Q: “Okay, you’re on a skid pad and you begin to under or oversteer at a certain speed, say 40 MPH. Now you’re in a big fast corner on a race track. Does it feel the same in the seat at 90 as it does at 40 when things start to get a bit unsettled? I’m asking because at a track like Big Willow I don’t like leaving speed on the table due to intimidation.”
A: The simple answer is “Yes, it feels the same.” But it’s not a completely simple situation because of what you mention – intimidation. The consequences of going off a skid pad at 40 MPH is not the same as going off Turn 9 at Willow Springs at 90. In terms of pure feel, and how you respond to it is exactly the same, though.
Having said that, how the car reacts at 90 MPH is, well… faster. In other words, at the point where the tires have reached their limit, and they begin to lose grip and slide more, everything happens quicker at 90 than at 40.
The other thing to think about is that the overall grip level of most skid pads that you’re going to experience at 40 MPH is not as high as what a high-speed corner on a race track has. The track has much more grip, so the g-loads will be higher in the middle of the corner. But the tires still build up grip as you increase the g-loads, and then taper off as you go over the top. The difference is only in the peak amount of grip.
The more experience you have on a skid pad, the more you will program the correct response to under or oversteer. So, when you have that on a high-speed corner, the more you can trust that you’ll do the right thing to control your car.