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Hagerty
Hagerty Employee

How Fast and Furious ruined a generation's driving technique

Vin Diesel has ruined seating positions for a generation of drivers. Yes, I know the exploits of Dominic Toretto are pure Hollywood fantasy. Suspension of disbelief, the tropes, and all of that Tinseltown trickery. But sometimes fantasy becomes reality.
https://www.hagerty.com/media/opinion/the-elsinore-files/how-fast-and-furious-ruined-a-generation-of...
43 REPLIES 43
hyperv6
Engineer

Fast and Furious has ruined much more than just this. It has turned the performance market into fantasy land.

Days of Thunder did the same for NASCAR and Top Gun for Pilots.

Heck Hollywood has done the same for many things in life.

If you want to see a movie that really does the automotive and racing hobby justice watch Grand Prix or Rush.

To be perfectly honest Stroker Ace actually is a bit closer to real life and it is a good comedy. It is still one of Dale JRs favorite Movie.
Air_and_Water
Advanced Driver

A bunch of my car nerd friends and I went to the theater to watch "Days of Thunder". If you could hear eyerolls we would've had everyone throwing popcorn at us for all the racket.

Another good car movie for gearheads is "Cars". Sure, it's a cartoon with talking cars, but they nail every detail almost perfectly. I absolutely love that movie and make no apologies for it. 🙂

I've never seen any "F&F" movies and have no plans to do so. They look terrible on every level, but without being campy. Now, if Hollywood wants to give me "Munster Go Home" levels of camp in a car movie then I'm there! I adore that movie, too. 🙂
Revellcraft02
Intermediate Driver

What about Talladega Nights?
hyperv6
Engineer

Sucks. Not a big Will F fan. He is ok in some things annoying in others. I could not get more than 15 min into that one. N

NikonJeb
New Driver

Ok. Explain to me how to shift a six speed with both hands on the wheel. Maybe sense, skill, & technique don't register to you, but having driven a bunch of different cars that you can't just stomp on and go because of the power they have, it really depends on a lot of variables as to what your hands are doing when. One of the last cars I drove that fits the category you're talking about is a late model Mustang with a Roush engine in it that's got too much **bleep** for the tires. The guy that owns it has a 'Vette that's got a stupid motor in it as well, and he thinks the 'Vette is faster than the Mustang. It's not. What happened is that the Mustang scared him very badly 'cause it gets *real* strange with too much throttle in second gear right after the shift. Like put you in a ditch kind of strange. And that's kind of what the premise of the article is, but there's a lot more of what goes into learning, and knowing how to drive a beast of a car than what's touched on here. And it isn't necessarily about where your hands are.
BMD4800
Technician

Generally speaking, generally applied, to general vehicles, he’s right.

But, each person, vehicle, and conditions vary.

After running all sorts of trails in a Scout II with a wide ratio 4-speed and no power steering, as well as daily in a few different manual steering GM intermediates, I’m very accustomed to the left hand at 10-11, right hand shift. Big Conestoga wagon sized steering wheel older cars: 9-3 is what my grandma did in complete terror.
Gary_Bechtold
Gearhead

I have a love/hate (mostly hate) for the Fat & The Flatulent movies and their "impact" on car "culture". For awhile whenever a new F&F movie came out I stayed pretty clear of movie theaters when those movies come out because the idiots coming out of the theater would see me in my Supra and then proceed to out dumb the other guy in pursuit of me. I watched people literally romp on the gas pedal too hard making a turn to follow me only to end with the rear end leading the car into a 180. Glad they seem to have less impact now but for awhile it was automotive stupid season as soon as one of these things hit the theaters.

HoustonNurse
Intermediate Driver

I'm guilty. I sit back.. stretched out with one hand at 1200... in my BMW X2... it's comfortable and relaxed. In the Corvette... closer and 10/3... I will never forget when my brother and I were out going to McD's in '77 in Mom's 76 Chevy Police Pursuit Nova...... she always bought "police packages" for the brakes and cooling........ Some kid threw a bottle at us and I would have none of that.... Chased him down... thru neighborhoods... back roads and finally WOT on Woodward Avenue in Birmingham....... cornered him and beat the crap out of them... when it was all said and done... My brother said.......... "that was awesome.. you never took your hands off the wheel and kept your hands at 10 and 3... just like driver's training!" I was 16 and he was 15.... and to this day..... I'm most comfortable closer and 10/3.............. but for chilling and relaxing...... back and far at 1200...........
cyclonegord
New Driver

The other thing about Hollywood's perception of fast driving is sliding sideways through the corner instead of going in slow and coming out fast.
Tinkerah
Technician

You are of course correct - but admit it: driving sideways just looks cooler, not to mention it's more fun.
Padgett
Detailer

And made popular the slowest of all: drifiting. Frankly am tired of incessant burnouts and doughnuts and cars either disappearing in dirt clouds or tire smoke. For me the fastest drivers have always looked slow.
Must admit got warned more than once about crossing the finish line in a high speed autocross facing the wrong way so do have certain squirrel tendancies.
Ragster
Intermediate Driver

I enjoy watching F&F movies..for the pure dumb entertainment,... BUT I do not like what it has done to young mindless people, who think to have fun and be cool is to have these burnout/donut/drifting events in an intersection , causing mayhem in small towns across Ontario , like what has been seen in Toronto suburbs or as seen in Wassaga Beach a week or so ago.
MidntPurpleRain
Intermediate Driver

I don't think the movies have influenced dangerous driving to the extent you suggest. Hoons have always existed and they always will. There is plenty of content on TV and the internet showing that sort of driving without needing to see the movies.

Numberscruncher
Detailer

Well said. I drive my 64.5 Mustang at 10/2. My 2015 Mustang is driven at 9/3. Sitting so far back that your arm is straight is just damn foolish. As you said, you lose fine motor control that way.
YesDear
Intermediate Driver

Street racing has as much to do with real racing as a drag strip has to do with the Nurburgring. Maximum grip occurs just before the tire begins to slide. Driving fast is all about smoothness and properly loading the tires that need the most grip.
And it has no place on public highways.
BMD4800
Technician

So you’ve done it? Definitely on my bucket list.

I’ve never been to Germany, but I’ve done roundy-round on dirt and asphalt, done the street race thing, done the drag strip thing, and I have wheel time at Road Atlanta.

Real racing is two kids on bikes, or 2 billionaires racing their exotics like a bomber race at the county fair. It is all racing. Looking down your nose doesn’t change reality, it just makes you feel superior.

Most guys who bag on drag racing have a car that isn’t very good at it, can’t get their car to hook, or don’t understand the physics of it.

Most guys that bag on road course racing, myself included, do so because it is a rich man’s club and they have specific rules to keep the steerage class from cluttering up their track time. But don’t get me wrong, it isn’t easy. But I’m not giving you a dynosheet so you can class me up with folks who spend more on their paddock and crew that I make in a year.

Yet, let’s dive in to this. Take your road course car, beat on it in public curves, unless the pavement is smooth, recently swept, and dry, you’re no where NEAR the course level of power.
Now, drag race on the street. Don’t say you don’t, because I’m sure you’ll hammer it on the on-ramp to get past the semi, exploit that gap in traffic, or beat the kid in the red Camaro. Trying to get 700 HP to hook from a stop isn’t the same as rolling into it out of turn 7 at Braselton, but you know, it isn’t real racing, so who cares?

Don’t be an elitist, recognize people that like cars for what they are. You don’t have to like it, but if you can’t see the skill in getting a couple thousand horsepower to hook on a street (not saying it is right or safe), you’re missing out.
MATTMERICA
Technician

This article was a waste of time. 1 - There is "driving" and there is DRIVING. Who cares what Hollywood does, but if you are NOT racing a car or driving spiritedly, who cares where your hands are? I drive with my knees half the time. Don't get me wrong - when I do dip into the 500+ horsepower range, or conditions require more control, both hands are where they are supposed to be. And as for most humans who drive, they drove a certain way well before these "movies" came out lol
OldCarMan
Instructor

The morons that think doing donuts, or drifting in circles, should go to drivers re-education school! This fits with the never-do-wells throwing water on the street saying light them up! As seen at most cruises...
The idiot race drivers doing donuts after a win, are only slightly better!
BMD4800
Technician

It took me a while to figure out the model T controls too.
Srmert
Intermediate Driver

Think the real point is that when you are not properly seated, and exercise control, you are not capable, or able to actually react to what the world throws at you. Like a rental van cutting across three lanes to make a ramp he missed, or a car of giggly tik toc girls drifting into your lane…. Well officer (or St Peter), my knee couldn’t make the correction to keep me from pulling in front of that semi……..

It doesn’t matter if you have 500 or 50 hp. It’s the momentum that matters.

Tinkerah
Technician

These days I'm relieved to see three drivers in a row looking out their windshield instead down at their lap. It's a rare event. I'd rather share the road with an observant knee driver than a scrolling zombie.
drhino
Technician

I have never seen any of that crap and never will. The trailers were enough to tell me how absurd they are.

Great article; so few people know what the hell they are doing behind the wheel…
MidntPurpleRain
Intermediate Driver

@drhino You should watch one before forming an opinion. Can't be qualified to have an informed opinion on something (name your subject) if you never try something, don't you think? There are a couple gems in the series.

psmith
Intermediate Driver

The problem isn't with the culturally attractive aggressive neanderthals that we see ignoring the physics of automotive control in the context of cognitive physiology. The real problem is that humans have convinced themselves that anybody should be allowed to do anything. Wanna license? - sure, now go 'drive'.

Licensure should involve extensive training and be costly. And be rigorously tested before allowing a "driver" to pilot a de facto weapon more lethal than a gun. Consumption of fuel and use of public roads should cost like it does in private venues (e.g. at the track). Penalties for mis-use and causing injury should border on draconian.

I get it though, we live in the Unicorns and Snowflakes of Amerika era ---there can be no losers, and superior performance is required to take a back seat to mediocrity. Standards need only be set to ensure they are sufficiently low.
odessit
New Driver

I'd very much like to see what would be your sitting position driving my stick-shift-no-power-stirring pickup in a city traffic.

Air_and_Water
Advanced Driver

He explained it in the article. 10 and 2. Yes, you have to let go to shift, but you keep both hands on the wheel as much as possible. Anyone who has instructed drivers for decades has dealt with manual steering and stick shifts.

I've driven plenty of manual vehicles over the years, but never drove them with one hand at the 12:00 position, it's always 10 and 2 or more accurately for me, 10:30 and 2:30, letting go mostly only to shift gears. :beer:
psmith
Intermediate Driver

just like at the track, on a rally stage, or heading down to 7/11.  In all cases in a manual gearbox.  And yup, one has to invest some time and discipline to learn how to do it.  Is that too much to ask if you are going to share the streets?  (I learned to drive in a '61 Scout which I'd venture was a good deal more primitive and difficult than any pickup see on the road today).

 

Go buy and read Proficient Motorcycling to learn the physics  of driving vs cognition, and when you've digested that I'd suggest read and absorb the approach to automobile driving (not the racing parts) described  in Going Faster.  

hydroCARbon
New Driver

I taught driver improvement classes for about 6 years. Always encouraged (per the curriculum) an 8 x 4 hands position so that if the airbag were to deploy your arms would remain attached to their appropriate sockets. Track use might require some adjustments to that protocol. The 8-4 plan works well for adult beverages too.
CP66
Intermediate Driver

Just to be clear, are you advocating drinking and driving on an auto insurance sponsored website?

Tee Hee.
CP66
Intermediate Driver

I've had many complaints from my co-workers that I am intentionally pulling the seat up close to the steering wheel AFTER I get out of one of the shared company vehicles just to screw with them. On the rare occasion that one is co-riding with me they see that yes, I DO drive that close to the steering wheel. When they ask why I just tell them that I'm insecure and feel safer when I'm closer to the air bag.
ppointer
Intermediate Driver

I see the same thing from Uber drivers and those driving videos on BringATrailer. 95% of them have the seat set back in the straight arms position. And speaking of BaT, it is also obvious that 95% of them don't make it a habit of driving with a manual transmission.
RickL
Detailer

Number one, if you have an airbag and have an accident that arm is going right into your face. When I drag raced any stick I was always up pretty close to wheel, left hand at 9 o'clock on steering wheel, with hand (finger on line-loc) on shifter, let clutch out and release line-loc and away you go, power shift still with hands in same position until last shift, if 1/4 then put both hands on wheel. I did the same thing when, ah...light to light racing. Never road raced so still would think 9-3 hands but I am not very knowledgeable there.
MadMac
Pit Crew

If you have both hands on the wheel,
how are you going to hold your beer ?
Oldroad1
Technician

No one here has mentioned seat belts. Seat belts will help save your life but they are, however great for recovering control of your car by keeping ones body firmly behind the steering wheel in case of a sudden surprise spin. These things happen and if your not belted gravity, + or -, will displace you from the driver's seat to the passenger's seat or more times than you think, into the rear seats which leads to a "No One Is Driving" situation! Oh what a feeling!
Air_and_Water
Advanced Driver

Agreed. Physics rules, and if you're slouching and coming over a rise and then see something your wheels are unloaded, making it take longer to stop. You also are unloaded from the seat and if you're not firmly (and I mean firmly) against the seat back then pushing the brake pedal doesn't do much.

My nephew found out the hard way on that one. He was okay, but got lots of dope slaps from us afterwards.
Padgett
Detailer

And for racing a five point harness pulled by crew as tight as it would go was best particularly when using power for rear wheel steering.
SJ
Instructor

Almost all Hollywood Movies mangle reality, I don't have any problem separating their perceived reality from real life. They are just entertainment, trying to read anything real into them should not be a problem for most people(I hope). If you can handle the news it should be no problem. I really hate people that pick apart a movie while watching it. Just don't watch them. I grew up with comics/cartoons, maybe that did it.
Will
Intermediate Driver

I pretty much agree with the hand position thing, but sitting too close to the steering wheel can be dangerous for street vehicles.ie. racecars don't have air bags. I have noticed how Current NASCAR drivers sit and that would never work in a in street vehicles. If someone is sitting that close when the air bag goes off, it could break ribs. Yeah, and you say, if you are sitting that way and have your hands correctly positioned, the air bag will never go off...you are wrong. You can't control the other idiot drivers that come out of nowhere, crossing lanes and hit you head on. There are unavoidable accidents that CAN make it happen.
I have warned several female friends that they should not be so close to the steering wheel that their boobs touch. They say, but I can't reach the steering wheel. I say, get a different car that fits.
The ones that I don't get are the ones that have the seat laid back and they are sitting straight up, hanging on to the steering wheel like it is going to get away, or leaning into it like they can see farther down the road if they get 10 inches closer to the windshield.
hunternicholas
Intermediate Driver

What the author here fails to see is there's difference between track racing and street racing.
For street racing the Toretto character has the positions correct. Left hand at 12 o'clock, right hand on the shifter. Thus creating a clear view of the tachometer.
Understand that street racing is for a distance of a quarter of a mile or less. Whereas track racing is for longer distances and longer time being engaged.
Put a young person into a street race using track racing positions and they'll loose.
Padgett
Detailer

Guess I'm too old. Have enough trophies used to recycle them for local events but only position where my back does not complain after an hour is reclined 30-35 degrees and seat near as far back as it can get (am 5'10") with a vertical (thank heavens for tilt steering) wheel. Did spend a lot of young time in bitty formula cars but since forever have preferred big American V8s. Sitting so far back (head behind the B pillar) did save me from being impaled by a steering column once but did require use of a sawzall and cut off tool on the bulkhead (non-structural) of a Crossfire (but had a great shifting 6 speed).
ps re Stroker Ace: one of the great American novels but a terrible movie.
Inline8OD
Advanced Driver

This article a splendid example of why good magazine articles preferable to cinematic Walter Mittyism.
TSWAN
New Driver

Okay good discussion, no winners no anxiety pay attention and watch out for the other guy. you will be a better driver...
miahshodan
New Driver

If I am jus cruising I keep my hand at 12:00. Why? because I'm 6'4" with a 36" inseam the only way to be comfortable is to have the seat as far back as it will go and he backrest leaned back to take some weight off my sit-bones. That is especially true in a car like my 75 Ferrari 308 GT4 Dino where the steering wheel doesn't extend and there isn't much legroom. If I need the leverage for aggressive or offroad driving I will move closer, but it isn't comfortable, and not something I am going to do on a roadtrip.