Friday, September 26, 2008

Double-Clutching down-shifting

Again i'm slacking off and no one's bothered anyway... >.> market is going south, there's hardly any activity... :-p haha... good for me, bad for the country though... X-p So here's another interesting article i found at written by the same writer :-) and i'd still go for the "racer's" technique of heel-toe... X-p because it's just so much more cooler... X-p haha...
Though this is just common knowledge among advanced drivers :-) it's always good to have a revision once in a while... X-)

"The Double-Declutching Gas-Blipping Downshift

The manual transmission was the best transmission that a car could have until 1989, when English driver Nigel Mansell won the Brazilian Grand Prix Formula 1 race with his SMG-equipped Ferrari. From the driver's perspective, the SMG, or "Sequential Manual Gearbox," is clutchless: Your right finger makes the car go up a gear, and your left finger makes the car go down a gear! A modern SMG, like BMW's "SMG II," shifts in about 80ms, less than a tenth of a second! No human is able to shift so fast.

Not to be confused with some automatic transmissions that have a similar user interface (the "tiptronic" from Porsche comes to mind), real SMGs can be found on the 2001 Ferrari 360 Modena ("F1") and the 2002 BMW M3, for example. Before long, the SMG will trickle down further, and the manual transmission will become the second-best choice for many street cars, certainly at the high-end.

And if this was not bad enough, both the manual and the SMG are going to be ultimately replaced by the CVT, or "Continuously Variable Transmission," which behaves as if it has infinite gears, with a computer constantly adjusting them for optimal power delivery! (In other words, even the little up/down buttons of the SMG will become totally irrelevant.)

So, what is to be gained on your part by lots of frustrating practice to learn proper downshifting for the obsolete manual transmission? "Fun," in a word! Good downshifting will bring a smile to your face. And, unlike serious grin-inducing activities like smoking the rear tires and power oversteer in turns, proper downshifting is legal and can be done anywhere and everywhere: Even in full view of a police officer with your mom sitting in the passenger seat next to you!
  • masterful technique is always to be admired
  • car has excellent stability on ice, etc.
  • shifts can be very fast
  • engine is not subject to impulsive "hit" when clutch is let up (as in ordinary downshifting)
  • the "blip" (stab of the gas) makes beautiful "music"
  • something fun to do in ordinary traffic
  • separate yourself from the masses who don't "get it" but still drive a manual
  • other people will hear the blip and think you want to race them
We'll break the recipe for downshifting into steps after a brief introduction.
Note that the way that you upshift is probably fine---we will only look at how one downshifts, which is different and more subtle than how one upshifts.


A car's engine operates in a range of RPMs that typically range from about 1000 to 7000 revolutions per minute. (Some cars go up to 18,000 RPM, but the're hooked up to SMGs and cost millions of dollars.)

You typically pick an "operating range" where you want to run the car, say between 2k and 4k for most situations, and up to 7k every now and then. You could take the car up to the "red line" all the time, but the motor will not last as long, so this is something to consider for vehicles that are not leased.

When you're getting close to your (say) self-imposed 4k (upper) limit, you upshift, i.e., go to the next higher gear; when you get close to your self-imposed 2k (lower) limit, you downshift, i.e., go to the next lower gear. Sometimes you might wish to downshift at a higher RPM because you want to aggressively pass other vehicles, but make sure that you know what you're doing---such downshifting can DESTROY YOUR ENGINE by taking it above the "red line." Even if your car has a governor, it will be unable to stop downshift-induced overreving, and the resulting destruction of your valves.

Note: Sometimes drivers downshift at higher RPMs and then promptly (but smoothly!) let off the gas pedal to "engine brake." The "engine brake" technique only slows the driven wheels. So, on a rear-wheel drive car, for example, "engine braking" behaves (in terms of dynamics) as if one is pulling the parking brake! In most cases one does not want asymmetrical braking, and the brake pedal provides the optimal slowing/stopping technique, but there is one wonderful exception that Daniel Eberli points out to me (via email): When one lives in Switzerland and is descending alpine roads, even the very best brakes can get very hot and fail... and in cases like this one should certainly downshift for "engine braking" well before their brakes fail from overheating!


Let's define some notation to save space:
G = gas pedal
C = clutch pedal
B = brake pedal
L = left foot
R = right foot
"R/G" is read, "right foot on gas."
"R\G" is read, "right foot off gas."

0. Context

You're driving with R/G. You decide to slow down, and gently take R\G, and then put R/B. As you brake, the RPMs of the car start to fall into the lower range of interest, and then you decide that it is time to downshift to the next lower gear. NOTE YOUR RIGHT FOOT WILL STILL BE ON THE BRAKE FOR ALL OF THE FOLLOWING STEPS (in most cases):

1. Setup

L goes on top of C, ready to press down, as your right hand leaves the wheel and grabs the shift lever.
2. Out of gear (shift into N)

At the same time: L/C, and you pull the shift lever into the "neutral" gear, N. Then, go (very fast) L\C. View this as having shifted into N.

3. Blip

(If you must wait for some reason before you wish to go into gear, at step #4, now is the time, at the start of step #3.) Stab the gas pedal----we'll explain how shortly---to run the engine RPMs up to slightly above the value that they will assume when you will be done with the shift. This "stabbing" of the pedal is just momentary---do it as fast as you can, on-then-off. (The moment that you blip, you must quickly move to the next step---if you fail, retry #3, or just move the clutch [up: L/C] slowly in step #4.) DO NOT TAKE YOUR FOOT OFF THE BRAKE IN ORDER TO GIVE THE GAS IN THIS STEP.

4. In to gear (shift out of N)
Go (very fast) L/C. Then, at the same time: L\C, and you push the shift lever into the lower gear. View this as having shifted from N into your final (lower) gear.

5. Cleanup

Put your hand back on the wheel, and put L on the "dead pedal" (footrest to the left of the clutch).

So, you realize that this can be thought of as shifting fully into neutral, stabbing the gas, and then shifting fully into the lower gear.

Incorrect downshifting, what you probably do now, is L/C, shift to the lower gear, and then L\C. To grow and improve, try #1-2-4-5 intil you do it without thinking. Then, go all the way, and try #1-2-3-4-5, which is a bit tougher.

If you want to drop (say) two gears in a row, go #1-2-3-4-wait-2-3-4-5 or #1-2-3-4-5-wait-1-2-3-4-5, depending on how long you're willing to keep your right hand off the wheel. Never initiate a downshift if the RPM value is too high, or you will destroy your engine. In the case of dropping multiple gears, it seems that real racers prefer to go #1-2-wait-3-4-5, shifting directly into the final gear, but you'll have to read their books yourself to see what you really wish to do in this case. Remember, skipping gears invites over-revving, which can destroy the car, but their incredible training keeps them from making mistakes---you're better off experimenting with skipping gears later when you really know what you're doing.

If you do everything right, it will take you perhaps a second or two to drop one gear (from when your hands first leave and then return to the wheel), but take your time as you work up to speed. If you mess up the blip---and this is very common when you start to learn how to do this---you can retry step #3 repeatedly (i.e., go #1-2-3-3-3-3-4-5), or just take your time (several seconds) to let the clutch up slowly in step #4. However, if you do everything right, you can be very aggressive with clutch operation, and the car will feel perfectly smooth---after all, this is the goal. If you take too long between #3 and #4, the engine will lose the rotations that you gave with the blip, so the shift will be incorrect, and you must let the clutch up slowly (in step #4). If you don't blip enough, or wait too long between #3 and #4, you'll see the tachometer suddenly jump up as you release the clutch, which means that you have to keep working on good technique.

You should not have to ram anything into place with arm strength---when you get it right, you'll feel it, and a big grin will show up on your face. (Although after a while it might become old hat, I suppose.) This can be a very frustrating technique to learn, so don't try if you're tired or annoyed. I only say this for completeness, but you should clearly not hear any grinding noises, either!

Stabbing the Gas: Athletic issues with the right foot
Now I can address the gas issue in further detail. The recipe requires stabbing the gas pedal for a moment---how can one do that? There are all kinds of ways that are proposed to do this, and they all require R to manipulate G and B at the same time. In other words, R is solidly on B, and then it stabs G for a moment to provide the "blip." R never leaves B---it continues to brake, but somehow also hits G.

There are many methods (called "heel-toe") to describe how various experts do this trick. I've never been able to make any of their tricks work, but my trick is extremely simple, and it works quite well, but only in street cars. So, check out the way that I do it, the way that they do it, and try to figure out what is best for you. I describe both methods here, but be sure to check out the literature on racing and your friends who drive for advice.

"Heel-Toe," what most experts suggest

If you're driving a state-of-the-art technological masterpiece like a F1 car, apparently you use the left foot exclusively for the brake, the right foot exclusively for the gas, and index fingers to shift, and gas blipping is totally irrelevant! However, most racers still have a manual transmission, only because of their lack of money. Therefore, gas blipping is still relevant for many racers, at least for a few more years.

Real race cars don't have power-boosted braking, and they tend to use their brakes with extreme pressure---what most civilians like me would view as a "panic emergency stop," in terms of the sensation. So, they have to brake with the ball of their foot, i.e., the area under the toes is firmly pressing the pedal.

The most commonly suggested recipe from professional drivers is to brake with the entire ball of the foot, rotate the foot on the axis of brake pedal, hit the gas with the heel/side, and then rotate the entire foot back, but I find this to be quite dangerous---I've had my foot repeatedly slip off the brake! Try this in a parking lot for a while with your car off and see if you can do it... I can't.

"My" Technique
Unlike the race car, the street car has power-assisted brakes with ABS (Anti-lock Braking System), since it even has to work for small and weak customers. This means that you do not have to press nearly as hard to get the brakes to fully lock, where the ABS decides to turn on and stop you at maximum speed.

Therefore, unlike the racers, it is probably not necessary, at least for a person of my leg strength or greater, to need much leverage to maximize brake pressure. So, I take full advantage of this fact, and am willing to blip in a way that will not work in an inexpensive (non-SMG) race car.

If your car is not set up properly, somebody else's technique must be used. In short, B and G must be about under 2.5" away from each other, and when you brake hard B should still be above G. If this is not the case, what I'm about to propose will not work, and don't even try it.

I plant the heel of my foot on a point midway between B and G, and it never moves when I drive. This is a very comfortable position for me, since the foot can rest to the right and operate G, but a slight movement of the toes will put the left half of my foot over the brake. So, I brake with the left half of my foot. BE VERY CAREFUL BRAKING WITH JUST THE LEFT HALF OF YOUR FOOT. I am strong enough to easily provide maximum pressure needed to stop the car, but my car has power-assisted braking. If this is not the case for you, forget about it!

In fact, this is so dangerous at first that you should take it very easy and practice FAR AWAY from anything that you might hit.

Brake with the left half of the right foot, keeping the weight on the big toe's base, and slightly lifting the little toe. If you don't lift the little toe, sometimes you might accidentally be giving the car gas while you're trying to brake---something somewhat counterproductive, to put it mildly. When it comes time to "stab" the gas pedal, "roll" your foot to the side, so the contact area on the brake goes from just your big toe, to perhaps half of your toes, and then just the middle line of your shoe---the small toe at this point will be stabbing the gas. Then, the foot rolls back, returning braking pressure to the big toe. (You might want to move your knee to the right and back to reduce pressure on it.)

Final pieces of advice....

THE BRAKE PRESSURE SHOULD NOT DIMINISH BECAUSE YOU BLIP---it is just that different parts of your foot provide the brake pressure for that moment that you have to stab the gas.

Downshifting is subtle to learn in terms of just how hard to stab the gas, but this will come to you in time. However, you must be EXTREMELY CAREFUL with how you apply the brake during the blip---don't let your foot slip off, or an accident could result.

After a while, your right foot will "memorize" what to do, and everything will be automatic. But as you first learn, be VERY careful, as this is an extremely dangerous time. Leave a huge following distance between you and other cars, or, better yet, only try it at very quiet times and initiate your stop well before that light, so you can recover from a huge mistake. Better yet, try it in an empty parking lot for a while. Ideally, you can help your foot memorize its operation by working the pedals in a parking lot, with the engine off. You can learn how to do this yourself, but BE VERY CAREFUL NOT TO LET YOUR FOOT SLIP OFF THE BRAKE."

Thursday, September 25, 2008

Steering Techniques

Haha... Suddenly i have too much free time... >.> so here i am at it again... :-p i've said before that i'd be posting some tips on driving ^^ so here's an interesting article i found at about the various techniques involved in steering :-) enjoy the reading (since it's a really ReALLY LONG article.. :-p) and happy driving ^^
Steering a Car or Truck

Racing cars with special steering ratios and the like are outside the scope of this article or my fund of knowledge, and only street cars (yes, that includes your Porsche) and trucks are considered.

Proper steering encourages fast driving, since one can place a vehicle with precision and provide smooth inputs (a secret for speed). Proper steering also encourages safe driving, since one can avoid obstacles, retain control, and protect their arms/hands from airbag and steering wheel-related injuries.

While most people do not view an airbag as a bomb right next to their hands, this is exactly what it is. If an airbag deploys when your arms or hands are in close proximity, you could suffer severe injuries that might include broken bones. You really don't want the air bag to hit you as it is inflating---you want to hit the fully deployed air bag.

(A note to people who race: If you take your fixed 9-and-3 grip on the wheel of a street car, and are turning with your arms crossed, what do you think will happen if you should be involved in an accident involving airbag deployment? I suspect that you probably want to leave racing techniques for the track! That said, you know more than enough to decide for yourself, but remember that your race car does not have an airbag, unlike your street car, so perhaps they have to be steered differently.)

If your car hits a curb, deep pothole, or rock at an angle, and your thumbs are wrapped around the inside of the wheel, they can be broken due to the resulting violent rotation of the wheel, since the wheel's spokes can break your bones. This is relatively rare on the street, but easy to do if you are into off-road driving---keep those thumbs and fingers away from the inside of the wheel! Instead, pinch the wheel between fingers and thumbs using your forearm strength. Yes, it feels strange at first, but will become a good habit.

Steering is unbelievably important in so many regards, both for speed and safety, and yet few people give even a moment's thought beyond what they were told by their high-school driver education teacher. (If one thinks back to the quality of their high-school instruction, this should be cause for fear.)

One spends years of their life behind the wheel of a car (divide 100k miles by 45 miles per hour, and multiply by how many cars you'll own to determine your hours behind the wheel). Isn't it stupid to spend years doing something that you can dramatically improve with fifteen minutes of thought?

General Observations on Steering

If you're going at a reasonable speed on a flat surface, your car wants to go straight. If you "wind" the wheel (turn it away from center), the car will try to "unwind" the wheel (return it to center). Whenever possible, you should let the car unwind the wheel on your behalf. If the car wants to unwind the wheel too rapidly, you can use a little bit of friction with both hands and have it unwind at the correct rate. So, you only need hand motion to wind the wheel, and not to unwind it.

Unwinding the wheel requires two hands to provide friction because you are less likely to let go of the wheel by accident for a moment.

Techniques of Steering

There are many ways to manage the steering wheel of a car or truck, including palming, hand-over-hand, and shuffle steering. While no technique is perfect, shuffle steering is the most flexible and useful of the above three, and it is quite easy to master! When you switch to shuffle steering the quality of your driving will noticeably improve, and your more attentive passengers will comment about the car's smooth and uniform feel that is devoid of annoying little jerky movements while turning. In particular, note that most highway turns are arcs of constant radius, so if you select the correct steering input when you enter, no further adjustment is required until your exit.

While you should learn how to shuffle steer, TAKE IT EASY AND LEARN AT LOW SPEEDS IN SAFE PLACES. You should start at your desk and think about taking some turns and move your hands in front of you, getting used to the movements.

Note: It is common to discuss a steering wheel as a clock face. So, when one says "10 and 2," they mean that the left hand is where the hour hand points to 10 o'clock , and the right hand is where the hour hands points to 2 o'clock.

"Palming" the Wheel
Palming is a one-handed steering technique. Many people "palm" the wheel, where they press their open hand on the wheel and turn it as needed. In very old cars there was even a knob put on the wheel that enabled it to be easily turned with one hand! (I suppose that this knob must have been removed when people learned that hitting such a knob in an accident is probably very unpleasant.)

Palming works very poorly if complex steering input is required; try it on a slalom course if you get the chance, as I guarantee that your hand will slip off the wheel and you will lose control of the car and hit a cone or two. (If the driver's hand slips off the wheel it is difficult to recover control of the vehicle---and this can lead to accidents.) Palming barely works on sports cars (due to their stiffer steering). Finally, palming places your steering arm in danger of being broken in an accident due to air bag deployment: For example, if you are steering with your left hand at 3 o'clock and the airbag deploys, you might suffer a broken arm. (The symmetrical case holds for right-handed steering at 9 o'clock, of course.)

The advantage of palming is that one can drive any car with power steering while leaving the other hand free to hold coffee or a Big Mac, and this can be useful. But is it worth it to risk one's safety just to enjoy fast food in the car? I think not, particularly since I've never figured out how to dip chicken McNuggets while driving.

Don't fall into the error of thinking, "I'll stop palming the moment that an accident is about to happen," since if people had this much time to reason, accidents just wouldn't happen. If you must palm, at least get prepared to drop that giant diet coke so you can grab the wheel with two hands, and don't waste precious moments trying to put it down inside the beverage holder; you're better off having the inside of your car cleaned than sending it to a body shop for a month.


Hand-over-hand is (usually) a two-handed technique where the arms can sometimes be crossed. For example, there can be moments where the right hand is at 10 and the left hand is at 2. This technique is a total disaster, since an airbag deployment at moments like this may leave both of your arms broken. Furthermore, if complex steering inputs are required, the arms can get very confused and be placed in such a way that it takes considerable time to figure out how to manipulate the wheel. Inputs from this technique are often very jerky, and a car prefers smooth steering inputs. It is difficult to appreciate how ugly and clumsy this technique is until you watch people flail at the wheel during a slalom course.

Hand-over-hand also tends to result in an improper grip of the wheel, where the thumb is wrapped around the inside, and this puts the thumb at risk if the car should slide into a curb, for example. Hand-over-hand also has the unfortunate property that only one hand is actually gripping the wheel at many times, as the second hand is going through the air avoiding the first one. So, while this looks like a two-handed technique, it frequently isn't. Maximum confusion often results when one wants to change the direction of turning when one hand is on the wheel and the other is in the air trying to cross over the former, and these kinds of delays are never desirable, particularly if you're in an emergency.

Shuffle Steering

"Shuffle steering" is a simple technique for managing the steering wheel of an automobile or truck. This technique enables you to have full control of the steering input without ever getting confused, and you can seamlessly go from delicate corrections to big motions (U-turns or parallel parking) with ease. Happily, if your steering needs are even more advanced---let's say that you attend Bobby Ore's incredible stunt driving school---he will force you to use his own unique (more constrained) version of shuffle steering (discussed further on this very web page), as he does not tolerate the alternatives (palming or hand-over-hand).

In short, your left hand always stays on the left half of the wheel. Your right hand always stays on the right half of the wheel. So, the highest your hands can go is where both hands are at 12 o'clock (your hands touch their index fingers together). The lowest both hands can go is 6 o'clock (where your hands touch their pinkies together).

Note that the left hand is nearly always in position to operate the signal stalk (turn signals, etc.)! And should you be driving a state-of-the-art car with a sequential manual gearbox with steering column-mounted shifting paddles (a Ferrari 360 "F1"), your left and right hands will always be in position to change gears!

A hand can either grip the wheel or gently touch the wheel. If you move the wheel under a hand that is gently touching the wheel you should hear the quiet sound of the wheel's leather sliding against skin. If you were looking at a photograph of somebody shuffle steering, you would be unable to tell the difference between gripping and touching, as they look the same. (You could only tell by watching a video of the wheel turning.) Your hands never leave contact with the wheel. If the wheel is stationary, both hands are gripping. If the wheel is moving, one hand is gripping (the one that is turning the wheel), and the other hand is sliding, although you should "unwind" the wheel by relaxing both grips. If the wheel is stationary you can change the height of your grip (say from 11 and 1 to 9 and 3) by quickly relaxing and sliding the left hand and then doing the same with the right (or the converse, of course).

Your thumb is on the top of the wheel, pinching it between your fingers on the other side.

There is general shuffle steering, and a more restricted version invented by Bobby Ore, and they differ in minor details. I will describe both techniques, and you should choose your favorite version (or just use both as you see fit). I personally use the Ore version of shuffle steering because it is so elegant.

There is an excellent reference on shuffle steering by Tim Moser that seems to be reprinted in several web sites, and I strongly recommend that you read it; one instance is at Moser also talks about seating positions, etc.

(Ordinary) Shuffle Steering

When you turn right, it is because your right hand is pulling down on the wheel. When you turn left, it is because your left hand is pulling down on the wheel. This pulling down comes from your back muscles, and is therefore very powerful. So, if you're going to take a right turn, slide your right hand up the wheel, grip, and then start pulling down. If you "run out of wheel" (the right hand hit edge of its legal range of motion [6 o'clock]), the left hand can grab the wheel to keep it from turning, and you slide the right hand up, grab the wheel again, relax the left, and then continue pulling down with the right.

If you want, you can continue the right-hand turns by pushing up with your left hand on the wheel (while the right hand slides), and this will be somewhat faster, as you will not have the slight delay in waiting for your right hand to slide up the wheel and start pulling down again.

So in ordinary shuffle steering your hands can be in various positions on their respective sides, and you can slide the hands around to adjust where they rest. In general, when you anticipate a right-hand turn, you would slide the right hand up (say to 2 or 1) in order to get a good grip, and then you would turn. You could leave your left hand down near 6 to pull up to continue the turn, or you might leave it at 9 to hold the wheel so the right hand can go up near the top and pull further.

(Bobby Ore) Shuffle Steering
Bobby Ore has developed the ultimate steering technique, a variation of shuffle steering. In short, he adds one constraint, both hands must always be at the same height. In other words, here are some "legal" positions (given the left and then the right hand):

  • 12 and 12 (index fingers touching)
  • 11 and 1
  • 10 and 2
  • 9 and 3
  • 8 and 4 (the suggested default grip)
  • 7 and 5
  • 6 and 6 (pinky fingers touching)

Note that if you know where one hand is, you know where the other hand is.

So think of this more like raising and lowering your hands, where they are at the same height. The only exception to this same height rule would be when you are adjusting the height of your hands without turning the wheel because you feel like doing so.

Mild right-hand turn

Let's say that your right hand is at 3 o'clock. (This means that your left hand is at 9 o'clock.) You want to turn right. You relax the grip on your left hand and the right hand pulls the wheel down to 5 o'clock. (This means that your left hand slides down to 7 o'clock at the same time.) You grip with both hands again.

Mild right-hand turn
As an alternative to the above, you could raise your hands, but grip with the left (only). Lifting your hands is harder than lowering your hands (as you are being powered by weak shoulders vs. a strong back), but this works as well.

Strong left hand turn

You would pull down with the left hand. If you ran out of wheel (both hands hit 6 o'clock), you would continue the turn by moving both hands up while pushing with the right.

U-Turn (on left)

You would pull down with the left hand all the way until 6 o'clock, and then push up with the right hand all the way to 12 o'clock, and then pull back down with the left hand until 6 o'clock, etc. Remember to let the car unwind the wheel for you. You can do this faster than hand-over-hand with a bit of practice. Remember that with the Ore system both hands must always follow each other at the same height.

How I take a right turn in practice....

My hands will be resting at 7 and 5, gripping the wheel. As the turn comes up, I push up with my left hand (right follows), and then pull down with my right hand (left follows), and the car will start to turn, with my hands already back at the rest position. When the turn is nearly completed, I relax my grip and the wheel moves through my fingers (returning to center), with no hand motion, and then I grip the wheel again.

Note that you are always free to break a large movement up into two half movements: A large push (with the left hand, for example) can be a half push (left) followed by a half pull (right); similarly, a large pull can be a half pull followed by a half push. Two half movements have the property that your hands go back to where they were, e.g., back to the rest position, and the concept behind Ore's symmetrical hand movement starts to shine.

Note: it should be noted that the 8 and 4 position is highly controversial as some says it's more dangerous than the 10/2 or 9/3... here's a website that discusses its safety hazards...

Thursday, September 4, 2008

Interesting clips

Yeah I'm bored again, and when I'm bored I surf the vast archive of YouTube.... xD
You'll never know what kind of new clips you can stumble upon there^^

And here are a couple of racing clips that really satiate my longing for my FC T.T
A Best Motoring race between RE AMEMIYA RX-7, Yoshio Factory S15 and Aqua Impreze at Ebisu Circuit, Orido and Akira displays amazing racing skills in the race as their battle really heated up in the middle of the race^^ enjoy..

And here is another clip that is worth noting, a revival of the famous Midnight Club!!?? O.o
Well none of them mention of being a member of the Midnight Club, its just the title of the video mention it xD
but man their cars really burns the Wangan xD