The Art of Racing In The Rain - Turn Ins

What makes racing in the wet so damn hard is it’s unpredictability.  In any condition, a race car driver must be willing to experiment to find out where the track has the most grip and if that level of grip is changing.  This is magnified when racing in the wet.

For drivers with a lot of experience driving in the rain at multiple tracks they know one key secret, where the grip is on the race track constantly changes.  I’ve raced at tracks where from one year to the next the fastest line in the wet in similar conditions was the same in some corners and very different in others.

The only way to find the fastest racing line in these tricky conditions is by trying different lines.  We need to have a basic understanding of where we believe the grip will be or not be so that we make intelligent experiments, but there is never one “wet line” around a race track that stays consistent.

This line will also potentially be heavily dependent on the amount of grip the tires have and the type of car you have.  Front wheel drive cars inherently have an advantage for car control in the wet as throttle can help in an oversteer moment, so the drivers driving them have an extra tool that those in rear wheel drive cars don’t have.

So, the point of our “Art of Racing In The Rain” series is to highlight specific tips that can help drivers find the right line in the wet.  The key point we want to make here is no one can tell you where the racing line is in the wet consistently, we can only give you the tools to intelligently experiment when you are on track!

What To Try First?

When I am heading onto a race track for the first time I actually want to try and drive on my normal dry lines first.  They are the typical “fast” lines for a reason and when a track becomes wet it does not automatically make these lines the most slippery.

Now, I do admit I am surprised when this actually works, but at certain tracks I find myself using mostly dry lines even in the wet.  Watkins Glen after the repave is actually a decent example of this, but as the new pavement gets run on more and more I find wet lines are becoming more important there too.

So, once you have tried the dry lines and found out which corners have some grip and which don’t the next step is figuring out how to tackle the corners where you found a lack of grip.  Below is a very short video intro to the idea of “crossing the rubbered line.”

Why Is The Racing Line So Slick In The Wet?

So, the racing line develops more and more grip as more and more cars drive on it because those cars are laying down rubber.  As a track continues to rubber up it gets faster and faster. This rubber can then become extremely slick in rainy conditions.  This is because when it rains oils that are deep down in that rubber start to come up to the track surface.

The next time you are at a rainy track make it a point to go do a track walk.  Slide your shoes over the rubber and at some points, you will undoubtedly be able to see the oils on top of that rubbered surface.

Crossing The Rubbered Line

The first lesson we want to focus in on for driving in the wet is the art of crossing over the rubbered line.  Any time we are going to cross over a very low grip area we want our hands as straight as possible, that way you are asking less of the car.

The reasoning behind the technique of crossing over the rubbered line is it allows a race car driver to have their hands straight as they go over it.  Some important notes here to help pick out critical areas to this technique:

  • Typically means a later and more aggressive turn in than our dry track turn ins.
  • Our objective here is to turn and get the car straight as soon as possible.  This is what allows us to have our hands straight over the rubbered line on corner exit.

racing in the rain crossing the rubber line example