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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
Ok, we've been talking about pros and cons of ABS, and apparently
, I'm the only one that spins.
For those who have and especially those who haven't...How do you know your limits, till you have exceeded them?
If I see close competition, I will chance a spin, and most times do..to find the limit on a given course. Not really intentional, but S*** happens. Anyone else explore their limits..and beyond? I don't do this in my street car on a road course 9/10's. But seem to spend quite a bit of time backwards in the racecar and on autoX courses.
 

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I can't afford to explore my limits just yet. My car is my daily driver. So before I test the limits of my car.

I'd like to get some instruction on spin control first and other aspects of controling your car at the limit, before I test the limits. But I do agree with you, the only reason I have not spun yet, is because I don't know where the limits are, and am not willing to fully test them yet.
 

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My one spin so far, occured at my first track day. Of course, last lap of the day, when the fog started rolling in. I *believe* the reason was because the track was getting slightly damp and I entered the turn at my same dry track speed.

I don't remember lifting off the throttle too abruptly, nor did I hit the brakes. And it seems as if going up a slight incline I would have had more rear grip. Had I stayed more in the throttle, would I had not spun?
My spin. (2.1 MB)

I'm actually glad I spun on my first track day. Though I still have a healthy fear of it, I'm not paranoid of it either.
 

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Discussion Starter · #4 ·
Appears you were cresting a hill, turning in, and damp. Any lift would have unloaded rear wheels, just when you needed them to grip for turn over the crest. "Mist" might have been "red"
as it looked like you were closing on car in front. Seems you just might have overcooked coming in. Good flag work in the background.
 

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Don't Call Me Gaga!
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I've only spun the Focus twice... Oddly enough both were at National Tours.
I've spun lots of other cars lots of times though.


The first time I was stupid and tried to hang onto a sideways Focus, and it snapped back the other way and around, nice and smooth. Hoosiers on wet pavement.


The most recent time was Bremerton, where the run off room is really small.. and I ended up out in the dirt, almost to the bushes.. That made me a little nervous, but all that came of it was a VERY dirty car, inside and out.

That one was a little funnier, because while sitting on the starting line, I watched the Mini in front of me spin into the dirt there... So I chuckled to myself.. Then I go out and do EXACTLY the same thing right afterward.. We compared tire marks, and they almost lined up perfect! The course workers were probably thinking that H Stock drivers were all real retards...
 

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The first time I seriously spun was at an autocross in at Memphis Motorsports Park where we used part of the road course. I spun out on my 1st run about 1/2 way through the carousel while my wife/co-driver laughed uncontrollably. Life being sweet as it is, she did exactly the same thing while I also laughed uncontrollably. I backed off on the rear shock settings and all went well the rest of the day! I've recently had the joy of using the throttle to pull the car out of two near spins (it really works!) I have had one occasion early on, where I tried to correct with just steering input and just got the car flopping side-to-side. I finally put both feet in and relaxed the steering wheel and it found it's own way to a safe stop. That said, I don't necessarily fear the spin but I definately want to stay away from the "desparate attempt to save it" flop.
 

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Ive spun my car twice.

Once on track once on the street. The one on the street I deeply regret and stands out as the worst driving mistake ive ever made. It was the middle of winter and my friend had just picked up his new DSM so of course there was a little friendly stoplight racing, however we picked a really poor location and the road merged from two lanes into one. Right at the merge point someone had decided to shovel a large pile of snow onto the street. The race was dead even but seeing as how I had to merge he backed off, I kept up to open a little gap and then gave a little flick to move over, unfortunately the little flick happened right on top of the freshly dumped snow. Rear end came around, not possible to save, I had both feet in, narrowly missed getting t-boned by a very large van (that would have been UGLY), car hooked again on and I went back towards the other side of the street, when I was facing sorta forward, I pulled it out with counter steer and ended up in the same lane I started going forward at about 30mph. Needless to say that was an attitude altering moment if there ever was one.

Second spin was in my very first track day. It was at Shannonville and it was raining. (great first track day hehe) I turned into one of the faster corners (turn 2 Fabi for anyone who knows the track) too quickly and the rear end started around, full opposite lock and foot pinned to the floor couldent save it, I gave up when I passed the point of going sideways down the track and exited backwards at 40mph or so. No damage luckily.

Ive had a few other unintentional full on 'sideways dorifto action shot' moments, always related to turn it, usually caused by putting a wheel partly off right at the turn in point.

Yeah im smooth allright.


As for knowing the limits, I find its quite easy to get right up to them in the Focus. If you have the car set up right you will feel the rear start to play a part in the corner and when the slip angle starts to get too uncomfortable you had best be backing off. As I said most of my big moments arent caused mid corner but at corner entry, thats where I feel you need to be most careful. Unfortunately its also where alot of laptime is made up. But I feel like the authors of Going Faster, it is possible to get all the way to 100% of the cars potential without ever spinning it, just as long as you progressively step it up every lap. Sure sometimes you get a little over the edge but if you are stepping it up slowly enough you shouldent go so far over that you cant correct the situation.
 

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usually i just watch the other guy in the focus spin, then try not to do what he did
. The course here doesnt really lend it self to spinning. We have more sweeping corners. But the fast, rwd drivers seem to do it atleast once. The esses at the timing light catch a few backwards/slideways to
 

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on my two spins, one time i banged into neutral (slushbox) and hit brake (the equivalent of both feet in, which is waht i was going for, and somehow my brain translated it inot its auto equivalent), but lately i've been playing around with at-limit behavior quite a bit.

I was on a straight, it was rainy, and i was on my retarded, half bald, GSA's...i could feel the backend get happy. And i could drive fine at that speed with just a bit more driver input than i'd normally want on a straight, and i was the only one out there, no barriers to hit, nothing. I said 'lets push till i spin' so I did.

Since it was open, I attempted a recovery and got one within two spins (keep in mind i spun at about 75 so this was pretty fast recover). ONce i got pointed the right way and my tires were gripping w/throttle input of any kind, I was going abt 35. Was I lucky? stupid? or both. I was DEF reacting to what my car told me same as you do on more controlled limited traction situations, but I couldn't tell you what I did in retrospect


If i was stupid, let me know
, so i don't try to recover (without stopping) again. ANd yes, ABS sucks my left testicle, especially four channel. BEcause it'll grab unevenly every now and then, and attempt to spin my car on straight line braking input alone.
 

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Good topic, but tough to answer.

Personally, I think the occaisional spin shows that at least you are pushing the car. But after a certain point... it starts to get into "you can't drive" territory.

If you've never spun, you're probably not pushing the car as hard as it can go. Now, that's not to say that you want to spin. When you spin, clearly you screwed up. But I think that if you are pushing the car 10/10th, occaisionally [censored] happens, a little dust, a little water, whatever, and around you go.

If you've never spun, it's because you're not pushing so hard that little things will set you over the edge.

But, at the same time, if you're constantly spinning, there is something wrong with your driving.

Thinking about it sitting here, I think the best way to put it is, spinning is OK, as long as you know WHY you spun. There is a clearly defined reason it happened, something you can learn from.

If you're just always spinning, and blaming it on your car, or the weather, or the phases of the moon, then you need help with your driving.

The few times I've spun, I always knew why:

1)In an autocross in 2000, with the infamously dangerous R-compounds with stock shocks setup. The course had a "yump" in it, and I lifted going over the yump, mid corner. Clearly, should not have lifted mid corner, learned from that mistake.

2)At Gingerman, driving in the rain with stock tires. I'm gonna break my rule, and blame it on the tires. With a reservation: These tires are dangerous, and I never should have gone out with them. I'm blaming it on the car, but it's my fault for being out there. Also, a driving error occured. I lifted in the middle of an S curve combo, back end came out, caught it, over corrected the other way, caught it. The car was straight, and then I had that "mysterious release of energy thing" happen. I don't know where the energy came from. I had it straight, wheels straight after the second fishtail, then it just sprung around the other way.
Anyway, driver tire selection error, with a minor driving error.

3)This year at Cayuga, track was dry. I had red mist trying to pass an S2000. I was following him for a couple laps and started following his (suboptimal) lines. I turned in too early, and way early apexed, and ended up heading for the dirt at corner exit. I thought fast enough to go straight off instead of trying to turn and rolling. I straightened the wheel to go straight off, and when I thought I was on the dirt I hit the brakes. But two right side wheels were still on dirt, and the brake differential spun the car. Meriad of driver errors there.

But like I said, I think there's a clearly defined driver error in each case, something I learned from every time. If you're always spinning, and you can't point out a solid reason, or you keep doing it over and over, you need help.

I think everybody should practice some spin saves though. Like SlickShoe's video, I think that was savable. I couldn't hear well, but I don't think you tried to gas out of it. Just immediately locked 'em up. While, it's safe, it would have been safer to save it, and I think it was savable. (
)

The cause was likely the mid corner, crest of a hill lift. But it didn't seem to snap fast enough that it wasn't savable.

You do need that skill, because that type of little driving error that occured is likely to happen alot, and you should have the skills to pull out.

At the same time, you have to know when to just "both feet in it".

-If you're at full lock and full power and it's not coming back to you, BFI.

-If you get it back, but too much and it's going to flick the other way, BFI. If you don't have control after the initial slide, screw it. BFI

-If there is something up ahead that makes a full power opposite lock save dangerous, BFI. Like if there's another tight corner, with a wall up ahead, and the power required to pull you out will make you go into that corner to fast, screw it. I mean, you have to choose, "Can I save this, and if I do, will I be in worse shape for the next corner? Are the consequences of going off on the next corner worse than this one?"

That's a tough call, but I think you should be able to get the feel for it. It's all about risk management. With the adrenaline pumping, you should be able to think fast enough.

At Cayuga, I went straight off in the rain. I locked up one wheel, and didn't slow enough for the corner. Instead of throwing the car into the corner and going off sideways, I recognized the braking zone had a major run-off area, and I just took it. When I spun that day, I had decided that going straight off posed no risks, nothing to hit... but I made a driver error on brake application.

You need to be quick thinking when you're on track.

Or rather... you should know which corners are the riskiest, walls, etc... and drive accordingly.
 

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Discussion Starter · #13 ·
Right P.
You should always learn from a spin and not just say, musta been the weather, crappy tires, moon phase, etc. A spin means YOU lost control. You need to learn and back off a tick, be smoother, pay more attention to conditions, whatever. Point was, if you never spin, you never know your limits, if you spin all the time, you aren't paying attention
. AutoCross is a great place to test your limits. Snowy roads, rain slick highways are NOT
 

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I have yet to spin a focus, and certainly expect to sometime.....but as is, the car is so benign compared to what I'm used to, it will have to be a rather stange set of circumstances (brainfart + low traction conditions) for it to occur. and the first factor is guaranteed to happen


Now I spun my old GTI's fairly often in Solo II. I set all them up completely "hair trigger" and they all had slow, manual steering racks...so sometimes, particularly in the wet, the slightest lift to set the car just made it do the full "Taz" impression, no matter how quickly you were back in the throttle. I usually found the spin helped me know the "edge" on a particular surface, and heck, probably cooked the tires well for the next run. But it often had me thinking about a power steering/faster ratio conversion too.

btw Dave, I have only spun a couple of ABS equipped cars, but at too low a speed to have any "quirky" effect.
 

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Well, I learned yesterday BFI isn't always the best thing to do. Glad it wasn't me. (I've only been autocrossing for a little over a year, so I still consider myself a n00b)

We had a fast slalom, but it wasn't all too smooth. A lot of the scoobies were commenting on how they were having troubles. Even at that section, my back end felt a little light, so I softened my rears a little.

Now I didn't see it, but this is what I learned. During the 2nd heat, a scoobie was entering the slalom, 3 cone I believe. Went left on the first cone, started going right around the 2nd. Here, his back end started to come around, but not too quickly. He then noticed that the current motion was taking him off course towards a metal box. So he slammed on the brakes, which caused the rear to really snap around, and his motion continued until he hit. Fortunatly, it was a low-speed impact to his passenger side, and damage was only to body panels. Upon talking to one of our experience members, I learned that all that was needed was just taking your foot off the gas would have been enough to recover, instead of doing BFI.

I guess its just something that can only be learned with experience.
 

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Maybe this will help:
If you don't spin, you'll never know learn the feedback that the car is giving you up to the point you loose it. Subsequently, you'll be driving with too much apprehension and not enough anticipation.
One way, although it sounds crazy, to overcome this is practice driving slower speed corners as smooth as possible over and over, then faster and faster with the intention of spinning out. There are several positive outcomes of doing this exercise:
1. You'll get feedback from the car and hopefully, you'll learn what it feels like when you're at the limits, or approaching the limits.
2. You'll get rid of the apprehension and start driving with more anticipation.

Then, with practice, you can apply what you've learned to faster corners, resulting in the ability to drive the faster corners faster because you'll have a better feel for the car from learning the limits at slower speeds.

BTW, don't try this on the street.
 

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Upon talking to one of our experience members, I learned that all that was needed was just taking your foot off the gas would have been enough to recover, instead of doing BFI.

I guess its just something that can only be learned with experience.
I think that last line is the most important........as it's really hard to be sure what should have been done to "save" the car.
There is no way of knowing that "lifting only" would have been enough to recover, and it would increase the chances of hitting the object at a higher speed than BFI.

tough call........
 

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That's what I'm trying to say. There is no hard and fast rule, as all situations are different. These are just guidelines. Racing is a risky business, and being a driver is all about risk management.

The subbie driver probably should have noticed the dangerous box during the course walk, and made a mental note. Or, seen it during the spin and reacted accordingly.

Sometimes "[censored] Happens". It's the risk we all take.

These are just guidelines about BFI. However, I would bet than by and large, and BFI reaction will keep you out of MUCH more trouble than it will cause.

For example, if the driver of that subbie had just let off and tried to save it, he might have snapped it the other way, hit a ripple in the pavement, and rolled the car. You really don't know.

I just know that 90% of the serious incidents I've seen is from drivers trying to save a lost car. I can think of only two where a BFI reaction resulted in damage. Both put the car into the wall, with light cosmetic damage (fender, hood, etc.) But then I've seen a number of cars WRECKED from rolls resulting from sliding and "hooking".
 

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Discussion Starter · #20 ·
Knowing where you are (gets back to looking ahead) makes a lot of difference what I do. In a spin, I try to get back 180 degrees as soon as possible. That means I'm going in the general direction I intended and then I can let off brake, get some kinda control and then brake again in a straight line.. Same thing on AutoX course. If you realize you are headed toward a light pole, etc sideways, don't just slide into it. If I'm headed toward something hard in a slide, letting off the brakes will start you moving at an angle away from the slide...maybe. Locked up tires give no control; rolling,-tires that is
- you may have a chance. Like you said different situations call for different reactions. The only time, (knock on wood) I actually hit something was when I overcooked a corner at TGP in the Formula Ford. It was either spin and flip, or go off straight and pray I didn't hit fence. Praying didn't work, as I "drove" through fence, but I didn't flip. I did manage to steer clear of any posts, hitting fence center of a section. Only broke a tie rod. Little forethought, some skill-maybe-, and a lot of luck.
which may be bottom line.
 
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