The Perfect Cornering Line – High Performance Driving

Performance & Race Driving Tip

Speed Secret: You paid for the track, so use it all.

race-driving-tipIn my Speed Secrets book, I go through the process of calculating how much of a difference using every inch of track through corners makes to your speed. If you factor in your car’s maximum cornering force, and the radius of any turn, you can calculate the maximum speed you can carry through that turn.

Of course, your car’s maximum cornering force is not a constant, as factors like weight balance and track conditions are variables. But for the purpose of looking at the effect of not using all the track surface, we can consider it a constant.

Without going through all the math, the take-away is what matters most to us as drivers: every time you turn in even a few inches away from the edge of the track, it costs you speed. Every time you don’t clip the very inside edge at the apex, it costs you speed. Every time you don’t let the car unwind out of a turn and leave a few inches at the exit, it costs you speed.

If you draw the radius of a curve through a corner from the very outside edge, to the very inside edge, and back to the outside edge, and do that calculation, you’ll find a maximum speed a car with a given amount of cornering ability can carry. And then if you tighten that radius up by leaving, let’s say, six inches of track available at the entry and exit, it makes a difference to the maximum speed your car can carry through that turn.

The message here is simple: use every inch of track available to you. You paid for it, so use it. And by the way, when I say every inch of track, I’m talking about the useable curbs. Yes, some curbs upset the car too much, and therefore should not be used. But others are simply additional track surface. Use them, too.

Check back here often for more tips and advice for performance drivers, race drivers, high performance driving instructors, and anyone else interested in learning to get around race tracks quickly.

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