ross bentley speed secrets

Speed Secrets: Preparing for a Season of HPDE

Are you SURE you’re ready for the HPDE season?

By Ross Bentley | February 10, 2021
The Six Most Common Mistakes of Track Driving (And How to Correct Them)

To hold the Guinness Book of World Records for the longest continuous drift, one would have to know how to manage mistakes. Imagine keeping a BMW M5 going sideways for 51.28 miles! That’s what this week’s guest contributor, Johan Schwartz, did to set the record. But Johan knows about more than just drifting. In fact, he’s a multi-race winner, racing for Chevrolet in a Chevrolet Sonic in the Pirelli World Challenge, an instructor at the BMW Performance Center, and a driver coach. Enjoy and learn from Johan.

By Ross Bentley | December 09, 2020
Speed Secrets: Dynamic Friction

You are probably already a very good driver. If you’re someone who reads this newsletter, you’re also pretty technical and well-informed on theory. So you probably know about the friction circle, the challenges of trail braking, the string between the bottom of the steering wheel and the brake pedal, and the excitement of getting light over the crest into the Corkscrew at Laguna Seca.

By Ross Bentley | December 02, 2020
Speed Secrets: From HPDE to Racing

Moving from High Performance Driving Education (HPDE) events or lapping days to racing is, well, exhilarating!

By Ross Bentley | November 03, 2020
Speed Secrets: Getting Ready For Your First Race

You’ve been participating in HPDE and track day events for years, and now you’ve decided to tackle wheel-to-wheel racing. And now… how do you prepare for this step? What should you expect?

By Ross Bentley | November 03, 2020
Speed Secrets: Pick Your Battles

When was the last time you were stuck behind cars on the track that you knew you were faster than? You had to fight tooth and nail to get ahead, but it wasn’t enough. Stuck in mid-pack with a voice on the radio telling you to work harder and move up in the pack but, ugh! It was just arduous….

By Ross Bentley | October 27, 2020
Speed Secrets: This Is Easy

Do you remember your first driving experience at a track event? For most people it was, “Wow, what an eye opener.” For me it was even more. It became an identity crisis.

By Ross Bentley | October 20, 2020
The Mysterious Origins Of The Checkered Flag

Time for a little history lesson, along with solving a mystery. This week, E. Paul Dickinson covers a topic that I hadn’t previously put much thought into, but then wondered about. I’ll leave it to him to explain this interesting mystery.

By Ross Bentley | October 13, 2020
Speed Secrets: How I Won The War Against The Foot That Lifted For The Fast Sweeper

As someone who has studied sports psychology, brain function, learning strategies, and more for many years, I have known the power and effectiveness of using visualization for a long time.

By Ross Bentley | October 06, 2020
Speed Secrets: Learning From Experience

I have been very lucky in my career to not only have a chance to drive SO many different kinds of cars (Grand-Am DP, Grand-AM GT, ALMS GTLM, ALMS PC, ALMS LMP2, Porsche Cup cars, World Challenge, Continental GS, Continental ST, NASCAR Sprint Cup, NASCAR Nationwide, NASCAR Trucks, Late Models, Midgets, Formula Atlantic, Pro Mazda, IMSA Lites, Radicals, Formula Renault, karts, etc.), but I have also been very lucky to have been raised by a professional race engineer my entire life. I guess where I am going with all of this is that I may only be 25 years old, but I feel like I have seen quite a bit and experienced a lot in my racing career. I want to talk this week about a few things I think club racers can learn that are easy to execute and will deliver results right away. These are things I have seen and continue to see over my career. I do quite a bit of driver coaching alongside my pro racing, so I have worked with drivers of all different experience levels.

By Ross Bentley | September 29, 2020
Speed Secrets: The Approach to Fast Turns

The big, fast, and hairy turns are often the ones that separate the winners from the also-rans, right? Most often, it’s the fast turns where you stand to gain the most in terms of lap time.

By Ross Bentley | September 22, 2020
Speed Secrets: This is Your Brain on Dopamine

True story: before I became a performance driving junkie, I was a college professor. From my perspective, driving is almost entirely a head game, and maybe this is why a nerd like me is so into it. This might also be why I give a lot of thought as to what goes on inside my head when I’m driving, and now that I’m an HPDE instructor, why I think a lot about what goes on inside the heads of my students while they’re driving and learning.

By Ross Bentley | September 12, 2020
Speed Secrets: Physics For Gearheads

Randy holds a Ph.D. in mechanical engineering, and for 30 years has been an automotive engineer at General Motors, where he is a technical specialist in noise and vibration (N&V) at their proving ground in Milford, MI. He has published numerous papers on powertrain N&V, and holds three patents. His first assignment at GM was the enviable task of developing Corvettes for minimized “rough road shake.” Randy sent this week’s feature article on a Saturday evening, right in the middle of driving his Cayman in a 2-day track event at Putnam Park. So you know that he not only knows the theory, he drives the theory.

By Ross Bentley | September 05, 2020
Speed Secrets: Are You Cornering Too Slow?

If the car feels like it’s on rails, you are probably driving too slow.

By Ross Bentley | August 29, 2020
Speed Secrets: Getting Your Game Face On

I think there’s so much to be learned from other sports and other athletes that can apply to performance and race driving. So when Ingrid Steffensen sent me her article about what she observed at a hockey game (and how it related to driving), I couldn’t wait to share it with you.

By Ross Bentley | August 22, 2020
Speed Secrets: Managing Your Emotions Behind the Wheel

Recently a reader emailed me to ask this: “How do I best manage my emotions when racing?” To answer this question – one that I suspect many drivers would like the answer to – I decided to ask a few drivers whom I respect immensely: Johannes van Overbeek, Tom Long, David Murry, and Don Kitch.

By Ross Bentley | August 11, 2020
Speed Secrets: What Prevents Quicker

Is there anyone reading this who does not want to drive faster? Yep, just what I thought. Going faster can be seen in two ways: what can you do to drive faster, and what stops you from driving faster. It’s this second viewpoint that driver coach E. Paul Dickinson writes about this week, getting you to think about what stops you from going quicker. By doing so, you can mentally prepare for what prevents you from driving quicker.

By Ross Bentley | March 23, 2020
Three Common Methods of Steering Wheel Control – But Which Makes You Faster?

This is a controversial topic, with many differing opinions. One of my objectives for Speed Secrets Weekly has always been to provide different perspectives, and that’s why we have a different guest contributor each week. To address these questions and comments, I’m going to tackle the topic in the feature article, and then have two coaches/drivers whom I respect immensely, Peter Krause and Peter Carroll, share their thoughts.

By Ross Bentley | March 17, 2020
Speed Secrets: Why Do We Do What We Do?

Some people would say that driving around a race track is not the smartest thing to do! In fact, you may have had your sanity questioned more than once. Perhaps you’ve had someone give you THAT look when you tell them how much you spend on your passion. Or they’ve questioned your concern for the environment, your safety, or the care for your family.

By Ross Bentley | March 09, 2020
Speed Secrets: How To Reel ‘Em In

There is a justifiable concern amongst many automobile and driving enthusiasts about the way many teens (and even those in their 20’s or 30’s) have less of a passion for cars and driving than many older people. And some believe that the sport of performance and race driving may begin to suffer from fewer participants (if this hasn’t happened already) as the “older” crowd “moves on.” That’s why I appreciate Ingrid Steffensen’s article this week. As many of you know, a few years ago, Ingrid wrote a fun and interesting book, Fast Girl, that is all about how she – someone totally uninterested in driving on a track – became addicted to the sport. So, I think she’s well-qualified to talk about how we all should do what we can to get others interested – no, addicted – to our sport.

By Ross Bentley | February 29, 2020
Speed Secrets: Why Not Going Slow Is More Important Than Going Fast

If you had to guess, how many compromises do you make in just one lap? You know, trading off speed in one part of the track to gain in another? Or compromising braking for cornering, and cornering for acceleration? Or? I don’t know, either, but reading Randy Beikmann’s (author of Physics for Gearheads) article this week got me thinking about this, and I bet you will, too, when you read this week’s feature. And Randy’s main message is one that you need to take to heart, and use (it has to do with not going slow).

By Ross Bentley | February 17, 2020


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