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Discussion Starter #1
I'm having a hard time getting used to my clutch being so light. I keep practicing my launch, but can't seem to get a good one...any suggestions???
 

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i have my stock clutch and everything...its just, i have driven several different manual cars, but when i drive my dub, and i'm about to launch...i either take off real sluggish like, or get too much hopping, i haven't been able to find the right RPM and what not to start off at, its just really hard for me to get used to for some reason...i dunno...i have intake and a chip, if that helps...
 

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I have been able to cut some pretty impressive 60' times at the track using the following method.

I rev and hold it at about 2500 rpms.

Slowly feather off the clutch/on the gas till you are at about 5000 rpms. If done properly, you will get a little spinning just as you get off the clutch completely and go wide open throttle. You should not be off the clutch before 5000 rpms, and you should not be flooring the gas pedal before 5000 rpms. If you let off the clutch too fast, you will sit there and wheel hop and risk breaking axles, or your rpms will drop below 3000 rpms and the car will bog and then hit that torque spike that comes on at about 3200 rpms and you will then wheel hop and have no traction.

I have been able to cut VERY consistent 2.2 and 2.1 60' times using this method on street tires.

Here is a great thread that I cut and pasted from another forum here for the archives of VF.com.

<BLOCKQUOTE><font size="1" face="Verdana, Helvetica, sans-serif">quote:</font><HR> he best way to launch? Phew, this is going to be hard, but, I'll give it a go...

The best way I have found to get a good launch is to use the feedback that the car can give me and make the appropriate adjustments to the inputs I give it via the clutch and the gas pedals.

To apply this, you have to slip the clutch! This is the total opposite of the "drop the clutch @ XXXX RPM" philosophy.

The difference is that you cannot control what the engine will do once you have "let go" of the clutch. And what you can't control, you can't adjust or learn from. So in essence, anything good or bad that happens is almost pure luck, unless you happen to be racing in the exact same circumstances everytime! Not very likely. (Even the position of the moon will probably affect how the engine/tires respond that day!)

I have almost never found this style of launching a car satisfactory. (I start making excuses that the tires did not hook up because they were too cold, the engine bogged down because it was too hot, the fuel was different than last time or a million other excuses, all of which I cannot precisely control, which is why it is so easy to put the blame on them.)

However, by slipping the clutch and using that feedback to modify what I do with the clutch and gas pedals, I have nothing to blame but ME if I flub a (drag) race. Moreover, I can teach myself to become more sensitive to what the car was communicating, and not allowing that situation to happen again.

First, forget what your tach says! Just launch the car at various RPM's (by ear/vibration/feel) while slipping the clutch at varying degrees a few times. The car will "suck" in the clutch by itself, When and If you have the right balance of clutch let-up speed to gas pedal stomp speed. This is not an all or nothing proposition; there is not just one "perfect balance". This "balance" can be found in almost all the range of the engine. As a matter of fact, the reason I'm so good at this is because I don't just use it to just "race", but I "practice" it constantly in everyday driving - it's how I drive the car.

The difference is that when I'm driving in traffic and just "keeping pace", I am doing my little trick at a much reduced speed and a much reduced RPM range, as compared to when I am flat out racing.

Specifically:
Slip the clutch - as much as it needs to;
1) keep the wheels from spinning out of control, but you Do want some wheel spin!
AND
2) keep the engine from bogging down.

Don't be worried to modulate both the clutch and the gas if you are giving too much or too little of either or both. The point is to have the clutch totally engaged by the time the engine is giving full power. The faster you can accomplish this sequence, without stalling the engine or peeling out (too much!) or slipping the clutch needlessly (you'll wonder why all the noise but you're almost standing still!), the faster your takeoff, (and I'm sure your 60 foot times!).

Think of your feet acting like a scissors: when your right foot is pushing down, your left foot is coming up. Try to keep both feet doing something until you are either 1) redlined or 2) have used up all their travel - At The Same Time.

The other things I can recommend is to definitely turn off ASR and slow your right foot down! We have tons of power and torque: we will never get the best launch by just dropping the clutch - at any RPM.

The best lesson I can give you in driving a manual is that when the car is NOT rolling: First the clutch controls your speed and Then the go pedal controls it, (but only if we let it)! When the car is moving at anything above 2-3000 RPM, the go pedal takes priority (depending on the car - ours are above 2500 RPM's, because of the turbo. Below that, (to have the fastest acceleration from a rolling start), use the clutch almost like you have started from a dead stop).

If you want to practice this technique you first need to master 3 steps.

1) Go find an empty parking lot (if it has hills or big bumps it is even better!) and use Just the Clutch and the Brakes to manoeuver around - NO GAS PEDAL! Keep launching the car and coming to a full stop till you Know where the clutch "starts" and "stops". After mastering the clutch on level ground, start practicing on the up And the down hills. On the hills, the goal is to Never stall the engine uphill (without using the gas pedal) while getting a smooth launch and to launch the car as Quickly as possible downhill, without stalling the engine, but again; with no gas pedal. You should be much faster downhill than uphill. This sounds pretty obvious, but the point is to get our feet to know it, not our brain!

Also, Not stalling the engine is Not enough on the above exercises; you must also practice enough to launch the car as fast as possible without making it rock back and forth or lug the engine in the process! Only then can say you've mastered this step and move on.

2) After you think you are sick of traveling at sub ant-like speeds, (you get More sub ant-like speeds, but with cool racing engine sounds!), bring the gas pedal into play by feathering it between 1000 to 3000 RPM, But, Still slip the clutch so that when the clutch is fully engaged - You Are Still Travelling No Faster Than Idle RPM's (or just slightly above). This little exercise will leave little doubt in your mind that the Clutch is controlling your speed from a dead stop, and Not the gas pedal. (If you still have doubts, you are doing this wrong!)

What you are learning here is that, from a standing start:
1) It doesn't matter what the engine RPM's are on the Acceleration of the car, it depends on the Position of the Clutch.
2) You are learning to feel for the spot on the clutch travel where the engine really grabs the tires.
3) You are learning how fast the engine responds to your right foot - in this case how fast it Slows down and How you can influence this slowdown by the rate you're letting the clutch up.

Again, when you can do the above two exercises (#1 and #2) Without making the car rock or the engine lug, you can proceed.

3) The last exercise you can do is to repeat step #2 above, but instead of achieving the idle RPM speed, start by Picking the RPM speed that you want to be traveling at and practice getting there. This exercise should be done with the goal of having a steady speed at that target RPM.

Then, move on to having the clutch fully engaged when you're At the target engine speed, but instead of keeping a steady speed, keep accelerating while monitoring how responsive the engine is at that particular RPM, and how prone the tires are to lighting up at full throttle.

You want to get to the point where Just as you take your foot off the clutch, you are Floored with the throttle, but Without excessive wheel spin.

What are we learning here? For example, if you had picked 5000 RPM as your target, you will see that you have to stay on the throttle More than if you had picked 2000 RPM's. No kidding right? But teach your feet that! And more specifically, let your feet know by How much more it takes to get a 3000 RPM difference, (not much, considering we are more than doubling the speed of the engine)! When you're racing, you don't have time to look where the needle is - you listen for the engine's roar, you feel the cars vibration, or you feel the power output dropping - then you shift! But more likely than not (given a strong enough engine) you will not be able to look at the tach - except to confirm that you probably should have shifted already.

Once you can do the above exercises "at will" and "on command", you can combine them to achieve the fastest acceleration that the car is capable of, at that point in time (on that surface, at that temperature, etc...), with a little practice!

Don't practice doing full out drag's, though! Like I said before, my constant "practice" is just driving around town every day. Put all the skills you have learned above into driving Smoothly, with Precision and always under full Control. You will notice that as you "practice" driving like this, you will be undoubtedly faster than before, if for no other reason than you will want to give the car an "input" always - be it steering, accelerating, braking or a combination.

By this point, you should be able to predict what the car will do whether you give it full throttle from a dead stop or from full throttle to a dead stop. More importantly though, you should be able to compensate - almost instantly, when the car is not behaving how YOU want it to.

When you can launch the car in less then about 1/4 to 1/2 a second (flat out drag race...), you will know you have learned this technique by the speeds you can attain "effortlessly", almost like you're driving an automatic instead of a stick - but remember smoothness! Smoothness pays off by every ounce of the cars power being used as forward momentum, not in unsettling the chassis or rocking it around it's yaw axis.

BTW, I have never done any "real" drag racing, (but next week I'm hoping to make it to Race City Speedway to give it a shot!), but on the street, there is almost nothing that can beat me (at least across the lights!), - in almost any manual drive car I have driven. This includes a Miata vs. a Mustang (I was driving the Miata), an MR2 (me) vs. a Viper and my Jetta 1.8T vs. a Camaro SS. I guess I will find out how good "my" technique is next Friday at the track, (if I can make it down there).

Some of the very best launches I have done are right from idle! The other driver(s) did not know what hit them! They knew I was going to race them, but still, the car was sitting there so quietly at the lights... and then Wham! Light speed! While more likely than not, they are still peeling out at the lights, and I've almost reached the next intersection by the time their tires connect!

The very best launch I have ever done in my Jetta was against the Camaro SS - I was redlined in first by the time I had let go of the clutch, the tires did not stop singing all the way through 1st and 2nd gears (but I never let them totally go up in smoke like the Camaro's did)! And I was at least 5 car lengths ahead of him when I switched to 2nd and before I shifted into 3rd, I noticed he had given up - we were downtown and my speed was over 110 Km/h - at 3:30 AM. (Now this is not to say that my Jetta 1.8T is faster than a Camaro SS, except that on that particular day at that particular time I was the better Driver.)

Once you "perfect" this method of launching your car, you will surprise a lot of other drivers - even drivers with all wheel drives (I eat Jeeps/SUV's for breakfast, especially ones with attitude)! The bonus is that (on the street, anyway) when they see you take the lead like that, some cars which should easily beat you in the 1/4 mile will give up because they start to fear/wonder "What does he have under the hood?!?"

By the way, I'm not abusing my clutch by driving like this, as a matter of fact, I think I'm even babying it most of the time because I'm not "shocking" the drivetrain with the power of the engine all at once. Instead, I'm letting the tires/transmission take the full power of the car as fast as they can handle it. My last 5 speed (92 Golf) lasted me over 140,000 Km before the clutch even hinted of slipping (on it's own, not when I wanted it too!).

Even though I had a new clutch installed, it would have probably lasted another 30-40,000 Km easily, (without toooo many more races).

Let me know if my suggestions improve your times at all - but don't forget, I've been driving like this for many, many years (20+) so if you have to "practice" this style before you "get" it, don't worry, it will be worth it when you beat that first "muscle car" that is shaking the buildings and your car - at idle! <HR></BLOCKQUOTE>
 

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Discussion Starter #6
so you can launch quicker from idle than you can from revving it a few RPM's? i would think that if you rev it a little, and then launch, it would be quicker...
 

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This is some good stuff. I was thinking about this yesterday, and wishing I had my car so I could practice some take offs (Daytona's a prefect place to do it, all straight roads, not a lot of cars, but plenty of stop lights.) I usually do something similar to what dong said, but I spin too much and get crappy 60' times, I think I give it TOO much gas. I'm going to try Josh's method too and try what I've been doing with a little less gas.
 

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I love my launch... it's so fun:

Burnout: With street tires... go around the burnout box (water gets struck in the tread), set the e-brake hard stomp my right foot to the floor and drop the clutch hard when the tach gets to about 3500rpm. Hold foot to the floor until I get to the prestage beams. It pretty much bounces off the rev limiter, which I have set at 8000rpm, for three or four seconds. Sounds pretty cool really. Disengage e-brake.

Launch: Press the 2-step rev limiter button (set to 3500 for the track, 2500 for the street), floor the gas (listen to it bounce off the rev limiter at 3500 now.. not as cool... but still fun)... yellow-yellow-yellow-GREEN!! Drop clutch HARD, lift of 2 step button and grab the shifter cuz second gear comes QUICK... enjoy.

Wouldn't suggest it for anyone elses car... although the bottom end of my engine is stock.
 
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