rcl4668 New Reader
3/22/11 10:55 p.m.

Ok, no pictures of a really ugly, spoilered car. Instead a more serious and anal retentive question about using your eyes on the track.

What are some techniques people have used to work and practice the technique of seeing as far ahead as possible and in particular or focusing on turn in points far ahead on the track?

Other than just doing more HPDE events, I have tried working on this more in my daily driving and have done some indoor karting to practice. Any other ideas for reinforcing this skill off the track?



alex SuperDork
3/22/11 11:07 p.m.

I have heard of a strip of tape on the inside of the windshield as a technique.

Honestly, though, I learned this skill from my time on track on two wheels, and the most effective technique for me was to constantly repeat the mantra (sometimes out loud in my helmet), "eyes up eyes up eyes up eyes up."

After a while, it sinks in.

foxtrapper SuperDork
3/23/11 5:03 a.m.

Talking out loud helps me. I'm constantly coaching myself as I go. Talking out loud about what I need to do, where my line is, what I recall from the last lap, etc.

dinger New Reader
3/23/11 8:03 a.m.

Use a label maker to put a sticker that says "LOOK AHEAD" right above your gauges. A little reminder works wonders.

John Brown
John Brown SuperDork
3/23/11 8:11 a.m.

I have found talking to my self while driving helps loads, Autocrossing or Rallycrossing in car with me must be fun because I don't shut up. When I overextend myself I get the giggles... If I have been coached on a course I will repeat what the coach told me as I go through the course as well.

chuckles Reader
3/23/11 8:24 a.m.

You can practice "looking up the road" whenever you drive. One of the things you will be practicing is noticing how much information is available by peripheral vision. We don't register tons of visual images that are there to be "seen."

Don't "focus" on turn-in points, or anything else, in the sense that you focus your eyes on a point. Keep your vision constantly scanning. The instant you focus your vision, you've fallen behind. Just learn how to take in information by observing how much you DO take in when you relax and keep, always, looking up ahead.

It's the kind of thing that is hard to remember to do, and takes a LOT of practice, and seems weird for awhile and then, suddenly, breakthrough!

Duke SuperDork
3/23/11 8:37 a.m.

Ross Bentley / Per's book (Autocross Speed Secrets, IIRC) has a whole chapter dedicated to teaching yourself this trick. It's pretty helpful.

I've practiced unfocused look ahead in my daily driving for years, without consciously doing it. It drives my wife nuts because she never thinks I'm looking at what's going on directly in front of the car, so if I don't brake noticeably as soon as brake lights flash, she's sure I'm going to steam right into them.

John Brown
John Brown SuperDork
3/23/11 8:39 a.m.

Great points chuckles.

Also learn how big the envelope of your car is, a lot of people can not locate the edges of their cars and are driving narrower than necessary. I had that problem until I started autocrossing.

iceracer Dork
3/23/11 8:48 a.m.

Over the years, that tecnique has become second nature. On the road, one thing I find is that I use my brakes a lot less than all of those flashing brake lights would indicate.

Giant Purple Snorklewacker
Giant Purple Snorklewacker SuperDork
3/23/11 8:55 a.m.

Try to change the way you think about it. You are "pulling" yourself around the track with your eyes. The further out you look the smoother the line you can draw yourself. The closer to your hood you focus the more ragged and choppy the line.

Peripherally - make sure you get the turn-in right as when you first start doing this you might tend to turn in a little early (shortest path between two points is a straight line - over curbs and across grass!).

When driving in non-competitive on-track traffic, focus a few cars ahead and force yourself as close to the car immediately in front as you are juuust a little uncomfortable with.

When you are driving in highway traffic... try not to be a sheep. Don't apply the brakes because the guy in front did - consciously train yourself to assess the gaps. This will help sharpen your independence in on-track traffic. You never want to take cues from the car in front.

Ian F
Ian F SuperDork
3/23/11 9:05 a.m.
Duke wrote: I've practiced unfocused look ahead in my daily driving for years, without consciously doing it. It drives my wife nuts because she never thinks I'm looking at what's going on directly in front of the car, so if I don't brake noticeably as soon as brake lights flash, she's sure I'm going to steam right into them.

I do that too and it also pisses of the other half.

I also raced DH for a number of years... and after tagging trees at 40+ mph a couple of times, you learn the value of looking ahead.

rcl4668 New Reader
3/24/11 1:28 p.m.

Thanks for the great replies.

Javelin SuperDork
3/24/11 1:51 p.m.


The best I've been able to come up with is strapping the GoPro camera to my helmet. Since I knew I was going to be watching the video later and critisizing myself for not looking ahead, it made me do it more. ~2 seconds faster that run after plateauing...

wearymicrobe Reader
3/24/11 3:49 p.m.

I tried this, it did not work for me for looking up but it did help me with understanding my placement on the track.

poopshovel SuperDork
3/24/11 4:11 p.m.

Disclaimer: I'm no great driver and haven't auto-xed in forever, but these are things that helped me look ahead:

Auto-x especially: A much faster driver than myself once taught me to look at BIG fixed objects, rather than just 'key' cones. I don't know how many times I've approached a section and said out loud: "Look at the 'R' (as in the big orange 'R' on the Turner Field wall.)

I've done the out loud "look ahead, look ahead, look ahead" thing, but what helps me more, whether in my head our out loud, is saying where I need to be looking, and let my brain remember where that key cone is. 6-8 spots max on an autox course. i.e. "Taco bell turn. Big "F". Down the hill toward the bench. Edge of the wall. Timing trailer." or whatever.

Also, be sure the spots (particularly cones) you're looking for will be visible from the seated position.

mad_machine SuperDork
3/24/11 4:19 p.m.

I have always talked to myself when driving. While it has been a LONG time since I have driven competitivly, up until a few years ago I drove commercially. What works on the track works VERY well in a truck... with the added advantage of being able to see over the cars in front of you

White_and_Nerdy Reader
3/24/11 9:09 p.m.

Ride a motorcycle. You need to look a lot further ahead than in a car to watch out for all those idiots who don't see you and cut you off or pull out in front of you. It also doesn't hurt that you can get a lot of practice taking the proper line through turns without even leaving your lane...

Take an Evolution school. Everything they teach essentially comes down to "look ahead" and "think ahead." And they do a great job of teaching it.

I had an instructor tape up the bottom half of my windshield at an autocross school once. It was an interesting exercise, but in my case rather unnecessary since I was already looking further ahead.

I also talk to myself when I drive/ride, but little of it is related to my driving, and what I say to all those idiots who don't see me and cut me off or pull out in front of me would just be changed to "E36 M3" or "Berkeley" if I typed it here.

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