Roger Diez: The 3 things your tires transmit

Roger Diez

Roger Diez

Due to the late ending to the Formula 1 season and the holidays, I didn’t get my annual winter driving tips out before the big Christmas snowstorm hit. I hope my failure to remind readers didn’t lead to any untimely visits to the body shop.
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I usually start with mentioning the similarities between driving a race car and driving on snow and ice. In both cases the connection between tires and road is significantly reduced. The main difference is the speed of the vehicle when adhesion is lost. Remember, all that connects your car to the road are four small tire patches. Don’t ask your tires to do more than they are capable of.
In fact, don’t ask them to do more than one thing at once. Tires can transmit only three things from the vehicle to the road: acceleration, deceleration, and change of direction. When the tire receives multiple inputs, such as braking and steering simultaneously, there is a vector of the two forces, which reduces the absolute limit of either force. If you try to brake and turn at the same time on a slick surface, both your braking and turning performance will suffer. You will immediately experience what the race driver calls “push,” and you will plow straight ahead with your wheels cranked to the right or left. Similarly, if you accelerate too hard while turning, you will be confronted with the condition racers call “loose.” You will notice this when the rear of your car passes you.
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And though loss of adhesion occurs at much lower speeds on snow and ice than on the racetrack, the techniques used to control your vehicle are very similar. You need to use gentle inputs on all the controls. Brake early and progressively; turn slowly and smoothly, don’t jerk the steering wheel; and accelerate smoothly, gently pressing the gas pedal as if there were an egg under it.
You also need to stay more alert in slick conditions. Get “up on the wheel” as Darrell Waltrip used to say on the NASCAR race broadcasts. Concentrate on your driving instead of your phone, the radio, or chatting with your passengers. Failure to pay attention to the task at hand can lead to a trip to the body shop or worse yet, the hospital. Don’t be that guy.
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The 2022 racing season starts next week with the 36th annual Lucas Oil Chili Bowl. It’s Midget racing’s Super Bowl, World Series, World Cup, and Indy 500 all rolled into one, and it’s bigger than ever this year.
There were 380 entries as of last Monday with more expected before qualifying heats start on Monday. After five days of winnowing down the field, Saturday’s events will determine this year’s champion, who in recent years has been a NASCAR driver.
Kyle Larson has won the last two years with Christopher Bell winning the three years prior. Larson will be trying for the hat trick this year, and I wouldn’t bet against him. You can catch all week's action by signing up for free at https://www.floracing.com/. Saturday’s races will also air on MAVTV Plus, but a subscription is $6.99 per month.
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Finally, there is another passing to report. Kevin Kalkhoven, former Champ Car, Long Beach Grand Prix, and Cosworth Engineering owner has died at the age of 77. Kalkhoven’s team won the 2013 Indy 500 with driver Tony Kanaan. In 2008, Kalkhoven was instrumental in reuniting Indy Car racing which had been split into two warring factions since 1996. Although not active in racing for the last few years, he is remembered fondly by the Indy car community. Godspeed, Sir.

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