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July 30, 2008

Rally Driving « Car Issues »

Check out this video:

It just didn't look to me like he was taking the most efficient route some of the time.

I fully understand the traction issues. Growing up and learning to drive in Montana, if I wasn't driving on ice, I was usually driving on gravel or dirt. I used to "drift" (I called it "powersliding" through gravel roads in my 1968 Pontiac Tempest. I had a friend who opened my eyes to the excitement of "drifting" (again, he didn't call it that) between construction warning barrels on an ice-covered road in a 70s Datsun 210 (Bumblebee? I think). I couldn't come close to what he did on ice, but I did end up with an instinctual feel for recovering from a fishtail.

The roads I powerslid on were much narrower than the Pike's Peak track, but I feel like I did a better job of aligning myself for the next acceleration.

Then again, I was doing it between 30 and 60mph, I would admit probably mostly on the 30mph end (although I really wan't paying attention to the speedometer, to be honest...maybe I was doing it more at 20 mph, or 50. No way to know, now), and this guy is doing it more 60-80mph, right? And I didn't have anything close to his hp, acceleration, or car twitchiness. Maybe that makes a bigger difference than I would think.

I've played a few rallying video games. I'm not that good, not that bad. I don't persist because you have to drive by your visual cues, and when I'm dirt running (I've never raced...), I drive by feel as much as by sight.

I cannot describe the feel of knowing you are losing traction (can't say adhesion on dirt/gravel) and knowing you can of course brake slightly, but also sensing that if you just lightly accelerate, you'll pull the car back in line...

I've done it in both rear-wheel drive AND front-wheel drive cars (the preceding paragraph being a front-wheel drive experience), but separated by about 15 years in between, so I couldn't begin to guess what the commonality and difference is between the drives. Early on, I did end up doing a 180 in the front-wheel drive once because I didn't come out of the turn right; I'm guessing because
I was using RWD reactions? In any case, I learned and it never happened again.

I wondered at the time if I could have been a good Rally racer, but already had a career and was probably too old to boot (past 35), so it never got to be more than a passing thought.

Let's make this interminable missive more massive:
My dirt-running experiences are about 2% of the reason I've hesitated to really pull the trigger on any one of a number of Poor Man's BMWs. If I can have so much fun in a '68 Tempest or '94 Corolla on dirt, am I really going to have as much fun in a Maxima SE or Mazda3 on pavement? You don't encounter police on back country dirt roads, but you do on paved roads; I'm probably never going to get the full acceleration/traction fun on blacktop.


Posted by Nathan at 07:58 PM | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)