Just a quick update - no doubt i'll extend this blog post later on when i've made more progress.
I've looked briefly at the handling of the car today - and found three values that can affect the performance of the vehicle in the UDK code. Thanks to the UDK forum and the Unreal Wiki I got some much-needed explainations of some of the code and this enabled me to locate the relevant sections that deal with vehicle handling.
The car handles a little too well with it's default game settings - it is possible to steer around the corners at full speed, which eliminates the need of a brake. That's not very good for a racing game, and any game mastery is irrelevant if you can drive through the course perfectly on the first attempt.
MaxBrakeTorque : This affects how sudden braking is when the brakes are applied in-game.
EngineBrakeFactor : This affects how long it takes for the car to come to a stop if all buttons are untouched - it should roll for a while before stopping, and this is the value that controls that effect.
SpeedBasedTurnDamping : This affects the handling while travelling at speed. A higher value here means turning is difficult at higher speeds - perfect for encouraging the player to use the brake. This has a significant effect on gameplay and without testing and tweaking could lead to a lot of player frustration, so I need to get some opinions on this.
Of course, thorough testing should be done with other people anyway to see what the general opinion is on the gameplay. I'll try to do that in the next week or so in Uni (and hopefully after I can get the camera to stay fixed behind the vehicle - if it's possible).
Right now i'll get on with the HUD design - and leave the volumes until tomorrow evening.