DRIVING ON A TRACK
Preparing the car
For the car to be safe it must be able to stop and to steer.
Get rid of any steering play in either the column or in the rack itself
Bleed the brakes – if in doubt replace the fluid and ensure that the pedal is nice and firm
Check that your carb linkages are NEVER able to jam. On a road car you may never have had the throttle full open, so don’t assume that all is well – check it out.
Do a quick spanner of the calipers and suspension.
Empty your boot and check that your battery and fire ext. are strapped down tight.
Check the oil level – if anything overfill slightly on a wet sump car.
Adjust your belts so that you are strapped in TIGHT – you must become part of the car
Adjust your driving position so that you can reach things and see your mirrors – best position will have your arms slightly bent.
Most Cobras have thin wooden steering wheels – wear gloves, the adrenaline and excitement will make your hands sweat. Be sure that the gloves can’t snag on anything when changing gear etc.
The 1st lap
This is the lap that may well determine the success / failure of your day.
The pitfalls are:
Tyres are cold and therefore not able to grip at their maximum.
Even though you may have driven the track TAKE IT SLOW and familiarise yourself with your lines and markers.
Driving fast has a lot to do with rhythm and confidence. Get a feel for the rhythm of the track before attempting a quick lap. If you stuff it up early, it may take you ages to get back into the groove.
Anyone can drive fast in a straight line, it’s the cornering that’s the tricky part. Your line through a corner is basically an attempt at straightening the corner. So in general you’ll approach from the outside, clip the apex on the inside and exit wide again. This is what you should be trying to do:
Knowing your car’s braking ability, aim for the outside curb of the corner. Your braking and down changing must be completed before you turn in. Braking or removing drive in the corner will unbalance the car. So brake while car is still going in a straight line. If in doubt, rather start braking a little too early than too late. Next time around you may try going a bit deeper into the corner before applying brakes – the less you spend on the brakes, the faster the lap
You’ll have timed it spot on if you come off the brakes just before turning in.
Go through the corner and gently feed in the power allowing the car to drift to the outside curb.
It’s generally better to come into the corner a bit slower than you think and then power out. You can then start experimenting with carrying more and more speed into the corner
If your car does happen to go a bit wide DON’T panic and wrench it back. Gradually ease it back onto the track otherwise you WILL make sudden contact with the inside wall.
You may find that your oil pressure light starts flickering in a corner. This means that the oil in the sump has been thrown up the side of the sump and your oil pickup is sucking air – THIS IS NOT GOOD. Come in and put in another pint
Use the straights to gather your thoughts for the next corner. You may also just glance at the gauges to see that all is well. Don’t waste time trying to read the speedo – rather check oil pressure, revs and temperature. Glance in your mirrors, don’t allow your concentration to wander.
It is important to maintain the revs in the cam’s power band. Letting the revs drop too much will cause the car to bog and over revving can break things. A V8 has plenty of low down torque and bogging is unlikely to cause you much trouble. Over revving is a different story. Race cars are fitted with change lights and rev limiters to prevent over revving. A road Cobra will probably not have these and you must therefore be careful not to overstress the motor. Very few motors will have the capability of providing more power for more revs above 5500 or 6000 revs, therefore to exceed these revs actually slows you down and risks the engine.
Road tyres need to be pumped hard (2.6 - 2.8 bar). Pump the fronts harder than the rear.
Slicks are much softer (1.0 Rear and 1.5 Front)
To improve understeer
Raise front tyre pressure or lower the rear
Fit wider front tyres
Fit rear anti roll bar or stiffen the existing one
Fit softer front coils
Adjust front camber to be more negative
Set rear wheel for less tow-in
LS Diff is prone to understeer
To improve oversteer
Lower front tyre pressure or raise the rear
Fit narrower front tyres
Disconnect rear anti roll bar or soften the existing one
Fit harder front coils
Adjust front camber to be less negative
Set rear wheel for more tow-in
Straight line stability
Always suspect play, wear or flexing in the rear
Increased castor angle usually improves straight line stability
Increased rear tow-in usually improves stability
Excessive front negative camber will hamper stability especially under braking
Large positive wheel rim offsets creates instability
For rear “sideways jive”, increase tyre pressures (rims often too narrow for the tyres)
REMEMBER 1ST PRIZE IS TO GO HOME WITH EVERYTHING IN ONE PIECE