The list of new cars being made with manual transmissions seems to grow smaller each year. So maybe you never even cared about acquiring the skillset of gracefully driving a stick shift, manual transmission…four (4) on the floor…whichever you prefer. For those more mechanically or athletically inclined, it was probably a brave parent or sibling that coached you from the passenger seat through that learning curve…anxiously awaiting some alcoholic beverage at home…once the ordeal was over.
The Heel-and-toe (H/T) manipulation technique of gear shifting…is the technical name as it’s called today. It’s a standard practice in motorsports that minimizes disruption of the driveline, and therefore the chassis, while braking aggressively into a turn. Even a brief upset of a drive wheel’s speed at the cornering and/or braking limit can cause a major deviation from the quickest line and, in the worst case, trigger a spin. For maximum speed, every driver input must be glass smooth, especially gear changes.
Everyday street drivers can take a lesson from professional race car drivers by mimicking their moves. It takes considerable practice to refine one’s H/T technique until it’s polished enough for prime time driving. But driving a stick is an acquired skill and acquired taste that, when mastered…never leaves your personal bag of tricks, even if it gets shelved for a time.
Here’s the Heel-and-toe technique in 6 (six) easy steps:
Place the ball of your right foot right on the center of the brake pedal to initiate hard braking…while both hands on the steering wheel…at the 10 and 2 position…or 9 and 3 o’clock…depending on your school of thought.
On the edge of your seat?…anticipating Steps #2-#6? Here are some color coded/highlighted drawings to break things down for the true analytics.