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Pobst Position: Looking and Thinking
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What is the best driving advice with the fewest words? Say you're on a plane to the Far East, and they've closed the boarding door. The attendant has already politely but firmly, twice, asked you to turn off your phone, but a non-SCCA old friend has called out of the blue on their way to their first autocross or driver's school, and you only have time for one sentence. What do you say?

A) Just floor it and don't lift 'til you see God. Nah, too many words. But so true. B) Miata. Nah, they probably already have a car. C) The pedals and steering are opposites. Nah, needs further elucidation. Or, D) Pobst Position. Yes! This is a good Facebook question. I bet you have some clever responses. Say, why don't you just go ahead and post 'em to my page and the SCCA group? Here's the best standard answer I've refined over the years: "Be smooth and think ahead." Works on street or track. Sums up the most important fundamentals in the least possible words. Feel free to use it as your own, for the good of driving everywhere. I used to say look ahead, which is on the point, but it does not say as much, and thinking ahead gets your eyes there anyway. Also tried "Be smooth, and look and think ahead", but it wasn't succinct. In fact, I have noticed while driving that yes, I surely do think ahead, but I don't really look all that far ahead in the corners. Blasphemy! I find that I read my position on the track by site pictures in the same focus as my field of vision. For example, cracks or spots on the pavement, or at the edge, as opposed to that tree or porta-potty a hundred yards away, like at Road Atlanta turn eleven, or any turn at Miller. As little as one second in a slow corner, up to maybe three in a fast one. Maybe this comes from my time on motorcycles, where the condition of the pavement is constantly critical to survival on the street. But being in an exact, repeatable position is important on the track too. It also comes, I think, from my autocross incubation. The turns are so tight you can't look very far ahead, but you better be thinking a full corner in advance. The track out of this turn is the turn in for the next, ad infinitum. I often tell coaching clients to look for the brake point, but be thinking about the turn-in. Look for the apex, but be thinking about the track out. Always think one reference ahead of where you are looking. It keeps that smooth information flow.
I have several talented racer friends that regularly use that tree in the distance as a reference, but it feels very awkward to me to extend my focus way out there, and then blur back to the road. On rare occasions it helps me on a blind corner of a new track, but I cannot recall ever using a far away marker for longer than a session or two. Having side references is very valuable in a close race, i.e. Spec Miata, Spec Ford, or any Production Spridget or Spitfire following a Golf or Civic, because the forward field of vision is all the back of the car ahead. About all you have is out the side windows. Like driving in the rain, too. The Gray Mist. In races like these you cannot look ahead, so thinking ahead is all ya got!
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