Project Racer: Back to the Track with NASA, Part Two


Mike Kojima Dog Car

“The Line”

“The line”. What is “the line”? For people that have little to no knowledge about grip racing, there is a common misconception that the line is simply the shortest distance around the track. That couldn’t be further from the truth. So what is the line around a race track? If you think about it, what is the main goal of a racer? To get around the track as quick as possible, and more importantly, quicker than your competitors. And, how do we go fast around the racetrack? There are many things to consider, but horsepower is a huge factor, and the second most important thing is not slowing down, or in racer lingo, not scrubbing off speed.


Willow Springs raceway, the proper line
This is the line around Willow Springs Raceway.  Big Willow as it is called is not a particularly technical track.  The red line is the optimal line for a FWD low powered car.  A RWD, higher powered car would take a slightly different line, mostly in turns 5-6.  High powered cars generaly take a slightly later Apex.

Since the lower level PT cars typically aren’t high powered vehicles, they rely on momentum to move quickly around the track. For momentum drivers, the way to gain speed is by setting the car up to drive in a straight line throughout as much of the track as possible. You go much faster zooming straight down a road than you would if you were in a turn. So, you want to get your tires pointing straight as often as possible, since turning scrubs off speed, and straight lines help gain speed. That’s just common sense, right? One would think so, but when you’re a beginning driver, you car isn’t moving as quickly, so to deliberately force your slower moving vehicle into the natural trajectory of a faster vehicles line may be hard to do. Don’t worry though – you’ll eventually get it.

Annie Sam Project Racer
Me entering turn 3 at Big Willow right before the apex.

The line through Big Willow, as you can see in this diagram is the most common FWD, momentum racers’ line, though there are slight variations, based on driver’s preferences. If you notice, the line curves around turns to set up the car for the longest and greatest amount of straightaways.



Willow springs raceway, the line with the correct apex points.
In this picture we will show you the correct apex points for Big Willow.

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