Got your car all rally-prepped and ready to go, but don’t quite know the secret to taking it off some sweet jumps? Wyatt from the Team O’Neil Rally School is here to teach you the ins and outs of getting airborne.
(This is the part where we tell you that if you don’t know what you’re doing, you probably shouldn’t attempt this at home.)
Getting a car off the ground is the easy part, Wyatt says, but making sure you stick the landing is more about the set-up than anything else. If you get your car in the air without planning the next step, you’re already in trouble.
The key is getting the car to a steady state before you go over the lip of the jump. You don’t want to chicken out and lift off the throttle (or worse, brake) just before you get airborne. This will cause the car to nose-dive off the jump and land hard on its front suspension. This is especially true in a stock car, which can’t handle impact nearly as well as something built for off-road competition.
So, set yourself up so that you’ll be pointed in the right direction and going the proper speed for where you’ll return to earth. If you’re mid-corner, this means keeping the wheel cut at the proper angle to make the landing as seamless as possible. If you’re in a nose-heavy car, consider accelerating slightly before you go over the lip of your jump to get the front end up a bit and level out your flight.
Once you’re off the ground, keep your throttle position in check. You don’t want to peg the revs and increase your wheel speed to the point where you’ll be spinning your wheels when you land. This will upset the car and cause you problems.
As for accelerating or braking in the air to change the attitude of your car? Don’t bother, Wyatt says. It might make a difference if you’re trying to best Travis Pastrana’s 269-foot rally-car jump, but if you’re only going to be off the ground for 15 or 20 feet, you simply won’t have time to make adjustments. Focus on keeping your wheels pointed where you want to go and the inputs as neutral as possible, he says.
Still not feeling confident? Part of driving fast is learning to operate within your abilities (and the capabilities of your car). If you could use some schoolin’, check out Team O’Neil’s extensive catalog of instructional videos. If that’s still not enough, maybe you should visit them in person.