Driving your Toyota Camry might not have much in common with driving a Formula 1 car. The former is meant to be driven casually and normally on your daily commute, while the latter is meant to be driven around a race track. However, you can still employ the same driving techniques as the pros do on their F1 cars in order to enhance your driving experience, even if you really do drive a Toyota Camry. Here are five racecar techniques you can learn.
1. Left-foot braking
Racecar drivers typically use two feet when they are driving. The right foot is on the accelerator while the left foot does the braking. Why do they do this? According to Dale Adams, racecar drivers drive with both of their feet because braking with the left foot “significantly reduces the amount of time it takes to slow down.”
Braking with your right foot can waste fractions of a second to slow the car down, which can translate into another 30 to 50 feet of traveling distance before the car completely stops. Whereas having your left foot ready on the brake pedal can significantly reduce that time. It might feel weird using your left foot at first, but it will be worth it if you can master it.
2. Only do one thing at a time
Many people like to multi-task behind the wheel. This could mean everything from steering or braking too much to putting on lipstick or looking at your phone. Either way, it’s a good idea to take a tip from the racecar drivers and do one thing at a time.
If you ever watch in-car footage of a NASCAR or F1 car, you’ll likely notice that the driver only pays attention to steering, braking, and the accelerator separately in order to not be distracted. By paying attention to one process at a time, you could arrive at your destination quicker and safer.
3. Pull the steering wheel
When driving your car equipped with power steering, you most likely just rest your hands on the steering wheel and gently turn it when needed. However, Dale Adams suggests that you grip the steering wheel and pull it in the direction you want to turn. With your hands in the “9 and 3” position, if you’re turning left then pull with your left hand, and vice versa.
This might seem like a trivial technique, however, it’s meant to give you more dexterity and more control when steering your car, just like the pros do. Of course, you’re probably not steering your Toyota Camry into turns while going over 100 mph, but having control at any speed is still a good thing.
4. Dealing with a tire blowout
Whenever a racecar driver has a tire blowout, they typically remain calm and drive the car straight and slow down. After doing so, they’re usually able to pull in for a pit stop. In real life, you won’t have a handy pit crew to change out your tire, but you can still pull your car over safely nonetheless.
Anyone’s first reaction to a tire blowout will most likely be of shock and surprise, followed by panicked steering and braking. But doing so can cause damage to the car, yourself, and other drivers on the road. Instead, take a page from the pros and slow the car down in a straight line before pulling off the road, if possible.
5. Rev-matching while downshifting
This last tip only applies to those that drive a car with a manual transmission. But rev-matching your downshifts can save your car’s drivetrain while allowing you to drive smoothly through a turn. The process is simple: When slowing the car down, push the clutch in, downshift the gear lever, and then blip the throttle before letting the clutch out in the lower gear.
The idea is to match the engine RPM with that the next lower gear to ensure a smoother engagement when you let out the clutch pedal. Admittedly, it can be tricky to master, but when you do, you’ll be driving like the pros.
Any sedan can be a race car
If you employ the following techniques on your daily commute, you’ll feel like a racecar driving in no time. Keep in mind that racing isn’t always about going fast and getting there first, it’s also about getting there safely. And while your Toyota Camry might be safe, using these techniques can also make it a little more fun to drive.