Over the last 10 years “Dynamic Driving” has become the halo phrase for driver coaching and the training industry. Companies looking to attract your attention and win your business will use the phrase in their title and throughout their course range – just as we do at CAT Driver Training. An exciting prospect for sure – the promise of being a driving dynamics expert by the end of a course! But are all training providers genuinely qualified to deliver on their dynamic promise?
My motivation to write this blog? To give you my thoughts and opinions on what Vehicle Dynamics mean to me and the team at CAT – recognised experts in this field, adding logic and prescription to what is a very large and diverse subject. Unashamedly, it may inspire you to book a course with us. If you’re reading this from across the globe, it may help you to choose the right training provider for your needs. That said, we have had customers fly from New Zealand, Hong Kong, across Europe as well as the US to name just a few, specifically to work with CAT for our expertise. Proving distance may not always be a barrier, if the rewards warrant the commitment and expense (and if the exchange rate is favourable!).
Vehicle Dynamics is the study of how the vehicle will react to driver inputs on a given road. Vehicle dynamics is part of engineering primarily based on classical mechanics. Source: Wikipedia.
Dynamic driving in the motor industry
Vehicle chassis/platform development within the motor industry is managed by a dedicated team of engineers – experts in their field, Masters of car control, vehicle evaluation and test techniques. The engineers responsible for how your car behaves on the road, often represent the pinnacle of driving ability.
CAT Driver Training has been developing motor industry engineers dynamic driving skills for the last 15 years. Our motor industry training, engineering credentials and qualifications (read our qualifications here) have helped make the CAT instructor team the “go to” people for Dynamic Driving development and coaching across Europe and the world.
Dynamic driving and car control
Experience tells me, observing and evaluating a vehicles dynamic characteristic and using the information you’re sensing and feeling intelligently, will improve your car control. Be that in a measurable way via a stop watch or data logger for competitive driving, rewards can also be subjective: driving enjoyment; the ownership experience; or perhaps speed and safety.
Reflecting on what I witness from the passenger seat – moments when drivers realise what they and their vehicle can achieve – when their sensory experience is tuned to their vehicles engineered DNA – your personal satisfaction metres can go off the scale.
I have genuinely experienced tears of joy with customers! I know that sounds unimaginable, but it’s true.
Best therefore not play down the value our knowledge imparts and at times, the emotional investment made striving to be in dynamic harmony with your vehicle.
Equipped with a definition of the term Dynamic Driving and its relevance to the motor industry, how do we bridge the gap between how a professional engineer utilises dynamic driving, and how you might?
Step 1: Understanding the ‘Why’
Every CAT Driver Training course includes concise and effective briefings on how cars work. Briefings are tailored to your needs and objectives and as complex or minimal as you require – we don’t want you falling asleep! Content is crucial. It galvanises and confirms why we do what we do behind the wheel. Understanding the reason why you are doing something for most customers, is the key reason why CAT is chosen as your training partner – a desire to develop technique and genuine dynamic understanding. Factual vehicle dynamic content is only delivered by a true engineer. At CAT, you get the best of both worlds: advanced driving coaches with professional instruction and qualifications, and engineers. A unique and unmatched combination.
Step 2: Understanding your car’s unique nuances
We have had the pleasure to work with over 5100 customers since 2005, in vehicles ranging from 1930s vintage race cars to modern day super and hypercars. To any petrolhead, the list would make a great “time for tea” video and create a difficult choice for “my top 10” car collection. CAT instructors use our evaluation, test, coaching and training techniques with every client.
Under our expert guidance, this allows you to unlock and then experience your vehicles key dynamic characteristics.
Why does this engineering and mechanical knowledge make a difference? How does it improve my car control?
Did you know:
- A Nissan R35 GTR distributes drive cleverly from front to rear axles to optimise safety and speed in a corner? To drive this vehicle at optimum speed with stability in a corner, a modified cornering line to the conventional is required.
- Understanding castor angle will allow you to improve corner exit speed.
- Understanding the Ackerman Steering Principle will help you to enter a corner with optimised vehicle stability, speed and minimized steering input.
- Understanding the term Slip Angle galvanises the reason why vehicles are most stable when driven forward.
- If you drive an older vehicle with drum rear brakes, your braking technique is modified over conventional rear disc brakes. The reason? To reduce turn in and mid-corner understeer.
Just a few examples that in isolation may mean very little but alternatively, imagine a day of driving and mechanical enlightenment, centred around your specific vehicle. All presented in a style that suits your needs, learning style and objectives. CAT content and coaching compresses our unique knowledge and compacts your learning – a unique approach centred around true vehicle dynamics and vehicle DNA.
Step 3: Unique dynamic driving exercises
Manipulating and managing a vehicle for optimised car control is a communication exercise. A good example of vehicle dynamics at work is how we utilise our Subaru and its adjustable dampers. Exploring 7 ride and handling evaluation criteria, you adjust the vehicle dampers to suit your driving requirements. The 7 criteria are carefully chosen – representing the fundamental and significant areas you engage with, to optimise tyre grip in a corner. A short route into advanced dynamic “know how” available to all – not just professional engineers.
Step 4: Reading dynamic behaviours
You are encouraged to use your own car when coaching and training with us. Occasionally, however, your vehicle may just be too good! A stiffly suspended performance car can often manage and mask its dynamic workings so well, they become difficult to read. In these instances, we have a fleet of vehicles available for hire that are chosen to accelerate your learning. A soft Ford Mondeo is a great learning platform! Ideal for learning to read and feel dynamic happenings, this accelerates your learning and optimises the time we share together. Then it’s back into your car to continue.
Training that delivers results
What we enjoy at CAT is how quickly our customers advance their knowledge, driving skill and confidence. Often daily, we hear back how customers enjoy the technical briefings and the understanding of why the techniques we pass on work, and the engineering behind them. Our clients’ Trustpilot reviews confirm that our approach works and are borne out by the amount of repeat business we maintain. “When can I book my next course” has become a mainstream question during the end of day debrief back at the CAT hub over coffee and a wind down together.
What qualifies a dynamics driving instructor?
Like many coaching, training providers and driving schools, all CAT instructors are advanced drivers with ROSPA Gold, IAM and DVSA fleet qualifications. All good reasons to back up why we are able to call ourselves advanced driving coaches and instructors. That does not, however, give entitlement to be called a vehicle dynamics instructor. That qualification comes from a lifetime in the world of vehicle engineering aligned with genuine motor manufacturer training and qualifications. This is the CAT differentiator – we are true vehicle dynamics coaches and instructors.
Do your homework when shopping around
I hope you have found this blog enlightening? Yes – it is a promotional tool, but beyond that is a genuine desire to ensure whoever you pay to develop your driving, ensure you receive what you expect and you trust the statements made about your learning to come. That magic word – dynamics – can blur the lines. My advice? Ensure you know how you are going to learn and what, before you hand over your money. As importantly. Is the coach or instructor teaching you (there is a difference) qualified to do so to the level their advertising suggests?
To the uninitiated, choosing a company to develop your driving technique and knowledge can be confusing, we can all look very similar. There are lots of us out there and we may even use the same facilities. I hope this blog has helped to inform your decision.