“Smoothness Matters”

“Every action has an equal and opposite reaction”


I’ve been thinking about Newton’s third law, after taking some laps at my local kart track. As strange as that may sound, Newton’s laws put a fundamental baseline on my driving style. After a session, and taking some time to write notes down in my driver’s log, I found myself thinking about the importance of having a smoother driving style to improve my technique.

You may ask- “Why does smoothness matter?”

Every input that I place on the kart translates to an equivalent reaction to how the machine underneath me responds to side input. Whether it be steering, gas or brakes, the kart will react to the level of effort I put into each input. So for example, if I snap the steering turning into a corner, then the kart tends to understeer prematurely. If I stab the gas on the corner exit, then the drive-tires break traction too easily and I exit the corner too slowly.

It’s easy to see how rough movements can then lead slight losses of control and ultimately, a slower lap time.

Therefore, if a driver smooths out his driving style, then the car/kart is more behaved. It’s more compliant under all sections of the corner, allowing the tires to stay in better contact with the road surface. Each input should be linear and smooth, keeping tires within the optimal slip angle and  allowing the car to move through the corner in a composed fashion.

The driver has more control, and as a result is able to go faster.

The great thing about developing a smoother driving style, is that you do not have to be on the racetrack to do it. You can practice being smooth every time you get into your road car. For example, when I commute to work, I practice on making every input as smooth as possible.

Relaxed fingers on the wheel. Pedal pressure that is firm, but linear. Smooth up and downshift, everytime. Each action is as smooth as possible, but with intent.

Jackie Stewart explains it best. The smoothest driver is the fastest driver

4 thoughts on ““Smoothness Matters”

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  4. Jackie expresses the relationship between inputs and results well. I often describe a properly setup car as one where “You don’t have to negotiate with it to get the proper response. You just ask and it does.” I catch a lot of flak for my driving style – relaxed to the point of looking like I’m “driving to the corner market” (to borrow a co-driver’s description of my driving), expressionless, calm. The result is smooth inputs. Smooth (not slow, just smooth) inputs result in fast times.

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