Performance & Race Driving Tip

Speed Secret: Smooth is fast

Okay, how many times have you heard that advice: “smooth is fast?” More than once, I’ll bet. But why?

Tires gain grip when more load is put on them, right? When you brake, the front tires gain grip because weight is transferred forward and onto them. When you accelerate, the rear tires have more load put on them from the weight transfer, and therefore gain grip. When you go around a corner, the tires on the outside of the curve gain grip because weight is transferred onto them.

Tire load vs tractionBut here’s the big deal: The tires that become less-loaded lose more grip than the loaded tires gain. And that means that whenever there is any weight transfer, the overall grip level for the total of the four tires on your car is reduced. That’s what the graph here illustrates.

The more smoothly you drive, the less weight transfer you’ll cause, and therefore the more overall grip your tires will have. That’s why smooth is fast. Simple as that.

But how do you drive smoothly? Look way ahead, and deliberately make your inputs (turning the steering wheel, applying and releasing the brake and gas pedals) as smooth as possible. And that takes focused practice.

Of course, one way to be smooth would be to drive very slowly. But that wouldn’t be any fun, would it?!

If you want a more visual explanation of why smooth is fast, then watch the short video I posted on YouTube here. I think you’ll like it (and let me know if you spot the error I made when creating the video :)). And then in this video Quick Tip I talk about when smooth is NOT fast.

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.

Please do me favor and share this now with others who you think would either learn something from it, or enjoy it, by clicking on any of the links below. Thank you!