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Old 12-30-2005, 12:54 PM   #1
ewright
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Default How to adjust driving style for rainy track day

Hi everyone,

I have been looking forward to two days of open tracking at Laguna Seca on the 1st and 2nd of January for several months now. However, it just so happens that northern california is getting hit with some serious rainfall right now and is expected to receive more over the next several days, meaning I will likely be driving Laguna Seca in the rain. I have never tracked in the rain before and was wondering whether anyone would be willing to share some suggestions on how I should change my driving style. I think that an obvious answer would be to slow down in general and build up speed gradually over the day, but if anyone could offer some specific suggestions I would be very grateful. Thanks in advance for any advice you may be able to offer.

Ernie
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Old 12-30-2005, 01:05 PM   #2
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First off.. dont let it bother you so much (not saying it is bothering you, but just be mindful not to get worried) If you worry, you dont relax, and if you dont relax, you do poorly. There are lots of good drivers who worry about the rain and let it beat them, not their competitors.

The biggest things are a different feel, and then a "rain line"

The feel is to remember that you are not going to be pushing G limits like you are used to, so that seat of the pants feel goes away a bit. Continue to relax, and like you said work your way into the speed and remember that now, like in autocrossing speed becomes realitive and you have to "slow down to go faster".

The next, and probably most important is the "rain line" the dry line on a racetrack gets polished smooth, and makes for hell when it rains. THe general rule is to cross the dry racing line while going straight, and stay out of the normal line in corners. Tight corners you usually end up taking on the outside, long corners you usually end up taking on an inside line.

But.. the real key is just to look for where there is grip, stay out of deep puddles, and find the spots where the car grips.

Have fun, racing/driving in the rain is a blast, if it were up to me i would install sprinkler systems on the sides of all the racetracks.

Jon K
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Old 12-30-2005, 01:09 PM   #3
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A couple more tips while I am thinking about it..

Might want to try slightly lower tire pressures, reduce spring rate a little. Some will argue with me on this saying that you increase them to "cut" through the water better, but personally I have had better results with lower because of effective spring rate and building up heat in the tires faster.

Also... Rain-x the windows if you already dont, use anti-fog on helmet visor, and when you get in the car either have heat blowing on your feet to dry them off, or use a towel. Wet shoes = "oh isht" if they slip on the pedals.

Jon K
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Old 01-01-2006, 03:29 AM   #4
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Quote:
Originally Posted by racerjon1
A couple more tips while I am thinking about it..

Might want to try slightly lower tire pressures,


Jon K

Wrong... You want to increase tire pressure. The alows the tire to use its water channels better to move water out.

Check with Laguna But you might get a rain out. They dont have very good water run off there.
We were warming up the track there one year before the bikes went out for testing. ... Someone on a damp cold track backed the avis car into a turn...
We dont warm the track up much after that !

http://www.tracquest.com/

Quote:
Rain is typically handled by the track itself, not by NCRC. Typical policy is that the track holds the event, rain or shine, unless there is an unsafe condition or damage at the track. If the event is cancelled due to rain, NCRC will refund whatever portion of the total costs we can recoup.
Sounds like you might come up without much of a refund. So push for track time.

Just remeber one thing. Your not in a race.You dont have a checkered flag at the end with some hot chick! In the rain the only winner is the guy who crosses the finish line at the end of the day!
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Old 01-01-2006, 11:41 AM   #5
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Quote:
Originally Posted by 06STi
Wrong... You want to increase tire pressure. The alows the tire to use its water channels better to move water out.
I stand by my whole quote.

Quote:
Originally Posted by racerjon1
Might want to try slightly lower tire pressures, reduce spring rate a little. Some will argue with me on this saying that you increase them to "cut" through the water better, but personally I have had better results with lower because of effective spring rate and building up heat in the tires faster.

Jon K
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Old 12-30-2005, 02:09 PM   #6
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New windshield wipers. Bad ones get *really bad* at 115mph in the rain. Being unable to see makes things more difficult. I don't think it matters what brand, as long as they are relatively fresh and in good condition. Smoothen all steering, brake and throttle inputs.

Think about this, most Subarus are not traction limited in rain under acceleration. You'll still be able to build up speed in a hurry, but you have to slow down more for turns, and it will take longer to do so. Brake early at first and feel how much grip there is in each corner. If I have a pace lap and nobody else is right on my bumper, I'll try to traction-sample each corner by picking out however much steering I need to get through it, then wiggle the wheel around maybe adding 5-10 degrees extra steering lock while at constant throttle. If the car understeers/pushes, you know it's slippery there, and you need to be extra-aware. If not, there's some grip there to work with. Try some different lines, you'd be surprised where you find grippy pavement. Sometimes it's on the inside of a corner exit where nobody normally is in the dry, but it gives you nice rough pavement to grab onto. Shiny pavement=bad, matte black=good usually. Standing water=bad, wet pavement=less bad.

I keep a couple rags in the glovebox for the aforementioned "wet shoe" issue.
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Old 12-31-2005, 10:38 AM   #7
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I've never done a wet track day at Laguna but I've done a handful at Thunderhil & Buttonwillow; I think the wet stuff makes for a great learning experience. You can go slower but work on looking ahead and being smooth. It's not a race so take it easy until you feel comfortable.

On the track itself, stay off the painted surfaces (like burms) since they get very slippery when wet.
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Old 12-31-2005, 01:00 PM   #8
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I've done two track days in the rain, one of them also at 40 degrees farenheit on RA-1s. I don't look forward to any more.

The scariest one was at Watkin's Glen...cold, rainy, and with low grip. Not much fun, but I learned a lot about being smooth, and anticipating camber changes and surface type changes (asphalt to concrete and back) and resulting grip levels.

Look ahead, pay attention, and slow down until you feel 110% comfortable, especially if you want to drive your car home from the track, or stay out of the emergency room. Also be aware of others on the track- if you feel comfortable driving like a bat out of hell, others may certainly not.

Best of luck to you.
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Old 12-31-2005, 03:05 PM   #9
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Smooth inputs...
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Old 12-31-2005, 07:41 PM   #10
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I had a wonderful track session last fall that started w/ pouring rain and standing water, eventually went to damp w/ some standing water and finally bone dry

Great learning experience for me. You have to be smooth (very) in the wet.

Soften up your suspension if you have that luxury- dampers, sway bars.

I actually added a couple of psi in the tires for the wet stuff- seemed to help. Ofcourse it's fun being on a wet track when your the only one w/ AWD and street tires
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Old 01-01-2006, 02:59 AM   #11
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Street tires in the rain are for girls. My mostest favoritest track event was in the wet at VIR on Victoracers. I was really surprised at how much cornering grip they offered in the wet. High speeds in a straight line was actually the only thing that was a bit hairy - I limited myself to 85-90mph on the straights because the car was dancing around quite a bit. I was one of two AWD cars there, the other being an S4 that I passed like he was standing still. When we went to line up for the 2nd or 3rd session of the 1st day my instructor told me "Make sure you line up early so you're at the front of the line. No point embarrassing everyone again."

Anyway, concur with BigSky's recommendation to soften up the suspension if you can. If you can follow in the tire tracks of the guy in front of you, you can catch the dry pavement they just squeegied for you. Not something you can do all the time, of course, but sometimes it works out. Really, the big thing is just to be as smooth as possible. Acceleration shouldn't be a problem, but braking, turn-in, and any mid-turn corrections need to be nice and easy. It really is a good way to learn, and can be a lot of fun.

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Old 01-01-2006, 12:15 PM   #12
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Patrick Olsen
Street tires in the rain are for girls.
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Old 01-01-2006, 02:32 PM   #13
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I don't know how much dry track experience that you have, and much of the above is good advice. If you have a lot of experience, you'll adapt to the rain quickly. If not....

Rain conditions are the best way to learn smooth inputs. You can get away with a lot of harsh inputs in the dry that the excess grip of your tires will hide for you. In the rain mistakes are more likely to generate an "uh-oh" moment which you won't forget for a long time. Besides, you usually don't have to change to a track brake pad either.

Gentle inputs: Get on the brakes slowly, get off them slowly. This is especially important on your first lap when your brakes are cold and perhaps are wet or have some rust buildup on them. Wind will usually make one side of the car rustier than the other giving you uneven braking on one side. If you don't stomp on 'em, it's easier to correct the angle change with the steering wheel.

On corner exit, get on the throttle gently. Our AWD lets you get on the throttle hard as you exit corners in the dry. This is much more likely to induce a spin in the wet.

If you get understeer, you probably turned in too quickly. Keep that in mind and start your turn in earlier next time and a gentler rate.

Soften suspension: Softest setting on sway bars, dampers. Use grease pencil on the side tread blocks of your tires just like you do in the dry to look for ideal rollover. I usually end up about 3psi to 5psi below dry pressures. The sidewalls of your tires are part of your suspension system. Stiffening them will likely make your point of breakaway more abrupt. Yes, some people prefer more inflation for better water evacuation out the sides, but if your tires have even wear across the tread block you're probably better off with lower pressures.

Late Apex Everything: The comments above about the "rain" line are accurate. Until you feel comfortable taking a corner with a normal, double or early apex, just late apex everything. This often keeps you off the typical race line and keeps your braking in a straight line. It is less likely to have you driving straight off at the exit of a turn, too, giving you extra comfort cushion.

Trailbraking: Your front tires will be far more likely to lockup if you keep braking pressure as you add steering input. Even with ABS the momentary lockup will start a slide (under or over.) Best to stop trailbraking for the day. Do your braking in a straight line and get completely off the brake before adding steering input.

You slightly overcooked a turn: Resist like hell the instinct to lift off the throttle mid-turn unless you'd prefer to take that turn tailpipe first. Just grit your teeth, tighten your butt cheeks and ride it out. You won't do THAT twice in one day.

You REALLY overcooked a turn: Bye!! If you can still drive it, stay off the raceline as you drive to the pits so that you don't leave grass, mud, or gravel on the raceline for your comrades. Be sure to come back to the pits to check your suspension, tires and wheels for damage.

Going off the track becomes interesting if it has grass run-offs. You're less likely to have your tires dig in and roll the car saving you $$$. Unfortunately, there's also a lot less friction on the grass and it's harder to get it back on track before you hit a tire or concrete wall, costing you $$$.

Have fun with it! It's really the best learning conditions for a driver who already has experience with the basics.
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Old 01-01-2006, 03:40 AM   #14
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Make sure to bring a exaust deflector. If you are not OEM Or clutch it in turn 5 were they sound check at.
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Old 01-01-2006, 02:07 PM   #15
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On wet pavement, I've found it's better to lower tire pressures to get more footprint. I've tried this autocrossing, I was MUCH faster on wet pavement with low pressures. Through standing water, I find higher pressures channel water away better. If there are lakes forming near a large immovable object... I'd probably try and optimize my car's handling for that area.
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Old 01-01-2006, 08:55 PM   #16
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Quote:
Originally Posted by ChrisDP
On wet pavement, I've found it's better to lower tire pressures to get more footprint. I've tried this autocrossing, I was MUCH faster on wet pavement with low pressures. Through standing water, I find higher pressures channel water away better. If there are lakes forming near a large immovable object... I'd probably try and optimize my car's handling for that area.
For the record, differnt tires like different tire pressures in the rain. With some tires, you want to increase the tire pressure, with some you want to decrease the tire pressure. There is no way to say that one way is universally better than the other.

The Toyo RA-1's usually like 2-4 PSI more cold tire pressure than what you would run in the dry. Most (NOTE: NOT ALL) street tires like 3-4 PSI less than what you would run in the dry.

If the RA-1's have more than about 4/32nds of tread on them, unless you are driving through puddles, they will be faster than street tires.

Other hints: Get ALL of your braking done in a straight line. Usually squaring off the corner and getting the car pointed straight sooner allows for better acceleration and quicker overall lap times even though this may mean a slightly slower minimum corner speed.

Going fast in the rain means going where there is grip on the track. If the track is evenly wet, usually 1-2 car widths off line has the most grip. This also usually holds true if it has just started raining. On a drying track, the most grip is usually where it is the driest, regardless of where that happens to be. This can lead to some very unusual lines.

STAY OFF THE CURBS!!! Also, try to avoid the painted lines on the pavement. Wet paint = zero grip.

As a note on my on track rain driving experience, I was really hoping for rain for my race at the SCCA Runoffs this year. My best race was at NHIS in wet to drying conditions (4th/8), and my best session this year was at Nelson Ledges. The first session was wet, and it was the first time I had ever run there in the rain before. I was 2nd/6, with 3 of the other 5 finishing in the top 10 at the SCCA Runoffs this year. With an SCCA SSB legal Miata, at a Time Trial this October at NHIS in the wet, I not only won the class I was in by 4 seconds/lap, I had the fastest overall Miata, the fastest showroom stock prep car, which included an instructor in an STi, and there were only 2 subarus out of about 10 that were faster than I was, 1 STi and one 300+ WHP heavily modded WRX.
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Old 01-02-2006, 11:05 PM   #17
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Quote:
Originally Posted by kfoote

The Toyo RA-1's usually like 2-4 PSI more cold tire pressure than what you would run in the dry. Most (NOTE: NOT ALL) street tires like 3-4 PSI less than what you would run in the dry.

If the RA-1's have more than about 4/32nds of tread on them, unless you are driving through puddles, they will be faster than street tires.
Huh, interesting! In the wet, I've always!!! run them with lower pressures.

Any recommendations as to how to set them for wet autocrossing?
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Old 01-03-2006, 02:08 PM   #18
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Quote:
Originally Posted by MattNJ2.8
Huh, interesting! In the wet, I've always!!! run them with lower pressures.

Any recommendations as to how to set them for wet autocrossing?
Keep in mind that the pressured I gave are cold pressures. Hot, the RA1's should be 3-4 PSI lower than dry, but because there is less pressure buildup because the tires aren't getting as hot, the net result for what you are after once everything reaches steady state is lower than hot.

I have less experience with autocrossing, but I would imagine that running RA1's in the wet you would want a 2-3 PSI lower tire presure than RA1's in the dry because there isn't any time to build up heat and the tire pressures.
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Old 01-01-2006, 02:24 PM   #19
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Pure domination is in your future. As they say... Pray For Rain.
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Old 01-01-2006, 02:58 PM   #20
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probably a good point(s) on wet/damp vs lots of standing water- standing water I'd certainly be looking at a bump up of psi, damp/wet- less.

good point on trail braking ^ too- fun/effective in the dry, not fun in the wet
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Old 01-01-2006, 03:50 PM   #21
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you will need all of those techniques today... It is dumping buckets out here with high winds to add to the complexity of laguna seca.
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Old 01-01-2006, 05:12 PM   #22
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Hey I am going to be a Laguna Seca tommarow (1/2). How did it go today?

I read all of the above posts.

I have driven at Laguna Seca about 10 times.

Setting up my car right now.

Seriously now:
Should I go with ra-1's or street tires? The ra-1's still have some tread on them.

thanks!
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Old 01-01-2006, 08:23 PM   #23
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Quote:
Originally Posted by WillysPU
Seriously now:
Should I go with ra-1's or street tires? The ra-1's still have some tread on them.

thanks!
Not if you don't want Pat calling you a girl RA's do pretty good in the wet if you have some tread. If it's poring buckets- it's a no brainer- street tires.
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Old 01-01-2006, 08:51 PM   #24
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Jim,

I just saw your question about the RA1's. I wouldnt go with them unless they have full tread depth because there was some pretty serious standing water on the track when it was really coming down today. There were several serious race/track cars with RA1's which ended up sitting out the day because of the water on the track, so I would definitely run your street tires.

Ernie
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Old 01-01-2006, 08:51 PM   #25
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First and foremost, I would like to express my sincere gratitude for all of the thoughtful replies to my query. I really appreciate the fact that so many of you were kind enough to take the time to write excellent, detailed replies. I read all of your comments at about 11PM last night and I found them to be very helpful. The weather was pretty damn bad today; it was pouring rain the whole morning and there was standing water in places on the track, including portions of the front straight. I was very ginger at first, as this is my first track day in the wet despite having done 8 or 9 in dry conditions. Many of the techniques mentioned here worked well. Namely, late apexing the turns was critical because any throttle application caused my car to drift wide (albeit very smoothly) out of turns. By taking a very late apex I was able to compensate for this drift and also get on the throttle very early and carry a ton of speed out of turns. Also of key importance were making very smooth inputs, as the car was easily upset since there was so little traction (as one would imagine). The only really hairy parts of the day were when I hit patches of standing water at high speed and the car got a little out of shape. All in all, it was a great day and I learned that by allowing the car to find its own limits I was able to extract a lot of grip despite the dismal conditions. Thanks again guys!

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