Track Safety: The Most Important Consideration

hsbc-helmet_300In my early days of Autocrossing, I learned about safety from watching a friend/competitor hit a curb, light pole and overturn and catch on fire in a “slow speed” event. From that day forward when ever i get in a car for competition purposes I’m wearing a full fire retardant suit, gloves, shoes and SA approved Helmet. Since 2005 i have also worn a HANS device at all times and suggest all my friends/clients do also. Whether your doing a Private Drivers Education Event at a Private Track in your street car or Driving a Time Trial where Safety Equipment is waived never get in a car without full safety equipment. Plus chicks like guys in a uniform, if your a lady, we also like you in a uniform.

During my 25 years behind the wheel of High Performance Vehicles i have encountered and survived any possible scenario you can think of and i still say these words often during the course of a Race Weekend. Some where we all have that little card that tells us what to do for under steer/over steer and pull it out when needed to adjust tire temperature or spring rates. There is no card or book we can carry onboard while driving a vehicle at it’s full potential, we must rely on Experience and and be able to recall it Without Hesitation.

Since 2005, I have also worn a HANS device at all times and suggest all my friends/clients do also. Whether you’re doing a Private Drivers Education Event at a private track in your street car or driving a time trial where safety equipment is waived, never get in a car without full safety equipment. Plus chicks like guys in a uniform.

If you come to me for one-on-one driver coaching, we will cover a full range of safety topics before we ever get in the car.

Some of the topics we will discuss:

Driver Comfort: You must be totally comfortable in your car while your restraints are TIGHT. When you are preparing your car, dress in your full safety gear, snug up the belts and then make seat, mirror and final adjustments.

Position of your head: As we all know the Earth is flat. Well at least the part we are going to drive on. I too often see drivers lean their heads into a turn until their neck is stretched. When you do that your visual perspective of corners changes. Keep your eyes horizontal.

Death grip on a steering wheel is a big No No; your hands and arms must be relaxed and you must be able to turn the steering wheel 180 degrees without your shoulders coming off the surface of the seat.

Legs and pedal reach: Sitting in the car strapped in, extend your left foot to the fire wall [or dead pedal] and adjust your seat so you can comfortably rest your foot flat on the fire wall. This will allow complete control of the clutch and provide support when you eventually have an “oh crap” moment, which we all have.

Heel/Tow and Left Foot Braking: Every new student/client I work with asks about heel/tow and left foot braking and wants to use it on their first outing. I then explain, “Let’s learn to drive at speed, we’ll refine those things later’.

Over Thinking: 95% of the friends and clients I’ve worked with are their own worst enemies because they think too much. I will help you see the track and each lap as a whole event and not worry about details.

Besides on-track consultation, we will discuss eating and drinking properly the day of the event and other things to make your day at the track more enjoyable. Whether you’re a first timer or a veteran looking to lower lap times by a second, I look forward to sharing my knowledge, passion and love for racing/performance driving with you.

To Borrow a phrase from my Mentor, Yours In Speed.

Frederick W. Schroeder, 6th

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