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Old 11 Jul 2000, 16:33 (Ref:22575)   #1
KC
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KC should be qualifying in the top 5 on the gridKC should be qualifying in the top 5 on the grid
Autoweek recently asked four current Winston Cup drivers what makes a good road racer. Each of those asked are good at racing a WC car on the road course and each have different racing backgrounds.

Ricky Rudd, driver of the #28 Texaco Havoline Ford Taurus: "Really, oval tracks and road courses are two different things. Being an excellent oval track racer does not make you a good road racer. You could be a scratch golfer, but that does not mean you can swing a baseball bat. They're different skills. It's not the turning left and right. Braking is one part of it. On the ovals everyone brakes with their left foot. So do I. But on a road course you need to be able to brake with your right foot and some people just can't adapt quickly. I's like asking someone who's right-handed to be left-handed for one week of the year and instantly be perfect at it. It's hard. It's a knack. You need to be aggressive with these cars but not put it out there too far. The esses here at Sears Point are like running through the sticks in a downhill ski slalom. You can watch guys really hang it out in the gates and throw up a lot of snow. It looks fast, but really they're just scrubbing off all their speed."

Mark Martin, driver of the #6 Valvoline Ford Taurus: "Oval racing is a repetitive skill that can be learned. Road racing is a talent. I was a good road racer before I ever drove in a road race. It's really no different than back home when I was 14. Road racing is just driving as fast as you can and keeping it between the ditches."

When asked if it took any more discipline or skill to save the brakes or tires during a road race in a WC car he replied: "Not really. If that's a problem, you're probably not doing it right. You'll use up the tires long before the brakes, and if you're abusing the tires you're probably slow anyway. I've been doing this a long time. Fast is fast, the way I see it."

Jerry Nadeau, holds 10 karting titles, and raced in the Barber Pro series, and European Formula Ford and Formula Opel before switching to WC cars: "These are not road race cars. They're really heavy and don't stop very well. They have a lot of horsepower with very little tire under them. You can't get off the corners, and you can't get in the corners. You slide around a lot. Everybody just come shere and does the best they can with them, drives hard and has fun. Sear's Point is a race driver's race track. I like to think if we do have any advanatge here, it's that the track makes the cars more even, and the driver counts more here than other places."

Robby Gordon, multiple desert truck racing champion and former CART champ car driver: "The road course specialists might come in and cut quick qualifying laps, but they can't beat a deep, established Cup team in the race. Our team just doesn't have the experience to be able to win yet. There are too many drivers who can win here... Rudd, Wallace, Martin, Jeff Gordon, the list goes on. There are more all the time. Jerry Nadeau and Scott Pruett have adapted quickly. Nothing in CART crosses over to this. The spring and shock changes apply somewhat, that's about it."

Each driver answered differently and each are rigth in their perspective. An interesting perspective from four very different drivers.

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Old 11 Jul 2000, 17:44 (Ref:22586)   #2
Joe Fan
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Joe Fan should be qualifying in the top 5 on the gridJoe Fan should be qualifying in the top 5 on the grid
I have in my possesion by way of a friend, interviews from all the road racers that attempted to qualify at Indy in 1967, on what they thought of racing on ovals and Indianapolis. There are some watershed comments in these interviews. I would love to post them but I am thinking of weaving them into an article. However, I will divulge one of them by Bob Bondurant. He said "A racer is a racer." and something to the extent that it doesn't matter what series you are from, the top drivers can make the transition to any type of racing given enough time.
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Old 11 Jul 2000, 19:37 (Ref:22594)   #3
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Joe Fan should be qualifying in the top 5 on the gridJoe Fan should be qualifying in the top 5 on the grid
One other thing, I never had given it much thought is that I brake with my right foot. I don't know if this had anything to do with me starting out driving manual transmission cars or what. What about everyone else?

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Old 11 Jul 2000, 20:32 (Ref:22603)   #4
Joe Fan
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Joe Fan should be qualifying in the top 5 on the gridJoe Fan should be qualifying in the top 5 on the grid
Well, my wife who has never driven anything but automatics, brakes with her right foot too so I would assume that everyone else does--too many feet in the way. Now, I guess left foot braking is probably an abnormal practice.
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Old 11 Jul 2000, 22:41 (Ref:22613)   #5
Heeltoe6
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I learned to drive on a stick, but when I took my mandatory lessons, the school had an automatic. So I just placed my left foot on the brake cause hell, I didn't need it for anyhting else, right? I got such a tirade for that. I was told to NEVER put your left foot on the brake. I don't know. It sure seems a lot easier to left foot brake with an automatic. But since I will never own anyhting other than a standard, that's a problem I will not spend time on.

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Old 11 Jul 2000, 22:54 (Ref:22614)   #6
Gerard
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Yes, in road traffic, left foot braking is considered an abnormal practice.
Most drivers brake with their right foot, or use heel-and-toe braking.
Left foot braking can however be learned.
It has its advantages.
I learned it and I'm using it all the time.
When right foot braking, you are on the throttle, then you lift, move your foot over to the brake, then start braking. From the time you lift to the time you get the brakes on harder than your engine braking, you are actually braking with the rear wheels only.
So, there's four transitions in the above sequence: throttle - rear wheel braking - braking - rear wheel braking - throttle.

With left foot braking, the time from throttle to braking is zero, in fact, it can be negative... you can actually slowly ease on the brakes as you slowly ease off the throttle. That eliminates two of four transitions, and makes the two remaining transitions silky smooth. And smooth transitions greatly improve your car control.

If you decide to learn left foot braking, the best thing to do is borrow someone's automatic, and just left foot brake for a week.
Further, as you come to each stop, try to ease off the brakes just right such that you prevent that normal recoil weight shift after the car stops. By the end of the week, you'll be left foot braking as smooth as right foot braking.

Then its time to get back in your stick and learn when you can left foot brake and when you need that left foot for the clutch.
Be very careful with it on the street!
You will get the clutch instead of the brake, the throttle instead of the brake, both, or get your feet 'crossed' at least once.
Get ready for some surprises while learning.
But if you manage it all, you're a better driver.
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Old 12 Jul 2000, 13:56 (Ref:22764)   #7
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KC should be qualifying in the top 5 on the gridKC should be qualifying in the top 5 on the grid
One of the biggest reasons why left foot braking is frowned upon in America is the relative level of incompetence of the drivers. I notice what drivers are doing quite a bit and there seems to be a lot of people who ride the brake while they are driving. They ride the brake while going downhill instead of just letting the car coast down. I have never left foot braked anything I drive on the street. Those that do tend to panic in the US and push on both pedals, thus we have unintended acceleration accidents.
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