Speed Secrets: Listen Up!

Features, Racing I By Ross Bentley I January 31, 2018

What senses do you rely on when driving on a track? Vision is obvious – you look where you're going. Feel, or what really should be referred to as kinesthetic (because it includes feel or touch, plus balance and the ability to sense g-forces) is also critical. And of course, your hearing, or auditory sense. Smell is typically used only to sense problems. I hope you're not using taste while driving on the track!

Which sense is most important? Could you drive if you were deaf? Yes, but it would be more difficult, wouldn't it? Could you drive on a track if you had no kinesthetic feedback? Actually, that's no different than using most computer games or simulators – they provide visual and auditory feedback, but not feel. So you can drive without kinesthetic feedback, but it's more difficult. Could you drive on a track if you were blind? Yep, but for a very, very short distance!!

It seems, then, that your vision is the most important, and possibly kinesthetic is second most important. I think that we use vision to get us around the track (it's the "where we go" sense), but it's kinesthetic that makes us fast (the "feel the limit" sense).

But get this: Our ears and auditory cortex can process a signal forty milliseconds faster than our eyes and visual cortex. So, when the car steps out and begins to slide, our visual picture has changed and we react, but perhaps it's the change in sound that we react to first. Interestingly, touch/feel (kinesthetic) is the slowest sense we have. Hmmm… makes you think about how we really sense the limits of the car, doesn't it?

Think about this the next time you're at the track. Protect your hearing. I said, protect your hearing! I said, PROTECT YOUR HEARING! You may think that standing around a track, especially if there are only street cars being driven, won't impact your hearing. Over time, it will – unless you protect it.

And take time to drive to just listen to the car's engine sound, the wind passing by, the transmission sounds, feedback from the brakes, and the tire noise. The car is talking to you. Are you listening? You may be surprised just how much better you drive if you focus on what you hear.

Ross Bentley

For more information about Ross’s tips, coaching, eCourses, newsletter, Virtual Track Walk videos, and other resources to help you drive at your best, go to www.SpeedSecrets.com


The Guide to Road Racing: Winding Road Magazine's ultimate guide to getting your start in racing.

Table of Contents

Related Articles

Ask Ross: Square Corners & Min Speeds

Historically, we at Winding Road have hosted Ross Bentley’s Speed Secrets on our site. Ross’s wisdom and expertise stacked alongside his ability to communicate to…

April 04, 2024
Volvo Restomods Soften My Heart

There are ways of leveraging the industrialized world within which we live to draw goodness out of everyone who encounters that which is produced. Struck…

April 04, 2024
EV Inspired Automobile Renaissance

By the start of the 20th Century, the development of consumer automobiles was in full swing, and, seemingly, everyone was throwing their hat in the…

March 14, 2024
BUGATTI TYPE 35: The Making of A Champion

Setting the blueprint for all Bugatti cars that followed, the Type 35 was designed and engineered like no other, and featured world-firsts to ensure unmatched…

March 14, 2024
Audi accelerates preparations for successful entry into Formula 1 and significantly expands its commitment

Supervisory Boards of Volkswagen AG and AUDI AG vote for complete takeover of Sauber Group Oliver Hoffmann takes over responsibility for Audi’s Formula 1 commitment…

March 08, 2024


Get the latest driving and racing news straight to your inbox.

no thanks

Begin typing your search above and press return to search.