Back in the early days of front wheel drive race cars, there were those who felt that front drivers couldn’t be as fast as a rear wheel drive race car. Those were usually the guys who also said that a fwd car couldn’t be driven sideways. The first feeling is somewhat true, otherwise we would have fwd Formula 1 cars by now, but that doesn’t mean that they can’t be fast. The second part is utter nonsense as anyone who has ever pedaled a front wheel drive rally car will tell you.
To drive a front wheel drive race car fast, one MUST learn the art of managing the loud pedal and using throttle off oversteer to one’s benefit. Not sure what TOO is? Think about all the stories you have heard about early Porsche 911’s swapping ends at speed when the throttle is released at the wrong time. A front wheel drive car behaves exactly the same way, except that it is more controllable and actually makes a car faster through the corner. Also, unlike a 911, most TOO incidents in FWD cars can be controlled by the application of FULL THROTTLE.
There were many drivers at last weekend’s Victoria Day Speedfest at Canadian Tire Motorsport Park who were caught out by TOO and it just doesn’t make sense to me.
During Friday qualifying for the World Challenge race, no fewer than five B-Spec cars threw themselves at the tire wall at the exit of turn 9. Each one of those was a result of TOO. Then, during the first WC race, Andrei Kisel from British Columbia slammed his MINI into the barrels guarding the wall at pit in, between 9 & 10 in spectacular fashion.
Truthfully, I haven’t explored who all of these drivers are or what their backgrounds were, but my suspicion is that many of them are fresh from karts or some other sort of rear wheel drive machines. A quick glance at Kisel’s WC bio page shows that he spent at least one season wheeling a Honda, so I can’t explain how he managed to succumb to the dreaded TOO.
My last race of the weekend was the Canadian Touring Car Championship, and the race finished with a bang, about 100 feet from me. CTCC rookie Stefan Yasin, fresh from karts according to his CTCC bio and running a B-Spec MINI, fell victim to uncontrolled TOO part-way down the hill of the infamous turn 2 and then went for a bit of a ride. A ride that might have been prevented with the application of a boot full of throttle.
Racing mentors, please coach these young guys in the ways of racing front wheel drive cars before sending them out on track!