Monday, 2 July 2018

Brakes!

A few weeks ago I was on a track day at Donnington Park on the GP circuit. Even in my little underpowered car we were approaching the Melbourne Hairpin at around 115mph and needed to scrub off about 90mph before the corner. You find yourself rather busy for two or three seconds: Press the brake firmly with the toes of the right foot; clutch down; gear lever into third; left hand back to the steering wheel; press and release the accelerator with the heel of the right foot; clutch up smoothly; clutch down; gear lever into second; left hand back to the steering wheel; press and release the accelerator; clutch up smoothly. And that's all before you've started thinking about turning the wheel.

During my frantic flailing at the controls I would often make a mistake with the gear lever and either grind the gears or end up in the wrong one. My passenger is a good friend who has devoted nearly 40 years to good natured piss taking. The car is a loud environment and the motion is quite violent, but he was still able to shout things like "Try Second" or "It's a standard H pattern" as I approached the hairpin.

On the same weekend I was lent a fantastic book called "How to Drive a Car" which was rescued during the clearance of my sister's late godmother's house. It was published in 1950 and it's so dated that it has become funny to read, it talks about cripples in invalid tricycles and nursemaids pushing perambulators with their human cargo.

Here are a couple of paragraphs:

"Who has not in the past seen many a suffering motorist going through barrel organ motions at the front of his car in often unsuccessful effort to wake it into life, and possibly in the process receiving a sprained thumb or wrist? Luckily those days are almost gone, for modern self-starting mechanism, electrically operated, is now incorporated that makes it possible for even the frailest feminine hand to start the most powerful engine by merely pressing this knob."
"Many years ago the authors used to advise would-be motorists to thoroughly master double de-clutching with no more complicated equipment than a piano, a flower pot and a walking stick!"


Richard "Learn to Drive" B

No comments:

Post a comment