the best strategy for working on consistency I have so far.