On midengined cars and driving - Page 8 - LotusTalk - The Lotus Cars Community
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post #141 of 166 (permalink) Old 03-10-2011, 08:03 AM
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Here's one thing I noticed that I don't see mentioned. When I started autocrossing I of course did a bunch of things wrong (and still do sometimes of course). One of my favorite mistakes early on was braking, and then turning while still braking. This doesn't work well, and is a recipie for serious understeer. The exciting part is when you have done this a few times and remember "oh crap I'm braking still" and stop braking, then something quite counter intuitive happens. The weight goes off the front and the front tires catch sharply. Based on the above thread one would expect the opposite, but I think there is a suspension geometry issue at work.

Correct me if I'm wrong, but what I think is happening is the braking pushes the front down so far that the effective camber is changed to the point that only the inside portion of the tires is working. Letting off the brakes puts the tires flat again, and more tire gives more grip.

So if you Brake then turn then stop braking the camber change can get you into oversteer.
If you go into a turn with throttle still on and lift you can get oversteer.

So for a driver new to the platform, the way to be safe is to make sure you do any braking or lifting *before* you turn in. Any case where you turn the wheel with your foot on the pedals means you need to know what you are doing from there on.

You have to learn to apply throttle and braking in the turns to go fast (throttle steer and trail braking etc), but what I don't think was clear from the above is what the recipe for "safe" is.

Safe = finish all braking and then turn without using the pedals (as long as you did enough braking of course!!).

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post #142 of 166 (permalink) Old 03-10-2011, 08:13 AM
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Think of the "friction circle". Tires only have so much grip and you have to allocate that grip between turning and acceleration/deceleration. If you are braking full on and try to turn, the front tires already are devoting full grip to braking. There's very little if anything left to turn and perhaps that's why you are getting understeer.
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post #143 of 166 (permalink) Old 03-10-2011, 08:55 AM
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Think of the "friction circle". Tires only have so much grip and you have to allocate that grip between turning and acceleration/deceleration. If you are braking full on and try to turn, the front tires already are devoting full grip to braking. There's very little if anything left to turn and perhaps that's why you are getting understeer.
Great, I am not the only one preaching the "friction circle"!
surprises me how many drivers, most better than me, know nothing about this

Apexes are a lot like relationships. So tough to get right, so easy to see where they went wrong.

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post #144 of 166 (permalink) Old 03-10-2011, 09:04 AM
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Safe = finish all braking and then turn without using the pedals (as long as you did enough braking of course!!).
This is safe, the next step would be trail-braking. Back to the friction circle again.

From the reading I have done, Mark Donahue was a master of trail-breaking.

The best I read on this was imagine a string going from the bottom of your steering wheel to the break pedal. If you are steering straight, you can use maximum breaks. As the wheel goes further from straight, the breaks should be applied proportionally less and less

Apexes are a lot like relationships. So tough to get right, so easy to see where they went wrong.

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post #145 of 166 (permalink) Old 03-10-2011, 09:37 AM
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You are correct in your advice and a little fuzzy on the cause. You don't need to reference camber to explain these effects. The weight does not immediately and completely come off the front tires when you release the brakes.

In fact, you can use this to your advantage. One of the problems with mid-engine (and rear-engine) cars is that there is not a lot of weight on the front and they can refuse to turn in, giving understeer on corner entry.

Remember the mass distribution of your car does not change. It is the mass on the front of the car that needs to be moved sideways as the car turns in.

The weight distribution of the car changes all the time due to the kinetic inertia caused by changes in velocity.

As you approach an autocross corner, squeeze on the brakes. Brake hard and straight. The front of the car goes down due to the increased weight on the front. Come off the brakes quickly, don't squeeze them off. Now the front springs are still pushing the front tires into the pavement. For just an instant, you have the extra weight on the front while you are no longer asking the tires to do any braking (there's that "friction-circle thing again). Turn in immediately as you release the brake. The trick of course, is to know where to brake to make this happen.

I gave this advice to a guy (who is a much faster autocross driver than I will ever be; he wins SCCA Solo Nationals trophies) when he got a C-Mod Formula Ford. He tells me it helped a lot.

Slow In. Fast Out.

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Here's one thing I noticed that I don't see mentioned. When I started autocrossing I of course did a bunch of things wrong (and still do sometimes of course). One of my favorite mistakes early on was braking, and then turning while still braking. This doesn't work well, and is a recipie for serious understeer. The exciting part is when you have done this a few times and remember "oh crap I'm braking still" and stop braking, then something quite counter intuitive happens. The weight goes off the front and the front tires catch sharply. Based on the above thread one would expect the opposite, but I think there is a suspension geometry issue at work.

Correct me if I'm wrong, but what I think is happening is the braking pushes the front down so far that the effective camber is changed to the point that only the inside portion of the tires is working. Letting off the brakes puts the tires flat again, and more tire gives more grip.

So if you Brake then turn then stop braking the camber change can get you into oversteer.
If you go into a turn with throttle still on and lift you can get oversteer.

So for a driver new to the platform, the way to be safe is to make sure you do any braking or lifting *before* you turn in. Any case where you turn the wheel with your foot on the pedals means you need to know what you are doing from there on.

You have to learn to apply throttle and braking in the turns to go fast (throttle steer and trail braking etc), but what I don't think was clear from the above is what the recipe for "safe" is.

Safe = finish all braking and then turn without using the pedals (as long as you did enough braking of course!!).
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post #146 of 166 (permalink) Old 03-10-2011, 09:42 AM
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This is safe, the next step would be trail-braking. Back to the friction circle again.

From the reading I have done, Mark Donahue was a master of trail-breaking.
A guy was trying to convince Jackie Stewart how great trail-braking was. The Mod Scott wasn't buying it.

"Well, you know, Bob Bondurant has had excellent results with trail braking".

"And how many World Championships has Bob Bondurant won?"

Different strokes...
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post #147 of 166 (permalink) Old 03-10-2011, 09:43 AM
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That's not to say you should be coasting in a turn either. Generally you want to minimize delay between using the brake and gas pedal, even if only to provide maintenance throttle.

Anyway, don't listen to me. Listen to your driving instructor and read some books.
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post #148 of 166 (permalink) Old 03-10-2011, 10:09 AM
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That's not to say you should be coasting in a turn either. Generally you want to minimize delay between using the brake and gas pedal, even if only to provide maintenance throttle.

Anyway, don't listen to me. Listen to your driving instructor and read some books.
Especially if there is any speed to be had in the course following this corner, you want to be already squeezing on the power before you get to your late apex. Make that straight longer.

SIFO! Can't say it often enough.

Again, this is autocross advice. On the public roads, you really want to be slow-in, faster-out, with the possibility of staying slow if you must.
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post #149 of 166 (permalink) Old 03-10-2011, 12:27 PM
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Especially if there is any speed to be had in the course following this corner, you want to be already squeezing on the power before you get to your late apex. Make that straight longer.

SIFO! Can't say it often enough.

Again, this is autocross advice. On the public roads, you really want to be slow-in, faster-out, with the possibility of staying slow if you must.
And you are talking about "fast" now, which is different than the "safe" I was describing . Fast is the antonym of safe . Coasting through the turns is safest. There is only one way to screw it up and that's to coast too fast.

On an autocross course you can play with "faster."

IMHO, this probably is the order of decreasing safety... Also, I believe that this is in decreasing order of time to be gained as well.

1. Adding light throttle to counteract the engine drag is probably actually the first "faster" thing to try. "light" being the key word. The car will feel *more* stable if you do this right. Most people already do some of this when they drive normally, but if you put your entry speed near the limit of traction you are scrubbing off no speed through the turn, and you don't have any extra friction circle to handle squirrels/sand/potholes/whatnot at the end of the turn (which maybe you can't see at the start), so even this technique isn't really to be practiced on the street near the limits of traction.

2. Then some increased throttle on exit... "some" being important again Over do it and you wind up drifting which can lead to spinning.

3. Then trail-braking when you need to get the car rotated more than plain engine drag alone, over do it and you WILL spin...

4. Then perhaps the weight transfer to the front for turn-in described above, but at this point you are seeking to gain rotation without loosing a lot of speed and timing is key too late and you didn't brake soon enough and can't make the turn, too early and your too slow before you are in position to turn in.

5. I've recently become aware that there is also a little "wheel twitch" technique where you intentionally throttle the car through a sweeper and get just very slightly over the limit and then lightly twitch the wheel as it starts to loose traction to regain traction. Top drivers often keep it so close to the edge that they twitch the wheel to regain traction several times in a sweeper. (this and the previous one are things I'm still trying to learn). Obviously because you are going over the limit of traction just a bit, this can go horribly wrong if your twitch is too violent, or you don't twitch soon enough.

As for the friction circle vs camber, I have heard of and generally understand the concept of a friction circle, but for some reason in the past I convinced myself I needed something additional to explain this. Now I can't think what it was. I think perhaps it may be that the stark increase in traction is the difference between sliding and rolling friction but I thought of camber changes before I remembered that...

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post #150 of 166 (permalink) Old 03-10-2011, 02:08 PM
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Hmmm, I think your list makes too many generalizations and I'm not sure that beginners should be taught that coasting is always the safest thing to do. I agree that being careful about the entry speed is important for beginners.
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post #151 of 166 (permalink) Old 03-10-2011, 02:44 PM
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I did say IMHO... (in my honest opinion) feel free to have your own opinion.

Mostly this thread up to this point left me with the feeling that a reader would think it was dangerous to drive a mid-engined car. I hope mostly to point out that it can be done safely if you simply don't push too hard or try fancy stuff.

Then I felt like sharing a few techniques I had learned a little bit about, and disagreeing a bit with the previous comment that seemed to say that the first thing people ought to try to learn is trail braking. Maintaining speed with throttle and then accelerating out of the turn (slow in fast out) is going to give you much better results than trail braking which is only needed in some specific situations. (at least that's my opinon).

Also, in watching non-racers drive on the street, I have found that many of them are in the habit of braking as they turn into exit ramps or around corners. How many times have you seen the brake lights on a Sentra or Camry or other non-performance car still lit 1/4 to 1/3 of the way around a ramp?

This works fine if you are not near the limit of traction, but people who get in a sports car naturally have the urge to push the limit. This will go badly if they brake and turn the way they always have, and particularly badly in a mid-engined car where recovery from a "starting to spin" state can be more difficult since the back has more incentive to go in front .

So my idea is to set firmly in the mind that braking and turning are two different and separate actions that should not be combined without forethought anywhere near the limits of traction.

I'm happy to have others with more experience say why I'm wrong in any of this... less thrilled if they say "you're wrong" without explanation .

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post #152 of 166 (permalink) Old 03-10-2011, 05:33 PM
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loving looseness

In my foolish youth I had an 914. Coming into OC the top of the 9th st bridge has a section of steel grating leading into a sweeping left into town. Cold winter nights it was routine to give the wheel a twitch once on the slippery grating kicking the rear out a bit, catching it as returning to the concrete and going down the bridge. What fun Don
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post #153 of 166 (permalink) Old 02-26-2012, 10:51 PM
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Isn't this section,

"I'm new here"

I don't know about my car spining but my head is definitely spining!!!!
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post #154 of 166 (permalink) Old 02-27-2012, 09:33 AM
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I did say IMHO... (in my honest opinion) feel free to have your own opinion.

Mostly this thread up to this point left me with the feeling that a reader would think it was dangerous to drive a mid-engined car. I hope mostly to point out that it can be done safely if you simply don't push too hard or try fancy stuff.

Then I felt like sharing a few techniques I had learned a little bit about, and disagreeing a bit with the previous comment that seemed to say that the first thing people ought to try to learn is trail braking. Maintaining speed with throttle and then accelerating out of the turn (slow in fast out) is going to give you much better results than trail braking which is only needed in some specific situations. (at least that's my opinon).

Also, in watching non-racers drive on the street, I have found that many of them are in the habit of braking as they turn into exit ramps or around corners. How many times have you seen the brake lights on a Sentra or Camry or other non-performance car still lit 1/4 to 1/3 of the way around a ramp?

This works fine if you are not near the limit of traction, but people who get in a sports car naturally have the urge to push the limit. This will go badly if they brake and turn the way they always have, and particularly badly in a mid-engined car where recovery from a "starting to spin" state can be more difficult since the back has more incentive to go in front .

So my idea is to set firmly in the mind that braking and turning are two different and separate actions that should not be combined without forethought anywhere near the limits of traction.

I'm happy to have others with more experience say why I'm wrong in any of this... less thrilled if they say "you're wrong" without explanation .
I can pretty-much say "you're correct" without explanation. Brake before the turn, especially if it is The Kink at Road America.

In autocrossing, I find it is best to brake before turning in, come off the brakes fast and turn in immediately. This allows me to turn in while there is still extra weight on the front wheels.

On the road, I don't drive anywhere close to the limits.
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post #155 of 166 (permalink) Old 02-27-2012, 02:54 PM
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As a new comer this is very scary reading this. It sounds like posters are saying in some way this car is a handful compared to other traditional designed cars.

I think it needs to be made clear that this is not the case. Correct me if I'm wrong but with all cars braking should be done before cornering, not during, then power out.

The lotus is a very good car which I feel doesn't do anything out of the ordinary. If you push any car to it's limit you can get into trouble.

The trick is don't push it to the limits on public roads (as with any car) and respect wet slippery surfaces.

In Oz we have a High performance vehicle like a pickup (called a ute) HSV Maloo. It is made by GM (holden) and has 307kW (latest model 317kW) fron a 6.2 litre V8 engine, rear wheel drive, engine up front, very popular here (this car has all it's weight at the front like the hammer example) . These cars are so dangerous in the wet and on power. Many end up around poles because they are so easy to loose, funny enough, because they have no weight in the back.
A link to a picture of this vehicle with some explanations of it's performance;
http://www.webwombat.com.au/motoring...-maloo-ute.htm


I would be rather driving a Lotus, much safer.

Last edited by West oz loti; 02-27-2012 at 03:46 PM. Reason: Adding picture of HSV Maloo
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post #156 of 166 (permalink) Old 02-27-2012, 06:00 PM
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Yeah, I think it's important to not loose site of the fact that all of this is true of all vehicles, I think there are a few factors that make vehicles more dangerous, perhaps the perception by the driver that the vehicle *should* go fast. Drivers of all sports cars are more likely to try to go fast. The lotus is actually much safer at speed X than almost any other vehicle because it *does* handle well, the problem comes when you take it to speed X+n... where no vehicle is safe. As with all vehicles it has a limit. The only cause for concern is that if you actually do get the back end moving around, it's heavier than the front.

The truck like thing you linked clearly has so much torque that it easily creates throttle oversteer. In that case I can imagine that it's all too easy to start powering out of a turn, and loose the back end. It's also probably really easy to create wheel spin in the 2-3 gear transition when drag racing it. And at that point you have lots of speed, and a wagging back end can get you in a lot of trouble fast.

The basic theme is with great power (handling or engine) comes great responsibility.

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post #157 of 166 (permalink) Old 11-29-2012, 02:48 PM
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Porsche High-Performance Driving Handbook ( now in 2nd edition)






I don't know if this was mentioned in the 8 page thread, but I would consider it a must read for anyone new to pushing the limits in one of these cars. He goes into all the concepts of driving hard at the limits. Some sections you will want to read 10 times in order to get it planted in your head.

It really helps to learn all the concepts before you hit the track or auto-x event. This book walks you through all the methods and ideas that you need to use when you push the car.

"When in doubt, stand on the brakes before you turn the steering wheel. But never after you turn the steering wheel"

It's good stuff. I think i'll read it again now that i'm Lotus'd
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post #158 of 166 (permalink) Old 11-29-2012, 04:21 PM
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Where is the logic that understeer is safer? At least with oversteer you get what you asked for. With understeer, the car is not doing what your asking it to do.
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post #159 of 166 (permalink) Old 11-29-2012, 04:29 PM
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If you watch the famous eddie griffin enzo crash, I think its obvious that ferrari did not dial in this massive understeer on purpose. In fact, they simply cant get rid of understeer. It is not an option made by the factory, it is physics. And toeing in the front to "eliminate understeer" is retarded logic, as your ruining the tires because the car is always turning left, and right.


BAM!
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post #160 of 166 (permalink) Old 05-10-2013, 08:00 PM
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Of course I can't resist commenting in this section, having owned a few rear / mid-engined cars. I'm not going to go into the physics or dynamics. Instead I'm going to recount some anecdotes. I am *very* familiar with the rear-weight-bias "pendulum effect". One time I went through 5 full oscillations before I got it back under control. Eventually I learned to cool my heels. Better not to go there than try to save it at the limit. Of course, I've decided to go racing in SRFs, so that's easier said than done.

My first car was a '58 Volkswagen beetle. Oddly enough, the center of gravity of the car is very close to the geometric center of chassis. This was proved to one day, when, trying to get a little more lift from our short-throw jack, we pushed it a bit further forward so that was nearly amid-ships, and as we lifted, we were astonished to find the car perfectly, (though precariously) balanced -- with all four wheels off the ground. The center of gravity of that rear-engined car is only a couple inches behind the mid-point between the front and rear axles.

Needless to say, that car had treacherous handling characteristics -- perhaps illustrating the difference between center of mass, and polar moment of inertia. The center of gravity might have been near the geometric center of the car, but at the limit, very counter-intuitive things would happen. They could happen either slowly or quickly, but they were rarely what you expected. Auto-crossing that car, I learned that lifting mid-corner is a recipe for disaster. You lift before you brake, and the instant you're done braking, you get back on the throttle. Doing anything else would send you into a spin.

When I was 16, I spun the car on a freeway cloverleaf. I thought if I could go through there at 40 mph in the dry, I could do it at 35 in the wet. Nope. Those 4 1/2" tires, it let go. I tried to correct, but the snap-back got me, and the next thing I knew I was looking at the car that had previously been behind me. What's funny about it is how slowly the initial over steer had been. It was on the order of a degree per second, but I could still feel that I had lost control of the car. Even more astonishing was how quickly the correction sent me back in the other direction. It was almost instant, like you experience with a go-kart.

Fast forward a few years, after I had bought this first-generation supercharged MR2. Fun car in dry weather, but incredibly spooky in the damp. Even partial throttle would produce wheel-spin in the wet. Modest acceleration, enough to keep up with traffic, would have the car all twitching and tail-happy. After a while, I got used to it. But one day I almost did myself in again. This time it was throttle-on over steer. I went around this corner that in dry weather I was used to taking flat. But that night, it was foggy (not even raining), and then next thing I knew, I was looking at the curb. I thought for sure I was going to hit the curb, and paniced. Through sheer reflex, I lifted, counter-steered, and was astonished to find I had not hit the curb, but was pointing down the road as I had originally intended.

So, rear-engined cars aren't always counter-intuitive. You cope with throttle-on over steer the same way you would in any other RWD car. It's trailing throttle over-steer that gets you: the only cure is to get back on the gas, before it even happens.

I've driven Spec Racer Fords at a number of tracks, and I can say that they are even harder to drive in the wet than that MR2. When they let go, the initial oversteer is very slow -- just like that day in the Bug (which I will never, ever forget). You think you can correct it, but you can't. Counter-steering seems to have no effect, neither does applying more throttle. If you don't sense the spin before it comes, you're done for.

I haven't driven an Elise yet, but I'm hoping that they're a little more refined than all that.

If there are any worried Elise owners out there who would like to work on their reflexes, I can offer a few suggestions. The first is to take any opportunity you can to get into a go kart. Indoor or outdoor, (indoor to start with), it will teach you how to sense and recover from an impending spin in an environment where losing control is not catastrophic. If you live near San Francisco, I recommend Go Kart Racer in Burlingame, CA. The dynamics of a kart are very similar to the dynamics of a rear- or mid-engined car, only more treacherous. If you can deal with one of those, any street car will feel like it's in slow motion.

Failing that, I recommend a Force-feedback steering wheel, and Need For Speed: Porsche Unleashed. It's worth setting up a windows 98 virtual machine for the sake of this game, as the rear-engined physics are accurate. Sensing an impending spin is really a full-body experience that can't be simulated. But this is a cheap way to learn how to respond to the steering feedback. You'll feel the steering go light just before a spin. Eventually, this will train your reflexes to recover from trailing-throttle over-steer.

Last edited by emdash; 05-10-2013 at 08:11 PM.
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