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How to not suck at driving?


Seasoned Member
Apr 10, 2023
V-Series Cadillac(s)?
'23 CT5-V Blackwing 6M
I need some advice from you Blackwing master driver's out there.

Okay, so the Blackwing is the first manual that I've owned. Ever. I'm not bad at driving it like a "grandpa", or maybe like an "irritable commuter", but I suck at using this thing the right way.

Launching for 0-60? Lord. I can't get off the clutch fast enough and the car just spins the tires, quickly bouncing off redline and forcing me to shift to second while looking for traction.

No lift shift? How the @#&% does that work?! I could swear that I'm doing it correctly, but I only get it right in one out of 5 shifts. Foot all the way to the floor, shift over 5k rpm with foot still on the floor, but somehow I still wind up at the redline. Maybe I'm ever so slightly releasing a miniscule bit of pressure from the accelerator and it's cancelling the nls?

I'm heading to the V Academy next month but I may blow up my car before then.

How are you guys pulling off your 0-60 runs? Do you find yourselves with no traction? Maybe it'sy clutchwork? I watched a YouTuber pull an under 4 second 0-60 with a manual and he had zero drama. Meanwhile I'm fishtailing all over and getting 7 seconds.

What cancels nls? Is it working for you all? Should I even bother with it/what's the downside to not using it?

I feel bad for my car with me trashing it so bad all the time. Help me use it the right way. Advice?
Practice, practice, practice. Now granted, my first manual wasn't as powerful as a Blackwing, but it takes a while for all this to become second nature. I remember having to concentrate on the tach to know when to shift, and really concentrate when downshifting. Now it's all just second nature. You'll eventually get your clutch leg motion sorted out so it shifts fast and smooth and you won't even realize you're doing it. Heel toe downshifts coming into a corner? No problem. Your passengers won't even realize you're driving a manual.

I would imagine trying to master a manual while at the same time trying to master an incredibly powerful RWD car is a tough juggling act. I'd just worry about getting used to the manual first. Keep all the traction nannies on and just get used to shifting and clutch manipulation. Until shifting is just second nature I wouldn't worry too much about 0-60 times.
Don't worry BlueBird. I felt the same way on the no lift shifts and everything. First gear to second is honestly really hard to get smooth if traction is on. I had the issue where it just bogged every time until I realized that traction control needed to be at least partially adjusted. For the no lift shifts for first to second I had the same issue with it not really working and I realized that it was purely me coming off the gas by a millimeter when I clutched in. Considering they make these cars for the track I wouldn't worry too much about beating on it. What days are you going to the V academy? I think I'm going on the 18-19th.
I’ll be at the V Academy Aug 18-19 as well - look forward to meeting you guys
They explain that u should be in ptm sport to give the car some ability to spin tire and not pull. U don’t want to turn off all the nanny’s because that causes the car to go sideways which makes it diff in 0-60. They teach u at class how to do launch control which will help your 0-60.
From an outsider perspective, you're putting too much pressure on yourself which could be throwing you off. This is a high horsepower RWD car with a twin disc clutch and which is very light and rev's fast. With the layers of TC nannies you'll have to experiment but they are there to keep you buttoned down. I would say practice on flat roads, ease into the throttle and you'll get it figured out in time. It's designed to take a beating, make sure to completely warm up the car and cool it down before you shut her off.

And you won't have to worry about launching at SM, it's a short part of the experience. The first day at SM they tell you not to use gas(or barely touch the throttle) and to slowly release the clutch to get the rolling in idle. Supposedly this helps extend the clutch life.
I've been driving high HP GM cars since I graduated college a... while ago. One benefit of that is that I've had time to adjust to each generation's increasing torque outputs along the way instead of going directly from a "pedestrian" level car to a 670HP monster. That build-up time helped. A lot.

But that wasn't the main help. In fact, arguably had I not done the second part, I'd be in a lot more trouble. As a 22-23 year old, I thought I was hot shit and a great driver. It turns out: I was nothing even close to that. It took HPDEs at the local road course to disabuse me of my delusions.

I learned very quickly that I was, in fact, a terrible driver. At least as far as driving quickly and safely goes. That simple decision to start attending those events all those years ago is what made the biggest difference for me. I had to spend a LOT of time unlearning all of the bad habits I'd built up in ~6 years of driving. That was the hardest part. Once I did, however, the world of fast, high performance driving opened up to me.

Now? Give me a vehicle, I'll find its limits, and drive right below them safely. Even on the road. Want to see a 7500lb diesel pickup 4-wheel drift around an empty clover-leaf? I'm your guy. That's just one silly example, but it's all been due to spending a mini-lifetime at the track. It opens your eyes, and awakens all of your driving senses, including the one in your ass (arguable the most important of them), it teaches you to know what the idiot in front of you is going to do LONG before even he knows what he's going to do.

Don't worry about 0-60 times. Don't worry about "perfect launches". They literally mean nothing and are noise. Learn to drive. That's more important. And that happens at the race track, not on the road.
No lift shift on the 5 makes less sense than the 4 and Id be surprised if it really made much difference. On the 4, you get to keep the turbos spooled up and the no lift shift is substantially faster than a regular shift which dumps all your boost. The 5 is s/c'd so its already spooled up.

As for launching, put the PTM in sport and let 'er rip.
Thanks everyone for the input so far. I definitely need to go to local HPDE sessions. I autocross a lot and typically wind up in top 5 for novices, but that's not the same as spending seat time on track with a trainer. I've driven manuals sporadically so I'm average, but no pro. HPDE and track insurance gets expensive unfortunately. I have large stretches of uninhabited road nearby to try things out, but I really need to spend the $.
One other thing, I heard maybe from SM or read somewhere that NLS takes a toll on the drivetrain and should be used sparingly.
One other thing, I heard maybe from SM or read somewhere that NLS takes a toll on the drivetrain and should be used sparingly.

I NLSed at SM for every single upshift except for the ones going from event to event, if NLS worked at less than 100% throttle or downshifts I would have NLSed them too.

My own car? Never NLSed it.
One other thing, I heard maybe from SM or read somewhere that NLS takes a toll on the drivetrain and should be used sparingly.

I've said it before, and I'll continue to say it whenever needed: the folks at SM know how to instruct driving. They're not engineers, know nothing about the engineering or robustness of the cars and components, and shouldn't be trusted with imparting that knowledge.

Basically, a long winded way of saying, "ignore them." NLS won't hurt the drive train. It's been part of GM products since the second gen CTS-V. If it were a problem, it'd have been flushed long ago.
I'll be at Spring Mountain on the 7th and 8th. I look forward to getting some good instruction.

Today I drove around and just enjoyed the car after giving it a bath. I love this car, and I feel bad when I treat it rough, so I felt it needed a break from being pounded on. Harris Hill Raceway is nearby and once I get back from SM I'll see about working with them.
Don't even think about NLS. The 5 is not a turbo, so the tech probably won't make a difference. Just work the natural rhythm of clutch and throttle.

@BlueBird - PM me if you're up for a day trip to the Twisted Sisters. Its been a few months since I had my incident there. Now I know one place to avoid. :)
My personal opinion, NLS is a gimmick, a party trick. Rarely do I find a street long enough to actually use it to it's potential.

The average consumer using NLS a handful of times will be just fine, but If you feel like you're flogging the car then you probably are adding wear.

SM instructors and their techs may not know everything but they are the eyes and ears of BW track abuse. Each one of those cars has had multuple NLSs a week for the past 2 years. It doesn't take a GM engineer, tech or trainer to see if the damage adds up. Most damage happens from bad launches, missed shifts and over revs, these all have a greater potential to come into play when using NLS.
The average consumer using NLS a handful of times will be just fine, but If you feel like you're flogging the car then you probably are adding wear.

This is basically a non-statement. Of course you're "adding wear" to your car. You're adding it every single time you drive it. Aggressively or not. How much wear and tear is the question. And with "flogging" it'll depend on what you're doing. Aggressive launches? The clutch is going to eat basically all of that, with the transmission a far second place. I'm ignoring the tires, of course. But the engine? It's a small block Chevy. It can deal with more abuse than you can give it.

SM instructors and their techs may not know everything but they are the eyes and ears of BW track abuse.

No they're not. The vast majority of SM attendees are first timers who are too timid, as they should be, to do anything super aggressive with the car. It's the rare experienced driver that shows up and can actually put the car through its paces. I say again (and again, and again) - do not look to the SM folks for technical information on the cars they instruct on. They don't know what they're talking about with regards to that. GM would NOT have added the system to the car if it was known to cause premature wear. See again: the fact that it was introduced on the second gen car and has been part of GM performance manual transmission since. Including the Corvette.
It is difficult to launch. My car is the A10 and I still have not mastered feathering the throttle to keep the tires glued below 30 mph.
If you put the car in ptm sport, activate launch control, and mash the pedal, car will launch well.
I think I may also drive without rev match on for a while so that I stop relying on it so much. It's probably picking up a lot of my slack and I should be putting in the work instead.
Why do you need to stop relying on it? I can't heel toe worth shit so I'm glad I have it, makes the car much more enjoyable and reduces wear on the drivetrain since you aren't at a risk at doing a bad downshift.

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