Performance & Race Driving Tip
Speed Secret: Use of the controls, your vision, grippy track, and making the car do something are the keys to being fast in the rain.
In my last tip I wrote about how important your mindset is to driving fast in the rain. Today, I’ll talk about four things that I focus on (other than having the right mindset) when driving in the rain:
- Initiate slowly, react fast. By this, I mean that your initial inputs on the pedals and steering wheel should be as smooth, gentle and slow as possible (but not too slow!). Then, if you need to catch a slide, don’t wait – react fast. Too many drivers get into a slide and think, “I’ve got it, I’ve got it, I’ve got it… oh-oh, I don’t got it.” Sure, having the car in a big slide through a turn is fun, and it looks great, but it’s not fast. And it often leads to a spin. Instead, as soon as you feel the car step out of line, catch it. React fast. But smoothly, too.
- Do everything you can to improve your vision. Perhaps the biggest challenge when driving in the rain is your visibility, (or lack of it). Use Rain-X on your windshield or helmet visor. Use a high quality defogging treatment for the inside of your windshield or visor (making sure it is as clean and dry as possible before you apply it). Do whatever you can to ensure there is air being blown on the windshield, or you have some ventilation in your helmet. The driver that is able to see the best is often the fastest (or at a minimum, the least intimidated by the rain).
- Look for and drive the grippiest pavement. The line on a wet track is not as important as driving where the track has grip. Often, that’s off the normal line. It’s around the outside of a turn (“the rim shot”). It’s on a section of track with a different surface material (concrete instead of asphalt, or vice versa). It’s on pavement that is rough and “chewed up.” Look for it. Better yet, feel for it. You need to test different areas of the track to find where your car has more grip. Then drive there.
- Make the car do something. Perhaps the most important lesson I learned about driving on a wet track was to make the car do something from the very instant I turned into the corners. If you enter a corner just below the limit the adhesion, you spend the rest of the turn waiting for the car to begin to slide – and feeling unsure. But if you enter the corner just above the limit, you already know the car is going to slide – you’re ready for it. Instead of reacting, you’re proactive. You know it’s going to slide, so you’re prepared and ready to respond. Rather than reacting, you respond – you’re ahead of the car, and therefore you’re smoother, too.
Oh yeah, and have fun in the rain! Did I mention that I think there’s nothing more fun than driving a car at the limit in the rain?
Check out my YouTube video where I talk about these same tips about racing in the rain.
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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Could I ask why are “initiate slow, react fast” and “make the car do something” brought up in this rain topic In particular? My uneducated thought is that it leads to faster lap times and is applicable regardless of track condition. Thinking you have a different approach on a dry track.
Thanks, love your articles.
You’re right that this advice applies to any track conditions, but it’s even more critical on a wet track. Plus, “make the car do something” is something that most drivers are uncomfortable doing in the rain, so the reminder of how important it is is why I always include it in any discussion of driving in the rain. “initiate slow, react fast” works on a dry traffic, too, but the “react fast” part is often just a tiny bit slower then. Obviously, it’s all relative, but most drivers are faster in the rain when they have these tips in mind. Thanks for the comment/question.