Joe Carbon is a former driving instructor and crew chief for the internationally renowned Skip Barber Racing School and current kart and motorcycle racer. His automotive repair company, “Good Old-Fashioned Auto Repair”, in Mooresville, North Carolina pairs his over 40+ years of automotive service and repair experience with well over 3 million miles of driving experience in all types of vehicles. Joe's insight from road and track will help you stay safe on your “road of life”.
Prologue: Working for the Skip Barber Racing School was a constant learning experience: both from a personal driving standpoint as well as a teaching-to-others standpoint. “What not to do” was sometimes more important than “What to do” and was a constantly evolving experience.
As I embark on pursuing another motocross championship in 2019 (the last time was 2006), I remind myself as I’m training of each and every one of these “things learned”. While you may not be in training for a race, the same skills employed here can be applied to daily driving to make you a safer and more confident “street driver”.
PART III: “If You Look Where You Want To Go-The Hands And Car Will Follow!
The pictures below are from my home practice track. While we’re using a motorcycle, the principles of this concept are identical. The first two are of a corner called “The Corkscrew” named after the famous set of corners at Laguna Seca Raceway in northern California, although inverted by comparison.
A number of years ago during practice, I kept crashing on this turn and wasn’t sure why (when you crash on this one it’s very steep and a handful to get your bike turned around). Then I remembered the concept: “Look where you want to go and the hands and car will follow”. As you can see in the pictures of my helmet, I started looking up the hill into the turn as far as my eyes could see and suddenly I was getting up the hill without problem.
Below is the fastest corner on the track “Talladega” named for its long sweeping high bank, again uphill, 50 miles per hour into three successive double jumps. Note the eyes and the angle of my helmet in relation to the turn and uphill: always looking in and up as far as I can see.
So you may say, “why is this important?” Tunnel vision! If you’re looking at the front of your car or in this case the front fender, you’re only looking at where you are NOW and not where you want to go. And when you suddenly arrive where you want to go, quite often it’s too late to be on the right line. And in the case of a potential accident or situation unfolding in front of you, it may also be too late to avoid and/or respond.
Our bodies and peripheral vision have the ability to follow our eyes wherever we look. Looking well ahead before you actually get there will help you stay safe on your “road of life”.