Corner speed or rotation speed?

(Lee Swindell) #21

Hi Marin.

Thanks for jumping in here.

At the risk of testing your patience - why can one not trail brake a front-braked kart? I did so routinely (I think) in a 250 twin.

I’m hesitating because it’s 6 years since I raced it so maybe my memory has faded somewhat. In addition, that thing was so bloody violent it’s likely I didn’t know what I was doing.

I’d have thought that nothing would be more conducive to getting the rear around than the massive weight transfer due to front wheel braking.



(Lee Swindell) #22


Ephipora: is that a thing? If not I think you’ve just made it one.

Your idea of sabotaging your machine in order to understand what things do is inspired. Tuning handling is so daunting I suspect most drivers never get anywhere near what they’re capable of because they never get out of the gate with learning the fundamentals. I’m one, so that is indeed epiphoricious.

Awesome suggestion.

(Lee Swindell) #23

Incidentally - What’s your ‘see v. Feel’ technique about?

(Mike Clark) #24

Ephipora = Excessive Eye Watering - Like when you realize something and it brings a tear to your eye.

Incidentally - What’s your ‘see v. Feel’ technique about?
Nothing much, but huge at times, not really a technique. Just that you can see things quicker than feeling them is all. Years ago in cars I found the seat of the pants is behind vision in terms of inputs to the driver. At least in my opinion. Think of it as the ‘feel’ needs to come from your eyes and inner ear not your body.
How do you sense oversteer / understeer on a video game with no force feedback on the wheel? Driving is way more visual than anything else.

(Dom Callan) #25

And this is why I don’t shifter. The life part. I suspect if did, I’d end up upside down.

(TJ Koyen) #26

Are you talking a Superkart here? If so, that would be a totally different driving style than a typical sprint kart. Much more like driving a full-size car.

(Lee Swindell) #27


The way you’ve written this, I’ve just recognised myself as a ‘shock’ driver, which is an important revealation.

Maybe that’s what meant when people say ‘drive slower’ - they’re telling me to maximise (or maybe just increase) rear wheel air time in order to prevent slumping into oversteer as I crack the throttle open. Maybe?

Because I’ve never been able to figure out what the ‘correct’ way to drive a kart is, I’ve committed to getting as good as I can get with my natural driving style - which is white knuckling. Once I’m cutting consistent laps with that style, I’ll try something new - such as switching my focus from wrenching the back around to holding that inside rear up as long as I can - and then get as good as I can at that, before trying another change.

As to the driving difference between small power and big: Traction - that’s the bit I was looking for I think. A big power kart needs both tyres on the deck the moment you get on the gas. And this I guess forces a different line on the way in. Maybe?

Most importantly, what this conversation has just done is to help me reverse engineer the driving line based on what makes fullest use of the karts resources on the way out. Maybe I’d been doing this in a vague way, but never as intentionally as this before. This is transformational.

Finally, If 95% is better than 105%, what does 100% look like?

I’ve gotten a lot out of this. Looks like I owe you a beer.


(TJ Koyen) #28

I know I said traction is a reason for driving a KZ like that, and it is, but it’s more a secondary effect I think. The main thing is that when you drive point-and-shoot and chop off the entry and exit a bit more, you’re shortening the corner up, so naturally it’s less distance and therefore faster. In a kart without a bunch of torque and extra gears, this is only going to bog you down on exit and be slower. But since you have the luxury of many gears and much torque, you can give up a little in rolling momentum to gain by making the corner shorter, and still blast off the corner with no issue.

One thing I always try to focus on when coaching is getting drivers to get the initial braking and steering input sorted first. Once you figure out where you need to brake to be at the limit, the rest of the corner sort of naturally sorts itself out.

Regarding 95% vs 105% vs 100%… My opinion would be that at 100%, the kart responds most consistently and predictably because you are putting it to the limit each corner, and a kart really needs to be at it’s traction limit to work properly. A kart operating at 95% of the limit is going to look smooth, but it won’t be generating as much force and flex, so it’ll be a bit sluggish mid-corner to exit because you’re not fully holding the inside rear up long enough. A kart at 105% is going to look spectacular, but it’ll be sliding, hopping, bouncing, and won’t be consistent at all. A competent driver can drive at 95% and have consistent laps. Driving at 105% makes the kart unpredictable and wild, as you’re over its limit. Plus, it makes it much harder to diagnose handling issues because the kart is receiving harsh inputs and reacting accordingly. And to be honest, getting to a consistent 100% is really tough for most drivers. Top-level pilots are getting their karts to the limit for each corner for every lap, not your average Joes. So for my drivers, some are good, some are still learning, aiming for 95% and working up is an easier task in terms of driving consistency and chassis tuning.

Hope that helps. Great topic. :beers:

(Dom Callan) #29

“A kart operating at 95% of the limit is going to look smooth, but it won’t be generating as much force and flex,… A kart at 105% is going to look spectacular, but it’ll be sliding, hopping, bouncing, and won’t be consistent at all.”

TJ, with that being said, what do you estimate the delta between the 95% banker line and the 105% send it like James version? For a highly experienced guy is that delta narrower or wider than for the less skilled person? Is your 95 closer to your 105 than say, me?

I ask because as I review the footage from yesterday, my fastest laps looked awful. The laps I like are prettier but we are talking a delta of 1s which isn’t race-able.

(Warren Chamberlain) #30

Mike, this is really interesting to me because we approach ‘feel’ from such different perspectives; but each or our approaches seem to work fine for us. My background is in cars as well, but my seat of the pants has always been well ahead of vision. For me, vision mostly just provides a contextual framework (with accompanying expectations based mental model of the track), but the actual feel for traction (the amalgamation of the Proprioceptive, Kinesthetic, and Vestibular senses) have always seemed to be ahead of vision when it comes to identifying traction and deviations from the plan.

Dom, I might be wrong, but I think the percentages 95, 100, 105 TJ is talking about are the kart/tire’s capabilities, (not the driver’s capabilities).

TJ, for a driver who can only run 95% of the kart’s capabilities consistently, do you adjust the kart so that it lifts the inside rear wheel more easily, or do you leave it setup for 100% performance, and let the driver grow into it?

(TJ Koyen) #31

Correct, I’m referring to the kart’s potential, not the driver.

Yes, it might require that you’re making the front end a little ‘pointier’ or making the rear unload a little easier. What I usually find is that a driver will be doing 95% in one corner or one section of the track and doing 105% in another section, which leads to a whole other can of worms, because the kart will be great in corner A but a handful and slow in corner B. So it’s a compromise to find the setup that the driver can deal with for the entirety of the track.

In the end, what I find works most often is throwing a pretty neutral setup on there that I know can be within a couple tenths of the leaders, and then when the driver is several tenths off, I just show them where those tenths are in the data and if they get sassy, I tell them to deal with it and drive better. :grin:

(Thomas Williams) #32

In my opinion, the proper answer is who cares. Stop overthinking it. STOP. Is having the perfect arc of your hand and how you position your elbow going to make you shoot the 3 like Steph Curry? Do you think you can just copy his mechanics and you will shoot like him? No. Shooting 4 million 3 point shots is a start. Then, playing the game a LOT, and NOT thinking about anything except winning.

Just like any athletic endeavor, there are two useful activities. Anything else is unproductive.
#1: Practicing SPECIFIC skills. VERY SPECIFIC. Braking at the limit without lockup (smooth track). Braking at the limit by going over , and re-establishing control (rough tracks…I dont care how good you are…it is gonna happen on rough tracks and you better have the skill).

Load management (how to load the tires so that your corner initiation has no lag). Transition from braking to cornering (straight line braking, vs carrying/overlapping). Using your eyes (many good drivers do NOT look at their braking points…and hit them within a meter every lap) And with this sort of skill building, the stopwatch is your enemy. The eyes of an experienced coach and smart Data are what you need.
#1B: In support of #1…there is also physical and mental fitness. This is just giving yourself better tools to implement the skills you are practicing.

#2: Forgetting about all that practice and simply competing to win. Wheel to wheel racing is how you get truly fast. Your mind will miraculously take the base level skills you have internalized, and figure out how to apply them when you are faced with actual competition. You don’t need to think about the lines. It will be pretty obvious. You do not need to worry about rotation vs sweeping through a corner. Going to school on a faster driver will tell you what is the best way for a given situation. GO RACE.

So quit thinking about all this BS. Go race. When you identify an area you are weak in, go practice THAT area. Initially when you start karting, it will be braking, and basic feel for what the limit of the kart is. As you become more advanced, the transition from braking to turning is where you will find a lot of the magic. When you initiate a corner perfectly, everything else is easy.

I groan when I hear newer drivers talking about lines, cornering “philosophy” and where they should apex etc etc. It is the least important think you can worry about. Put in the work, build the skills, and then go race to win. Ever race is ladder, and every driver you go to school on is a wrung in that latter.

(TJ Koyen) #33

I tend to agree that most people over think it and spend a ton of time thinking about what they need to do at home.

I have drivers that are very eager to learn about setup and ask me what to do weeks in advance of a race, planning out a bunch of scenarios on what chassis changes to make. I always say, “I don’t know what you should do yet, but we will know after the first practice session.” We can’t fix a handling issue if there isn’t a handling issue yet. Same with driving.

Still, it’s good to have a grasp on all the theory once you get back to your tent or home and have time to digest it. But if you’re going out trying to memorize and apply every word said in an internet thread in real-time, it’s going to be a mess.

Whenever I do a coaching day, first thing we always do is a baseline session of 5-10 laps where I can watch and see what the driver is doing before we even address any issues.

(Dom Callan) #34

All you said is true, however… I can’t be on track as much as I’d like. Working through it mentally may have limited results but it’s better than the alternative. It’s also fun.
I personally have made some pretty significant strides as a driver by trying to look at this skill trough other people’s eyes. Sometimes their thinking is unusual but I have gotten a much deeper understanding (or I think I do) than I would have otherwise.

And yes, it all goes out the window when the flag drops, but good habits still remain.

(Mike Clark) #35

I also think talking it through helps with the understanding. Learn it at no speed first without burning up resources. It also has safety aspects to it. Knowing what you are trying to do and achieve going in makes sense. Basically prep and have a goal. Discussion leads to shortcuts and not developing bad habits.
I know some guys that don’t believe in external conditioning. They think just practice the sport you are in.
Talk is inexpensive and it is off season for most, so why not. I do at times reach the point of being at that need to do vs need to know level. If know one discussed these things we’d have less retention in the sport.
I won my first autocross and rifle match in my class due to asking questions and implementing the good advice. I won 3 bicycle races in my first year due to discussions and implementing what I needed to do. I was recognized as a club champion, so it was not small feat. In all 3 I was able to shortcut the learning process and learn from others success and mistakes.

(Warren Chamberlain) #36

So, you are essentially saying that the act of driving (racing to win) will teach you everything you need to know to become fast, which I totally agree with in theory.

However, the process of ‘identifying a weakness’ (or more precisely identifying the root cause of a weakness) is not as easy as it sounds for many drivers (like 80 - 90% in my experience). Doing that requires the ability to interpret the feedback from on-track experience (and/or data) to extract the meaning/lessons it contains, so that the specific weakness can be practiced and eliminated.

But unlike many other sports, in karting you have the added complexity of unraveling if a ‘weakness’ is rooted in technical/kart related issues, or if it is a driving technique or mindset issue. Doing that successfully requires a robust matrix of theoretical and practical knowledge about both driving and kart setup.

These discussions may be a waste of time for some drivers, but they might help others build their understanding about driving and kart setup so that they can combine that knowledge with their on-track experience to find/fix weakness and realize a performance improvement on the stopwatch.

(Dom Callan) #37

This is pretty heavy stuff and coincidentally what I’ve been working on. I wish it was intuitive but this is exactly the kind of stuff that’s easier to learn with help.

(James McMahon) #38

There’s definitely a lot of merit to this, but people learn and process information in different ways

(Mike Clark) #39

There are also some differences depending on if you are under someone’s wing vs a new guy on your own. Some of us didn’t start as kids either. It was my experience in M/C that a lot of guys forgot about when they were a noob. It is also my experience that not everyone is a teacher or can verbalize what they are doing.

(Davin Roberts Sturdivant) #40

Although I’d say that this ‘approach’ works fine with what to work on, on the day, I disagree with the general thought here. Different drivers learn and understand in different ways. I think that the education is useful for general approach, for those new drivers that feel more comfortable at least having the general discussion when trying to learn.

When I used to coach drivers, some drivers I spent a good amount of time with talking about theory, so they could practice something specific, while others I put them in the seat, watched them drive and we tweaked until they could be consistent.

I think this conversation is important, but just not worth overthinking once you get your butt in the seat.