How's Your Heel-Toe?

https://www.youtube.com/embed/kNoUlA_vNGA

Jeff Westphal piloted the Professional Awesome Mitsubishi Lancer Evolution to a 13th overall finish at last year’s Tire Rack Ultimate Track Car Challenge. But if style and smoothness points were factored in, they might have finished higher.

The 2016 Tire Rack Ultimate Track Car Challenge will be held on May 20 and Virginia International Raceway. Come on out and watch or drive!

Klayfish
Klayfish UberDork
5/9/16 3:03 p.m.

I don't know how to heel-toe. I really need to learn. It kills me from having decent lap times.

Robbie
Robbie SuperDork
5/9/16 3:14 p.m.
Klayfish wrote: I don't know how to heel-toe. I really need to learn. It kills me from having decent lap times.

Don't just heel toe - double clutch.

I could never really get the hang of it until I read somewhere to "think about it as two separate shifts" (shift 3rd to neutral, blip throttle, then shift neutral to 2nd - for example). Since it makes sense to your legs to roll on the throttle as you release the clutch pedal, the blipping becomes much easier, and thinking about it as two shifts ensures the timing and order of everything is correct. Then you just have to remember to keep your foot on the brake the whole time.

JBasham
JBasham New Reader
5/9/16 3:23 p.m.

I'm taking it from the street to the track this summer. It is taking me a while to move it from brain-involved activity to muscle memory, but it gets better every session.

The best tip I have gotten for this stage of the process is, do the shift a little earlier before the turn than you otherwise would. It lets me get my full brain capacity back in time to still look through the apex and judge my entry speed.

Re: Jeff's entry into the climbing esses at 140mph shows the kind of commitment I doubt I will ever have. Damn.

RossD
RossD UltimaDork
5/9/16 3:23 p.m.

I'm I the only one that Toe Heel? ie I reach over with my gorilla toes to stab at the accelerator.

Ed Higginbotham
Ed Higginbotham Associate Editor
5/9/16 3:26 p.m.

In reply to RossD:

You might be. That seems like it would be a whole lot more difficult.

Desmond
Desmond HalfDork
5/9/16 3:29 p.m.

It depends on the car. My E36 with the floor mounted gas pedal was easier to heel toe using the "rock the foot sideways onto the pedal" method, where you kind of jab with your pinky toe.

Most japanese cars I've driven lend themselves better to the pivoting the ball of the foot to rotate the heel into the pedal method. Like I have to drive the miata this way. If I do the BMW method, my foot doesnt reach.

GameboyRMH
GameboyRMH MegaDork
5/9/16 3:30 p.m.
RossD wrote: I'm I the only one that Toe Heel? ie I reach over with my gorilla toes to stab at the accelerator.

With some cars this is easier, I do it with my Samurai w/ stock pedals but I heel-and-toe in the Corolla (with oversized pedals...otherwise I'd need to wear clown shoes to hit two pedals at once)

I'm convinced that with anything but a BMW-style ultra-long gas pedal (which it looks like the car in this video has), only contortionists actually heel-and-toe, it's more like side-of-foot-and-toe.

GameboyRMH
GameboyRMH MegaDork
5/9/16 3:37 p.m.

Relevant video: Behold the king of fancy footwork:

https://www.youtube.com/embed/yyVHj3sHVHQ

Desmond
Desmond HalfDork
5/9/16 3:41 p.m.
OldGray320i
OldGray320i HalfDork
5/9/16 3:42 p.m.

Good lord, the people running out of the way of the speeding rally car freaked me out a little...

RossD
RossD UltimaDork
5/9/16 3:45 p.m.

In reply to OldGray320i:

I saw a video of one of the drivers saying something like he couldn't even see them as people because it would have slowed him down. Just another rock/bush/tree.

Trackmouse
Trackmouse Dork
5/9/16 3:51 p.m.

You can set you pedals up correctly to help. Your brake pedal depressed should match height of the gas pedal. That way your foot is in an even surface.

Duke
Duke MegaDork
5/9/16 3:58 p.m.

I use the side of my foot. The E46 is set up for it beautifully - I do it on pretty much every downshift - and so was my old Neon ACR. But between the crappy pedal placement and the light flywheel, I just don't have it down pat for the Manic Miata.

Keith Tanner
Keith Tanner MegaDork
5/9/16 4:31 p.m.

I had a dodgy 2nd gear synchro in one of my track cars, so it taught me to double-clutch. I've never lost the habit, you can hear it in my track videos even on the V8 Miata. I rev-match every downshift if not double-clutch it.

One reason to use your toes on the brake and your heel on the accelerator (as opposed to the other way around) is sensitivity. You still need to be able to modulate the brake, and you'll do a better job of that with your toes.

chiodos
chiodos Dork
5/9/16 4:56 p.m.

I think miatas are super easy to heeltoe and thus learn to heel toe in. I used to do it in traffic all day every day to commit it to memory. With my most recent car it wanted to die coming to a stop, heel toeing was a valuable resource to keep her going

Streetwiseguy
Streetwiseguy PowerDork
5/9/16 5:27 p.m.

My huge feet lend themselves to rolling the side of my foot onto the gas pedal.

Mike
Mike Dork
5/9/16 5:44 p.m.

Mine seems to be crap as of late. I am beginning to suspect I should blame my tools. I'm wondering if the hybrid system is selectively overruling my blips in the interest of efficiency. It seems to want to give me about +250 rpm or with slightly more effort, +2000 rpm, and rarely something in between. All of my blips are massively high or low.

snailmont5oh
snailmont5oh Reader
5/9/16 5:49 p.m.

I can't not heel toe, to the point that I did it when driving my buddy's 3500 Dodge dually diesel. He was like, "Was that a heel toe?" I was like, "Yep."

Robbie
Robbie SuperDork
5/9/16 5:54 p.m.
snailmont5oh wrote: I can't not heel toe, to the point that I did it when driving my buddy's 3500 Dodge dually diesel. He was like, "Was that a heel toe?" I was like, "Yep."

I was driving my 84 f250 diesel about a year ago, and coming up to a turn I decided to see if I could left foot brake and no clutch revmatch + shift from 4th to 3rd. Worked great. hahaha fun driving big trucks like a sportscar.

Fitzauto
Fitzauto HalfDork
5/9/16 6:00 p.m.

Im alright at it. I keep practicing on the street but I have trouble translating that to the track.

Knurled
Knurled MegaDork
5/9/16 7:09 p.m.

In reply to Desmond:

Or this old French guy driving an econobox...

https://www.youtube.com/embed/YdhGmL5uD_k

sesto elemento
sesto elemento Dork
5/9/16 8:23 p.m.

Swmbo can high heel-toe.

vwcorvette
vwcorvette SuperDork
5/9/16 8:46 p.m.

I cannot heel-toe due to a weak ankle and drop foot condition. I cannot role my foot and then bring it back. I haz sad.

snailmont5oh
snailmont5oh Reader
5/9/16 8:51 p.m.
Robbie wrote:
snailmont5oh wrote: I can't not heel toe, to the point that I did it when driving my buddy's 3500 Dodge dually diesel. He was like, "Was that a heel toe?" I was like, "Yep."

I was driving my 84 f250 diesel about a year ago, and coming up to a turn I decided to see if I could left foot brake and no clutch revmatch + shift from 4th to 3rd. Worked great. hahaha fun driving big trucks like a sportscar.

I try not to no-clutch anything synchronized. It can be real hard on the blocker rings. I also really want a dog box so that I can left foot brake my car on the road course.

I asked one of my truck driving buddies if he left foot braked in the big truck, and he was like, "No, why would I?" I explained that he could keep slowing down while downshifting to the next gear (to increase the effectiveness of the Jake), and he just thought that was dumb.

Knurled
Knurled MegaDork
5/9/16 9:00 p.m.

No-clutch shifting a synchro box is easy if you're gentle and have a good sense of timing. That used to be the only way I drove my Subaru. It was good practice for when the clutch cable broke, too.

Well, sometimes easy. I had no problems driving the Subaru, any RX-7, or an 020-trans Golf without the clutch. I could never get the hang of it in my 016-trans Quantum, though. And, like every other manual trans car I had with hydraulics, the clutch master cylinder failed on it. I got it home and in to work the next day but it was not pretty.

(Not to rag on hydraulic systems. I'm 2 for 2 for clutch cable failures, as well)

outasite
outasite Reader
5/9/16 9:06 p.m.

I learned heel and toe driving cars that had manual chokes, rough idles and possible stalling conditions back in the days of carburetors before fuel injection and computers took control.

Nick (LUCAS) Comstock
Nick (LUCAS) Comstock UltimaDork
5/9/16 9:08 p.m.
Appleseed
Appleseed MegaDork
5/9/16 9:12 p.m.

Irony: I'm far superior at heal-toe in a 450,000mi, worn out 4Runner, than I am in a fresh FR-S.

BrokenYugo
BrokenYugo UltimaDork
5/9/16 9:21 p.m.

I widened the gas pedal in my 1ZZ Prizm so I could do it, though it's better described as toe-toe in anything with a hung gas pedal.

Appleseed wrote: Irony: I'm far superior at heal-toe in a 450,000mi, worn out 4Runner, than I am in a fresh FR-S.

Blame drive by wire.

maj75
maj75 Reader
5/10/16 7:08 a.m.

I always had a hard time because with my long legs, my heel ends up under the brake pedal and the ball of my foot on the gas pedal. I obsessed about my "inability" to heel and toe.

Then I read that Danny Sulivan said that he could never heel and toe. He was pretty successful IIRC, so I stopped worrying about it :)

gearheadE30
gearheadE30 Reader
5/10/16 7:26 a.m.

When I wanted to learn to heel-toe in the E30, I made myself do it for every single downshift to practice. That eventually became double clutching since the G240 trans has weak 2nd gear synchros and the 3>2 shift was a challenge. Now, I can't downshift at all without double clutching because I screw the timing up so bad. The Caprice took some massaging to get the pedals in the right place since it was an automatic and the gas and brake were a mile apart, but that's all fixed now. The only issues I have with it now are in cars where the brake pedal is much higher than the accelerator. It took a long time to learn, but I also have exclusively manual-transmission cars, which helped.

RossD
RossD UltimaDork
5/10/16 7:57 a.m.
maj75 wrote: I always had a hard time because with my long legs, my heel ends up under the brake pedal and the ball of my foot on the gas pedal. I obsessed about my "inability" to heel and toe. Then I read that Danny Sulivan said that he could never heel and toe. He was pretty successful IIRC, so I stopped worrying about it :)

I wasn't able to do it in my '00 Audi A6, but once I got my '91 Miata it because way easier. I too had to keep my heel under the brake pedal for my size 12/13 feet. That's why I would use the ball of my foot on the corner of the brake and use my little(r) toe(s) to modulate the gas. I think if you've never learned how to heel toe, it's hard to figure out if the pedals are ideal or are working against you. That and thin soled, floppy shoes. [cough -or bare foot -cough]

Desmond
Desmond HalfDork
5/10/16 11:05 a.m.

Thin soled, floppy shoes are the best for performance driving, IMO.

paranoid_android74
paranoid_android74 SuperDork
5/10/16 12:14 p.m.
Turboeric
Turboeric Reader
5/10/16 12:35 p.m.

I may lose the skill I've honed over the past 45 years. My 15 WRX won't allow brake and throttle at the same time - nannies to protect me from myself. This is touted as a 'feature'. Bah!

92dxman
92dxman SuperDork
5/10/16 12:55 p.m.

What is the best thing to watch to learn how to heel toe from?

jstein77
jstein77 UltraDork
5/10/16 1:03 p.m.
Streetwiseguy wrote: My huge feet lend themselves to rolling the side of my foot onto the gas pedal.

Yep, me too - been doing it that way forever, both street and autocross.

The pedal relationship isn't as good in the Fiesta as it was in the Sentra, so it took me a bit to get used to it. But I'm back to heel-and-toeing for every aggressively driven corner. I just like the control of having the clutch fully engaged as I reach the apex.

Desmond
Desmond HalfDork
5/10/16 1:32 p.m.
92dxman wrote: What is the best thing to watch to learn how to heel toe from?

I learned from watching Hot Version and Best Motoring, honestly. I'm sure there are all sorts of youtube videos on it now though.

Also TurboEric, there is usually some wire you can cut or something to get stop the car from knowing you are left foot braking.

trigun7469
trigun7469 Dork
5/10/16 1:56 p.m.

One of those skills with all the new fangled technology that will become a lost art, sadly when my daughter is 16 in 16 years, I doubt they will have manuals available to even teach her.

GameboyRMH
GameboyRMH MegaDork
5/10/16 1:59 p.m.
92dxman wrote: What is the best thing to watch to learn how to heel toe from?

I learned by reading about the technique and then trying it.

These skills will indeed become obsolete as H-pattern gearboxes are phased out. In the future performance drivers will just keep their left foot on the brake pedal and right foot on the gas, go-kart style.

Flight Service
Flight Service MegaDork
5/10/16 2:06 p.m.

mine sucks

BrokenYugo
BrokenYugo UltimaDork
5/10/16 4:10 p.m.
92dxman wrote: What is the best thing to watch to learn how to heel toe from?

Watch? Do. Sit in the idling car, figure out how to blip the throttle while applying the brakes (some cars have wide pedal spacing or high brake pedals that make this difficult without gas pedal modification), this will probably involve big toe on the brake and pinky on the gas (heel on the floor or floating) unless it has a floor hinge throttle. Then blip it when you downshift, like clutch in, blip (requires practice to get the right amount for a proper rev match) and shift, clutch out. This should be easy to pick up if you already rev match your downshifts on the street when you need passing power or come into a lower speed limit area.

RossD
RossD UltimaDork
5/10/16 4:13 p.m.

Yeah, practice at every stop sign and traffic light as possible.

Petrolburner
Petrolburner Dork
5/11/16 2:06 p.m.

The challenge with practicing in my car on the street is at normal speeds I just don't have to press the brake hard enough or long enough to get meaningful practice in. Maybe I'm wrong. Highway speed from 6th gear to 2nd for a tight turn on my route to work is the only chance I get for a good heel-toe. I have sharper billet machined clutch and brake pedal covers plus a gas pedal cover that closes the gap between throttle and brake. I like them a lot. One of my favorite mods to the car.

Cactus
Cactus Reader
5/11/16 2:48 p.m.

Good driving shoes make a huge difference. If you can't find good driving shoes, wrestling shoes are a decent substitution. The less sole, the better.

I'm having a hell of a time finding pics or evidence, but I remember hearing a story about F1 drivers ~60+ years ago cutting the front off their shoes so they could have better pedal control.

Shaun
Shaun HalfDork
5/11/16 2:55 p.m.

I have found at 6'4" with size 13 shoes that toe and heel vs heel and toe to be car dependent on both physical constraints and the power of the brake assist. Some cars would not be hauled down with toe pressure. I think slow cheap cars slow on empty dirt roads is the bomb digitty for practicing- everything to do with car piloting.. second only to freshly plowed below freezing roads in the middle of the night.

dj06482
dj06482 SuperDork
5/11/16 3:21 p.m.

My '01 Mustang could use some better pedal placement, and possibly some grippier pedals. Although I have a feeling my technique is holding me back much more than the pedals are

Tyler H
Tyler H SuperDork
5/11/16 3:32 p.m.
92dxman wrote: What is the best thing to watch to learn how to heel toe from?

The scenery unfolding through the windshield of a car that you have very little love for....

Tyler H
Tyler H SuperDork
5/11/16 3:39 p.m.

My heel toe is more like toe-toe as others have mentioned. Second nature...I do it every time. I also double-clutch down to second just as a habit from previous well-used beaters.

Left foot brake is a skill set that I still need to hone. The brake pedal will still be around after the clutch pedal is relegated to historic events.

Knurled
Knurled MegaDork
5/11/16 5:35 p.m.
Tyler H wrote: Left foot brake is a skill set that I still need to hone.

Why would you want to learn bad habits?

snailmont5oh
snailmont5oh Reader
5/11/16 6:35 p.m.

Because bad habits are good when used properly. You can't drive a shifter kart without left foot braking.

Shaun
Shaun HalfDork
5/11/16 7:09 p.m.

When I was a kid Malibu Grand Prix was in its glory around Southern California and the only fast way around the track was left foot braking. The signs all said not to but when the employees and mechanics took laps they all left foot braked. Some amount of left foot braking works with some slush boxes in some situations and if it's good enough for Walter Rohrl I rekon it has its place.

Knurled
Knurled MegaDork
5/11/16 7:42 p.m.
Shaun wrote: if it's good enough for Walter Rohrl I rekon it has its place.

Mind you, he was driving a car with turbo lag measured with a calendar and primitive engine controls. 2.1l, 6.6:1 compression, and a K27 turbo (think medium sized Diesel truck, very large and very heavy wheels and huge bearing shaft) with a huge hotside for thermal stress reasons. If you didn't keep the throttle open all the time as a kind of manual antilag, you might not get full boost until the next gearchange. Or two. Not really exaggerating. And the chassis dynamics were best described as "horrid".

Wath how many times Jean Ragnotti used his left foot on the brake. You can count it with all the fingers on your left foot.

It can be a useful crutch but it is still a crutch - if you need it, it's proof that you have problems elsewhere.

My favorite LFB quote is from an old, old rally driver. Paraphrased, "If one of my competitors is getting close to me in speed, I tell him about left foot braking. Then I don't have to worry about him for the rest of the season"

Shaun
Shaun HalfDork
5/11/16 9:47 p.m.

Sure! The place left foot braking has is small. Smaller than stabbing (and frying) the clutch to make a spike of power? For me yes. Oddly it occurred to me as I read your post that 'the hive' at Google thinks anything other than dining, texting, or taking selfies and such while moving somewhere in an automobile would be using a crutch! In reply to Knurled:

Shaun
Shaun HalfDork
5/11/16 10:00 p.m.

On the other hand! The Colin McRea vid down the "left footed braking is fast" article a bit is hilariously left footed:

my left foot.

Tom1200
Tom1200 Reader
5/12/16 12:03 a.m.

@knurled neither LFB (rally style) nor using left to brake are bad habits. They are an advantage, the only issue is learning the technique. If you getting the last enth out of a car you're going to have the brake and throttle over lapping.

I can heal and toe double clutch in everything from my old pick up truck to formula cars. I can say that the technique is brought on by the abomination that is the H pattern road car gearbox . Drive a shifter kart or motorcycle engined car where you can go up and down through the box without the clutch and you soon view standard automotive box as an anachronism.

My actual foot placement varies depending on the car but for the most part I use the ball of my foot on the brake and the side on the brake. I've seen some in car of guys using there toes on the gas.......I think it simply is whatever works for you.

Easy to learn find a big lot drive along in 3rd brake lightly blip the throttle downshift to 2nd, make a u-turn, shift up to 3rd the blip the throttle go down to 2nd, make a u-turn..........repeat till you have the technique down. If you are not sure of much to blip the throttle simply drive along in 3rd at a speed slow enough to just blip the throttle and shift into 2nd. Once you have a feel for the RPM add the the braking component of the exercise.

Tom

Tyler H
Tyler H SuperDork
5/12/16 12:45 p.m.
Knurled wrote:
Tyler H wrote: Left foot brake is a skill set that I still need to hone.
Why would you want to learn bad habits?

Because I have menagerie of bad habits....I have a real knack for it. When I try to pick up a new bad habit and it's difficult, it pisses me off.

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