I was thinking about it today. How do you actually drive a 3000hp Doorslammer?
Everyone can give you a rundown of the procedures etc but what’s it really like… It is hard to describe but ill give it a shot!
Firstly you must know you don’t drive the car, the car drives you! As a driver you are merely the guardian of a kid with ADHD, Schizophrenia and half a case of Red Bull in him. Sometimes all you can do is back off and hope things settle down before someone gets hurt.
In the early stages of learning to drive, you will need to launch the car sooner or later. Now, to drop the clutch at 6000rpm takes big ones, I don’t have those so I usually try and use the tree as a prompt each and every time. That way I don’t really have time to question my sanity…. It’s not like you can leave from less RPM and ease into it, the car just isn’t designed to do that.
Before I shape up to the christmas tree, I will stop and think through my pass, and picture in my mind, “when I get to about there.. I should be looking for a shift light.. then shift there.. there.. and there.., then I will have to reach for the chutes about there..” I paint that picture and then put it in my memory bank. If you are not fully prepared when you drop that clutch, it’s too late to start thinking.
I also try and approach the run as relaxed as possible, slow breathing and low heart rate. I need to make rational decisions out there and not over react to any situations. I see some guys psych themselves up before a run. Not saying it’s wrong , it just doesn’t work for me. I find I can react better if I am fully relaxed and calm in the car.
Once the car is on its way down the track, you usually can’t gauge whether you are on a good pass or bad one until about 60ft out. Unless it shakes or smokes or something obvious like that. By then you have a single decision to make, ” are things going well or are they going bad?” With a bit of experience (about 25 passes or more) you can begin to get a feel for whether or not you can pedal, hold flat or back the hell off. If you decide to pedal, your on a crappy run and mentally your playing catchup for the rest of the pass. When this happens your focus is switched from shift points and gears to keeping the car clean and then back again. There is a lot to process and it’s easy to get out of rhythm. I’ll often forget what gear I am in and miss all sorts of shift lights etc. It’s easy to even momentarily loose track of your position on the track.
If things go well you can keep on it. Chances are the car is moving around a bit… There are two ways this can happen one is loose, the other is hooked up. If the car is stuck you can drive it, you will probably have about 25% input into the direction the car is going, anymore than that you are almost certainly heading for disaster. If the car feels loose you can probably only make about 5 to 10% of input into the wheel, before you are what I would call over-driving it, and you will almost certainly be heading for disaster. To help visualize, imagine cruising down the highway at 110kph. When you change lanes, you should have somewhere around 100% control. Now do the same thing on ice. You should be getting the picture, if you turn the wheel a little and the car doesn’t respond, chances are, a lot won’t help either. Therefore you are only really in control about 5 or 10% (of the steering only). There is always your feet! That said, don’t think the brake is necessarily your friend. That thing will flip you on your lid sooner than you can say what ever it is you where thinking at that moment (usually only a four letter word)! The better option is to simply back off and coast. Again, that said when you snap off the gas it is easy to upset the balance and stability of the car as well.
There are times though where aside from the speed, acceleration and battery of your senses, just about anyone could steer one. Hit those shift points and you have a perfect pass (driver wise). The car will track straight and true and you have very little to worry about, you can finally get a moment to enjoy the speed that has driven you since you where a small boy.
In the end I think a good straight pass is what we are all trying to achieve. Once we reach that, then we start pushing the limits again, adding power, clutch and unpredictability, and so the cycle begins once more.
Hope this gives you an insight in the the ultra fast paced world inside a 3000hp Top Doorslammer.