How not to be punted... as often

Probably the biggest agony of all racers, sim or real, is being 'punted' by a fellow racer. As much as we all would enjoy this practice going extinct, it is an unfortunate reality of such a competitive sport where an inch makes the difference between an accident or a brilliant passing maneuver.

Over my 11 year career in online racing I have learned how to minimize the chances of someone in my mirrors effecting my race. Not only has it kept my rear wing on the car, they sometimes are a better choice for defending the position.

Don't complete the pass - Yep, you heard it right; Don't complete the pass under braking... I realize that the whole objective is to pass your competitors in auto racing, but as we all know it can sometimes come back to bite you. Instead of completing the out-braking pass, simply keep your car directly beside your competitor. If you have the inside line into the next corner, there is nothing he can do but take the longer way around the corner. You won the position already by being beside him on the optimal racing line, so don't allow the risk of being punted by pulling ahead of your competitor before the braking zone. This also ensures he does not get the chance to do the switch-back maneuver at the corner exit.

Hold your line, Mr Swervo! - We all know the scenario; Lap-1, Turn-1, hard on the brakes... WHAM! Sure sometimes there is just nothing at all you can do, but if you look a little further into the past there is one big thing that will help you; Give clear signals to the drivers behind you by holding your line. From the moment you launch from the starting grid, hold a clear racing line. Remember, everyone behind you is choosing his or her line based on what you are doing ahead. They too are jockeying for position, but more important they are trying to keep the nose of their car in tip-top shape by being slightly to your left or right. If you move into their line at the last second before braking and block their line of sight to brake markers, the chances of being punted increase dramatically. Hold your line, even if that means the possibility of losing a position. Allow the cars behind to have a clear view of the brake markers and not just your rear bumper. If he blows past his brake marker... you do not become his brakes.

Show them your hooters - If you are racing in vehicles with working tail lights, light them up early. Anyone that drives a car has a built in instinct to apply brakes when they see brake lights ahead, and the same applies in racing. Give those lights a blink or two in those final meters before your actual brake marker and your competitor behind you will be stabbing at his pedal well in advance. Remember, the average reaction time is over 1/4 of a second so show them your hooters early!

Don't be a DooDie - (DooDie = Do or Die) Leaving your competitor with only the choices of giving up or wrecking you both will more often result in both of you making sand castles or mowing the grass outside the next corner. When on the outside, give him some room to make a mistake and you will have a much better chance of making it to the next sequence of corners. Unless you are racing at an oval, the corner coming up is probably going in the other direction (that's how road courses are)... which means you now have the ideal racing line. So don't be a DoD and survive past that single corner.

Drive like a gecko - You only need one eye to see what is ahead of you, so use the other to scan your mirror before committing to your turn-in. Yea... only geckos and other lizards can move their eyes independently of each other, but you can use your peripheral vision to glance into the mirrors before turning into the corner. You do not need to know the exact driver in the car behind, or even what color it is. The only critical information you must know is, "Is there something, anything, at my quarter panel?" If so, then give room. If in doubt, then give room anyway because it is YOU who will be spinning not him. Read Doug Snyder's findings on how peripheral vision is much faster then our focal vision.

I know I use every one of these bits of advice in every race I participate in. They have saved me countless times from the occasional "dive bomber" or simple "Yikes, I missed my brake marker" driver. Yes, I may lose some insignificant amount of time by giving a little extra room, or not actually completing the pass, but the fact that I get to continue on with my rear wing makes it all worth it.

- Tim McArthur

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