Smooth Driving by Jackie Stewart
Hi, I came accross this on MSN and thought the similarities between what Jackie said about driving cars and how I like to go fast on bikes (or cars) is remarkable. It's simple and to the point. Enjoy.
Remember the three C's, from Jackie Stewart.
by Peter D. duPre
According to racing great Jackie Stewart, you can accuse a person of just about anything and get away with it as long as you don't call them a lousy lover or bad driver. He says people are sensitive about two things because they go directly to the core of how we define ourselves. And while Stewart can't give much advice on the former, he is an expert at the latter.
Stewart, who won the Formula One World Driving Championship three times during his racing career, was famous for driving smoothly and with finesse. He says smooth driving is just as important on the highway as it is on the racecourse.
"The art of driving road cars and race cars is so similar," said Stewart. "In both motor sport and on the highway, there is a delicate balance between being in and out of control."
We've all seen cars being driven hard, on the edge of being out of control. It's what most new and inexperienced drivers (read teen-agers) do every time they get behind the wheel. Young drivers seem to be under the mistaken notion that driving gently and smoothly means driving slowly. They think that to show their skill, they have to drive hard and shift hard. The fact is, most new drivers would be amazed to learn that hard driving is actually slower driving and it is not as safe. Don't believe it? Well, go to a few road races and watch the cars whose tires squeal the most. These are the guys who are busy losing the race. Every tire squeal means that the driver is scrubbing speed off the car in every turn. He may sound fast and look fast, but in the end he won't be first across the finish line.
That's why his peers regard Stewart as such a master. In all the races that he won, Stewart's car never looked like it was working hard. Instead, he was so smooth that many people actually thought he was slower than the other racers … right up until he took that checkered flag.
"Driving hard throws your passengers around and is uncomfortable," said Stewart. "It is hard on the passengers and hard on the car. Smooth driving can actually be faster driving and at the end of the drive there's no carsickness, no abuse of the car, and the drive seems shorter."
Limo drivers are an example of how smooth driving can actually be fast driving. That's why many chauffeured drives seem so short. There is no sense of being driven for the passengers. There is no neck-snapping or head-bobbing during acceleration and braking and no one has to grab onto the armrest during cornering. Limos are designed to provide soft, cushy rides for the passengers but to do this they must be driven gently and with finesse.
"Chauffeurs are the real professionals of driving, if they are good," said Stewart. "To be good they must be smooth and gentle on the gas and brake to keep the passengers comfortable. When done correctly, the car should be able to come to a complete stop with the passengers hardly noticing the vehicle has braked."
According to Stewart you don't have to be a racecar driver or a chauffeur to drive like a pro. He believes that anyone can improve his or her driving technique and ability simply by following what he calls the "three C's" - to be more conscientious and considerate and to concentrate.
Try to be a better driver every time you get behind the wheel by practicing smooth driving techniques. Be gentle when braking and progressive when applying the throttle. Don't hit the brake pedal hard. Instead, modulate foot pressure so that you slow or stop the vehicle without the car nose-diving. When applying the throttle, roll gently and smoothly on/off the gas. Even when you are accelerating quickly, be progressive so that the back of the vehicle doesn't go into a squat and the passenger heads don't bob up and down from you getting on and off the throttle. Instead of hammering the throttle during driving, anticipate the need for more or less throttle and use your foot to smooth out the transition between accelerating and decelerating. Considerate
Whether on the racetrack or the freeway, a good driver is considerate of both his passengers and other drivers. Passengers don't like being thrown around inside the vehicle. It's uncomfortable and you'll end up hearing about it. As for other drivers, they don't like being cut off or having you slam on the brakes. Give other drivers plenty of room and plenty of warning. Use your signals, change lanes smoothly and unless it is an emergency, avoid sudden maneuvers that could scare other drivers. Concentrate
Pay attention to what you are doing. Keep the radio volume down, and avoid distractions such as newspapers, cell phones, or eating. Make sure the seat and wheel are adjusted properly and that everyone is wearing their seatbelt. Think about what is going on around you and what you can do to make your drive safer and more comfortable. "Be more conscientious about driving," said Stewart. "Few people in America are. Concentrate more — you'll be smoother. If you do this, chances are you'll also be more considerate — not just of you passengers, but of other drivers, the traffic around you, and general conditions."
Peter duPre has been writing about cars and car care for over 30 years. He has authored automotive technical manuals and been published in numerous automotive magazines.
There is nothing firm, nothing balanced, nothing durable in all the universe. Nothing remains in its original state, each day, each hour, each moment, there is change. Change is the essence of life. Embrace change as you do life. To fight change is to live in the past.