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 IV: “Loose Is Goose! Driving The Skid Pad!”
In a previous article done a few years ago, I talked about my favorite thing to do on a snowy day in my earlier years: take my rear wheel drive car out and practice being loose (loose is a racing term for making the back end of your car slide out).
So, imagine you are driving down a rain soaked road and your car begins to hydroplane and the rear end starts to slide out. What do you do? Would your body instantly respond, second nature, to recovering from this bad accident waiting to happen? Perhaps it would if you had practiced the recovery process repetitiously until it became second nature.
Enter the skid pad!
This is the highlight for most students taking the advanced driving school course. They wet down a large asphalt circle and utilizing a rear wheel car, begin to drive around the wet circle faster and faster until the rear end begins to break loose and slide. Learning to recover the car back into control through steering, braking and throttling techniques over and over and over again, students develop confidence in their ability to recover an out of control car without even having to think about it.
It is taken a step further with a wet autocross course that allows for left and right turns under the same conditions further increasing the student’s ability to balance the car and recover. The key to this practice program is that all of this is done in a large, open parking area where there is nothing you can crash into-just like the places I used to seek out on a snowy day in my youth! Example: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=jHRAfAaSEyo.
Oh-and the grin from ear to ear from each student as they learn to balance the out of control car with their throttle foot on a wet road is priceless.
Young, old, male or female, the grin is always the same!