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The starting technique for the old grid at Spa


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#1 Simon Bundi

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Posted 20 August 2001 - 21:49

How we know, the drivers started a car on the grid using the throttle and clutch.
But, I wonder: How did they start at circuits like Spa? I think they must logically use the brake-pedal too. When they did not use the brakes, so the cars rolled away.

But, nobody can use three pedals, so throttle, brakes and clutch at the same moment!

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#2 cjpani

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Posted 20 August 2001 - 23:50

I´m guessing some sort of heel and toe manouvre

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#3 mark f1

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Posted 20 August 2001 - 23:55

I'll be interested in the responses to this question.

I raced FVee a few years ago in Oz and had the same problem starting at Sandown, where I had to have my right heel on the brake pedal with my toes on the accelerator, to stop rolling forward down the track. It wasn't my greatest start but it was OK, and I didn't get black flagged for a jump start as the guy next to me on the same row of the grid did!

So, you can operate 3 pedals at once, not real well, but with a bit of practice I'm sure people could master it.

#4 leegle

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Posted 21 August 2001 - 03:39

Oran Park has a downhill startline and it used to be common practice to put a piece of chalk in front of the wheels. :) It was just enough to stop a car rolling and went to powder as the car drove over it.

#5 clickhappy

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Posted 21 August 2001 - 04:54

some cars have a system that locks the front wheels with a button off of the steering wheel.

#6 Leif Snellman

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Posted 21 August 2001 - 05:39

Originally posted by leegle
Oran Park has a downhill startline and it used to be common practice to put a piece of chalk in front of the wheels. :) It was just enough to stop a car rolling and went to powder as the car drove over it.


The same thing was used at Spa at least in the late 30s by the German teams.

#7 twymanj

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Posted 21 August 2001 - 08:07

I know that in my Dads Cooper there is a small hand-break that would stop the car rolling forward, but in the recent HGPCA race held at Spa they had rolling starts

#8 king_crud

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Posted 21 August 2001 - 14:51

On a different tanget, why do they use one start line for the F1's and another for tourers. I know the F1's used to start on the downhill part, why the change? Is it for this reason?

#9 BRG

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Posted 21 August 2001 - 16:32

Surely most of us who use manual transmission cars do this all the time on the road. I know that I rarely use the handbrake unless it is a quite a steep gradient. Presumably race drivers have equal or better foot dexterity than us average mortals so they can hold down the clutch and brake pedals as well as the throttle, and
then come off the first two and bury the throttle at the right moment. Of course in 2001 F1, it is doubtless just a push of a button and you are either hero or Hakkinen depending on whether the TC/LC works.

And I share king_crud's puzzlement about the different F1 start line at Spa - I would have thought funnelling through Eau Rouge straight after the start would be less traumatic than the annual La Source demolition derby?

#10 Roger Clark

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Posted 21 August 2001 - 22:02

Originally posted by Leif Snellman


The same thing was used at Spa at least in the late 30s by the German teams.


By the mid 60s the use of a dummy grid had made such things impractical.

#11 Barry Lake

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Posted 22 August 2001 - 02:31

Racing in New South Wales in the 1960s (too poor to travel interstate), I regularly raced at two tracks that had downhill starts - Oran Park and Catalina Park at Katoomba.

My first racer, a Mk V Cooper Norton had a (non ratchet) handbrake as standard equipment - presumably for this very reason - and I wondered about people who relied on a pit crew member to place chalk under a wheel on the grid. My second car, Jolus Minx, had a simple handbrake made of a piece of tube hanging from a bolt in a bracket on the frame. A bicycle brake cable ran around to the back of the foot brake pedal. Pulling the lever merely applied the brake pedal, so the right foot was free to operate the accelerator pedal accurately.

Even today, I wonder at people (including now highly paid V8 Supercar drivers) who suffer penalties for rolling at the start. It seems so unnecessary.

BRG is right in that heel-and-toeing the brake and accelerator pedals is normal practice in road driving and can be used on the race track. But a much more precise start is possible by using the right foot only for the accelerator.

In motorkhanas, in which the clock starts as soon as an undriven wheel begins to turn, the smart operators always use the handbrake at the start to avoid any unintentional creeping.

Of course, the easy way out is to become a 21st century F1 driver when the computer does it all for you...

#12 Gary Davies

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Posted 22 August 2001 - 06:46

Originally posted by Barry Lake
... Of course, the easy way out is to become a 21st century F1 driver when the computer does it all for you...


GRRR! You're right of course, Barry. I'd only add the word "sometimes".:) :)

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#13 Darren Galpin

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Posted 22 August 2001 - 07:05

Hmmm..... As a senior observer with the Institute of Advanced Motorists (i.e. advanced driving instructor) I would have to say the heel-on-toeing on the road is a definite no-no, and you would fail your UK basic driving exam if you tried it......... You see, mere mortals get this wrong more times than not and cause accidents - you are meant to complete your braking in a straight line, change into the correct gear for the new speed, and then go around the corner/hazard.

Going back to racing, I seem to remember that the Benetton had a hand brake at one point for use at the start?

#14 Barry Lake

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Posted 22 August 2001 - 07:28

Darren

There are no "mere mortals" on this forum though, are there?

#15 Darren Galpin

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Posted 22 August 2001 - 07:51

No....... But given that I have to teach people who have passed their driving tests and think they can drive (and frequently can't), I thought that I ought to mention it before I get accused of deriliction of duty! Not that I am against driving a car hard mind you, and most of the observers in my local group drive high-powered machinery.

#16 BRG

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Posted 22 August 2001 - 10:06

Darren

You're right of course, but in the real world, we all do things that would net us a fail in the driving test. I am sure that you would agree that once you pass your test, then you really start to learn how to drive properly.

As for the IAM, well, I remember when I was a newly qualified driver, long before seatbelts were compulsory in the UK, there were belts were fitted on my Sunbeam Rapier, so I used them. But my mate's father, an IAM member, said that I shouldn't ise them because "Good drivers don't have accidents" (!!) Even at age 19, I recognised this as complete crap and have not had much of an opinion of the IAM since then (completely unfair, I know, but first impressions etc etc).

#17 Darren Galpin

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Posted 22 August 2001 - 10:20

There are plenty of people in the IAM who once they have passed, think that they are kings of the road and start to go downhill rapidly. Unfortunately, first impressions do count, and many people gain a bad impression as a result. I also agree that you start to learn to drive once you have passed your test...... However, I'm slightly unusual in the IAM in that I am a senior observer and I'm below the age of 30. Too many of them are the otherside of 40 and come across as "we are experienced and know best". When I turn up to meetings many people automatically assume that I am there as a complete beginner, and look rather shocked when they find out that I am more qualified than they are.

I can do the heel-and-toe technique, but this was on a Formula Ford 1600 at Castle Combe race school, the car being an early '80s version which required the use of heel-and-toe for the downchange. I drove another one at Castle Combe this year, but it featured a modern crash-box and the technique wasn't needed anymore.

#18 oldtimer

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Posted 22 August 2001 - 19:00

On the question of F1 cars no longer starting on the hill, I am guessing that the acceleration of present day F1 cars is too great to allow a single file entry. Side by side entry is for the Sifferts and Rodrigues of this world. :)

One of my memorable moments at Spa in 1992 was seeing Senna, in the much faster McLaren, looking to pass Hakkinen in the Lotus on the downhill entry into Eau Rouge. Having got alongside Hakkinen, Senna realised the young Finn was going faster than he anticipated, and he had to drop behind for a single file entry. Some of us in the grandstand smiled...

#19 fines

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Posted 22 August 2001 - 20:28

Originally posted by oldtimer
Side by side entry is for the Sifferts and Rodrigues of this world. :)

... or for the Davies' and Yoongs, or even Bellofs and Ickx'! :(

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#20 kazan

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Posted 25 September 2001 - 01:18

"Heel-and-toe", or actually toe twisting, is still practised for down-shifting on FF, FR and F3 cars, even though current boxes allow up-shifting without touching the clutch. A piece of chalk or a piece of cloth were current devices for starting in a slope in the past. Nowadays, F3 drivers just press the brake pedal meanwhile revving-up, the left foot being at its proper place, pressing the clutch. As far as F1 (and thus F3000), it was felt that the risk of stalling was unbearable - yet, the FIA invented traction control deregulation instead, to come the same odds !

#21 Catalina Park

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Posted 25 September 2001 - 06:17

In Paul Frere's book Starting Grid to Chequered Flag he mentions about the Belgian Grand Prix of !955 "As the start takes place on a downward slope the mechanics had put a tiny chock under one of the front wheels,and hardly had I had time to feel relief at having made a good start when I noticed that by some infuriating chance the chock had stuck to the tyre and was going round with it. Fearing that in being thrown off the wheel by centrifugal force it might injure one of the drivers, I slowed down until I saw it come off"
And in Alfred Neubauer's book Speed was my Life he says of the 1939 Belgian Grand Prix "The starting line is awkwardly situated on a slope. A careless driver will find his car crossing the line too early, and a fine of even one minute is enough to lose the race. Racing cars have, of course a small hand-brake, but drivers already have their hands full with the steering-wheel, the gear-lever, the clutch and the accelerator. I had thought of placing small pieces of wood under the front wheels, but my mechanics pointed out that wood splinters might damage the tyres. They suggested lumps of chalk, which would simply crumble when the cars started, and the suggestion was adopted"
I personly prefer the hand brake if there is one but otherwise I use the old heel toe.
I think that the startline at Spa was moved when they built the new pits for the Grand Prix and I think there is a rule about the startline being in front of the pits.

#22 king_crud

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Posted 25 September 2001 - 14:11

Catalina Park! I'm a Blue Mountains boy too, although more Blaxland than Blackheath, but i never thought i'd read Catalina Park on this forum. Nice one

#23 kazan

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Posted 25 September 2001 - 22:12

"I think that the startline at Spa was moved when they built the new pits for the Grand Prix and I think there is a rule about the startline being in front of the pits"
Actually, it went the other way round: the merely recent logic of F1 starting on a level part of the track imposed the most awkward solution of F1 pits migration before "La Source" hairpin, half a mile away from the permanent grandstands and circuit facilities...

#24 Catalina Park

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Posted 26 September 2001 - 04:37

Catalina Park! I'm a Blue Mountains boy too, although more Blaxland than Blackheath, but i never thought i'd read Catalina Park on this forum. Nice one


I was a Katoomba Kid then a Lawson Lout then a Hazelbrook Hoon now I live in Goulburn:cool: