Speed Is Not the Only Way to Appreciate High Performance Cars
Modern sports cars out perform today's speed restricted roads so it is necessary to find other ways of having fun with a sports car that do not risk the driver's licence.
Sports cars are about high-performance in all aspects of their character including precision handling accuracy and driver feedback. High speed and acceleration are only part of the picture and s with modern crowded roads one that is given too much emphasis.
Fast Cars Out-perform Public Roads
The brakes on modern high-performance cars are often more impressive than the power. But it provides limited opportunity for enjoyment. Similarly the out and out road holding capability of most cars out performs the public road, and most drivers, so as with speed enjoying it to the full is best left to a track day. At least if one wants to keep a clean licence.
Precision Handling and Driver Feedback
The handling of a proper sporting car is often under-valued as it requires concentration and thought to appreciate. The big plus is that is about accuracy and not just speed or pushing the limits of grip. Enjoying the precision and feedback of a sports car need not be at all anti-social and does not put the driver’s licence or, more importantly, other road users at risk.
Roadcraft - Secret of Quick and Safe Driving
First the enthusiastic driver has to stop thinking in terms of “racing lines” or using all the road which are not appropriate to public roads. A good starting point is the advice in Roadcraft, The Police Drivers Handbook which sets out how one can drive quickly and safely and most importantly describes how the driver can position the car on the road to maximise visibility and thereby safety.
It is the official Police Driver’s Handbook and is used to train police drivers. It encourages drivers to improve their skills and awareness of factors such as driver capability, vehicle characteristics, road and traffic conditions. The newest edition also addresses the physical and psychological aspects of driving and development of the mental skills needed to become a better driver – an approach this article is encouraging.
As it has always done Roadcraft explains and illustrates all aspects of improving driving skills including: braking and steering, maintaining vehicle stability, overtaking and especially observation and anticipation. The latter are essential to smooth, safe and quick driving.
Safe, Smooth and Quick
The aim to enjoying the handling of sports car is to be safe, smooth and quick in that order. Achieving smooth flowing progress down an unknown winding road can be immensely rewarding through the pleasure of getting into a zone that is rhythmic and comfortable. That is pleasurable for the driver, comfortable for the passenger and, coupled with awareness of the road and traffic that it requires, safer for all road users.
Heightened Awareness of Car Behaviour
The aim is the heightened awareness that comes with concentration and doing something well. A sports car lends itself to this approach due to its ability to be positioned precisely and its response to subtle driver inputs. This approach will make the driver understand and appreciate wider aspects of a car’s performance whilst at the same time making them a safer driver. It is the thinking driver’s approach to modern high performance motoring.
The writer discovered that he could really enjoy a Porsche 911 on winding country lanes at 50 or 60mph, within the speed limits, just by concentrating on where he was positioning the car on the road to give maximum visibility and the smoothest line without the need for heavy braking or fierce acceleration. With the concentration needed he was able to enjoy the feedback from the vehicle and the ability to position it precisely to maximise quick and smooth progress that could be appreciated by passengers. It was about enjoying aspects that use all the senses and that would be missed when merely focussed on “driving fast”.
Shorter Journey Times
A surprising by-product of this style of driving is that journey times can actually be lower than for more aggressive approaches as well as safer and more comfortable - and fun.
First appeared on Suite101