Why Heel & Toe?
The objective to heel toe is to
downshift without upsetting the balance of the car. If you downshift without
matching the revs of the engine to the speed of the car, you will get a very
jerky downshift. Imagine heading towards a corner at 100 MPH that you need to
downshift on to exit the corner with any power. Without matching revs, the
sudden compression braking of the engine, depending on the setup of your car,
will either spin you out, or plow you past the corner. With a proper rev
match, you won't feel the downshift, just an even, smooth compression brake. Your tires only have 100% traction of what they're capable of, and if you are at
20% compression braking, 30% braking, and 50% cornering force, you are already
at 100%. A jerky downshift will add to the compression braking, and put you
over the 100%. The whole idea to matching revs, is to match the engine RPMs to the
car's speed in the gear you select, giving you a smooth downshift, so as not to
upset the cars balance.
By Ed Nazarko
Here's the scoop, as presented in classroom sessions and in-car instruction
that I do, and based on running a lot of different cars in a lot of different
racing, time trialing, and driver's school situations -- you can also find good
info on this technique in Pierro Taruffi's book, The Technique of Motor Racing,
or Henry Watts' book Secrets of Solo Racing.
Ball of foot on brake, punch gas pedal with heel or with side of foot. Ball
of foot on brake because you need the sensitivity of the masses of nerve endings
in the ball of your foot to be able to precisely modulate pressure under
bet-I-can-outbrake-you-for-this-corner situations. You blip throttle with heel
because precision is less important for this function. Ability to do this varies
with cars; Audis were great until the unintended acceleration scams caused them
to widen the pedal gap to Japanese car distances. Porsche's and BMWs are
probably the easiest to do now, although I have to hit the throttle with the
side of my foot (wear out a set of racing shoes every year right around the
Japanese designed cars (like the Mitsubishi Eclipse and the Diamond-Star
variants, or the Acura and Honda, etc), many of which have the pedals too far
apart for anyone with less than a size 12 foot, or without the ability to rotate
their right leg perfectly sideways under big deceleration Gs (if I can learn to
do it, so can you, but it took me practice and yoga to get it right) you can
reverse the heel and toe position, putting heel on brake and toe on throttle. It
costs you a lot in outbraking situations (why I learned the contortionist
routine) unless you have ABS. I teach it if I have students who can't get the
rotation in their leg that they need.
Heel and toe used to be done with heel on throttle and toe on accelerator all
of the time in the old days (see Taruffi) for a very simple reason. Many race
cars of those days had the gas pedal in the middle, brake on the right. Not a
popular layout any more.
Double-clutching is a lost art, pretty much replaced by heel and toe and
modern technology. Synchros have obviated the need except when your gearbox is
going on you, or in some of the formula cars. I wonder if I'll have to teach
heel and toe ten years from now when the Tiptronic buttons-on-steering-wheel
have taken over.
Copyright 2002, Temple of VTEC