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.
6. Cornering is perhaps the single most exciting thing of racing beside the feel of acceleration. It is fairly easy to comprehend and master in a short time. Though cornering in conjunction with other techniques are hard to master
6a. Entering a corner – you wish to brake as late as possible entering the corner, loading your front end will help you to control your car better than normal. In a left turn, you will want to start on the right hand side of the track, arcing into the turn, aim your car right at the apex (peak corner) of the turn and enter it.
6b. Apex – is the most vital part of cornering. You want to hit the very middle of the apex with the least angle as possible. Your car should be going straight as you hit the apex allowing you to accelerate.
6c. Exiting – you want to accelerate as hard and fast as possible to optimize speed and position. Be careful not to accelerate to soon as you might induce a spin out. Do not apply full acceleration until your car is in a straight line otherwise you will not be able to control your car.
7. Passing is an art form. When done properly it is beautiful to look at and serves its function flawlessly. When preparing to pass, you should attempt to accelerate as fast as possible toward the intended vehicle. Be sure your vehicle is traveling faster than the vehicle in front, sharply sprint to his open side and straight forward. You want to make sure he is right behind you once you pass him, as having a person right beside you battling is very dangerous and unbeneficial to both parties.
8. Power slides (RWD), handbrake (FWD) are rarely used in street racing, only under the most extremes of conditions. Since the Mx6 is a FWD, we can only induce a rear drift by pulling on the hand brake. To optimize the turn in of the car, brake as hard as possible to unload the rear end, whilst yanking the steering wheel to the desired position and pulling your hand brake. As you are pulling on your handbrake, be sure to depress on the lock button the entire time to ensure proper release of your rear brakes. Release the handbrake as your car rotates the appropriate amount and gently accelerates, remember, if you accelerate too hard from a handbrake corner, your car will spin out.
9. Drifting is the most popular subject for import drivers. However it is misunderstood and rarely used appropriately. Since the Mx6 is FWD, drifting is not possible in the traditional sense and it will not be beneficial in anyways as dragging the rear reduce speeds.
10. Emergencies often arise during a road race. It could be a car spinning out or a part coming off of vehicles. The only way to prepare for such this is by practice. Take your car to the limit and push it off the edge. Get the feel of your car under full braking power until the tires lock up and you skid. Doing so will help you to correctly modulate braking and help you in case of danger. Learn to use the handbrake properly to whips your vehicles in a certain direction to avoid danger. This is very hard and can only be used after much practice. Once again, the only way to improve on these areas is to practice and practice.
11. Miscellaneous –
The most common mistake during driving is the idea of leaving only one hand on the wheel. ALWAYS have BOTH your HANDS on the WHEEL. When you shift or do anything else, immediately return your hands to the wheel. Why would you want to reduce your ability by half by using only one hand? Also, learn to look where your car want to go, not where your going. Drivers have the tendency to stare at the point they are going into, doing so will cause you to not see what is coming. The theory is that if you look where you want to go, your brain will subconsciously take you there. That is how F1 drivers are able to steer through corners going at 200mph, they learn to look ahead and not at where their going.
I hope all of that help you to get started in road racing. All of the above techniques should help you overall as a driver. If you follow my instructions and learn more on your own, you should be able to turn competent lap times and at the same time improve your response and reflexes.
i agree with the man above.....Karma Karrma Karma
i myself have been racing for a hott minute and have had my bad road rashes in many cars.... at least i can say im alive and i learned from my mistakes and this guy knows his business!!! keep talking preecher!
Dont mess with me in traffic!
Its all in your driving skillz
What drving school did you gradutate from? You are very accurate with the path line and braking corners. But still much is to know and understand of driving. Profesional drivers tend to become one with the car when driving and cornering.
Dude, it's a beginners guide. If you were a professional driver you have no reason to even read that. And yes it becomes an extension of your own body when you drive. I personally can feel every single flex, slip of the wheel, twist and bump in my car, it becomes my body when i drive. But this is not for people at that level, it is for beginners. I'm not going to talk about left foot braking or any other crazy concept, because, once again, its a beginners guide.
I did not go to any school, most of my information is informally taught to me and from experience. That is why in my posts, i often prefer to myself as coming from the old school...because all the people that taught me are old Most of my knowledge comes from street racers of the late 60's era and a few from modern day SCCA racing. I also learned alot during my stint in a 1t gen RX7, had alot of fun blasting through the backroads on that thing trying to catch up to people.
I've been road racing in SCCA events, but more on the streets around where i livefor about a year now. That was a good guide for beginners and explained the basic concepts to driving. As much as the same as I learned from driving school in Nevada a year ago. There is definitely more such as mentally being able to handle high speeds without hesistation of braking or driving at high speeds w/ control just as driving 25 MPH.
95% of that is aplicable to any cars on the road. Only the first few paragraph are dedicated to the 2nd gen.
I will try and get a guide up for the 1st gen turbos. My friend owns a 626 gt, 5 speeds. Unfortunately he doesn't really care much for it. I might buy it from him eventually if things keeps up. Anyways, driving a blown car is a little different than a NA car. Primarily, you have to adjust for the onset of boosts. If you remember to keep the engine above 4000 rpm than boost won't be much of a factor in handling. But since most of us drive in between the revs where boosts comes on and off, it is hard to adjust. Just basically remember that boost will give you massive amount of force that will cause alot problems if your midway through a turn.
My best advice is to be cautious. If you enter a turn above the rev where the turbo fully spools, than keep it above that rev. If you enter it under the rev where boost comes on, stay under it until you get straight.
You can eventually master playing with boost to cause understeer and oversteer at your hearts desire. I do not own any turboed vehicle at the moment (used to drive in a 2nd gen rx7 turboII) so i cannot give you alot of in depth advice. Just drive, explore the limits of yourself, get over them than push your car to it's limits.
Awesome post! KARMA! One thing I want to add is how dangerous oversteer or drifting can be in a FWD car. If the back end of a FWD car comes loose, it can be VERY difficult to control. Once the rear wheels lock up and start sliding in that manner, they can't be controlled. It is completely up to the front wheels to control the slide. While it can be dangerous in a RWD car as well, it is much easier to control with a little practice. Skillful throttle inputs can easily control RWD oversteer. I'm not what you would call a professional or even skilled road racer. But I've accidentally gotten into oversteer conditions in my MX-6 and my dad's Mustang. Lemme tell ya, it was not a problem in the 'stang. In the 6, however, I completely spun out on an offramp avoiding a projectile-like hubcap. To the average "beginner" driver, drifting should be CAREFULLY practiced, if at all, in a wide-open secluded area!
I'm no expert, but people have told me that FWD drifting is possible without using ebrake.
Every gun that is made, every warship launched, every rocket fired signifies, in the final sense, a theft from those who hunger and are not fed, those who are cold and are not clothed.
~Dwight David Eisenhower, April 16, 1953.
They that can give up essential liberty to obtain a little temporary safety deserve neither liberty nor safety.
I suppose it is tempting, if the only tool you have is a hammer, to treat everything as if it were a nail.
oh i agree. it's aboslutely possible. u can either turn hard and lightly tap the foot brake, turn just to the point of no traction the accelerate harder, or you can just jerk the mofo to one side to induce a drift. i don't recommend you trying it though
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