Racing can at times be brutal for new racers. The ideas we have about how our races will go, often don’t match the reality of where we are as drivers. Almost everybody is going to picture themselves up near the front and battling for position. We imagine making quick, clean passes and taking positions from other drivers. This is not always going to be the case however.
The truth is, as you get better every position on track gets harder and harder to take. And yes, you will have to TAKE them most of the time. As you move your way up the field the margins get smaller and smaller. The laps get closer and closer. You’ll find that even passing one car can be quite a challenge. This is where learning more about the racing line can help.
The Racing Line
The racing line may seem like a pretty simple thing. It’s something we all learn about when we first start racing or even when watching other people race. The racing line represents the fastest way around the track. Tight apex into corners, wide line on straights to setup the next braking zone. There are even tactics involving late apex which can at times allow for better exit speed from the corner. The line can vary depending on the driver, but for most it is the same line around the track.
The racing line is great when practicing or qualifying but sadly, just knowing where you’re the fastest won’t make you a complete driver. To become a complete driver, you must know how to use all of the track.
The Rest of the Track
To compete with other drivers, you have to be able to do a lot more than qualify. You have to know how to race side by side with other cars, also known as Wheel to Wheel racing or W2W for short. In some motorsports, such as oval racing, this is common and less difficult. What we are talking about is road racing however, and there it can be dangerous (at least in the real world) if you’re not prepared.
To prepare yourself you need to know all of the track you are racing. This is something you can only learn by practicing off the racing line. Things like driving inside into a hard-braking zone instead of outside, entering a chicane from the wrong side of the track and taking long slow corners around the outside of the track amongst other unconventional moves will get you ready for side by side racing. You won’t be able to just blow past people when racing in a competitive class. This means you must know how to battle. If you have sufficiently practiced driving off the racing line, then you will be better prepared to battle. Being prepared will give you an advantage over a large portion of the field.
At this point you just have to hope that your opponent will either yield, or that they too are comfortable racing a tightened line. Sadly, a lot of drivers cannot handle racing off the line and this can lead to accidents. All the more reason for you to be fully prepared. This kind of preparation leads to rewarding racing. It will allow you to have some of the most epic battles of your racing career. Most of all, it’ll make you a fully competent driver who is ready for whatever his opponents throw at him. Take some time to learn whatever track you are racing next.
Then once you have it down, mix things up and experiment off the racing line. See how fast you can be while not in prime position. This will make you a better driver as you’ll be better prepared to make up for any lost time when an opponent pushes you off your line.