Racing 101: How to Handle Your Car
May 29, 2019
How do you handle your car around a race track?
- Rear Wheel Drive
- Front Wheel Drive
- All Wheel Drive
You may have the most powerful car on the race track, but all that strength is nothing if you don’t know how to handle your car. Equipped with a powerful engine, complex transmission, and intricate aerodynamics, your Philippine steel tube frame race car needs a driver who knows how to bring the most out of their car.
Here are the basics on how to handle cars of different drive platforms.
Rear Wheel Drive
Rear wheel drive is the classic drive layout when you talk about racing. It’s also one of the most diverse layouts as they can come to front-engine, mid-engine, and rear-engine rear-wheel-drive platforms. All of these have different characteristics due to the placement of the engine affecting your center of mass.
The front-engine and rear-wheel drive platform is the most common sports car layout. The mid-engine and rear wheel drive platform is uncommon and mostly found in high-end sports cars. The rear engine and rear wheel drive layout is rare and can mostly be found in cars such as Porsches. The characteristic they all share is the tendency to oversteer. This must be controlled with precision.
When attacking a corner with a rear wheel drive car, you must brake hard and straight, lightly stepping off the brake pedal as you approach the apex of the corner. When you reach the apex, gradually step on the throttle, transferring the weight of the car back. As you straighten the steering wheel, keep your foot on the throttle, gradually applying pressure as you slowly plant your foot to the floor.
Front Wheel Drive
Many car manufacturers in the Philippines favor this platform. It’s growing in popularity in racing due to its simplicity, cost-effectiveness, and its advantage over rear wheel drive platforms in slippery and wet conditions. The major downside of the front wheel drive layout is that the front tires will have to do all the work, acceleration, steering, and braking. This layout means that your driven tires may heat up faster, causing premature wear which results in lesser grip and slower laps.
Tire management is key when racing with a front wheel drive car. Front wheel drive responds to acceleration differently than rear wheel drive. With its main characteristic to understeer, it may be difficult to get a front wheel drive car to rotate, compared to a rear wheel drive car.
The best and fastest way to get around a corner with a front wheel drive car is to trail brake in order to shift the weight of the vehicle to the nose of the car, maximizing grip in front and lightening the rear. This will help the car rotate around a corner. Aim for a late apex, and gradually hit the throttle as you exit the corner, right after the apex.
While an all-wheel-drive may seem like the best of both worlds, it’s not all pros. The all-wheel drive is commended for its stability and traction under power and through corners, but its biggest downside is its complexity and added weight due to the extra components needed to drive all the wheels. More weight is a disadvantage as it will affect stopping power and acceleration.
All-wheel drive handles quite similarly to the front wheel drive on the race track. Its driving characteristics will heavily depend on how much power is distributed front to rear. What’s astounding about all-wheel drive and its greatest advantage against all other layouts is that you have all four tires clawing you out of the corner.
The best way around a corner in an all-wheel-drive car is to turn later and apex later than you would on rear-wheel and front-wheel drive platforms. This will help you straighten the car early, and with the traction advantage you have, you can get on the throttle early on the exit. There’s nothing more ferocious throughout corners than an all-wheel-drive car.
Whether your car just came out of its car manufacturer in the Philippines or is fully set up with the best parts such as engine upgrades or a roll cage made from the best steel tubes in the Philippines, a vehicle will only be as good as its driver. Follow these techniques and dominate the race track.