Performance & Race Driving Tip

Speed Secret: Rotate the car to improve your corner entry and exit speed.

I use the term “rotate the car” often. And some drivers are not exactly sure what I mean by that, so let me explain.

The simplest way of defining the term is like this: Imagine looking down on your car from directly above (almost as if you’re driving on a slot car track). As your car changes direction from a straight line and into the corner at the turn-in point, think of how quickly it changes direction, almost as if it’s turning or rotating around a single point in the middle of the car. And think about it rotating in degrees…

Let’s say your car changes direction, or rotates 70 degrees, rather than just 60 degrees. And it does that in the same length of time. That means the car has rotated more.

Okay, but how do you do that? How do you make a car rotate more? Well, you may begin the process by turning the steering wheel, but the real cause of the rotation is how you change the balance of the car.

If you make a fairly crisp, quick turn of the steering wheel, while having a large percentage of the car’s weight still transferred onto the front tires (meaning the rear tires are relatively un-weighted), the car will be more inclined to rotate more quickly.

So, while rotating the car is typically started with the steering wheel, it’s when and how you release the brakes that will continue it. Time your release of the brakes just right, and you’ll change how quickly and how much you rotate the car.

And that’s a useful technique to learn and use. As a very general rule, you’ll want to rotate the car more in tighter corners than you will in long, fast corners.

The blue line in the illustration demonstrates a line where the car was rotated more, allowing a straighter line for acceleration exiting the turn. The key to managing how much your car rotates into a corner – using that to your advantage – is the timing and rate of the release of the brakes, along with the right amount and speed of turning the steering wheel.