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  #1  
Old 06-16-2004, 07:47 AM
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SMG vs. Standard Manual for auto-x

Two weekends ago at the autox in Flint, MI, I discovered the wonderful use of down shifting into first gear. On my last two runs, I down shifted into first gear on a tight hairpin and ended up shaving several 10ths off my time. When I first started autoxing, people told me to stay away from down shifting to first because it will only slow you down. Instead, they said, concentrate on your line and being smooth.

Well, I’ve now discovered that there may be places on a course where you can make up time by down shifting into first gear. Even though I made up a few 10ths at the last event, I felt very awkward with the shift. Now, I feel I am quite good and comfortable at down shifting, heal-toeing and rev matching on the street, but in the midst of an intense, adrenaline filled autox run in the heat of battle, well, it’s a whole new ball game (I’m sure you can all relate). I think half of the awkwardness comes from the fear of hitting reverse when trying to catch first.

Anyway, I’m sure this awkwardness will go away with more practice. But I can’t help but think how much more effective SMG would be on an autox course. Taking the time to push in the clutch, concentrating on a smooth heal-toe punch of the gas, all while trying to brake hard and enter a tight corner is taking my concentration off of entering the corner at the correct speed and sticking my line, which ultimately is adding those precious 10ths back onto my time. I can’t help but think how much easier and faster it would be to just make a quick pull of the paddle and let the computer do all the work, 10x faster then I could ever dream of.

So, I wanted to get your thoughts on SMG over a standard manual when it comes to autox. No offense to SMG owners, but I love driving my standard manual transmission and think that I would lose some of the pleasure of driving for everyday use. However, if I think SMG could save a few more 10ths on the autox course… well, without question, my next car would come with SMG.

I’m not sure how many of you have SMG and autox too, but I would love to hear your thoughts. Nick, I know you do. Is this one of the reasons you selected SMG over the standard manual? What’s your opinion of it so far from an autox perspective?

TeamZ4, was SMG available in the Z4 when you got yours? Did you consider getting SMG? Why or why not?

TIA for your input!!
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Last edited by Andy; 06-16-2004 at 07:53 AM.
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  #2  
Old 06-16-2004, 04:03 PM
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I think it depends on the SMG. The M3 SMG with launch control might be nice...it doesn't launch as well as a really good driver can, but it is consistent and removes one variable. The quicker upshifts and downshifts would probably be nice as well.

But, you should eventually reach a point where you don't "think" about your shifts at all. The fact that you are having to think about them and concentrate on being smooth is taking away from your ability to drive faster. Once that comes naturally, it leaves your mind free to assess the course and allows you to do more looking ahead. Take Johnny O'Connell of Corvette for instance...when he drives long enduro races like the 24 Hours of LeMans, he actually gets bored in the car. His driving is so subconcious that he actually plays trivia games with his crew to keep his concious attention level up. The goal is to get to the point that you don't think about down****ing into 1st.

As for reverse, don't worry about it. You'd REALLY have to screw up to somehow end up in reverse. Use a light grip and don't try to force the car into gear. Also, the gearing difference between first and second is often fairly significant, and at the speed you are travelling, it probably requires a much higher RPM blip of the throttle than you are accustomed to between other gears.
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  #3  
Old 06-17-2004, 07:17 AM
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SMG costs you 2-4 tenths on the launch. I may get that down a little bit, but it is incredibly hard to launch. With launch control, it gets me to 1800 RPMs, shuts off, and then the wheels will spin madly. Josh's comments not withstanding, I need to just start hammering it in S6. It ain't ideal, but it's better than the pathetic launches I've been getting trying to be a little gentler.

As for reverse, you'll just grind gears a little bit. It will NOT go in gear.
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  #4  
Old 06-17-2004, 09:08 AM
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Thanks for your comments gentleman.

Bryan... Yeah I figured with a little more experience the down shifts will come a lot easier/smoother. I'm nowhere near the point where I don't have think about it yet, but then again I am still new to auto-x. I need to find an empty parking lot and just practice my 2-1 shifts.

Nick... Wow, that sux about the launches... it would defeat the purpose of getting SMG for auto-x if the launches cost you that much time up front. Do you think it's because you're still getting use to the SMG? Once you get more familiar with the SMG, do you see your launches being quicker then with a standard manual? How is your 2 to 1 and your 1 to 2 shifts? Does it feel quicker/smoother then the standard manual?

I've never driven a car with SMG yet. I think I need to just go test drive one and see how it feels.
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Old 06-17-2004, 09:14 AM
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Andy, launch control is worse than useless. Under ideal circumstances, I may get it down to a penalty of ONLY 2 or so tenths. I am completely, utterly, and totally underwhelmed with SMG off the line. For comparison, the best 60' time at a drag strip that I've seen with SMG is 2.2 seconds. The best one I've seen for a manual M3 is 1.74 seconds. Now, that guy is an ex-pro drag racer who can modulate the clutch for launches at and above 5000 RPMs. I'm not claiming I'm that good, but you can see a real discrepancy there. SMG is death at a prosolo.
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Old 06-17-2004, 09:27 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Andy
...Do you think it's because you're still getting use to the SMG? Once you get more familiar with the SMG, do you see your launches being quicker then with a standard manual? How is your 2 to 1 and your 1 to 2 shifts? Does it feel quicker/smoother then the standard manual?

I've never driven a car with SMG yet. I think I need to just go test drive one and see how it feels.
There really isn't anything to get used to for the launch...your only option is to just put your foot the floor. In S6 the shifts are much faster, smoother depends on the driver (it is definitely more consistant.)

I really doubt that you will get a good feel for it in a simple test drive. I takes a little while to really become proficient.
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Old 06-17-2004, 09:32 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Nick325xiT 5spd
Andy, launch control is worse than useless. Under ideal circumstances, I may get it down to a penalty of ONLY 2 or so tenths. I am completely, utterly, and totally underwhelmed with SMG off the line. For comparison, the best 60' time at a drag strip that I've seen with SMG is 2.2 seconds. The best one I've seen for a manual M3 is 1.74 seconds. Now, that guy is an ex-pro drag racer who can modulate the clutch for launches at and above 5000 RPMs. I'm not claiming I'm that good, but you can see a real discrepancy there. SMG is death at a prosolo.

You've certainly help answer my question for me. Thanks again for your responses.

Andy
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  #8  
Old 06-17-2004, 09:51 AM
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I should probably note, however, that I'm very happy with SMG overall. It just isn't very good for autoxing.
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Old 06-17-2004, 10:33 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Nick325xiT 5spd
Andy, launch control is worse than useless. Under ideal circumstances, I may get it down to a penalty of ONLY 2 or so tenths. I am completely, utterly, and totally underwhelmed with SMG off the line. For comparison, the best 60' time at a drag strip that I've seen with SMG is 2.2 seconds. The best one I've seen for a manual M3 is 1.74 seconds. Now, that guy is an ex-pro drag racer who can modulate the clutch for launches at and above 5000 RPMs. I'm not claiming I'm that good, but you can see a real discrepancy there. SMG is death at a prosolo.
I was finding it pretty easy to get 2.0 second 60 foot times at the ProSolo I went to, and that was on street tires, on damp pavement, and with a driver that had a total of 1 drag racing start prior to the ProSolo.
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Old 06-17-2004, 10:39 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by JST
I was finding it pretty easy to get 2.0 second 60 foot times at the ProSolo I went to, and that was on street tires, on damp pavement, and with a driver that had a total of 1 drag racing start prior to the ProSolo.
I should probably note that there has been some real question about whether or not the prosolo timers are comparable to a properly set up drag strip. It's been suggested by a number of people that the timers take 1-2 tenths off, largely due to difference in setup.

We really all need to get out to one and do some testing. I need to figure out the best way to launch my car and then get the technique down. I guess that means I'll be at the drag strip on A3S04s.
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  #11  
Old 06-17-2004, 11:40 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Andy
I need to find an empty parking lot and just practice my 2-1 shifts.
Practice them every time you're out in the car. Stopping for lights, stop signs, slowing in stop and go traffic and whatever else. It's not quite the same as at higher revs, but it still lets you get comfortable with it without having to make any special efforts.
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Old 06-17-2004, 11:49 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Nick325xiT 5spd
SMG costs you 2-4 tenths on the launch. I may get that down a little bit, but it is incredibly hard to launch. With launch control, it gets me to 1800 RPMs, shuts off, and then the wheels will spin madly. Josh's comments not withstanding, I need to just start hammering it in S6. It ain't ideal, but it's better than the pathetic launches I've been getting trying to be a little gentler.

As for reverse, you'll just grind gears a little bit. It will NOT go in gear.
Sorry, but the wheel spin thing is pilot error.

The SCTS tribe can attest to the fact that the launch mode LC generates barely any ANY wheel spin when I still had my car and they were the unfortunate passengers.
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Old 06-17-2004, 11:50 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by ·clyde·
Practice them every time you're out in the car. Stopping for lights, stop signs, slowing in stop and go traffic and whatever else. It's not quite the same as at higher revs, but it still lets you get comfortable with it without having to make any special efforts.

Good point!! On the street, when coming to a stop, I usually down shift to 2nd, and then from there to neutral (just because 1st is so low). At least that'll get me use to that 2-1 shift in normal conditions. Thanks for the tip.
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Old 06-17-2004, 11:55 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Stuka
Sorry, but the wheel spin thing is pilot error.

The SCTS tribe can attest to the fact that the launch mode LC generates barely any ANY wheel spin when I still had my car and they were the unfortunate passengers.

Does LC shut off when you turn the wheel off-center?
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  #15  
Old 06-17-2004, 12:34 PM
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Butthead has obviously never driven on Hoosiers. The Pilots are a very different story, but they're so much slower on an autox course that i sure as hell wouldn't trade them for the launch.

I believe that my next set of Hohos will be 275/35F and 285/30R, though. (I don't think even Paul can get 285s on an 8" wheel.)
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Old 06-17-2004, 12:36 PM
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The problem, if you were reading is that launch control would get me up to 1800 RPMs just fine. As soon as it shut off, I would immediately get wheel spin.
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Old 06-17-2004, 12:42 PM
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Can someone (Nick?) please explain "launch control" or what the process is when launching a car with SMG?

Can you just put the car in gear (1st) and then gently press the accelerator at the very edge of tire slippage? I guess I’m confused at how the SMG works starting from a stop.
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Old 06-17-2004, 01:13 PM
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There are four methods of launching an SMG car:

1) LC: SMG drops the clutch from 1800 RPMs and modulates it until the car reaches such a speed that it can lock the clutch at 1800 RPMs.

2) Stomp on it in S6. SMG pops the clutch at ~3000 RPMs, this doesn't work well unless you've got a ****load of tire that's sticky when cold. That said, I'm going to start doing it again. It works better than number 3 and also LC. (Not great, but better.)

3) Roll onto the gas pedal in S6. This is what I've been doing, but it isn't working too well.

4) Trick the car into easing the clutch at 3000 or so RPMs. This is what I'd liek to do, but it's extremely difficult and requires a fair amount of time. You have to blip the throttle enough to increase the revs without making SMG engage the clutch. Thus you have to sit for about 30 seconds to so just playing with the gas pedal. Think about it this way: You know how hard a time F1 drivers have launching, right? The best drivers in the world keep blowing their launches and stalling at the line. SMG is like that, but with less control. If it were my design, I'd have a clutch pedal in there for S6 starts. I don't particularly miss it elsewhere, but every time I try to launch the car hard i very definitely miss having that control. This is the fastest way to launch an American M3, but it just isn't practical.
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Old 06-17-2004, 01:13 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Andy
I guess I’m confused at how the SMG works starting from a stop.
Have you ever driven an automatic? It's the same....
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Old 06-17-2004, 01:14 PM
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The basic problem is that since you can't control how quickly the clutch engages, you can't simply push on the gas and accelerate at the edge of tire slippage. It just doesn't work that way.
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Old 06-17-2004, 02:48 PM
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There are two launch control modes with SMG. One is referred to as burnout mode and provides a lot of tire spin...the other one is for max launch speed and provides minimal wheel slip. If i recall correctly, the way you implement one or the other has to do with how rapidly you press the accelerator prior to launching...a slow press= max launch a rapid press = burnout...

Now, how each of these modes works with race tires...I have no idea.
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Old 06-17-2004, 03:16 PM
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Just to be clear, I am NOT talking about burnout mode. I mean that launch control works without wheel spin. Then it turns off and I get lots.
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Old 06-17-2004, 04:20 PM
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a good driver with a manual tranny will smoke the current version SMG in a drag start like at a Pro Solo launch (even in launch mode, moreso without it), so I wouldn't have it just for that reason; slight weight penalty with SMG but really almost negligible; 20#. Forget about using the paddlewheels while turning. IMO even the fastest SMG shifts aren't really all that fast. What happens if you have an issue at an event, there's no way to work on it yourself. The downshifting is the only advantage and it doesn't happen often at most of the autox's I attend. IMO it has more disadvantages than advantages.

That said, I probably wouldn't have blown one of my last runs at the Toledo Pro Solo this past weekend if had it; tried dropping directly from 3rd to 1st at the turnaround, came around and hit the gas ... bogggggg ... I was back in 3rd gear pulled it out and put it in 1st ... bogggg, nope 3rd gear again now at almost a deadstop just drop it into 2nd and slowly chug back into a completely wasted run on the side I never got a good time on usually don't have any problem going into 1st gear though , the 2nd day at Nat's last year had a slow turn that you came flying into while turning and braking hard for it while heal&toe into 1st, that's where I was making most of my time on my way to running the 5th fastest time in BS that day (unfortunately I had problems in the rain on Kumho Yechstas for day 1 which left me too far back overall )
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Old 06-17-2004, 05:00 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by bren
Have you ever driven an automatic? It's the same....

Yes, but with an automatic you can stick one foot on the brake, the other on the gas, get the revs up a little (power braking without tire spin), release the brake and apply just enough throttle where you're on the edge of tire spin. From the sound of it, SMG is a lot different.





Quote:
Originally Posted by TeamZ4
a...tried dropping directly from 3rd to 1st at the turnaround, came around and hit the gas ... bogggggg ... I was back in 3rd gear...
I just discovered how easy that is to do.

On the way home from work this evening, I was down shifting into first every place I could. I discovered, that if you try to push the shifter directly up without applying any pressure side ways (toward you), it'll slide into 3rd every time. That happen to me quite a few times. I found that applying a little pressure to the side of the shifter before pulling out of second, then sliding the sifter directly up will allow it to slide into 1st a lot easier.

I also discovered that 1st gear seems to be a lot more sensitive to rev matching then the other gears do. If the revs aren't exactly right, it doesn't quite want to go into 1st quite as easily.
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Old 06-17-2004, 06:34 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Andy
Yes, but with an automatic you can stick one foot on the brake, the other on the gas, get the revs up a little (power braking without tire spin), release the brake and apply just enough throttle where you're on the edge of tire spin. From the sound of it, SMG is a lot different. .
You could do this with SMG but I still don't think it will be as fast off the line.
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