Street Survival

posted Oct 4, 2009, 7:08 PM by Scoob Edoo
We had a perfect day for today's Street Survival course.  We had 31-32 students and probably 16-18 instructors, so we ran a split group which kept the instructors hopping.  The segments that we ran through were pretty good, starting with a straight-line braking segment to teach what ABS feels like - or threshold braking for those few cars without ABS.  For most of the kids this was the first time they'd experienced ABS. Next up was a similar maneuver to get into ABS while having to turn to avoid some obstacle.  On the uneven surface of the Boeing lot, these two maneuvers were VERY interesting as even the best ABS systems were having trouble keeping up with the washboard surface.  More than a few cones were hit but everyone learned a lot.

Next up we had a straight-line 6-cone slalom where we got to show them the importance of looking ahead and turning earlier to set up for something else that pops up (say for things flying off the back of a truck).  A few more light bulbs went off during this session and I think more of our fellow drivers will be looking ahead in the future.  We did a figure eight to show understeer and throttle- and brake-induced oversteer, but with traction control on most (all?) RWD cars now, the oversteer part is just about a non-issue.  Understeer, on the other hand is available in huge abundance!  Everyone learned how speed and turning are intricately linked and I tried to teach my kids about the string theory for both throttle and brakes.

The final segment of the day was a short course that combined the slalom, the figure eight, and the brake-turn maneuvers.  Putting together several of the day's elements helped the students see how the car handles multiple elements can be linked together and how the car responds to all of them one after the other.  Watching the improvements of many students during the course of the day was really rewarding and watching as they pieced everything together at the end was something special.

After the kids were 'graduated', the instructors were turned loose on the course.  I took the opportunity to give rides to each of my students to give them a better idea how a course could be driven 'in anger'.  They were both impressed, even though I had my street tires on and grip was at a minimum for the figure eight.  The slalom was, however, really fun, even when sliding through some of my early turns; the car really does handle quite well with the TC off.

Anyway, I think the day went beautifully and I hope that we can do these at least once a year for the local kids.