RaceSchool.com Podcast Katherine Legge Interview

photo by Brad Bernstein Katherine Legge enjoys a light moment with Larry Mason during their podcast for raceschool.com.

Katherine Legge (of England) is one of the fastest race car drivers around. She is also female (which is not the novelty that it used to be in the world of auto racing). We caught up with her in the morning before her IMSA WeatherTech GTD race at the Acura Grand Prix of Long Beach – a place where she earned her first North American win in her Toyota Atlantic Championship debut! She has competed worldwide in an extremely diverse range of racing cars including Indy cars, Formula E, NASCAR, DTM, the Delta Wing and many, many more. She has an extremely pleasant and humble personality outside the car which by no means diminishes her fierce determination to wring every last bit of performance out of any race car she steps into. Enjoy!

By Larry Mason

Copyright © 2021 Larry Mason

Interview and photos by Larry Mason except as noted below:

photo by Brad Bernstein

photo by Brad Bernstein

Katherine Legge enjoys a light moment with Larry Mason during their podcast for raceschool.com.

Katherine Legge shares the driving duties with Hardpoint Team owner/driver Rob Ferriol in their Porsche GT3R IMSA GTD car.

Katherine Legge shares the driving duties with Hardpoint Team owner/driver Rob Ferriol in their Porsche GT3R IMSA GTD car.

Katherine Legge not only has to fight for position within the GTD class, but has to watch her mirrors for DPi prototypes. She’s shown here as the meat in a multi-class sandwich!

Katherine Legge not only has to fight for position within the GTD class, but has to watch her mirrors for DPi prototypes. She’s shown here as the meat in a multi-class sandwich!

This carbon fiber rear diffuser and tail section show off the hi-tech nature of the current IMSA GTD class.

This carbon fiber rear diffuser and tail section show off the hi-tech nature of the current IMSA GTD class.

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RaceSchool.com Podcast Oliver Askew Interview

Oliver-Askew Oliver Askew walks down Shoreline Drive just minutes before the 2021 Acura Grand Prix of Long Beach.

Oliver Askew was one of the most successful drivers on the Road To Indy where he won multiple championships (USF2000 and Indy Lights) and earned his way into the NTT IndyCar Series. Unfortunately a shunt at Indy caused a concussion and ultimately a job loss at his previous race team. In 2021, Rahal Letterman Lanigan Racing picked him up for the final three races and Askew produced with a superb Firestone Fast Six qualifying spot (5th) the weekend before the Acura Grand Prix of Long Beach. We caught up with him in Long Beach and had a nice chat. In this interview Askew talks about how he prepares to go racing at the drop of a hat and the importance of team building from a driver’s perspective.

By Larry Mason

Copyright © 2021 Larry Mason

Oliver Askew walks down Shoreline Drive just minutes before the 2021 Acura Grand Prix of Long Beach.

Oliver Askew walks down Shoreline Drive just minutes before the 2021 Acura Grand Prix of Long Beach.

Oliver Askew definitely knows how to hustle a race car around a track as shown here attacking the curbing in Turn 1.

Oliver Askew definitely knows how to hustle a race car around a track as shown here attacking the curbing in Turn 1.

With the advent of wraps for race cars these days, the Rahal Letterman Lanigan team gives Oliver Askew one of the most intricate and colorful sponsor liveries of any car on the grid. Here Askew prepares to muscle his way through the Turn 11 hairpin.

With the advent of wraps for race cars these days, the Rahal Letterman Lanigan team gives Oliver Askew one of the most intricate and colorful sponsor liveries of any car on the grid. Here Askew prepares to muscle his way through the Turn 11 hairpin.

The beautiful natural colors of nature surrounding the aquarium fountain are mimicked on Askew’s color scheme.

The beautiful natural colors of nature surrounding the aquarium fountain are mimicked on Askew’s color scheme.

Here Askew is shown leading eventual winner Colton Herta through the fountain area (T3) during the race. In his short NTT IndyCar Series career, Askew has already earned a podium finish.

Here Askew is shown leading eventual winner Colton Herta through the fountain area (T3) during the race. In his short NTT IndyCar Series career, Askew has already earned a podium finish.

Interview and photos by Larry Mason

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RaceSchool.com Podcast Willy T. Ribbs Interview

Ribbs The wide-open eyes of Willy T Ribbs show the look of intense focus – the precise thing needed to be successful at Indianapolis. photo courtesy of Willy Ribbs  

Willy T. Ribbs has forged his way to success in professional auto racing like no other man in his chosen sport. From being the first African American to race at Indianapolis to testing Formula One cars and winning multiple IMSA GTO races, he’s also driven for or been sponsored/supported by some of the biggest names in and out of the sport - Dan Gurney, Jack Roush (via Ford Motor Company), Bill Cosby and many others. They all believed in Willy enough to help him forge his path of success. He was inducted into the Long Beach Motorsports Walk of Fame just prior to the 2021 Acura Grand Prix of Long Beach and spent some time talking with us after he had popped in a quick “Hello” during fellow LBMWoF inductee Will Power’s interview.  I would’ve liked to have spent more time interviewing him, however he was interrupted during our chat and told that he had to get to another commitment. Enjoy! 

By Larry Mason

Copyright © 2021 Larry Mason

Willy T. Ribbs and Jim Michaelian (president and CEO of the Grand Prix Association of Long Beach) remove the checkered flag to uncover the Long Beach Motorsports Walk of Fame plaque for Ribbs.

Willy T. Ribbs and Jim Michaelian (president and CEO of the Grand Prix Association of Long Beach) remove the checkered flag to uncover the Long Beach Motorsports Walk of Fame plaque for Ribbs.

Willy T holds up a number one sign right before he kisses the plaque as if he were kissing the bricks at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway.

Willy T holds up a number one sign right before he kisses the plaque as if he were kissing the bricks at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway.

Anytime you get to be on track at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway, it’s a reason to celebrate.

Anytime you get to be on track at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway, it’s a reason to celebrate.

photo courtesy of Willy Ribbs

The wide-open eyes of Willy T Ribbs show the look of intense focus – the precise thing needed to be successful at Indianapolis.

The wide-open eyes of Willy T Ribbs show the look of intense focus – the precise thing needed to be successful at Indianapolis.

photo courtesy of Willy Ribbs

Ribbs receives great service work from his pit crew during at pit stop at the Indy 500.

Ribbs receives great service work from his pit crew during a pit stop at the Indy 500.

photo courtesy of Willy Ribbs

Interview and photos by Larry Mason except as noted

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RaceSchool.com Podcast Ricardo Juncos and Brad Hollinger – Juncos Hollinger Racing Interview

Ricardo Juncos came to the United States years ago as a go-kart mechanic. Living the American dream, he’s made it all the way to the NTT IndyCar Series as a team owner. This year Brad Hollinger came over from being a part-owner of the Williams Formula One team to join Juncos creating Juncos Hollinger Racing. Running the last three races of the 2021 season, the team will compete full time in 2022. They both spent some time talking about their partnership and plans for the future and why now is the right time to be in the NTT IndyCar Series. Incidentally, Ferrari F1 test driver Callum Ilott (who finished out the last three races of the 2021 season for JHR) was just announced as their driver for the 2022 season and he will be featured with his own interview in our next installment!

By Larry Mason

Copyright © 2021 Larry Mason

Interview by Larry Mason

Photo credits below

Ricardo Juncos (L) and Brad Hollinger (R) have teamed up to form Juncos Hollinger Racing and will be contesting the entire NTT IndyCar Series season in 2022 with driver Callum Ilott.

PHOTO by Jose Mario Dias

Ricardo Juncos (L) and Brad Hollinger (R) have teamed up to form Juncos Hollinger Racing and will be contesting the entire NTT IndyCar Series season in 2022 with driver Callum Ilott.

It may be cold and snowy outside in Indianapolis in the winter time but the work is heating up inside to prepare for a full season in 2022. It also looks like they’ll have to change their external signage to add in “Hollinger.”

PHOTO courtesy Juncos Hollinger Racing

It may be cold and snowy outside in Indianapolis in the winter time but the work is heating up inside to prepare for a full season in 2022. It also looks like they’ll have to change their external signage to add in “Hollinger.”

A beautiful clean shop space with room for two transporters and plenty of bays to work on Indy Pro 2000, Indy Lights and IndyCar racing cars, Juncos Hollinger Racing has also prepped IMSA DPi cars here too.

PHOTO courtesy Juncos Hollinger Racing

A beautiful clean shop space with room for two transporters and plenty of bays to work on Indy Pro 2000, Indy Lights and IndyCar racing cars, Juncos Hollinger Racing has also prepped IMSA DPi cars here too.

Although there may not be a lot of people or work shown going on in this photo, this shop is about to get real busy for the coming season!

PHOTO courtesy Juncos Hollinger Racing

Although there may not be a lot of people or work shown going on in this photo, this shop is about to get real busy for the coming season!

 

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Weight Management for You and Your Car!

Weight-transfer-pic Weight Management for You and Your Car!

Congratulations! You’ve just been promoted to manager. In this case, if you’re driving a race car or road car, you’re now a weight manager. Every single road car and race car have one thing in common – tire contact patches. Cars can sit still, accelerate, corner and brake. Sometimes there will be multiple combinations of the above. The only thing connecting that car to the track are the four little rubber tire contact patches about the size of your hand. 

Some vehicles are designed to have a “perfect” 50/50 weight distribution at rest. Other cars are designed to have more weight on the front and others more weight on the rear. No matter which set-up belongs to your car, all of those weights will vary when the vehicle is in motion. The laws of physics apply to all equally. If you accelerate, you’ll transfer weight to the rear. If you decelerate, you’ll transfer weight to the front. Of course cornering will transfer weight side-to-side. The bottom line with all of this weight transfer is that the tire contact patch will vary depending upon the vehicle dynamics. 

As a driver, it’s up to you to understand and compensate via throttle, brake and steering inputs to maximize how transferring weight affects the contact patch. The more you understand what’s happening beneath you, the better equipped you are to look forward down the track and cut your lap times down. In a road car situation, for example driving a VIP in a limousine, it’s critical to make the weight transfer as smooth as possible. You don’t want your client getting car sick due to unexpected and rough driving.

Picture a bathtub full of water. Your goal is to drive that bathtub without spilling any water. This technique takes lots of practice. Throttle and brakes are not on/off switches if you’re trying to be smooth. Yanking on the steering wheel suddenly will not allow the car to “take a set” before you complete the movement. When this happens, the tires are overloaded and can’t react quick enough to provide you with the grip you want.

ABS and vehicle stability programs are in place because the driver has “overdriven” the amount of grip the tires can provide. Often times it’s because the driver wasn’t smooth and deliberate in managing the weight on the tires. Threshold braking will typically stop a vehicle quicker than ABS. The reason being is that the driver is using the tire contact patches to their maximum capability. As soon as you go past the threshold you’ve now overloaded the contact patches.

So the next time you’re on the street or track, work on being smooth and managing the weight over your tires. Your VIP or stopwatch will thank you for it!

 

By Larry Mason

Copyright © 2021 Larry Mason

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What's My Line, Part II

What's My Line, Part II

     In part one; we looked at the “racing line” in the textbook design of a long straight followed by a 90 degree corner followed by another long straight. We looked at how the theoretical and geometric “lines” are similar. In part two, we’ll get into corner combinations and more.
     “Don’t use the brakes, they only slow you down!” While that statement is true, on a closed road course or on the street, it’s not realistic. The first phase of a corner is the actual braking zone. For beginners in road racing, new students are often encouraged to get all of their braking done in a straight line so that they can focus on the turn-in, apex and track-out points in a smooth and controlled manner. However, when you advance your driving technique, trail braking (or staying on the brakes as you turn in) gives the front end tires more “bite” or grip leading to better initial handling into the turn. Simultaneously, this forward weight transfer helps to lighten the rear of the car which then helps “rotate” the car into the corner thereby lessening steering input. So far so good. The balance of releasing the brake, coasting and re-applying the throttle while the wheels are still turned is all about good hand/eye coordination as well as the seat-of-the-pants feel.
     The theory of getting on the gas as soon as possible and going to full throttle as soon as possible is the same in any corner that leads onto a long straight. What you don’t want to do is get on the gas and then have to lift off and then re-apply. The time and momentum lost during that dance will be more than if you had just waited a bit longer to go full throttle or perhaps squeezed on the gas pedal a bit more smoothly (not an on/off switch) to sustain that acceleration.
     As we combine this with corner combinations, we need to look at which corners to “give up” in order to gain the maximum amount of speed for the rest of the lap. For example, if you have two 90 degree corners in succession (e.g. left then right) and the second corner is followed by a long straight, you’ll want to apex the first corner very late in order to take a better line through the second and be able to come off of that corner with maximum acceleration as soon as possible. The amount of time lost by not taking the textbook line through the first corner will be more than made up by the extra speed you’ll gain by coming off of the second corner better.
     How do you know which corners to prioritize for the best line? Start with the ones that lead onto the longest straights. Also, look at the highest speed corners as a tenth of a second gained at high speed is much more distance traveled than a tenth of a second at low speed.
In part three, we’ll look at more corner types and how rain affects the line.

 

By Larry Mason

Copyright © 2021 Larry Mason

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What's My Line?

Whats My Line

   One of the most fundamental aspects of safe and fast driving is making sure that you’re driving on the “proper line.” There are theoretical and geometrical lines to take through corners on the road and turns on the race track. Which is the best one for you? If you have two identical radius 90 degree corners, is the line the same through each one? Not necessarily. This is where the theory gets complicated just as quick as the geometry.

  The “line” is made up of a curve that includes multiple points of reference. In fact, before you even start turning in, there’s usually a braking point and zone before you get to the “turn in” point. After the turn in point you get to the apex, and from there you exit at the “track out” point. By connecting the dots in a smooth and wide radius, this allows the driver to lessen the steering input. This allows for more mid-corner speed which ultimately leads to a lower lap time.

  If you have an X long straightaway followed by another X long straightaway, with a 90 degree corner in the middle, the geometrical apex of the corner and the largest radius might be very close to the theoretical best line through the corner. However, it also depends upon what kind of car you’re driving and where you’re driving it. If it’s a high-horsepower car, you might want to move that apex point further away (later in the corner) from the geometric point.

  What are the results of hitting your apex early or late? If the corner is increasing radius, an early apex is okay. If it’s a “textbook” 90 degree or a decreasing radius corner, the results of an early apex can be severe. Once you’ve turned into an apex at speed, there’s very little correction that can be made if you’re not hitting it within a few inches. If you apex early, you will run out of room, or roadway position, at the exit. This typically brings up two responses – the first being that you lift off of the throttle because you’re carrying too much speed. The second being that you turn the steering wheel more to avoid driving off the outside edge of the road. Both of those actions combined can create a TTO, or Trailing Throttle Oversteer. The result is that at this point you can fly off the road surface backwards, or if you’re racing on a grand prix street course, you can hit the concrete barrier.

  If in contrast you apex late, you will leave excessive room on the roadway position at the track out point. It’s safer, and also slower. It’s also a great way to start to learn a track or an unfamiliar mountain road.

  In Part II, we’ll take a look at turn combinations and other aspects of driving the line.

By Larry Mason

Copyright © 2021 Larry Mason

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Real Estate Disputes in Racing

corkscrew-pass-1506369781

     It goes without saying that racers are a competitive bunch. There can be some great camaraderie and rivalries on and off the track. The nice thing about racing is that it’s not subjective in the fact that the driver that crosses the finish line first is the winner. There is a sage old saying in this sport, “To finish first, you must first finish.” Sometimes that doesn’t happen because of “real estate” disputes. In other words, two (or more) drivers are going for the same piece of real estate (usually the corners) at the same time. Whose corner is it? How far alongside do you need to be to claim it? What sacrifices in racing line whether blocking (defensive line) or squeezing (forcing the other car into an unfavorable place make the difference into who demands that the corner is theirs?

     Hey, if it was all cut and dry there would be no controversy, hard feelings or polar opposite differences of opinion. In most racing organizations it is up to the overtaking driver to make a safe pass. However, that doesn’t take responsibility away from the driver (getting passed) to make sure he or she gives the other driver racing room. This is where it gets complicated. Technically one could give another driver enough room (barely and totally off the racing line) but that typically doesn’t lead to pleasant outcomes. As long as two cars/drivers are charging into the same corner at the same time, chances are only one of them is going to come out the better of it. For a perfect example of this, just do a video search for the “Hamilton Verstappen Crash.” At the time of this writing there were more than 3 million views of this Formula One video.

     If you’re on the receiving end of that, you and your team will not be happy. If you’re on the “giving” end of that, you won’t find anything wrong with what you did. This is the typical scenario.

     The SCCA (Sports Car Club of America) GCR (general competition rules), has been recently updated to include Appendix P which is six pages strictly focused on passing. It clearly states and shows with drawings how to stay out of trouble, how to figure out who is to blame for contact and how likely a certain move will lead to success or failure. On paper, that’s all good, but when the action is taking place at high speed with only milliseconds to make decisions, real estate disputes are going to happen. So in the case of Hamilton vs. Verstappen, whose fault was it? Sometimes it can be both. What do you think in this case? 

Copyright © 2021 Larry Mason

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Vision Up!

image-_20210723-214853_1

 

      Vision up. Eyes up. High horizon. These are words you’ll typically hear your instructor say to you from the beginning ‘till the end of your time at Fast Lane Racing School. The reason being is that by looking far ahead, you can buy yourself something priceless – time! Whether you’re enrolled in the Defensive Driving Academy, High Performance or SCCA, Executive Protection or EVOC law enforcement class, the “vision up” mantra applies.

     As a wise old sage once said, “human beings are designed to see things from the top down, not from the bottom up.” With that in mind, by looking way ahead, you’re buying yourself time for what’s coming up next. For example, most drivers on the street fall into the bad habit of driving off of the rear bumper of the car in front of them instead of looking many vehicles ahead. When it comes to accordion-like slowing and stopping, if that driver isn’t looking far enough ahead, that will inevitably lead to a rear end collision. I’ve seen “accidents” (which should correctly be called crashes) like this many times. The reason it’s a crash, is that this incident was avoidable if only the person would’ve been looking far ahead and anticipated what was developing.

     This brings us to another point. You should always be aware of your surroundings. Check your mirrors at least every 8-10 seconds so that you give yourself an “out” just in case something suddenly comes up. By anticipating what could go wrong and having plans in place to react and avoid these incidents, you’re proactively being a defensive driver. This also works on the race track. If the driver in front of you is consistently early apexing and running out of room on the exit, sooner or later they’re likely to spin in front of you. Where are you going to place your car to get out of that situation?

     Speaking of the track, the good habit of having your vision up will lead to a lot less drama when trying to get up to speed. The further you look ahead, the less likely the corner is going to catch you in the wrong position on track. Speaking of position, let’s take a look at where your eyes should be focused. When approaching a corner, you’ll first want to look for your braking point. From there a re-focus to turn-in point, next the apex, and finally the track out point. Of course you’ll also want to look through the entire corner to know what’s coming up next. Warm-up and cool down laps are also critical to gather extra visual information such as where all the corner worker stations are, safe places to pull over in case of a mechanical situation, and also what are the hazards of dropping a wheel off. If you’re racing on a street course, there is no dropping of wheels, only tearing them off against a concrete barrier.

     Some corners are blind and/or cresting over a hill. Take your time the first few times through and you’ll develop a feel for where you need to place your car for success. Knowing where to place the car with the proper angle of attack will have you gaining time on less experienced drivers. Finally, coach yourself to constantly keep your vision up. You’ll find that it’s much easier to get into a rhythm on the track and it will also help keep you relaxed behind the wheel.

   Vision up!

Copyright © 2021 Larry Mason

 

 

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ABS – Always Be Steering!

image-_20210723-214924_1

  

  Why use the brakes? They only slow you down! Of course I’m kidding when I say that. Using the brakes is an everyday occurrence whether you’re driving on the race track, the street, or even on your bicycle. Even though we know that pressing the brake pedal slows you down, there are nuances to be learned and understood in order to become a better driver.

Today we’ll look at how drivers can be safer, whether the cars have ABS or not. Technically speaking, ABS stands for Anti-lock Braking System. Here at Fast Lane we also like to say that it means Always Be Steering. You could also think about it as the Ability to Brake and Steer. That’s critical knowledge for driving everyday on the freeway or any other roads. ABS is a great technology that is designed to keep the front and rear wheels from “locking up” under heavy, quick or unloaded braking maneuvers. If you were to slam on the brakes, chances are that your brakes would lock up, meaning that your tires are no longer rotating; instead they are skidding on the road. Once your tire starts skidding, steering control is gone. It doesn’t matter which way you turn the steering wheel, the car will continue skidding in the same direction that it was going. Tires need to rotate to make the car change direction and that’s where ABS comes in. Keep in mind that ABS may not necessarily stop the car in a shorter distance (more on that next time); however, it gives you the ability to brake and steer. Here’s how: The vehicle has wheel speed sensors. Under heavy braking in a lock-up situation, the computer gets a signal telling it that the brakes are locked. At that point, the computer system automatically reduces brake pressure to allow that wheel to rotate. The computer also knows that you’re still mashing the brake pedal so it re-applies brake pressure. Typically at this point the lock-up returns. As soon as the system recognizes that the wheels aren’t turning, it reduces brake pressure again. This action can typically take place more than 20 times per second! That’s faster than a professional race car driver can do it. Furthermore, the system has the ability to modulate brake pressure with one wheel at a time - something that a professional driver could never do. Since 2008 all cars sold in America have been equipped with ABS. The systems have also become much more effective and have reduced the amount of noise and pedal push back (vibration) of earlier systems.

The beauty of ABS is that on slippery or uneven road conditions it can help the driver avoid danger. However the laws of physics still apply. Also, keep in mind that since the system is locking/un-locking, the time that it’s locked, you’re still sliding forward. On a dry high-grip surface this “sideways stair step” is minimized. Think lock – go straight, un-lock – turn. If you’re driving on wet or sandy roads, this sideways stair step turning pattern is amplified – meaning that when you turn the wheel under an ABS condition, the car will not go where it normally would in a dry non-ABS situation. You’ll have to turn the steering wheel more to help it trace the arc of turning you’d like. Always keep in mind what your car is capable of doing in varying road conditions. By the way, if your vehicle isn’t equipped with ABS, you’ll have to manually pump the brakes if they lock-up. It’s definitely a skill worth acquiring as otherwise you may find yourself on the wrong end of a crash. Bottom line is that when you come to Fast Lane Racing School, you’ll learn your car’s ABS limits in a safe and effective setting.

 

Copyright © 2021 Larry Mason

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