For racing fans, there’s a high that only getting in a race car and exploring the limits brings. Nothing comes close. Now, thanks to the Toyota Racing School everyone has the opportunity to take the dream and make it a reality.
If you’ve happened to catch any of the previous Vios Cup races, you may have left the race thinking that racing is a sport that only the moneyed could afford. And for most people that is probably true. However, that doesn’t mean race fans and aspiring racers can’t dream about being a race car driver. For racing fans, there’s a high that only getting in a race car and exploring the limits brings. Nothing comes close. Now, thanks to the Toyota Racing School everyone has the opportunity to take the dream and make it a reality.
Sit back, relax and let me tell you about…
The 6 things I learned from the Toyota Racing School
1. BETTER BRAKING
Braking works best with perfect timing. Most drivers are used to driving around the city and often tend to brake haphazardly when driving on public roads. It is a necessary chore in everyday traffic. On the race track, however, proper braking is king! During our first outing on the track, we were taught and tasked to do proper braking. Braking exercises from 0-80km/h with measured stopping distances that we would never imagine possible on the street. The activity enlightened us on the proper way of applying the brakes hard without activating the ABS to provide more stopping power and less sliding. It was an eye-opener and a great exercise meant to teach uninitiated drivers like us to understand the effect of ABS and how to maximize the stopping power modern day brakes.
2. FASTER ACCELERATION
Drive it like you stole it and GUN IT! Like most of the general driving public, that’s what I had in mind prior to learning the proper acceleration techniques under the guidance of JP Tuason, Toyota Racing School’s head instructor. During the slalom practice exercises, we were taught that in order to control the car’s stability and maximize its power, we had to have a consistent acceleration. It feels slower and odd initially, but it is, as we found out for ourselves, more effective particularly when going thru the corners.
3. SUPERB STEERING
The end goal is to turn the steering as little as possible. Maximizing every inch of the race course saved me the from unnecessarily turning hard in one direction only to turn in the other way to correct it fractions of a second later. Maintaining control of the steering, getting a feel of how the car moves and looking ahead in order to turn smoothly helps maintain vehicle balance. This allows for less suspension motion and allows cars to go faster during cornering. The more it has to move from left to right, the more drag is added to the car. This, in turn, reduces its acceleration potential. This must be that “slow is smooth, smooth is fast” thing that I keep hearing about.
4. CAR CONTROL
Car control is combining numbers 1-to-3 together and using them to make the car go faster. During the first practice run, I was excited and pumped to drive the car fast. Forgetting what I learned, I stepped on the accelerator hard and focused only on speeding up. I neglected the braking aspect and failed miserably quickly. Having an automatic transmission in my daily driver instead of the manual transmissions on these Vios Cup race cars also made if more challenging. I had to relax, clear my mind and recall the first three things we were taught; After receiving a short pep talk from my instructor who told me to take my time, feel the car, and adjust my driving to it. Eventually, driving the car became easier in the day’s succeeding runs.
5.KNOWING YOUR CAR’S CAPABILITIES
Unfortunately, on the streets, we see many drivers that modify their cars without understanding the Whys of doing so. Many do it because the mods make the car look more aggressive or feel faster. In fact, I realized that most of us do not even take the time to thoroughly know our cars, which I learned soon enough shouldn’t be the case. Unlike bone-stock street cars which are built with passenger comfort in mind, the Vios Cup race cars we were using were all modified for the sole purpose of making short work of any race track while keeping the driver safe; and thus, very different from our road cars.
I learned that they came equipped with:
• TRD suspension – this gave the cars that close-to-the-ground look which many drivers try to emulate with their daily drivers. This made the car handle much better but sacrificed comfort, something that’s not going to be good for one’s everyday rider. I could, however, feel the car was more willing to turn and go thru the corners much faster than the every day Vios.
• Bridgestone Racing Tires – The grip provided by these racing tires were amazing. It gave me more confidence to go faster without worrying about losing grip on the track. I read average speeds of 80-100km/h thru the corners.
• Bucket seats & 6-point seatbelt system – These were meant to keep me from sliding around loosely in my seat. They also are designed to keep me safe should I manage to do something idiotic (I didn’t) without hampering my ability to quickly get out of the car if I needed to. Getting the seatbelt on was a different story though. They’re not meant to be used on daily drivers at all. However, they did make me feel as if I was one with the car and much more race ready!
6. STAYING ON (THE RACE) TRACK
If there’s only one thing that I can pass on to others from my time at the Toyota Racing school it would be, as cliché as it sounds, “Race on the track, not on the streets.” While the skills I learned here at the Toyota Racing School were meant to enhance the skills of anyone wanting to pursue racing, they’ve also helped me become a better driver while being more cognizant of my daily driver’s ( I drive a stock Vios) capabilities. The time I spent learning them also gave me a better appreciation of why race fans and car enthusiasts should be more responsible and keep racing off the streets.
Take a class at the Toyota Racing School and you’ll discover the same.