Performance & Race Driving Tip
Speed Secret: Every inch of track you’re not using is costing you speed. You paid for it, so use it all.
If you decrease the radius of a turn by not using all the track, your maximum speed will be significantly reduced. For example, by entering a corner even one foot away from the edge of the track, the radius of the turn may be reduced by as much as one percent. What’s one percent worth? As much as half a second on some road racing circuits. And what’s that half second worth to you?
There is no reason not to use all the track surface on the entry to a turn… or at the apex… or at the exit.
Okay, there are turns where using all the track actually costs you time (by increasing the distance you have to drive) , or there’s a bump you want to avoid. But these are exceptions to the rule, and choosing not to use all the track should be a deliberate action – not one that happens because you’re unaware of the track’s edges.
You “paid” for it – use it.
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Can you think of a couple turns on well known courses where it’s not advantageous to use the whole track because it’s not faster?
Mark – Depending on the car, some times it’s not an advantage to use all the track entering Turn 3 at Daytona – moving the car all the way over the far left edge requires too much work from the tires, and you’re at the wrong angle when approaching the turn-in point. It’s been that way since they added pavement to the left edge of the track – essentially another lane – on the ledge side of the track. Another place that some times – but not always – works to not use all the track would be the exit of Turn 1 at VIR. That’s kind of a expanding radius at that point, and sometimes the car has already rotated enough that letting the car out the last couple of feet to the edge of the track just means you’re covering extra track length without a benefit. These are “exceptions to the rule.”
Ross, I was wondering how consistent a good driver is with tracking out. Assuming driving at the limit, is it normal for track out variation to be within a foot or so?
I once had a seasoned ex-pro driver tell me that apexing at the limit should always be within a foot. Just wondering if the same applies to tracking out.
A consistent, experienced driver would be within a few inches of the track out point each lap – less than a foot. But it depends on the experience level and how much a driver is on track. When a driver has been away for a while and says they feel “rusty,” that’s usually the thing that shows up – just how close they’re to the line, consistently.
Thanks for replying. As we are on the subject of limit driving I wanted to share my philosophy of qualifying for a race.
I always attempt to drive each corner for all its worth. This means that I am making half a dozen minor mistakes during a qualifying session. But as long as I get that one flying lap where everything is nearly perfect, I’m satisfied that I have done the job. And I usually practice like I qualify. Thought?