Continuing on in the Taxonomy of Suckage… this week brings us to DTB (dope-T-bone), which is related to the dope-a-dope (DAD). In both cases, a car in front of you spins and you try to avoid the incident by dodging the car in front. Sometimes it works, sometimes it doesn’t. The trajectory of spinning cars is very difficult to predict. Will the driver put both feet in or try to save it? Will the car cross the track? Possibly more than once? You really have no way of knowing. If you’re on the last lap and a million dollars is at stake, make an educated guess and blast past. But if you’re in an amateur endurance race where black flags and bent metal mean time off track, money out of your pocket, or race time lost for other team members, DON’T DO IT! Hit the brakes. The driver in front of you isn’t a pro driver. It could be someone’s noob kid. If that was your husband/wife/child in the other car, would you stomp on the throttle and risk T-boning them?
It’s hard to make these kinds of decisions in the spur of the moment unless you practice them. How can you practice being in the situation without actually putting yourself in danger? Professional instructor Ross Bentley’s main teaching tool is mental imagery, which is deliberate, practiced, and detailed use of your imagination. It really works. Run various scenarios through your head and how you would deal with them. The car could be entering a spin from going 2 off, or for oil on track, or braking mid-corner. There are lots of possibilities. Imagine a bunch of them. What are the telltale signs? A puff of dirt or tire smoke, the attitude of the car, the sudden movements of the driver. What do they sound like or even smell like? The more vivid your imagination, the more realistic and useful the training experience will be.