Different corners and different conditions may require fast hands or slow hands — but always smooth hands
Racing coaches will hammer on being smooth, to ease the car into doing what you want it to do so as not to upset the chassis — and being smooth on the steering wheel is a critical component of that. Sometimes those hand movements will need to be fast, sometimes slow. But, always, smooth.
“Smooth hands, no matter what,” says Tom Long, Mazda factory driver and driving coach. “You can have quick hands and still be smooth. And whenever dealing with high-speed corners, that’s where slow hands come in, which are smooth as well. The farther ahead your eyes are looking, the smoother your hands are going to be because they’re not reacting to information that’s invalid or late.”
Long was one of the judges at the Mazda Road to 24 Shootout held last December at the Bob Bondurant School of High Performance Driving facility within the Wild Horse Pass Motorsports complex just outside of Phoenix, Arizona. MazdaMotorsports.com used the occasion to pick his brain on the topic, along with a couple of his fellow judges, Andrew Carbonell and Oliver Askew.
The challenging Bondurant track provided good examples for the pro drivers to use to explain the concepts. The circuit’s first two turns are a 90-degree right-left combination that requires quick hand movements. The next significant turn is a long sweeper — a good example of a corner where slow hand movements are critical.
“Turn 1 is not nearly as important [as Turn 2],” explains Askew, the 2017 USF2000 Championship presented by Cooper Tires champion. “The exit of Turn 2 leads onto a long straightaway, so it’s important to have a late, sharp turn into Turn 1 so you have a good angle to get through Turn 2. If you’re too slow on the entry into Turn 1, you’re not going to have the car pointed properly to get through Turn 2 and onto the throttle as soon as possible.”