Many car owners have often wondered how their vehicle would perform on the track. The performance of the vehicle may be more than adequate on the public road, but racing on the track puts additional requirements on a car in order to make it competitive.
Many owners believe that the route to speed involves more brute engine power, and once the car is sufficiently powerful it will win. However, whilst power is an important factor in racing, it is just one facet of design that makes a successful racing car.
A high top speed can be redundant on many tracks, as twisty circuits with many turns make high speeds impossible. It is important that the car’s power is useable, and the entire vehicle package is designed for high average speeds over each lap.
Reducing weight is an important factor in making a car useable on the track. A high power-to-weight ratio will increase acceleration out of turns, as well as improving the ability of the vehicle to change direction.
For this reason, superfluous items such as excess seats, panels and instruments are removed to pare the car down to a minimum weight. All engine and chassis parts are designed to be as light as possible, and lightened engine internals are fitted to reduce the engine’s internal inertia. Road cars are fitted with suspension that is geared towards a comfortable ride, whilst race cars have stiffer shock absorbers to make the car stable at speed and improve the engine’s ability to get power onto the track.
Uprated brakes enable the driver to be able to tame the power and brake for optimum corner speeds, and race cars feature treadless ‘slick’ tyres that become sticky when hot to maximise traction.
Modifying a car for the track may mean that it no longer complies with the legal requirements for the road. For this reason, serious modifications should be undertaken for track use only.