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Author Ryan Leecock
Categories All Honda/Acura
Create Date January 15, 2002 17:42
Last Update February 08, 2005 18:24
Heel and Toe

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 Simpson label...)

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

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