Question and Answer Session with Race Driver Gary Sheehan

Synchros shot? Weird noises while shifting? Not sure what needs to be replaced?
User avatar
GarySheehan
Master Standardshifter
Posts: 1101
Joined: Thu Apr 29, 2004 3:00 pm
Location: SF Bay Area
Contact:

Re: Question and Answer Session with Race Driver Gary Sheehan

Postby GarySheehan » Fri May 16, 2008 4:29 pm

Perpetuus wrote:Gary, what advice do you have for a soon-to-be Mechanical Engineer interested in a job in automobile engineering (especially chassis engineering)? I have no problem finding a job at Honda or other car companies, but all of them are automotive manufacturing jobs, where everything has already been designed and engineered beforehand. Having worked three months in manufacturing, I have to say that I hate working in a factory. What are some of the things that I can do to prep myself for an automobile engineering job, and where are some great places to start looking?

Perhaps you should look to apprentice at a racing team to get hands on experience with chassis engineering. I suspect that's a very specialized field and I don't think your typical Mech-E curriculum covers what you would need to jump right into a role like that. Also, I'm guessing there are far fewer chassis engineering jobs in the large OEMs compared to manufacturing positions.

Perhaps continue your education pursuing an Automotive Engineering masters degree?

User avatar
GarySheehan
Master Standardshifter
Posts: 1101
Joined: Thu Apr 29, 2004 3:00 pm
Location: SF Bay Area
Contact:

Re: Question and Answer Session with Race Driver Gary Sheehan

Postby GarySheehan » Fri May 16, 2008 4:35 pm

paul34 wrote:Gary, what would you say was your first "real" racing experience and did it really humble you, or did you recognize you had some talent?

My first "real" racing experience was when I attended my first day at the Jim Russell Racing School Grand Prix course. I had never been in a kart or racecar. The only experience I had was driving aggressively on the street and reading books on racing. I thought I was going to go to racing school and that my obvious talents would be discovered and I would be on my way to a professional racing career.

Well, at the end of the day I was sitting in my hotel room wondering just what I had gotten myself into. It was nothing like I had thought it would be. It was much more difficult than I ever anticipated and I was truly humbled. So that night I changed my perception of my driving abilities and decided to soak up every word from my instructors like a sponge. I still take that humble approach to my driving today and feel like there is no one that I can't learn something from.

I do get a kick out of it when I read on the forums that someone thinks they would be an awesome racecar driver, but has never been on a racetrack. I've been there myself, and I know exactly how much there is to learn to get you from being a "hotshot" on the street to a disciplined driver that can maximize the performance of a given car on a given track.

User avatar
GarySheehan
Master Standardshifter
Posts: 1101
Joined: Thu Apr 29, 2004 3:00 pm
Location: SF Bay Area
Contact:

Re: Question and Answer Session with Race Driver Gary Sheehan

Postby GarySheehan » Fri May 16, 2008 4:42 pm

hockeystyx16 wrote:kind of a lame quiestion, but i see it all the time in open wheel. why do the drivers tilt their head into the turn? i doubt its for better weight distibution, a head doesnt weigh that much, and i tried tilting my head into a turn and it just disoriented me a little bit

Personal preference, I guess. Jean Alesi was famous for this. As you can see from this video, I hardly tilt my head at all in a corner. http://link.brightcove.com/services/lin ... 1364171859

You do have to counteract the g-forces that are generated in the corners, which can cause a little bit of head tilting, but as for why some guys really lean their heads in, I don't know. When I've tried it, it feels too much like I'm on a motorcycle. I try to keep my eyes parallel with the track surface.

User avatar
GarySheehan
Master Standardshifter
Posts: 1101
Joined: Thu Apr 29, 2004 3:00 pm
Location: SF Bay Area
Contact:

Re: Question and Answer Session with Race Driver Gary Sheehan

Postby GarySheehan » Fri May 16, 2008 4:48 pm

Etanimulc wrote:Gary, how long did it take you to learn heel and toe downshifting. I perform this technique the nonconventional way; I have a problem swiveling my heel around to the gas pedal. I put my heel on the brake and blip the throttle with my toes or middle of my foot. I wear a size 12 or 13 shoe. Can you give me some advice on learning this technique?

I don't recall how long it took. This was something I was able to do before I went to racing school.

I also originally learned to heel-toe the way you described, but quickly changed it as I learned to threshold brake. If you are using the brake to press the brake, you are modulating brake pressure with the big muscles in your thigh and hip. While these muscles are great for brute strength, they are not very good at finesse, so you do not have precise control of the brake pressure. In addition, changes in brake pressure require you to move your entire leg up and down, which isn't very efficient.

That's why it's "correct" to use the ball of your foot on the brake. The muscles in your ankle are very good at fine motor control, so they give you the precision you need to modulate the brake pressure as required to get the most out of the tires. Also, you are only moving the mass of your foot when modulating, as opposed to the mass of your entire leg, so changes to brake pressure can be made much quicker.

Blipping the throttle requires no precision whatsoever, so just throw your heel at the throttle to raise the revs.

User avatar
GarySheehan
Master Standardshifter
Posts: 1101
Joined: Thu Apr 29, 2004 3:00 pm
Location: SF Bay Area
Contact:

Re: Question and Answer Session with Race Driver Gary Sheehan

Postby GarySheehan » Fri May 16, 2008 4:50 pm

wannabe wrote:what made you chose the circut you chose to race in?

Do you mean road racing vs. other types of racing or do you mean the types of cars I drive?

User avatar
GarySheehan
Master Standardshifter
Posts: 1101
Joined: Thu Apr 29, 2004 3:00 pm
Location: SF Bay Area
Contact:

Re: Question and Answer Session with Race Driver Gary Sheehan

Postby GarySheehan » Fri May 16, 2008 4:58 pm

Ecmslee wrote:
jomotopia wrote:i know this stuff is "on topic" so to speak... but this thread is specifically for asking Gary questions and letting him answer them, so let's try to stick to that format please. ;)


Sorry about that, you're completely right. So here's my post edited into the form of a question-

Gary, would you say that this article is a good anatomy of the skills and qualities you exhibit as a professional race driver? :wink:
http://www.wired.com/special_multimedia/2008/pl_motor
Kidding aside, what types of exercises do you practice to prepare or train yourself for what you do? As mentioned in the article, does your training also include a lot of time spent in driving simulations, such as racing games?

A lot of that info is right on, but delivered a bit over the top. It doesn't take a musclehead to drive a racecar, but a fit body will be able to maintain peak precision longer with less effort than a couch potato. Ultimately, this will effect your finishing position.

I run 3-4 miles a day four or five days a week and do weight strength training focusing more on reps than max weight. I do use driving simulators to get ready for events because it gets me in the proper mindset. I also use visualization techniques to drive perfect laps in my head and positive reinforcement techniques while on the track to program proper habits.

User avatar
GarySheehan
Master Standardshifter
Posts: 1101
Joined: Thu Apr 29, 2004 3:00 pm
Location: SF Bay Area
Contact:

Re: Question and Answer Session with Race Driver Gary Sheehan

Postby GarySheehan » Fri May 16, 2008 5:03 pm

bde wrote:Gary, kinda carrying forward from the previous question:

What excercises do/did you find most useful for learning the manual?
How much time did you apportion to them in the early years and vs now?

One exercise I've heard is getting in and out of the same gear for a prolonged period of time (an hour or more) on any kind of terrain (hilly, regular etc) while maintaining constant speed throughout.

Looking forward to the reply:)

Thanks!

I don't think there is that much to practice with respect to driving a manual transmission. I learned to drive on a manual, so it very quickly became second nature to me. Through racing books I learned about heel-toe downshifting, so I learned that fairly early on and just practiced it. But there were no exercises I ever did to learn manual.

User avatar
GarySheehan
Master Standardshifter
Posts: 1101
Joined: Thu Apr 29, 2004 3:00 pm
Location: SF Bay Area
Contact:

Re: Question and Answer Session with Race Driver Gary Sheehan

Postby GarySheehan » Fri May 16, 2008 5:04 pm

I think I got them all so far. Did I miss anyone?

User avatar
wannabe
Master Standardshifter
Posts: 8090
Joined: Tue May 15, 2007 11:48 am
Cars: NONE - take the bus
Location: Grand Rapids, MI
Contact:

Re: Question and Answer Session with Race Driver Gary Sheehan

Postby wannabe » Sat May 17, 2008 1:20 pm

GarySheehan wrote:
wannabe wrote:what made you chose the circut you chose to race in?

Do you mean road racing vs. other types of racing or do you mean the types of cars I drive?


like not nascar, etc
Currently not driving anything - the escort died april 2014 and there's no funds to replace it

Crafting and stuff

bde
Senior Standardshifter
Posts: 206
Joined: Mon Feb 11, 2008 12:05 pm

Re: Question and Answer Session with Race Driver Gary Sheehan

Postby bde » Fri May 30, 2008 11:16 pm

Any aspirations to try out a wild ride in Ariel Atom Gary:)?
Good decisions come from experience -
experience comes from bad decisions...

User avatar
GarySheehan
Master Standardshifter
Posts: 1101
Joined: Thu Apr 29, 2004 3:00 pm
Location: SF Bay Area
Contact:

Re: Question and Answer Session with Race Driver Gary Sheehan

Postby GarySheehan » Sat May 31, 2008 1:09 am

wannabe wrote:
GarySheehan wrote:
wannabe wrote:what made you chose the circut you chose to race in?

Do you mean road racing vs. other types of racing or do you mean the types of cars I drive?


like not nascar, etc

Well, I originally started in Formula cars (open wheel) and that is where I wanted to make my career. However, I came to the realization once I reached the Barber Dodge Pro series that it was going to be incredibly tough to continue to fund formula cars. Barber Dodge Pro, which is essentially an entry level pro open wheel series, was looking like $300k per year in 1998, not including crash damage. That's about the time I started looking into sedan racing, which was much less expensive.

I have always watched and loved road racing. It involves all aspects of driving; braking, shifting, balancing, accelerating. If I had been interested in NASCAR, I would have had to take an entirely different path in racing, most likely starting on 1/8 mile dirt ovals and moving up to 1/4 mile and 1/2 mile asphalt bullrings. Oval racing requires a very different skillset than road course racing.

User avatar
GarySheehan
Master Standardshifter
Posts: 1101
Joined: Thu Apr 29, 2004 3:00 pm
Location: SF Bay Area
Contact:

Re: Question and Answer Session with Race Driver Gary Sheehan

Postby GarySheehan » Sat May 31, 2008 1:12 am

bde wrote:Any aspirations to try out a wild ride in Ariel Atom Gary:)?

Sure, I would like to drive the Atom on a race track. But I've driven some pretty crazy cars in my time, so while the Atom is unique and interesting as a street car, I don't think it would stand up against some of the purpose built formula cars I've raced.

bde
Senior Standardshifter
Posts: 206
Joined: Mon Feb 11, 2008 12:05 pm

Re: Question and Answer Session with Race Driver Gary Sheehan

Postby bde » Mon Jun 02, 2008 8:14 am

$300k per year? wow that seems to be very expensive indeed.

I actually always wondered why they made Atom street legal - it doesn't look like it should be driven on the roads - one crash and you are done I'd assume, but hey it still holds the fastest top time around Nurburgring @6:55 or so beating likes of pagani zonda, koenigsegg ccx and others by a large margin. I'd sure like to see that 6.55 lap on youtube:)


What are the annual costs you spend towards racing in your class Gary?
Good decisions come from experience -
experience comes from bad decisions...

User avatar
GarySheehan
Master Standardshifter
Posts: 1101
Joined: Thu Apr 29, 2004 3:00 pm
Location: SF Bay Area
Contact:

Re: Question and Answer Session with Race Driver Gary Sheehan

Postby GarySheehan » Mon Jun 02, 2008 3:48 pm

I don't spend any money to race currently.

User avatar
Zexel
Senior Standardshifter
Posts: 276
Joined: Tue Jan 15, 2008 9:54 pm
Cars: 2005 Scion tC RS 1.0
Location: South of Boston, Massachusetts
Contact:

Re: Question and Answer Session with Race Driver Gary Sheehan

Postby Zexel » Mon Jun 16, 2008 1:49 pm

So your sponsors pick up everything? All you have to do it perform and make money....Awesome.

Do you recall how much money it was to enter racing school? How long was it? Also, how often did you race at first? What was it like balancing your other job with racing? And at what point did you become fully financially dependent on racing? Must've been great.

Thanks in advance Gary.
Driving stick since April 8th, 2008.


Return to “Parts and Problems”

Who is online

Users browsing this forum: No registered users and 2 guests