Guide to Road Racing
Guide to Road Racing
The guide below is an attempt at a systematic instruction on road racing in a comprehensive manner. This guide is written as a basis for beginners wishing to road race with their road car. These setups apply only to road going cars and do not apply to track only vehicles setup with the express intent on track racing and no street use. This guide is written in the most logical order I can think of. You should be able to follow this guide literally steps by steps to get started in road racing.
Our cars were design as sport touring vehicles, though respectable through the slalom, suffered greatly when compared to the Probes. The primary reason for our sloppier handling is the softer spring rate and less rebound and more damping in our shocks. To address these problems and improve on the handling, the following is suggested:
1. Springs, with a higher rate and shorter than stock, giving the car a lowered stance and sharper handling. Progressive springs are much better than single rate springs, but often lacked in the looks department. The Eibach’s are amongst the best springs made for road car, but does not offer the lowered looks of cheaper and less suitable springs. Coilovers help address this problem, but in itself create a whole new problem. Coilovers are hard to adjust properly; at least 95% of cars on the road utilizing coilovers are adjusted improperly.
2. Struts (shocks) are the next vital part to a vehicle handling prowess. The stock struts on our cars are design more toward comfort than performance. The suggested shock that is industry wide agreed upon is Tokicos Illuminas (white). These struts are adjustable, allowing you to change the rebound and compression damping. They will help the car to hold the road better, gliding over bumps without excessive bobbing.
3. Wheels and tires are the next vital link to road handling. The recommended size is 15” wheels utilizing 205/45zr15 tires. Larger wheels will result in reduced acceleration and cornering agility.
4. Front and Rear Strut Tower Bars are essential in any properly set up vehicle. They help reduce body flex and cut down on body roll significantly. Our cars are notoriously known for body flexing at the rear. The front are more rigid than most cars, therefore might not need a STB. However, the rear absolutely demands a STB for proper road handling and vehicle control. These are relatively cheap with a set of two costing no more than one hundred dollars.
5. Lower tie bars are the other half of STB, tying the lower end of the body to each other. They are not required but would help slightly if desired.
The above five items are the basis for a properly handling car capable of pulling 1 gravity on a skid pad. The handling prowess of Mazda’s Propriety Frame construction technique gives our car a great advantage over other cars in cornering. Bushings would help to further eliminate body flex. All of the above components range from simple to setup to complex suspension system that requires meticulous care and attention. Do not attempt to buy more than you can handle. As a car equipped with coilovers and adjustable struts are notoriously hard to adjust properly.
1. Ride height is absolutely essential for proper control. The ideal height should allow you to drive onto a 4 inch incline without scratching your front bumper. Though a track only car only need about 2 inches of clearance, a road car would suffer horribly with anything lower than 4 inches.
2. Tire pressures are as equally vital as any other part of the vehicle. The generally used pressure for ZR rated tires are 35psi front and 30psi rear, though proper tire pressure greatly depends on each individual car. The best way to measure if you have correct air pressure is to measure the temperature of the tires after about 15 minutes of hard driving. Use a digital touch thermometer to measure the temperatures of the tires. Measure the inside of the tread and the outside of the tread. If the inside is of a higher temperature than you have over inflation, the opposite is true if your outer temperatures are lower. Also take into account the ambient temperature and humidity. Once again, a good driving session should allow the tires to warm up to operating conditions and allow for accurate measuring.
3. Seating position is the third factor which will directly affect your effectiveness whilst racing. The ideal positions place your spine almost vertically in a 90 degrees angle to your legs. The distance between your seats and the pedals should allow for a slight bend in your knee with the pedals fully depressed. The best way to set proper seating distance is to press the clutch in fully or place your feet on the dead pedal; than move your seats close enough that you have at least a 5 degrees bent in your knees. This position should allow you to easily depress all the pedals and keep your legs from fatiguing.
4. Hand position on the steering wheel is the most vital part when it comes to controlling your car. The accepted positions are 3 and 9 o’clock on the wheel with a slight grip. Your arms should be close enough to the steering wheel to allow proper turning of the wheel. To set your reclining seats to proper height: put your hands at the 12o’clock position on the steering wheel, you should have at least an 8 degrees bent at your elbows, but not more than 45 degrees of bent. This should allow your hands to remain on the wheels through the tightest of turns without using crossing over techniques.
The above 4 items are the bare minimum required for proper racing conditions. Safety preparations and scouting of the track should also accompany the setup if budget and time allows.
Road racing is a very complex and precise sport, requiring years of practice to master its many intricacies. The techniques below are the basis which will help you build your driving abilities and to exploit the potential of your car.
1. Launching is a term beloved by drag racers; it is the most vital part of drag racing. But in road racing, launching takes less of an importance. A good launch in a road race simply gives you a lead, which does not necessitate a win outright. Launch your vehicles with as much traction as possible; in under no circumstances do you want wheel spin. You want to immediately enter the racing line as soon as position jockeying ends.
2. The optimum line is the single most important theory in road racing. This is the line that your car should take going through a course that will give it optimum speed and acceleration. The optimum line is the culmination of cornering and straight line combined into a single fluid river that flows with the fastest speed possible. Any track should have an optimum line, asks someone to show it to you if it is your first time at a road track.
3. The racing lines are often confused with the optimum line. It is all the possible lines your car can takes during a race. It is the most useful line in the race. To experience all possible lines, position your cars on the inside, middle and outside of the track in every corner to figure out all the possible racing lines. It is also useful for street driving if you can figure out all the possible racing lines for driving to and from specific points; which should cut time spent in traffic and increase safety.
4. Braking is the first and foremost factor which affects lap times and speed. It is braking that determines who wins or loose a race if opponents are evenly matched. Braking is a very difficult to explain technique, requiring lots of practice and experience to master. I will try to explain the basis principles of proper braking techniques and when to use them.
4a. Entering a corner – you should try and brake as hard as possible as late as possible entering a corner. You want to drive your car to the limit of traction during braking without loosing any grip. Late braking also help to load the front end, allowing you more steering control as the front wheels carries the majority of the car inertia entering the corner.
4b. During cornering – braking also helps to tighten your line as you attempt to cut the apex of the corner. It is however not recommended as braking during cornering will reduce your steering controls. However, you can oscillate between braking and turning to tighten up your corner. It is used primarily during long sweeping corners that carries high speeds.
4c. Braking in a straight line – is rarely if ever used, primarily to slow down to traffic or to avoid an accident. Using your engine to slow your car down is much more preferable than braking as it will have similar effects.
5. Acceleration, though not as vital as braking, will also aid you in your driving and reducing your lap times.
5a. In a straight line – pretty simple, simply slam on the pedal and accelerate as hard and fast as you can.
5b. Into a corner – the only time you wish to accelerate into a corner is to induce over steer which will help you to take a corner faster. Though doing so will cause your front end to unload in control is greatly reduced for cornering force.
5c. Out of a corner – You want to accelerate as much and as fast as possible out of a corner immediately after you hit the apex of that corner.
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Last edited by parisifal; 5-17-02 at 20:42.