This is the 200th post on You Suck at Racing. That amazing (to me) milestone requires some kind of recognition. I thought I’d use this as an opportunity to reflect on the origins and evolution of YSAR.
The Science of Driving
I first started writing about driving about 4 years ago, which was ~1.5 years after my first track day. The writing was mostly personal and I had no intent to publish it. I was trying to codify what I knew about driving as a way to help me understand it. I was titling this document as “The Science of Driving”. The title was inspired by something my twin brother said after a go-kart outing. Mario described my driving as “driving like a scientist”. Surely it was not meant as a compliment. I think it was his way of saying I was trying to put rulers on things rather than driving by feel. Well, I disagree. Not with my driving style, which I’m sure was about as smooth as chunky peanut butter, but with the idea that driving scientifically was somehow a bad thing. I believe everything is done better as a scientist. So I started writing down all that I knew about driving to begin my scientific exploration.
The document ended up at 11 pages before I got distracted with other things. Although unfinished (and in some cases not entirely correct), there are parts I’m happy with. Read it if you’re so inclined: ScienceOfDriving. The reason I got distracted was again because of something my brother said, which was loosely “Why do you keep talking about how to drive faster? The most important thing in endurance racing is not getting a black flag”. This is largely true. Once you get a penalty, you’re no longer lapping, and there’s no way to drive fast enough to make up for the lost time. So I thought “valid point, it’s time to explore why accidents happen”. So I started researching endurance racing crashes via YouTube. After I’d amassed a large library of clips, I decided I would start blogging about crashes as an entertaining way to catalog how and why they occur.
Evolution of YSAR
The first 99 posts of YSAR were focused on crash analyses. My top 5 favorite posts during this time were:
- The four temperaments. The writing in this post is a microcosm of my personality: eclectically nerdy with a dash of salt.
- Tossing the nannies. I like talking about brakes. It’s probably my favorite driving topic.
- Divided we fall. I like quotes!
- I can drive a manual. The video displays such an amazing degree of incompetence from one-handed driving, to not wearing neck protection, to unzipping his fire suit, to downshitting an automatic.
- S is for Style. This driver’s cool under pressure makes me jealous.
One of the failures of YSAR was trying to come up with TLAs (three letter acronyms) for the various incidents. Sometimes descriptive names and phrases are better. For example IDS/IDX isn’t nearly as expressive as “I didn’t see / I didn’t expect”. Some of the videos in that section are really great, but the posts don’t get revisited often. Ah well, live and learn.
After post #99, YSAR wasn’t just for crashes. I blogged about car building, simulation, coaching, and driving. Here are 5 instructional posts from this period that I really liked.
- Chalk talk: figure 8. Figure 8 drills are a lot of fun and useful too. We do this at the start of the day in the Hooked on Driving novice class.
- Video: Thunderhill West. I’ve only made one track guide video. I’m pretty happy with how it turned out.
- Backing up the corner. It’s the key to driving faster. I think it’s the thing that separates intermediate and advanced drivers.
- Coaching 86s. It was a fun day and nobody learns more than the teacher.
- An identical twin study of car racing. This post was contributed by my twin brother.
Most Popular Posts
The following posts are often at the top of the list every week. I’m not linking them because they are popular from keyword searches, not necessary insightful content (in my opinion).
- Product Review: Thrustmaster TS-PC Racer
- Simulator roundup 2017
- Telemetry: trail-braking
All-time Favorite Posts
My favorite posts are those that mix theory, practice, and experimentation. In Circular Reasoning, I asked the question “what is the fastest way around two cones?” I followed this up with a theoretical analysis Cones in Theory, which gave the answer “the shortest path”. This met with some skepticism. A few months later I wrote FWD Drifting: Part 2 and Cones in Practice in which I raced around cones in real life and found that the theory was correct.
Another series of posts I really liked were Math on the racing line part 1 and part 2. This brace of posts analyzes the shape of the racing line and comes up with some surprising answers. Not only does the line depend on the car, but also the available grip. I had to write some interesting code to figure this out. These math posts get hit nearly every week.