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Advanced Driving Programs at Subaru Winter Experience

Uncategorized | November 15, 2019

The Advanced Programs at Subaru Winter Experience takes your driving to the next level… on ICE!

If you’ve attended DirtFish Rally School or Subaru Winter Experience in the past, you have the option to sign up for two brand new Advanced Programs! The Two- and Three-Day Advanced Programs build on everything you’ve learned in the normal One-Day and Two-Day classes. We’ll dig deeper into the details of ice driving and work more closely with you as an individual to further refine your skills behind the wheel of a fleet of brand new Subaru WRX STIs, WRXs, and BRZs.

Our belief is that the best way to learn to drive on the ice is by doing it, so you’ll spend most of your time in the driver’s seat—after a quick tour of the safety systems of the vehicles, you’ll get to step right into the car.

After working through the ins and outs of the Subaru Winter Experience Advanced Programs, each course wraps up with a brand new stage rally competition, where you will get a chance to test your skills against the rest of your classmates. It’ll take the right combination of quick reflexes and smart driving to take home the trophy from one of the Advanced Programs. Do you have what it takes to apply your new skills and bring home the win?

The Advanced Programs are perfect for experienced drivers who already have an idea of what they’re doing behind the wheel and would like to refine their skills. 

Wet Weather Driving Tips From A DirtFish Driving Instructor

Rally School, Uncategorized | November 08, 2019

DirtFish Senior Instructor, Andrew Caddell is here to provide answers to some of the most common questions regarding driving on wet roads. Do you have a question we didn’t answer? Send it to info@dirtfish.com. We will get it answered for you!

What happens on the road when it rains? Why do we typically see more wrecks?

It depends on how much it rains as to what happens on the road. If there is only a little bit of rain, the road can become slick due to oil and other fluids being lifted from the road surface. If there is a lot of rain, you run the risk of hydroplaning which can cause you to easily lose control (hydroplaning is when a layer of water builds up between the tire and the road, and the tire no longer has traction). 

We typically see more wrecks due to a couple of variables: people not changing their braking distances when it begins to rain and get slick, or they don’t slow down enough for the conditions that the rain brings. That combined with the majority of the population not having proper car control education can lead to accidents.

Subaru-downpour

What are the three most important safety tips for people to consider while driving on wet roads?

Slow down! 
Drive slower in rainy and wet conditions, because you will have a lot less grip on the road. Slowing down will minimize the chances of your tires losing traction with the road surface.

Check your equipment. 
Ensure your car’s equipment is roadworthy. Check your windshield wipers to make sure they are doing their job, if they leave streaks, you should consider replacing them. Your tires are important! Make sure that have enough tread on them.

Always be alert. 
Be ready for the inevitable surprises of driving in the rain. This could be water splashing from other cars into your lane, or other cars drifting into your lane because they are hydroplaning. Always look far ahead to give yourself as much time as possible to deal with any situations that come at you, and plan for an exit strategy.

Is there anything you would suggest people to do to set their car up for driving in wet weather?

The number one priority is to make sure you have enough tread depth on your tires to ensure they can evacuate the water out as fast as possible and don’t hydroplane. All-season tires and even winter tires are designed to push water away from the tire to maintain contact with the road. That’s why you see V-shaped and “swooping” tread patterns on most tires; those grooves aren’t there to simply make the tire look cool, they are channels for the water to escape from beneath the tire.

Fun Fact: At full-speed, a Formula 1 rain tire can disperse nearly 22.5 gallons (85 liters) of water every second.

rain tire tread

Do you have any tips for different drivetrains?

Different drivetrains will drive the same if you are driving smart and safely. The biggest thing you need to remember is to brake early. Extending your braking distances gives you more time to react and avoid situations ahead of you.

Each drivetrain will wear out tires differently, so make sure you rotate them according to the manufacturer’s suggestions. That will make sure the equipment on your vehicle is as safe as possible.

What skills does DirtFish teach you to better prepare yourself for driving in adverse conditions?

Here at DirtFish, we really focus on car control. We get you to purposely slide a car around to teach you how to regain control and get it back in the direction that you want to go.

The most important skill that we teach that would prepare for driving in adverse conditions would be good vision. Make sure you are always looking ahead and paying attention to anything that could cause your vehicle to lose control. If you get into a situation where you lost control in your car, look where you want to go and DON’T PANIC.

We also teach you how to control the throttle and brakes, which is a very handy skill to have while driving in the rain. Most mistakes can be corrected with proper application of throttle and brakes.

What are antilock brakes, and what do they do? Will it help me on wet roads?

When your tires are completely locked (brakes on hard, tires stopped rolling), you don’t have traction. No traction means no turning and no control to avoid an accident. An Antilock Brake System (ABS) uses a computer to keep the tires from completely locking up, which helps you get the car slowed down more efficiently and still gives you the ability to steer out of a situation. Antilock brakes help drivers because if you hit the brakes too hard the tires lock and the car doesn’t slow down, so your natural instinct is to push on them even harder, which makes the situation worse. ABS controls the pressure to keep the tires from locking up. So antilock brakes can be a huge help to drivers on wet roads, especially in emergency situations. 

At DirtFish, we do not use antilock brakes in our school cars because we want students to learn how to deal with locked tires and how to manage slides.  We teach threshold braking which trains you to brake hard without locking up the brakes. This is a complicated technique that takes practice, so antilock systems are great for drivers with less experience to get the same results. 

Brakes

If the backend of my car starts sliding on a wet surface, what should I do?

The number one thing is to look where you want to go to find an option out of trouble. Most people get in an accident because they stare at what they could run into versus looking for an alternate route. The next is to countersteer, which means steering in the direction of the skid. If you are in an all-wheel or front-wheel drive car, gently squeezing the throttle will help transfer weight to the back end and keep the slide from getting bigger. In a rear-wheel drive car, stay off the gas as this will make the slide bigger and harder to control. Regardless of drivetrain, in this situation make sure all your inputs are gentle and small to avoid upsetting the car more than it already is.

Keep in mind that all of this assumes that you are in not in danger of running into a fellow motorist or solid object. The above should be considered informational to understand what happens to a car during a slide, and any of these techniques should NOT be practiced on public roads without extensive practice in a controlled environment.

For most drivers in a modern car with properly functioning equipment and good tires, the best advice is to look where you want to go, stay on the brake pedal, and steer where you want to go. This ensures that all of the stability and ABS systems are engaged and able to work as they are designed. For more understanding of how to handle a vehicle at its limits in slippery conditions, take a class at DirtFish!

Hopefully, this helped answer a few questions that you have about driving in wet weather. To learn more about DirtFish driving classes, please click here to visit our Driving Programs page.

Launch Control: Unsung Heroes – Episode 7.9

Uncategorized | November 06, 2019

On the latest episode of Launch Control, Americas Rallycross heads north to Canada and Grand Prix Trois Riveres, where Subaru aims to continue their winning streak. The technicians and team have to rise to the challenge just to keep all three cars in the fight.

Subaru Winter Experience and DirtFish Continue Partnership for 2020

Uncategorized | November 01, 2019

Subaru Winter Experience is pleased to retain the support of DirtFish for the 2020 edition of Subaru Winter Experience, which returns to Eagle River, Wisconsin starting in February. As has been the case for the past two years, DirtFish instructors will be on hand at Dollar Lake to teach participants the ins and outs of ice driving in a specially prepared fleet of Subaru WRX STIs, WRXs, and BRZs. DirtFish’s expertise as the premier rally school in North America contributes to giving drivers a winter driving experience that is unparalleled anywhere else in the United States.

“We’re incredibly grateful for DirtFish and their indispensable support of Subaru Winter Experience,” said Subaru Winter Experience founder and Subaru Motorsports USA driver, Patrik Sandell. “The DirtFish team is the best in the business, and I can think of no better group to teach drivers of all experience levels how to get the most out of their time on the ice. I can’t wait for February to work with the DirtFish team on site once again!”

“The Subaru Winter Experience is an amazing program for Subaru fans and driving enthusiasts. Patrik has done a fantastic job bringing ice driving to North America and our entire DirtFish team is happy to support these efforts,” said Justin Simpson, CEO at DirtFish. “The entire fleet of Subaru vehicles at DirtFish and the Subaru Winter Experience showcase how well these cars perform in adverse conditions, plus, programs like this continue to offer a safe environment for consumers to do so. It’s incredible.”

Based just outside of Seattle in the scenic town of Snoqualmie, WA, DirtFish was established in 2010 with the idea that the exciting sport of rally should be accessible to everyone. Armed with an immaculate fleet of Subaru WRX STI rally cars from the beginning, DirtFish was equipped to share with anyone the excitement of what a real rally car was capable of on a loose surface. In the fall of 2014, DirtFish embellished their offerings with the launch of the rear-wheel-drive programs in Subaru BRZ rally cars. The precise and very sideways action of these classes provides an entirely different challenge for drivers of every background. Since then, DirtFish has become the most prestigious rally school in North America, and has started a championship-winning motorsports team.

Each Subaru Winter Experience course gives drivers the opportunity to try out brand new Subaru WRX STIs, WRXs, and BRZs on Dollar Lake in picturesque Eagle River, Wisconsin. Each car is equipped with specially studded tires to handle driving on the ice, while Sandell and the world’s best instructors from DirtFish are on hand to guide participants every step of the way, no matter their skill level. Subaru Winter Experience made its debut in Winter 2018 and is preparing for its third consecutive year at Dollar Lake this winter, with each year bringing more drivers than the last.

For more information and to book Subaru Winter Experience classes, visit www.subaruwinterexperience.com. For additional questions, contact Linnea at linnea@flatoutsweden.com.

DirtFish Tech: How Rally Suspension Works

Motorsports, Uncategorized | October 29, 2019

It’s no ordinary suspension that gives rally cars their first-rate ride.

Rally racing puts a car through just about every terrible experience it could have. To name just a few, rally vehicles can expect to encounter and dominate: jumps, ruts, bumps, and rocks. If you hit a pothole in your day-to-day vehicle, it’s probably not going to feel very good. Now imagine hitting that pothole at 100 mph… while racing down a dirt road… in muddy conditions. Without the properly beefy rally suspension, you’d be in serious trouble, wouldn’t you? Rally suspension is key to any would-be rally racer. Here are some of the basics.

What Is Rally Suspension?

Arguably, the suspension is what makes the rally car a rally car. Rally racing is typically defined by its use of “unpaved” and “unforgiving” roads, and what makes a vehicle capable of deftly handling that terrain is its suspension. Simply put, the suspension refers to the system of tires, springs, and shock absorbers that link the car to its wheels. The suspension’s goal is to optimize the friction between the road and the tires, which in turn provides excellent handling and steering. You’re going to need those if you’re competing in rally.

How Is Rally Suspension Different from Regular Suspension?

In a regular car, your suspension is designed mostly for your driving comfort. A rally car’s suspension, on the other hand, is less concerned with how you felt after you landed a jump and more about how your car felt.

In comparison to a normal vehicle, rally car suspensions have:
•Inverted monotube shocks
•Shocks that are over triple the diameter
•Different valving to handle high and low-speed impacts
•Mounting tabs that are twice as thick
•Shocks with adjustable compression, spring rates, and height of suspension available

These are just a few of the differences, without diving into too much detail. Suspension for a rally car is also relatively difficult to procure in the United States, as most companies in the industry are located in European countries.

Suspension-3

Maintenance Is Key

Rally suspension is also unique from regular suspension in that the shocks they utilize can, and should, be maintained on a regular basis. A regular shock can simply be run until it’s dead, and there’s no real way to service it. A rally shock, on the other hand, needs to be greased, and the nitrogen levels need to be checked and adjusted for performance. At DirtFish, rally maintenance technicians do suspension check-ups every 60 hours of drive time for class cars, performing regular tasks as well as larger replacements where they are needed. The DirtFish team has also made modifications to aspects of the suspension, such as reconfiguring the shock “breather” to the interior of the hood to prevent mud, dust and water getting inside the suspension.

Suspension-4

And the DirtFish manufacturer of choice? Reiger Racing Suspension. Learn more about rally suspensions by seeing them in action! Book with DirtFish for an unforgettable instructional rally program.

Article by Taryn Ziegler