Speed Secrets: Are You Cornering Too Slow?

Features, Racing I By Ross Bentley I August 29, 2020

[photo credit: Otto Hokkanen]

If the car feels like it's on rails, you are probably driving too slow.

The first race I ever drove in the rain was in a Formula Ford at Westwood Motorsport Park… and I got my butt royally kicked. That was probably the best thing that could have happened, because I decided then and there to never let it happen again. Especially in the rain.

Growing up and racing in the Pacific Northwest, I knew that wasn't going to be the last time I had to race in the rain. So every time it even hinted at rain (which was often – hey, it was Vancouver), I packed up my Formula Ford and headed to the track to practice.

My big Aha! moment was when I overcooked it into Turn 1, entering a good 5 mph too fast for the grip level. The second I turned in, the car began to slide. And that was the best lesson I ever learned. Once the car was sliding, I knew exactly what to do to control it. On the previous laps, though, I didn't. I would enter the turn at just less the speed it took for the car to slide – it was on rails – and then I'd spend the rest of the corner waiting for it to do something. And when it did something, it took me by surprise. For sure, I was reactionary.

What I learned was that if I entered each turn just slightly faster than the grip level dictated (even just half a mph too fast), I was ready for what the car was going to do. In fact, I made the car do what I wanted it to do. I was proactive.

And here's the cool thing: driving a car that's on rails is nowhere near as much fun as making the car slide from the very instant you enter a turn.

Of course, this approach applies to driving on a dry track just as much as it does a wet one. Wahoo!

Exerpted from Ross Bentley’s Speed Secrets Weekly. For more tips and additional articles on the art and science of racing, click here to subscribe.

Also be sure to check out Ross Bentley's book, Ultimate Speed Secrets: The Complete Guide to High-Performance and Race Driving.

+ Speed Secrets: Why All That Weaving Around On The Way To The Grid

The Guide to Road Racing: Winding Road Magazine's ultimate guide to getting your start in racing.

Table of Contents

Related Articles

Iconic 1934 Alfa Romeo 8C 2300 Lungo Spider with Original Coachwork Heads to Auction

Boasting long-term ownership and meticulous maintenance, this 8C is a highly respected, very pure example of the legendary “2.3” and will cross the block in…

July 18, 2024
Super 3 Origins: Celebrating Super 3 Inspirations with Nine Limited-Edition Commissions

Morgan is celebrating the original inspirations for its rebellious Super 3 with a limited-edition series of commissions known as Super 3 Origins. The collection features…

July 10, 2024
The Bugatti Tourbillon: An Automotive Icon ‘Pour L’éternité’

Molsheim, France, 21 June 2024 – In 2004, the reborn Bugatti brand transformed the world of automotive performance and luxury with a 1,001 hp hyper…

June 21, 2024
The 1000 Miglia 2024 Has Started

BRESCIA, Italy, June 11, 2024 – The 2024 edition of the Red Arrow started at 12:30 pm from the Viale Venezia platform. Shortly before the start, a thunderstorm had threatened…

June 11, 2024
LBI Limited Offers Rare Alan Mann Heritage Edition – 2022 Ford GT

1 of only 30 examples Produced PONTIAC, Mich., June 6, 2024 – LBI Limited, specialists in the sales, brokerage, and collection management of collectible vehicles offers…

June 06, 2024


Get the latest driving and racing news straight to your inbox.

no thanks

Begin typing your search above and press return to search.