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How does one go fast on poor tires?

Old 07-09-05, 08:12 PM
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How does one go fast on poor tires?

I know, driving fast involves grip. And, poor tires don't grip well.

I just got absolutely owned at an autocross. I don't have a lot of seat time, my suspension is shot (getting that fixed soon), and I have a set of cheap (well, I got them for free) high treadlife all season rubber mounted. It's not exactly a recipe for going fast, and I'm aware that I have tons to learn.

The problem I was having was that midway through the 2nd lap, the tires would get hot enough to get all greasy & slick, and I'd start sliding around (and/or spinning out) on corners that I took just fine on the 1st lap (gokart track, moderate speed, 0.6 mi loop).

Now, I know the solution is to get better tires & suspension, which I'm planning to do, but we were having a discussion about how to go fast on poor tires.

One of the poor-tire specific ideas that was brought up was drifting around corners, the idea being that if the tires weren't going to grip anyway, don't drive in a way that requires grip.

I'm curious as to what other people think/have done. I'm know a better driver could have driven my car significantly faster with the exact same setup, and I'm trying to learn what sorts of tricks are used to deal with poor traction (since I may as well learn something before I fix things).

-=Russ=-
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Old 07-09-05, 08:22 PM
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Originally Posted by Syonyk
I'm know a better driver could have driven my car significantly faster with the exact same setup....
You just answered your own question.

It's true, you won't be competitive with poor tires, but you can certainly still learn to drive the lines and max the car out. At least until you chunk and destroy those poor tires and have to get new ones...
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Old 07-09-05, 08:43 PM
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Play with tire pressures to get the balance you want. I havn't autox'd in 10yrs so I would guess bumping up the front pressure so the sidewalls don't flex so much(to much is bad too though). As for driving style, 'drifting' is the slow way around, try to picture 'carving' a turn not sliding. Don't drive so hard and you will probably go faster. I can be hard to convince your right foot but you can go faster by going slower, even with good tires.
Oh yea, remember there is no good deal on bad tires. You get what you pay for.
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Old 07-09-05, 09:05 PM
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There aren't really any "tricks". The faster you drive, the faster you lose traction. For any set of tires, too keep things balanced, try to conserve your tires so that you end your run about at the point that they have lost too much traction to be effective.

There's no short cut to drive as fast as a more skilled driver in the same car, no matter the car.

How you tune your car is a different story, but there's not a lot you can do, aside from the aforementioned tire pressure adjustments, without spending money.
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Old 07-09-05, 10:32 PM
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^^^ What they said ^^^


From my perspective, I wore out my nice street tires on my daily beater Accord and got a heck of a deal on some cheapo replacements. At first I was appalled at their lack of grip and had to not take certain corners at my usual pace for fear of becoming a casualty of stupidity. But once I slowed down I concentrated on my driving and making every input smoother and more balanced. Now I have as much confidence as I did before, despite the crappy tires, because I know I won't jump past their limit.

So go slow and smooth - and save up for some real performance rubber!
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Old 07-09-05, 10:35 PM
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I'm so jealous, If we had .6mi. autocross gokart tracks around here where you could do more than one lap per run, I'd get back into the sport! Our local 1/6 mile parking lot snakepit autocrosses aren't made for RX7s at all, more like rabbits and foci. There's just nowhere to get on the gas in half the courses they like to make, and they can be a real bitch to navigate sometimes.
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Old 07-11-05, 04:54 PM
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Originally Posted by Syonyk
I know, driving fast involves grip. And, poor tires don't grip well.

I just got absolutely owned at an autocross. I don't have a lot of seat time, my suspension is shot (getting that fixed soon), and I have a set of cheap (well, I got them for free) high treadlife all season rubber mounted. It's not exactly a recipe for going fast, and I'm aware that I have tons to learn.

The problem I was having was that midway through the 2nd lap, the tires would get hot enough to get all greasy & slick, and I'd start sliding around (and/or spinning out) on corners that I took just fine on the 1st lap (gokart track, moderate speed, 0.6 mi loop).

Now, I know the solution is to get better tires & suspension, which I'm planning to do, but we were having a discussion about how to go fast on poor tires.

One of the poor-tire specific ideas that was brought up was drifting around corners, the idea being that if the tires weren't going to grip anyway, don't drive in a way that requires grip.

I'm curious as to what other people think/have done. I'm know a better driver could have driven my car significantly faster with the exact same setup, and I'm trying to learn what sorts of tricks are used to deal with poor traction (since I may as well learn something before I fix things).

-=Russ=-
If you want to be faster. SLOW DOWN! Ultimate grip should not be one of your concerns now.
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Old 07-11-05, 05:06 PM
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If you know the tires are getting greasy as they get hot then do whatever you can to not let them get hot. Don't spin the tires at launch. Drive very cleanly without sliding the tire around much. Cool the tire off with water between runs.

If the tire is getting greasy from over heating then drifting is not going to somehow allow you to go faster. Manage the tires at all times, they are what make the car quick. You cannot drive faster than the grip will let you and trying to do so will only make the problem worse and the car slower. I just proved that to myself again this past weekend on race tires that have given up and refused to put power down. Trying harder and overdriving just makes it all worse.

All the beginners I've been with get on the power too much when they shouldn't, and not enough when they should. All comments about the driver being capable still apply.

Last edited by DamonB; 07-11-05 at 05:11 PM.
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Old 07-11-05, 05:10 PM
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Originally Posted by Syonyk
I know, driving fast involves grip. And, poor tires don't grip well.

I just got absolutely owned at an autocross. I don't have a lot of seat time, my suspension is shot (getting that fixed soon), and I have a set of cheap (well, I got them for free) high treadlife all season rubber mounted. It's not exactly a recipe for going fast, and I'm aware that I have tons to learn.

The problem I was having was that midway through the 2nd lap, the tires would get hot enough to get all greasy & slick, and I'd start sliding around (and/or spinning out) on corners that I took just fine on the 1st lap (gokart track, moderate speed, 0.6 mi loop).

Now, I know the solution is to get better tires & suspension, which I'm planning to do, but we were having a discussion about how to go fast on poor tires.

One of the poor-tire specific ideas that was brought up was drifting around corners, the idea being that if the tires weren't going to grip anyway, don't drive in a way that requires grip.

I'm curious as to what other people think/have done. I'm know a better driver could have driven my car significantly faster with the exact same setup, and I'm trying to learn what sorts of tricks are used to deal with poor traction (since I may as well learn something before I fix things).

-=Russ=-
One more thing.. Drifting around corners in an autocross session won't get you anywhere fast. Save the drifting for a drifting course. Not what you wanted to hear but
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Old 07-11-05, 05:31 PM
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88GT and DamonB have both got it nailed. Do what it takes to drive the proper line. If the tires are getting hot and you lose traction, slow down and drive the line.
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Old 07-12-05, 12:03 AM
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Kind of the same advice as some others here - but specifically:

Adopt some modifications to your line taking into account the strengths and weaknesses of your current setup! Since sheer cornering grip is simply not going to be competitive with folks who have more sporting rubber, de-emphasize pure cornering grip. Trade off a couple of MPH at corner entry, get a late, balanced, and accurate turn in, and get a late apex that allows you to get the car straigtened up and on the power earlier. This lengthens the typically too short straights on autocross courses, and allows you to accentuate acceleration, which typically doesn't overpower even lowly street rubber like high g cornering will. Believe me, the 2 MPH you gave up going in can be translatd into 5 MPH at the end of the next straight. Autocrossing is often about accentuating your strengths and minimizing your weaknesses. If you get smooth and accurate as suggested above, with a properly though out strategy you might surprise yourself at the improvements you can make. The cool thing is that this same principle can then be used when you get more legitimate rubber and you will find yourself at the front of the pack. Warning - good tires are WAY more addictive than crack ( and more expensive!!!!! ) but you can learn a TON on crappy ones. Don't miss the opportunity.
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Old 07-12-05, 09:12 AM
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Thanks for all the suggestions. I'm hoping to be able to go out to the same course again in a few weeks, and I'll try this stuff.

-=Russ=-
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