Ace drivers and everyday drivers share a goal: getting somewhere as quickly and safely as possible, without crashing. Having done both types of driving, I know that mastering a few pro racing skills can mean the difference between life and death. For instance:
1. Watch where you want to go
Imagine you’re skidding toward a light pole. If, like a racer, you look where you want the car to be—50 feet away from the pole, not wrapped around it—you’ll likely steer in that direction. But focus on the pole and you’ll likely ram right into it.
2. Get a grip when the road’s slick
Pre-race, F1 drivers check for traction—how much power can be applied before the wheels lose grip. As Harry Callahan said in Magnum Force: “A man’s got to know his limitations.”
So, when it’s slippery out, find an empty road or lot and slowly apply power, then the brakes, building up both until the driving wheels spin and the brakes lock. It’s usually at a much lower speed than you’d imagine.
3. Don’t let assholes grind your gears
Say you’re in the freeway fast lane, going the speed limit. Behind you, a Camaro’s weaving from lane to lane at 90 mph—and he’ll be on your bumper in seconds. What to do?
Being aware of Speed Racer, you probably change lanes to get him off your tail. Wrong! Because right then—figuring you don’t see him—he tries to pass on your right, spinning both cars into the rail.
A pro will maintain his line, knowing it’s up to the rear car to get safely around. So the right move is no move: Force him to pass. He’ll be pissed, but you won’t have two movable objects in the same space at the same time.
4. Have a wandering eye
How often do racers say, “Crash? Wasn’t my fault—he turned right into me.” Or, “He slowed suddenly, I had no place to go but up his ass!” Not often. Because they keep their eyes moving, looking for trouble ahead and to the sides, in the mirrors… It’s amazing the accidents you can avoid with an eagle eye.
And then, knowing what’s around you, you can drive so other cars are as far away from you as possible.
Lead, follow—but from a safe distance.