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Thread: Car controls for performance orientated drivers?

  1. #1

    Car controls for performance orientated drivers?

    Hello All,
    Newly paralyzed and getting the driving thing under way. A bit of a back story, I am total motor head, I like cars and I like driving. I have always enjoyed a "sporting" drive on back roads and have done a bunch of amateur motorsports including Auto-X and track days. I have done a lot of digging on what kind of controls "performance" driver prefer with not a lot of results.

    I would love to hear your thoughts.

    I am going to miss the left hand peddle.......

    Cheers,
    Jim

  2. #2
    The motorcycle throttle type of hand control is lots of fun and is a good option in a sports car. But it will fatigue your hand quickly.

  3. #3
    Quote Originally Posted by August West View Post
    The motorcycle throttle type of hand control is lots of fun and is a good option in a sports car. But it will fatigue your hand quickly.
    Hmm...So I should have mentioned that I drive a lot as well. Before the accident I was doing a good 40K miles a year. I do not see me doing that much now but I will be driving 3+ hours every weekend up and down to Vermont come ski season.

    Thanks for the input and I will take a look.

    Cheers,
    Jim

  4. #4
    Our local PVA chapter has an auto racing group. You might want to contact them for information on equipment that they use and recommend: https://www.pvamotorsports.com/

    (KLD)
    The SCI-Nurses are advanced practice nurses specializing in SCI/D care. They are available to answer questions, provide education, and make suggestions which you should always discuss with your physician/primary health care provider before implementing. Medical diagnosis is not provided, nor do the SCI-Nurses provide nursing or medical care through their responses on the CareCure forums.

  5. #5
    Senior Member pfcs49's Avatar
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    Welcome to the madness, Jim.
    I too am a hi perf junkie. Before being injured in 95 (T12/66 Ducati Mack 1), I road-raced extensively (FP Sprite>>ITB Volvo 142E).
    Around 2000 I began serious work on getting back onto the racetrack with competitive hand controls, which lead to a setup featuring automatic stick shift Beetle stuff to do clutching, and a steering wheel ring throttle as well as a bicycle style (brake control) throttle on the braking arm.
    Downshifting was difficult-left hand braking/throttling, right steering/throttling while rotating the car into a turn was cake, but then you need to hold the steering wheel stationary when the right hand goes for the shifter (clutch was activated by a microswitch in the shift base ALA autostick VW)
    I went through several iterations: first putting the steering wheel on a linear bearing and braking by pushing in the wheel. This worked OK on the street with languid braking and two hands, but was NG one-handed and near lockup.
    Then I tried making a full sequential servo setup using wiper-motors, one to do lateral shifter movement, and on to do fore/aft (1, 3, 5 fore/2 & 4 aft) including a stepped cam wheel driven by a tiny Gilmer belt for the 3 lateral positions. It worked ok until it would screw up which required pulling over and seeing which motion failed to complete and "re-booting" it-defenitely not good for racing.
    I ran another trial at Watkins Glenn and was doing real well until I screwed the pooch going into turn one and had to be towed out of the gravel trap.
    While turning in and braking 10/10, I bridged my left to hold the wheel while snatching 3rd; the car twithed and the rear came around; if I had control of the wheel, I would have caught it. Driving back to Jersey, I was dejected; no way to do this AND go really fast. Then I had an epiphany! All I needed was to do the 4-3 shift! And I already had done that: wipermotor!! (if you give it a short signal-pushbutton-it makes one complete cycle; on the windshield thats one complete swipe; at the motor, there's a bell crank. Mount a 1/4" rod-end spherical bearing to it and it makes your downshift, then returns to rest position, ready for the next request)
    That addition to the existing setup was killer! In fact, over-killer, because now I could do what the able bodied couldn't: left foot braking while shifting!
    Later I added another motor to do 5-4 downshift when the car got much faster from full development.
    I ran this car with great success for 3 years until I wrote it off at Atlanta and cracked three ribs, and got a request from my wife to hang up my helmet.
    Unfortunately, I never took pictures or got video.

    Then I got a fun street car which has gotten me in some trouble-mostly cops! Here's a link to it's controls which are evolved from the race car:
    Hand control for newer vehicles with electronic throttles

    I tried a motorcycle twist throttle early on in the race-car. IME not very suitable; high force and only 90* rotation to control idle to WOT; and when doing fast driving, having to push the brake and control it at the verge of lockup while finessing both was next to impossible.
    The bicycle brake style works infinitely better; all the braking forces from your arm/forearm are taken though the heel of your palm, completely separating the fingers to finesse the throttle. Similar to the problem of the push/rotate hand controls I started with: same muscle groups controlling throttle and brake. Impossible to drive real fast and transition from full braking to full throttle. In other words, frustrating!

    If your car has electronic throttle (AFAIK, everything 2000 on, and many prior) it's the only way for an enthusiast who can do simple fabrication to proceed.
    It's also very comfortable on long drive. My elbows supported by door arm-rest and console arm-rest, the stationary hand-control supports my left arm while left thumb locks the wheel and allows right arm to hang supported. (When I got my first hand controls, it didn't take long to realize the you were essentially trying to hold your arms out and up as long as you drove; the throttle partially supporting left arm, but the right got real tired unless you could grab the wheel simultaneously with the left arm; cruise control gets a workout!
    Last edited by pfcs49; 05-03-2018 at 01:10 PM.
    69yo male T12 complete since 1995
    NW NJ

  6. #6
    Quote Originally Posted by pfcs49 View Post
    Welcome to the madness, Jim.
    I too am a hi perf junkie. Before being injured in 95 (T12/66 Ducati Mack 1), I road-raced extensively (FP Sprite>>ITB Volvo 142E).
    Around 2000 I began serious work on getting back onto the racetrack with competitive hand controls, which lead to a setup featuring automatic stick shift Beetle stuff to do clutching, and a steering wheel ring throttle as well as a bicycle style (brake control) throttle on the braking arm.
    Downshifting was difficult-left hand braking/throttling, right steering/throttling while rotating the car into a turn was cake, but then you need to hold the steering wheel stationary when the right hand goes for the shifter (clutch was activated by a microswitch in the shift base ALA autistic VW)
    I went through several iterations: first putting the steering wheel on a linear bearing and braking by pushing in the wheel. This worked OK on the street with languid braking and two hands, but was NG one-handed and near lockup.
    Then I tried making a full sequential servo setup using wiper-motors, one to do lateral shifter movement, and on to do fore/aft (1, 3, 5 fore/2 & 4 aft) including a stepped cam wheel driven by a tiny Gilmer belt for the 3 lateral positions. It worked ok until it would screw up which required pulling over and seeing which motion failed to complete and "re-booting" it-defenitely not good for racing.
    I ran another trial at Watkins Glenn and was doing real well until I screwed the pooch going into turn one and had to be towed out of the gravel trap.
    While turning in and braking 10/10, I bridged my left to hold the wheel while snatching 3rd; the car twitted and the rear came around; if I had control of the wheel, I would have caught it. Driving back to Jersey, I was dejected; no way to do this AND go really fast. Then I had an epiphany! All I needed was to do the 4-3 shift! And I already had done that: wipermotor!! (if you give it a short signal-pushbutton-it makes one complete cycle; on the windshield thats one complete swipe; at the motor, there's a bell crank. Mount a 1/4" rod-end spherical bearing to it and it makes your downshift, then returns to rest position, ready for the next request)
    That addition to the existing setup was killer! In fact, over-killer, because now I could do what the able bodied couldn't: left foot braking while shifting!
    Later I added another motor to do 5-4 downshift when the car got much faster from full development.
    I ran this car with great success for 3 years until I wrote it off at Atlanta and cracked three ribs, and got a request from my wife to hang up my helmet.
    Unfortunately, I never took pictures or got video.

    Then I got a fun street car which has gotten me in some trouble-mostly cops! Here's a link to it's controls which are evolved from the race car:
    Hand control for newer vehicles with electronic throttles

    I tried a motorcycle twist throttle early on in the race-car. IME not very suitable; high force and only 90* rotation to control idle to WOT; and when doing fast driving, having to push the brake and control it at the verge of lockup while finessing both was next to impossible.
    The bicycle brake style works infinitely better; all the braking forces from your arm/forearm are taken though the heel of your palm, completely separating the fingers to finesse the throttle. Similar to the problem of the push/rotate hand controls I started with: same muscle groups controlling throttle and brake. Impossible to drive real fast and transition from full braking to full throttle. In other words, frustrating!

    If your car has electronic throttle (AFAIK, everything 2000 on, and many prior) it's the only way for an enthusiast who can do simple fabrication to proceed.
    It's also very comfortable on long drive. My elbows supported by door arm-rest and console arm-rest, the stationary hand-control supports my left arm while left thumb locks the wheel and allows right arm to hang supported. (When I got my first hand controls, it didn't take long to realize the you were essentially trying to hold your arms out and up as long as you drove; the throttle partially supporting left arm, but the right got real tired unless you could grab the wheel simultaneously with the left arm; cruise control gets a workout!
    This is good stuff, thanks.

    Over the last two months looking into this I kept thinking to myself why are these controls not linked to the CANBUS on modern cars and use electronic throttles....Considering what some of these folks are doing this seemed like a no brainer. I have not gotten a chance to dig into the link you sent me but I will for sure.

    As for the clutch thing, I have found a couple articles on line on how to make this happen and good to see it possible. My current fun car is VERY clean '04 Audi S4 with the 4.2l V8 and a six speed. With that said the car is in very good mechanical shape but they are a bit of a ticking time bomb because of the timing chain tensioners. Because of my limited ability to work on cars these days (I did 99% of my own work before) I think it may be time to move on. A couple weeks before my accident we had to replace my wife's car, I had already decided on a VW Alltrack Wagon. I searched the country for a manual but none were to be found in the spec we were looking for. Because we had very limited time we ended up buying a DSG, This is the first "automatic" I have owned in 29 years. OK, it is not a manual but it is not terrible by any means and gives pretty good control of the box. I am a long time Audi driver, all tuned from mild to wild, so I am thinking a B8 S4 or a Golf R with the DSG.

    Thanks for the info, looking forward to reading that thread.

    Cheers,
    Jim

  7. #7
    Suspended Andy's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by pfcs49 View Post
    If your car has electronic throttle
    Definitely check out the Howell Featherlite and Veigel Electronic controls which replace the gas pedal via a switch to an on-board-the-control rheostat. I have seen the Howell version, the right angle kind (I feel these kinds make the most sense). Range of motion for the gas function is approximately 1/2 of mechanical controls, and can be adjusted really light too. It can be ordered with a 'same last state' functionality so you are not pressing the activate button all the time. Re the Veigel controls, a mystery to me thus far, but I'm not too concerned, past dealings with this organization suggests that they do not think highly of their customer base, and well, same back at them, lol.

    But definitely check out the electronic controls which came out in the last year or so. Heck, I'd even grab my ankles for a set for the princely sum of $1500 installed which was quoted, but I'm still leery of letting a mobility dealer anywhere near my car, so I'll continue to rock $250 used off ebay MPD right-angle mechanical controls in my cars

  8. #8
    Senior Member Wills77's Avatar
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    I have Menox controls in my GTO. They mount on the right so you can rest your arm on the center console and left hand on the wheel. There's a switch on them that I have wired up to lock the brake on and have my hands free but I've seen someone wire paddle shifters to it. Search "g35 menox" on youtube for videos of how it works.
    c6 inc since 2-19-11
    ex pro-am motocross racer
    tilite aero z s2

  9. #9
    There is no best hand control. It all depends on the application - performance, comfort, overall. The right angle/push is the standard. I have it in my Monte Carlo. I like it. I can rest my elbow on the arm rest and operate is with little effort. I can even drive one-handed for a short time like if I am shifting gears. But it requires lots of room. Your knee will interfere with it in most sports cars. For that reason, I have the pull/push in my BMW 645. I prefer the Freedom Staff portable push/pull over the more common SureGrip push/pull. Because it has a strap instead of a bracket it can operate push/pull and also push/side. The additional range of motion enables finer control over the gas (which is great for turning corners). It's $270 and installs in 10 minutes. Really the best hand control for overall use in my opinion.

  10. #10
    Senior Member pfcs49's Avatar
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    Jim: My current fun car is VERY clean '04 Audi S4 with the 4.2l V8 and a six speed. With that said the car is in very good mechanical shape but they are a bit of a ticking time bomb because of the timing chain tensioners. Because of my limited ability to work on cars these days (I did 99% of my own work before) I think it may be time to move on.

    That's probably a smart move! I owned and operated Phil's Foreign Car Service for 45 years and closed when I retired two years ago and sold the property. We did only VW and Audi until ~1985 when they both looked quite gloomy. We then diversified and also serviced Volvo, BMW, and MB, but Audi was always the biggest part of our business. I was astonished when they came out with the VR6 style timing chain setup on the newer models-it really sucked, but it also paid a lot of my bills!
    Faced with a similar problem when the business sold and changed, (who would maintain my car), I bought another 2.0T GTI w/DSG and with only slight modification to the bracket, moved the controls from my 10 year old 06 GTI into the leftover 2015 I bought in 2016. It's a suitable anvil for an old gimp with a wheelchair. Fast. but not too fast to get in much trouble with. S4? I wouldn't have a license very long!

    Jim:
    OK, it is not a manual but it is not terrible by any means and gives pretty good control of the box.

    Yes. At first when I got the 06 DSG I put some energy into seeing how to flip the up and downshift paddles. I even bought a steering wheel from a junker. The downshift paddle needs to be on the brake side of the wheel!
    69yo male T12 complete since 1995
    NW NJ

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