Offered through SAE International

I.D.# C0414, Duration: 3 Days

While a variety of new engineering tools are becoming available to assist in creating optimal vehicle designs, subjective evaluation of vehicle behavior is still a vital tool to ensure desired braking, handling, and other dynamic response characteristics. In order to better prepare today's engineer for this task, this course offers twelve modules devoted to the key fundamental principles associated with longitudinal and lateral vehicle dynamics. Each focused classroom session is paired with an on-track exercise to immediately reinforce these concepts with a dedicated behind-the-wheel driving session, effectively illustrating these principles in the real world.

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Note that unlike most driving schools, this course is not designed to train performance drivers. Rather, the exercises on days one and two build the bridge between vehicle dynamics theory and practical application by providing a rich academic underpinning and then reinforcing it with highly focused and relevant driving experiences.

Significant technical skill-building is provided on day three, with increased instructor supervised track time to further absorb the principles learned on days one and two. If your job description does require performance driving skills, the dynamic exercises on day three will lay a solid foundation on which you can independently refine your own skills.

This course is offered at the BMW Performance Center in Greer, South Carolina (near Greenville). Driving exercises are conducted on a closed circuit and skidpad using primarily BMW 3-series sedans and other BMW vehicles for comparison exercises. Vehicles are also equipped with Escort G-Timer devices for basic data acquisition. This course has been approved by the Accreditation Commission for Traffic Accident Reconstruction (ACTAR) for 24 Continuing Education Units (CEUs). Upon completion of this seminar, accredited reconstructionists should contact ACTAR, 800-809-3818, to request CEUs. As an ACTAR approved course, the fee for CEUs is reduced.

Learning Objectives
By attending this seminar, you will be able to:

  • Explain tire-road friction limits and compose the friction circle for a given vehicle system
  • Compute fundamental braking response attributes
  • Illustrate the physics of turning and calculate lateral weight transfer
  • Estimate brake system balance and brake proportioning
  • Measure and graph a vehicle's understeer gradient
  • Analyze basic anti-lock brake system (ABS) operation
  • Discuss the effectiveness and limitations of electronic stability control (ESC) systems
  • Demonstrate the interactions of brake, steering, suspension, and powertrain systems
  • Calculate the most efficient path for a vehicle to negotiate a given test maneuver
  • Comprehend the subtle effects that vehicle positioning has on vehicle speed
  • Predict what response characteristics can be influenced by vehicle state
  • Define those vehicle dynamic attributes which can be impacted through vehicle selection

Who Should Attend
This course has been developed for engineers and technical personnel involved in all fields related to the design or development of vehicle dynamics, vehicle braking systems, powertrain systems, chassis systems, or suspension systems. In addition, this course can be valuable to those with component design responsibilities in brake, chassis, suspension, or tire disciplines who desire a fundamental background in vehicle dynamics with a practical driving linkage.

You should have an undergraduate engineering degree or a strong technical background. As a minimum, a basic knowledge of college algebra, college physics, and a familiarity with vehicle brake and suspension systems is required.

Seminar Content


  • Longitudinal Slip and Weight Transfer
    • Defining longitudinal slip
    • Longitudinal mu-slip relationship
    • Principles of longitudinal weight transfer
    • Friction circle concept
    • Driving exercise - orientation
  • Fundamentals of Straight-Line Braking
    • What do braking systems do?
    • How does each of the components contribute?
    • What are the underlying fundamental relationships?
    • Driving exercise - limit braking
  • Slip Angle and Transient Response
    • Slip angle and cornering stiffness
    • High-speed steering and transient response
    • Lateral weight transfer
    • Driving exercise - slalom
  • Braking Stability
    • Rear brake proportioning fundamentals
    • Braking stability
    • Rear brake proportioning in practice
    • Driving exercise - brake in a turn


  • Steady-State Cornering
    • The understeer gradient
    • Components of the USG
    • Neutral steer, understeer, and oversteer
    • Driving exercise - skidpad
  • Combining Lateral and Longitudinal Slip
    • Braking in a turn, turning while braking
    • Drive-off in a turn, turning during drive-off
    • Driving exercise - avoidance
  • Anti-Lock Brake Systems
    • Stability, steerability, and stopping distance
    • Objectives and strategies of ABS
    • ABS performance
    • Driving exercise - avoidance
  • Electronic Stability Control
    • Objectives and limitations of ESC
    • ESC detection and countermeasures
    • ESC performance
    • Driving exercise - wet skidpad


  • Test Procedure Selection
    • Defining terms and concepts
    • Test circuit overview
    • Driving exercise - path selection
  • Test Procedure Sensitivity
    • Defining the apex
    • Driving the friction circle
    • Driving exercise - path variation
  • Test Vehicle Sensitivity
    • Brief USG review
    • Impact of tire pressure adjustments
    • Driving exercise - low pressure
  • Comparison Vehicle Evaluation
    • Comparison vehicle overview
    • Driving exercise - lapping
  • Learning Assessment

Instructor: James Walker, Jr.
James Walker, Jr. is currently a Principal Engineer specializing in chassis, brake, and electronic brake control systems at Carr Engineering, Inc. His prior professional experience includes brake control system development, design, release, and application engineering at Kelsey-Hayes, Saturn Corporation, General Motors, Bosch, Ford Motor Company, and Delphi.

Mr. Walker created scR motorsports consulting in 1997, and subsequently competed in seven years of SCCA Club Racing in the Showroom Stock and Improved Touring categories. Through scR motorsports, he has been actively serving as an industry advisor to Kettering University in the fields of brake system design and brake control systems. Since 2001, he has served as a brake control system consultant for StopTech, a manufacturer of high-performance racing brake systems. In addition to providing freelance material to multiple automotive publications focusing on chassis and brake technology, Mr. Walker is the author of the book High-Performance Brake Systems: Design, Selection, and Installation. In 2005, he was presented with the SAE International Forest R. McFarland Award for distinction in professional development and education. He obtained his B.S.M.E. in 1994 from GMI Engineering & Management Institute.

2.4 CEUs


"This seminar allows a better evaluation, from a practical stand point, of complete vehicles or sub-assemblies with respect to vehicle dynamics and handling."
Mircea Gradu
Chief Engineer - Automotive
The Timken Company

"Excellent forum to explore basic vehicle dynamics concepts and apply those concepts immediately in a vehicle. The class is well segmented between classroom and vehicle learning with good flow of course material."
Michael Missig
Senior Engineer - Vehicle Research
Honda R&D Americas, Inc.

"You will never have a full understanding of vehicle dynamics without this course as a base. While the screeching tires and smoke add to the effect, the experience "sticks" in your head."
Shad Tisdale
Research Engineer - Tire Mechanics
Cooper Tire & Rubber Company

"The class is a very good mix of classroom time and in-vehicle time and is the most fun class I've taken at SAE. It is ear-grinning fun while learning."
George Soodoo
Chief, Vehicle Dynamics Division

"If you want a good group of relevant vehicle dynamics concepts and remember them for a long time to come, look no further."
Arun Chandrasekaran
Modeling & Simulation Engineer
Oshkosh Truck Corporation

"Excellent is not an adequate description of the quality of this program. The instructor was top-notch. I really was impressed with his ability to explain difficult concepts clearly.
Alex Roberts
Test Engineer
The Engineering Institute

"Learn something - do it. Learn some more - do it. Can't ask for a better instructor."
Michael Scholz
Senior Analysis Specialist
BMW Manufacturing Corp. LLC

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Upcoming Seminars

Have You Read It?

The Book

Yes, in fact we did write the book on brakes, thank you very much...

High-Performance Brake Systems: Design, Selection, and Installation by Author James Walker, Jr.