Driving in Wet Conditions at a High Level
Updated: Dec 28, 2021
Racing in the rain can be a great equalizer.
When the track conditions are less than ideal it falls into the driver's hands. Adaption along with pure car control becomes what separates the field. Driving in the rain can be daunting, a driver's experience in these conditions often correlates to their confidence level when it comes to wet driving. Here are some tips based on my experience.
Block out negative preconceived notions:
When it rains many drivers start thinking the wrong thoughts. Doubt and anxiety begin creeping in, hindering their focus on the task at hand. It’s important to have a positive mindset before a wet session. Visualize what you need to do and go out on track with confidence. Rain driving is some of the most fun you’ll have in a racecar so don’t let negative thoughts prohibit you from reaching your full potential.
Properly prepare for the conditions:
Before you can go fast, you have to be able to see where you’re going. Visibility is always an issue when driving in the rain. It’s important to use anti-fogging products along with Rain-X on visors and windshields. If you have neither of these before you go out, a liquid soap can also work in replacement. Also, try to keep the visor cracked open to prevent it from fogging over. Keeping your shoes dry is also important so your feet don’t slip around on the pedals. Cover your shoes when you’re walking around the pit area. If you can, make sure to have someone wipe the bottom of your shoes before climbing in the car.
Find the limits of the track:
Knowing the rain line is very important but the line with the most grip may change throughout the session and is different from track to track. With this in mind, you always have to be searching the track for grip and trying new lines as the conditions change through the run. A full wet line is basically staying off the rubbered areas of the track. The normal dry racing line contains years of rubber and oil in the pores of the asphalt, it becomes polished and slick in the rain. Avoid these areas of the track. If you have to cross a rubbered in section, point the car through it as straight and as smooth as you can. A wet track rewards drivers who are smooth on throttle and with steering input. Everything should seem like it’s been put into slow motion. Be easy with the gear changes and try rolling higher gears through some corners to avoid wheel spin. Also, stay off painted areas of the track if possible, if you have to cross a painted area of curbing be prepared for a sudden loss of grip and keep your hands straight. Lastly, as you’re searching the track for grip it’s critical to stay focused. Driving in tricky wet conditions can take out even the best drivers, so know the limits of the grip for track and work within that.
Overall, driving the rain can be a blast but it takes experience to build confidence in your car control ability. Work up to it if you have low experience in the rain and remember to also be adapting to a changing track, search for that grip and don’t be afraid to try new lines.
One more piece of advice - if the track is wet during a practice session don't sit in the pits, go out! Wet track time is very valuable even if the rest of the weekend is looking dry, going out in the wet can benefit you while your competitors sit in the pits, talking themselves out of it. When that surprise rain shower comes during the race, you'll have a leg up.