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Re: newbies

To: "Alek Tziortzis" <>, <>
Subject: Re: newbies
From: "Rocky Entriken" <>
Date: Thu, 28 Sep 2000 17:33:38 -0500
-----Original Message-----
From: Alek Tziortzis <>
To: <>
Date: Thursday, September 28, 2000 3:24 PM
Subject: newbies

>I would think that teaching newbies to autox
>is the priority. USually new drivers have problems
>with finding the course, driving too fast/too slow,
>etc. Now you are FORCING them to drive  at 10 and 2
>(after years of driving on the street another way),
>to me that is a distraction. If they can effectively
>turn the wheel and have no problems turning it as fast
>as they need to, then why have them change that?

Because part of teaching people to drive in competition is breaking old/bad
habits. IMHO, lazy hands is a bad habit.

>show me one ounce of fact that proves that 10 and 2
>is the most effective driving position.

Okay. This is not scientific, just my analysis from many years of
experience. At 10 and 2, driving in a straight line, your hands are
essentially hanging on the wheel. Gravity pulls both hands down on a line
running parallel to each other as well as roughly equidistant from the hub.
They are balanced. Having both hands at 12 would do the same, true, but it
is the difference between walking the high wire with a long balance pole and
walking it carrying nothing. Balance is better with that long pole. Having
the hands on the outside of the wheel, rather than at the top, gives better

>BTW, my hands are still at 12 oclcok through out the whole turn.

Really! You are in a big lefthand sweeper, doing, oh, 45 or so, and your
hands are both still at 12 o'clock when centrifugal force is trying very
hard to make your hands pull your wheel OUT of its left turn? I bet if you'd
check, even if your hands are still together, you are more in Mark Martin
mode and both your hands are more like 10 o'clock, or 9:30. You would have
them in a position on the wheel that the centrifugal force pulls them on a
line that goes roughly through the hub. If they aren't, you must really be
fighting that wheel!

>I can see two hands on the wheel a must, the illustration of Dean
>Sapp and Jeff Altenburg was simply to relate how you can do well
>with your personal style as long as it is effective.

True. But newbies don't have a personal style yet. They are learning. We who
teach should teach good basics, and not let them perpetuate bad habits. Sapp
and Altenburg (and you, too) know what to do with your hands in your odd
usage from years of practice and studying what works for you. They don't.

>(ie, you dont get crossed up with your hands). Its whatever you
>are comfortable with. Does the car know the difference?
>the steering wheel? I think not.

IMHO, yes the car does know the difference when you have your hands balanced
on the wheel as opposed to fighting the wheel because of bad hand positions.

>BTW, My legal name is Alek. I accept
>Alex because people mistake Alek for Alex.
>So either is fine.

I knew that, and was just tweaking you. You are just too easy-going about
your name. :-) Me, I'm picky about using and spelling people's names
correctly (must be the journalist in me) so I make you Alek even when I see
it otherwise. Besides, I like its uniqueness.

>You say "Mark Martin drives corners in ovals with both hands at 10-11
o'clock. It
>works for him after many years of doing it that way."
>thats my precise point. If someone is driving on the street one way,
>why are you trying to change them?

Because the average newbie is no Mark Martin. Mark does it that way for a
specific reason. For him, being a man of slight build, he had to do that
back when he was doing local dirt tracks in Arkansas. He needed two hands
pulling the wheel to the left because he was not strong enough to do it with
a 9 & 3 technique (no power steering in those bombers either). At least,
that's his story and he sticks to it. But also, his technique is a studied
and purposeful one.

Your average newbie frankly has no idea why his hands are where they are. It
is just a habit he fell into. How many people drive down the highway with
one hand draped over the wheel, only his wrist touching, while the other
hangs out the window? How many do it with one hand at 6 o'clock? How many do
it sitting so far forward their nose is up against the wheel? How many drive
slouching in the seat, or with one arm draped over the back? Enough it is

Wouldn't want to drive Solo II that way. We try to break those and other bad
habits. We try to teach drivers to think about what they are doing, and why
they are doing it a certain way, not just to keep doing it the mindless,
habitual way they did before. Most drivers, frankly, drive badly. They don't
think, they don't look ahead. They are not "driving," but just operating a
machine that is fairly simple to operate adequately, but not that easy to
operate well. Technique is the primary difference between them and us. When
teaching, we should instill good technique. Ultimately, it is technique that
enables us to go as quick as we do with the skill level we have.

>I fail to see the logic in your reasoning.

One technique that gets a lot of debate is, in turning the wheel, whether
shuffle or cross-hands is better. People will denounce both. I think either
is okay as long as it is smooth (and both *can* have problems if the driver
does not do them well). I don't try to break a driver of one or the other,
just to see what the pitfalls are so he can avoid them. I also teach a "turn
preparation" technique that E.Paul Dickinson (first 5-time champ) taught me.
It works a lot better from 10 & 2 than from 12 & 12.

Besides autocross, I also teach High Performance Car Control Clinics at
Heartland Park, and I always ask for newbies. Before we ever go out on the
track, I drive the paddock roads with them and work on hands. I've had them
come in from track sessions remarking at how much more controllable the car
was because of the better hand positions. The car was as controllable as it
ever was, just that they were doing it better and, in fact, found it more
comfortable and thus had more confidence in it.

>Alex Tziortzis
>1998 Camaro Z28 1LE

--Rocky Entriken

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