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The ‘One Move’ Rule in Action & Driving Off Like You Meant To

Greg Troester November 14, 2022 0 comments

As a motorsports coach, I’m often describing the ‘one move’ that drivers can make to correct a slide before they must abandon their original line through that corner and salvage their situation as best they can.

This one move can be straightening, also called ‘opening’, the steering wheel. It may be easing off the throttle. It could be easing off the brake pedal. I may be guilty of combining a wheel movement with a pedal adjustment, but I’ll point to experience and say that this is one of those rules that, in time, you learn when you can break… and by how much.

Whatever the driver does, its instinctual and instantaneous — over time, we build a library of right and wrong reactions, hopefully recalling the correct one (or guessing correctly). Going back to breaking the rules, I teach ‘one move’ because it places a simple constraint that allows drivers to focus on something aside from the looming wall or gravel trap that is rapidly growing large in their windscreen.

Below is a video of the method put into practice. Give it a watch and scroll for a breakdown of what was going through my head.

This was was at the ~50% point in a race with a borrowed NA Spec Miata. I was managing a tendency to understeer out of Utah Motorsports Campus’s East Track, Turn One. I was pushing, trying to catch-up to my brother in the yellow car ahead and vie for one more position.

This time around, I had pinched the corner a bit too much, not getting enough rotation before going to throttle. As the car crested the hill, I felt the back-end start to step out and made my move: opening the wheel.

When that didn’t correct things, I knew I was going for the dirt… so I kept my foot to the floor (on the throttle), and prepared for the brown line. This is where experience comes into play: I was expecting a second slide as I exited the track surface, but knew that if I held my line all the way to the edge of the track, I could straighten out in the dirt and rejoin after Turn Two.

So I got my second chance at making the ‘one move’ — this time, in the dirt. I kept the throttle down and threw in as much counter-steer as I could without taking my left hand off the wheel.

And it worked. The car settled and I was angled to rejoin, resuming my normal line towards the entrance of Turn Three like any other lap.

One last thing to mention: I only ‘worked the corner’ this way because I was basically alone on-track at that moment. Had there been another car, in-class or not, close-by… my mental reaction would’ve been different. The risks of ‘saving it’ as I did, to a large degree were low — it’d have been a single-car incident.

Even then, at worst, I’d slide off track-right and on a straight trajectory (because I would’ve gone ‘both feet in’ and mashed the brake and clutch pedals to the floor, locking up all four tires). Knowing what I do about the track, I had tons of room to slow down before I came upon the barrier.

From that point on, I adjusted my line and knew that I had pushed my tires and the car to the best that I could for that race (note the limiting factor being me). My brother and the other car ahead didn’t get too much further away, but didn’t get closer, either. The rest of the race was a practice in consistency and taking smaller risks in shaving off a tenth here and there.

In Summary

  1. ‘One move’ won’t always fix things the first time — be prepared to go off-track. If you don’t know what off-track is going to be like, shut it down.
  2. If you’re going to go off — drive off like you intended to. Fighting the car’s trajectory will end in tears, every time.
  3. Know your surroundings — who is around you? You don’t want to cause a multiple-car incident, even in a race.
  4. Know the track — if you push in this area and things go sideway (literally or otherwise), what is going to happen? Is it safe or will you meet the wall?
  5. Know when to ‘shut it down’ in a corner — I can say that, from observation, the time to give up in UMC East One is early. If you don’t, you run the risk of hooking track-left and meeting up with the steel barrier.

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