Reverse Heel And Toe
Published: December 5, 2013
"Reverse heel and toe", as I decided to call it, is a driving technique for front wheel drive cars in low friction environments, such as rain and snow. I first started using it when driving a front wheel drive car in snow on the streets, but recently I also found it applicable to driving a front wheel drive car in rain on a race track.
As the front wheels of a front wheel drive car are both powered and perform majority of the braking, I found that I could stall a front wheel drive car on snow while braking reasonably hard. This was particularly easy in street driving when I was doing maybe 2000-3000 rpm, thus the engine was not putting out much torque.
By lightly applying throttle when braking, at least one of the front wheels would continue spinning, thus avoiding engine stall and - bonus - acting as an ABS.
I typically execute reverse heel and toe with my right foot parallel to the pedals and overlapping both brake and gas. Most of the pressure is on the brake pedal, with some pressure being applied to the gas pedal with the left edge of the foot.
I started applying reverse heel and toe when ice racing to gain both benefits. Obviously in a racing environment one brakes hard, therefore engine can be stalled even at higher revs. Similarly, ABS was very helpful, even if on only one of two wheels. Unlike street driving, when I was ice racing I typically was standing pretty hard on throttle due to pressing much harder on the brakes.
Now that I road race a front wheel drive car, I found out that reverse heel and toe applies in rain as well. My car has a welded front differential which itself acts as a form of ABS, which meant I did not need to reverse heel and toe as much. But when I feel that the front tires start to lock up, or hear the dipping engine note, instead of letting off the brakes I can step on the gas to limit the sliding of the front tires.