09-11-10 - Some Car Links

I found a nice series of videos of Colin McRae talking about rally driving techniques :

YouTube - WRC - Colin McRae - Stage Starts & Finding Grip Lessons
YouTube - WRC - Colin McRae - Scandinavian Flick & Handbrake Lessons
YouTube - WRC - Colin McRae - Power Slide Lessons
YouTube - WRC - Colin McRae - Pace Note Lessons
YouTube - WRC - Colin McRae - Oversteer & Understeer Lessons
YouTube - WRC - Colin McRae - Left-Foot Braking Lessons
YouTube - WRC - Colin McRae - Jump Lessons
YouTube - WRC Handbrake turn

The onboard videos that WRC puts up are also pretty great. There are tons of them, here's just a starter : WRC Finland 2008: Loeb SS12

While I'm dropping car links, here's the gratuitious expert opinion to back up something I want to say : Sir Stirling Moss : Dirty driving is inexcusable . I think all the recent hero worship of Senna is pretty disgusting. Dirty players in all sports seem to always have their admirers. I grew up in the basketball glory years of Jordan and Magic and so on, but we still had clowns like Stockton and Laimbeer who were basically famous for being thugs or cheaters who played outside the spirit of the game, and a certain portion of the populace loved those guys. It's shitty.

It's becoming more obvious that the purported unintended acceleration in toyotas basically consists of stupid grannies getting confused and stomping the wrong pedal (aka "driver error"). They've taken quite a massive hit to their corporate image for what seems to have been larely a media exaggeration.


Aaron said...

Dunno, the anecdotal stories of folks with their cars out of control are hard to square with the granny theory (though of course the elderly are going to much more likely to cause UA). The anecdoters could all be limelight-seekers/liars, I suppose. Or just part of the average amount of unintended-acceleration that occurs. Or they really literally held their foot on the gas instead of the brake for like... minutes at a time!

That said, the pedal feel in a camry is downright spooky, even when it's working properly. It's very easy to imagine that they have a flaw when driving one. I think the real upshot of the article was that probably some implementations of electronic accelerators are just horribly bad and leads people to make mistakes (most of the low speed crashes), and the Camry is one of those. you press the pedal. NOTHING FUCking HAPPENs. Until you mash it, then it takes off like a banshee. Of course all the low speed crashes. And of course that's even worse with the elderly and new drivers.

There are some funny analytical flaws in the post too (like, Volvo has a high UA complaint rate too, so there can't be a problem! That's just nonsense).

My gut says (partially because of how hard Toyota lobbied to try to bury UA events with NHTSA in recent years) that there is an *extremely* rare electronic/surge/interference fault causing true runaway acceleration, and that Toyota probably doesn't have enough electronic redundancy to handle it. Maybe something miniscule, like 10-100 crashes a year or something.

cbloom said...

I've driven modern Toyotas and Volvos and they both have ridiculously laggy throttles and sloppy transmissions. Absolutely you stomp on the pedal and nothing happens and then ten seconds later it kicks in. (some of this is the bad automatics, but a lot of it is also intentional lag in the electronic throttle, which they do to reduce emissions and also make the car feel smoother and quieter which retarded consumers seem to want).

It is possible that there's a very rare glitch, but the evidence is pretty weak.

And there are lots of cars out there with seriously dangerous known flaws, and those never get recalled.

The basic policy of all car makers when they discover a potentially fatal safety flaw is to deny it and cover it up as much as possible and just put the fix in the next year's model.

Tom Forsyth said...

By the way, the "journalist" on those Colin McRae clips is Penny Mallory who is a shit-hot rally driver herself. So the stupid questions are on our behalf. And thankyou to her for them!

I've been practicing left-foot braking just to see if I can do it and while gentle braking isn't too difficult, medium braking is astonishingly difficult - it turns into full-on-squealing-tires-and-ABS-judder braking in a flash. Always careful to try it only when there's nobody behind me. I will need a ton more practice to do it at any speed, let alone have the sensitivity to use it for its intended purpose - while applying throttle to balance the car around a corner (throttle is rear-wheel biased, brakes are front-wheel-biased).

As for the UA stuff - there's plenty of cases every year of people driving non-Toyotas who hit the wrong pedal, panic as something unexpected happens, and park their SUV in someone's living room. The difference is they admit it.

Put it like this - how many stories are there from highly competent drivers who suddenly got UA but calmly slipped the car out of gear, braked appropriately, pulled over to the side of the road, and nobody was hurt? (I literally don't know - I'd be fascinated by the answer) If it was a purely mechanical problem, given the number of Toyotas sold each yea, you'd expect at least some. I'd be very suspicious of mechanical problems that only happen to bad drivers.

Yes I agree that most cheap automatic transmissions are unresponsive pieces of shit with gigantic hysteresis built into them. To be fair, having seen the "binary throttle" way some people drive, a bit of lag and smoothing has probably saved a lot of lives over the years.

Tom Forsyth said...

Oh, and Ayrton Senna was a man of immense talent who needed to get punched in the dick more often. Just like Michael Schumacher.

It's a sport, and you need to be a sportsman and play by the rules. Otherwise you might as well just strap a pair of machine guns to your car and have at it. Talent and skill doesn't excuse being a cock, it just means people can't afford to fire you when you act like an arsehole.

cbloom said...


Yeah I'd like to work on my left foot braking, it would help a lot with my trail-brake tight cornering, but I really need a safer place to practice. Where does a man get his own disused airfield...

old rants