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2023-06-14 19:33:09

How Professionals Survive Racing 200 Mph In The Rain _ Cars Insider

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For everyday drivers driving in the rain raises the risk of a fatal crash by 34% for professional race car drivers who regularly compete in the rain .

Talent can only help so much when you're driving over three times .

The civilian speed limit .

Yeah , it's basically like if you're to dive into like a really murky lake and you couldn't see your hands in front of you when you dove .

That's kind of what it's like , but at 200 miles an hour , that's Colton Herta , the youngest driver ever to win an Indycar race .

His most recent win at 2020 two's rain drenched G M R Grand Prix had so many ugly crashes that yellow caution flags were pulled out eight times .

The track turned slick puddles built up and cars were sent flying .

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Colton tells us how professional race car drivers survive and even win high speed races during a torrential downpour .

When it's dry , we can push a lot harder because we kind of know what the grip level is going to be .

Whereas in the wet , you kind of have to go up to the limit a little bit slower just because of how treacherous the conditions are and you don't know what it's gonna be , corner to corner .

So breaking points are the same as when you were to take driver's Ed .

And for me , it wasn't too long ago .

So I remember this , but they would basically say right , if it takes a car 200 ft to break from 60 to 0 , basically double that .

So that's just kind of a general scale that they might give you when you're learning to drive .

But it is true .

It does move the breaking points drastically .

Let's say we're going 200 miles an hour into a corner , that's maybe 80 miles an hour and we're breaking in 300 ft .

Um , it might move back to around 500 ft .

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And again , you do want to be cautious with this because any little mistake , any little lock up is , is gonna create a bigger problem .

So let's say you had a lock up and you'd go three ft wide in , in the dry that might change to go 10 to 12 ft wide in the wet .

Um , so that's why you see a lot more mistakes and a lot more drivers going off track because the margins are so much tinier .

He's on the wettest part of the track and he just got on the curb , he was already locked up , the front tires are completely locked .

The other biggest thing is , is the racing line that you take is very different .

What happens when we drive in the dry is we drive on slick tires .

So the rubber gets pushed in and gets ripped off the tires into the ground .

When it gets a little wet , it's extremely slippery .

So you'll see all the black patches where we normally run and then basically off of that is pavement that's never really touched by race cars .

Um , right , because it's not the optimal line , it's not the fastest way to get around the track .

And that's kind of where you try to position the car .

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So running a little bit wider in the corner , maybe a car link outside of , of the apex and then vice versa , you know , wherever you can find the grip that that isn't on the traditional line , that's , that's where it tends to be , drivers wouldn't be able to handle racing in the rain without the proper equipment set up though .

It starts with tires .

So what you would have on on your road car would be what we would run in the wet .

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It is a , um , a wet weather tire or in all weather tires , people would say for the road , the reason that you have these kind of uh , gaps in the tires like you would see in a street car and what we would run in the wet , um , is it actually creates less of a contact patch and the water runs through kind of the veins of the tire instead of just sitting on top of where the slick tire would be a normal race setup would look very stiff and then when you turn it to the wet , uh , you want a little bit more of , of the car to be able to roll and roll into the corner so you might take anti roll bars completely off the car .

Uh , for sure you'd make the , the springs and damping a lot softer than it would be for the dry .

And then obviously adding as much down force as you can as well .

It's all about softening the car , letting the car roll a lot more .

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Um , and , and dig into the ground because it is on top of the surface when you're driving in the wet , no matter how talented and well equipped a driver may be though , actually winning a race in the pouring rain comes down to guesswork and being willing to take chances .

You know , there are points that , that during that race are really just at the end of that race that it got a little bit too much .

Um , you know , I think we had maybe two minutes left and it was very , um , dangerous , but we only had two minutes left .

So we just thought just get the race over with , we just finish it up .

Um , but yeah , it was , it was pretty brutal at the end there , uh , with aqua planning and , and not really sure where the grip was where the rivers were running through the track when we say aqua planning .

Um , you know , it tends to be complete loss control of the car because of a puddle .

And why that happens is the tires get flooded .

And so you have a brief moment where the car is just skidding .

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Uh I'm sure many people have felt that on the road at some points when you go through a big puddle and you , you feel like you lose control completely .

There were times in the race that guys couldn't , could barely even see the front wing of their cars .

So that's about , you know , 3.5 4 ft from where their eyes are , but that's probably the most dangerous part about it is , is the fact that there is no vision , there's no cues on , on what you can and can't see probably the toughest conditions that you will have as a racing driver is changing conditions and in this race , in particular , we had it maybe three times .

I wanna say from what to drive the rain stops or it keeps getting heavier .

Uh You are constantly changing your breaking points and changing how much speed you can roll through the corners when you get back on throttle .

So the driver will be relaying information to the team , the timing stand about what the conditions are and what they need for the conditions at the moment .

And then the team will make uh an educated guess on what we need going into the next stop in , in the future .

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So it's , it's kind of a , it is a guessing games sometimes for , for some of that stuff .

I think the biggest thing is probably just to keep your eyes up , keep your eyes as far forward as possible .

Might be different for , for us in racing because we are always looking for , for different parts of the race track that might have more grip or where the water is and such .

Whereas the hazards on the road might be other drivers and stuff .

So we don't typically have to worry about that as much because we get to drive with a lot of great racing drivers .

Whereas on the road , you do not get to .


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