How To Drive Faster:
Contact Patch – What Is It?
As you drive down the track, there is just a small amount of your tires that are in contact with the track surface at any one moment in time. If you look at your tires while your car is sitting still, it’s easy to see that the amount of your tire touching the road is relatively small. It’s this part of the tire that is referred to as the “contact patch.”
Obviously, if you have a wider tire, it will typically have a larger contact patch. But if you were to push down on your tire harder, putting more weight on it, its contact patch would grow larger, too (think of pushing a balloon against a table surface – the more you push on it, the larger the area of the balloon touching the table). And, generally, the larger the contact patch, the more grip or traction the tire has with the track surface.
I talk more about the contact patch, and its relationship with traction, in this video.
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