Jump to content


Photo

Racing on Tarmac versus dirt. How wildly different is it?


  • Please log in to reply
12 replies to this topic

#1 Quixotic

Quixotic
  • Member

  • 416 posts
  • Joined: September 08

Posted 11 November 2010 - 01:24

I have been offered the chance of a sponsored drive a AMCA National Speedway car, (Very similar to the IMCA in the USA) for next season here in Australia. I will admit to being in two minds about it.

I have been racing since 1984 on tarmac riding Bikes, Sidecars, and since 2003 in cars. My question is as Follows:

Q: How bloody hard is it to drive a Speedway Car on Dirt?????

I am used to steering with the throttle, as I spent a few seasons racing road racing sidecars, but i will admit to being unsure as to how I would be able to make the transition from a piddling little Formula Vee to a V8 powered Speedway car.

Who out there has raced on both Dirt and Tarmac? I have heard of a few blokes who have gone from the dirt to the tarmac, but not too many who have gone the other way.

Can anyone give me the benefit of their experience please.

Thanks.

Advertisement

#2 wenoopy

wenoopy
  • Member

  • 605 posts
  • Joined: January 09

Posted 11 November 2010 - 01:40

I have been offered the chance of a sponsored drive a AMCA National Speedway car, (Very similar to the IMCA in the USA) for next season here in Australia. I will admit to being in two minds about it.

I have been racing since 1984 on tarmac riding Bikes, Sidecars, and since 2003 in cars. My question is as Follows:

Q: How bloody hard is it to drive a Speedway Car on Dirt?????

I am used to steering with the throttle, as I spent a few seasons racing road racing sidecars, but i will admit to being unsure as to how I would be able to make the transition from a piddling little Formula Vee to a V8 powered Speedway car.

Who out there has raced on both Dirt and Tarmac? I have heard of a few blokes who have gone from the dirt to the tarmac, but not too many who have gone the other way.

Can anyone give me the benefit of their experience please.

Thanks.


Peter Leversedge could be your man. He would have raced the same car on tarmac, dirt(or whatever they put on S.Island speedways)
and also on sand - beach racing at Nelson NZ.

#3 Lee Nicolle

Lee Nicolle
  • Member

  • 5,883 posts
  • Joined: July 08

Posted 11 November 2010 - 02:41

It is not that hard, you just have to be more agressive in driving style. But smooth at the same time. And keep your foot in the bucket. But you find you have to force yourself to look ahead, you find yourself looking about 10 feet in front of the car making it so easy to crash into someone elses accident. And very common in a car like an Amca which really are liittle better than racing a HQ ute. Since they have no horsepower you have to drive flat out all the time and quickly work out how to make the limited suspension adjustments work to make it handle.
It may well give you a better perspective to make a road race car work better after doing it. A lot of basic setup ideas can be transferred to circuit and occasionally the other way.

#4 Peter Leversedge

Peter Leversedge
  • Member

  • 616 posts
  • Joined: September 06

Posted 12 November 2010 - 01:11

Quixotic - I will try and be of some help. I have raced as "wenopy"said. First I did Beach Racing, Grass/Dirt Track, Shingle Hillclimbs then Tarmac racing often in the some car which was a Dirt Track type car [the one in my profie photo] and somtimes in different cars eg: Lotus 18 and in the NZ Built Specials Class in the 60s. Then I did 25 years racing a Super Modified and Sprint Cars on the dirt. Now I am doing both dirt and tarmac Historic Events in my "Dirt Car" . I am not sure what a AMCA car is but I would more or less go with what Lee says. I would not say it is harder but it is different, go and give it a go. With a Sprint Car on a dirt "bull ring" you have to be 110% SWITCHED ON all the time and be able to read the track conditions as well. The track changes almost every lap and between races. Usually during the meeting the track will"come around" and then "go away" so you need to learn to set the car up to work best for the changing conditions. On dirt you steer with the throttle and use the brakes in a different way mainly using the car to slow you down if need be. Anway go and give it a go as I said or you will never know what it is like. I alway prefered racing on the dirt to racing on tarmac myself
Regards Peter
"Tarmac is for getting there, Dirt is for Racing on"

#5 Lee Nicolle

Lee Nicolle
  • Member

  • 5,883 posts
  • Joined: July 08

Posted 12 November 2010 - 06:44

Peter an AMCA is much the same as an IMCA in the states. Only they use a very control 253 with 2 barrel HOLLEY in a HQ front chassis with the rest fabricated but rear suspension is leaf and a live axle. Control tyre, a hard 84x8 Amercan Racer on 8" steel rims. Other than that very basic bodywork with the wheels exposed. One of the too many control classes in Aussie speedway though they are a National class and can be big fields.
John, give it a go if it is not going to cost you too much. They are a good grounding for something better and at least you will get an idea if you like it. Some do [myself included] and some hate it. Just remember though crashes are a lot more frequent so when you get in the car think about padding on the hard bits, seats and seatbelt mounting points. And use a neckbrace, I think they are compulsory but if not should be.
I have given up after 18 years in classic supermods/sprinters as the pounding has got too much for my geriatric body. I am still fit enough to drive, not so sure about the crashes now!!

#6 jjordan

jjordan
  • Member

  • 49 posts
  • Joined: March 09

Posted 12 November 2010 - 13:11

My son and I have mixed both for years, and I absolutely believe that the dirt racing has taught us to be better road racers. Throttle control is soooo important on dirt as it is very easy to over do it. Lots of my pavement racing buddies don't understand how detrimental sliding the car can be, how much speed is scrubbed off in the process (especially in the lower hp classes.) Racing on dirt teaches you to find the edge and balance on that edge. Go for it, you will find that one will make you better at the other, and vice-versa. plus it is just a lot of fun!

#7 David McKinney

David McKinney
  • Member

  • 14,156 posts
  • Joined: November 00

Posted 12 November 2010 - 16:47

You get much the same education driving on gravel and tarmac special stages of rallies

#8 MarkMisegadis

MarkMisegadis
  • New Member

  • 11 posts
  • Joined: October 10

Posted 12 November 2010 - 19:19

You get much the same education driving on gravel and tarmac special stages of rallies


Yes... As far as the experience with the car and the surface that your racing on.

What you won’t get is the side by side bit. I have raced Circle track cars on both Asphalt and Dirt. I have also raced Rally’s as well as timed Ice events. I love rally but when we were putting on a Pro Rally and ran the cars through a special stage on a dirt oval to get the cars close to the fans we had drivers complain that they were bored. I had to tell them that they weren’t going fast enough. They were all shocked to hear this. Our regular times in the Dirt track cars that I raced were at least 3-4 seconds a lap faster than the highest horsepower Turbo 4WD stuff at the event. I would have been bored as well. Plus.. to be honest.. they had no idea where to run on the track surface.

Everything that everyone has said here about car control as well as feel for the throttle is correct. In the car you will be running you won’t have enough horsepower to bail you out of a bad situation but you will have enough to put you in one with the narrow hard compound tires. A smooth driving style and finesse will be your best bet. If you’re doing well with these then learn to drive traffic. (lapped cars) Setting up and passing cars can make the difference even if the guy chasing you has a faster set up. Head to the front and keep him busy with cars to pass before he can get to you.


Some general differences to keep in mind and things to prepare for:

1) Tires for dirt racing on groomed surfaces such as oval tracks will often have a thinner sidewall. The reason for this is to allow the tire tread to conform to the track surface for more traction. You will feel that sidewall flex. On to number 2.

2) Springs on a dirt cars are softer. The chassis will roll in the corners to plant weight on the tires and increase your traction. A stiff set up like you would use on asphalt will just skate you right to the top and into the wall. As a general rule Torsien Bar or Leaf Spring cars “feel” more stable. A coil car may feel like it is going to fall over. They all work a little different.

3) You will use the throttle to steer the car but don’t forget that while sideways is very spectacular its also slower.
Bring a stop watch and time different cars and drivers while noting there driving styles.

4) Tracks are “heavy” at the beginning of the night and go “Dry Slick” towards the end of the night. While you can run anywhere early in the evening you will most likely be stuck with 2 grooves or less at the end of the night. You are looking for where the moisture still is. It will be on the bottom.. or upstairs on the Cushion. The guys up top are flying to run that groove as this is the long way around. It feels fast because it is fast and your working your butt off to run the car smooth because if you “jump” the cushion the fence is right there! Sometimes this is the only place to run. However! Do not forget the Extreme bottom. When you run the bottom its going to feel like you are tied to a post in the corners and that can be detrimental to your head. Don’t let that get to you. Find the moisture down low and run the car only as fast as you can get away with. This is called “Peddling. ” You will Roll the throttle on easy coming out of the corner and drift up to the wall before coming back down into the next corner and doing it again. If you are racing guys on the cushion you will meet them as you drift up out of the corner with the throttle on. This part can be tricky and get confusing on who is making more progress and what the better groove is. Forget the Middle of the track during this part of the night as it will be as dry as toast.

5) Steering input is more than what you are used to. You might feel as if your sawing at the wheel compared to what you have raced in the past. Watch the other drivers and watch the front wheels of the car. Look for someone that is fast and you will see the front tires flicking back and forth through the corner. This is fine and its necessary IF the car looks smooth as glass through the corner. Those are all the minor adjustments that the driver is doing to keep the car smooth and in the groove he wants on the racing surface. You will also likely see someone that is just getting an Arm workout but thinks they have it figured out. This will be obvious. Smooth is always fast.. and you just have to do a few things a little differently on dirt to get that. What you already know about that will translate.

6) Circle track cars don’t drive well slow or in a straight line. They are made to go fast and to turn left. This means that while lined up for a start you’ll notice the car want to jump over into the lap of the guy next to you. Stay on top of it and as soon as you start rolling on the throttle for the green it will smooth out.

Any driver that has dirt experience is a better driver and can translate this into other arenas. If the car is well built and safe I wouldn’t pass up the ride. As I am a big crossover I understand the differences in the cars and the people and its all fun. I am not sure how it works in your country but I wouldn’t use words like “Oversteer or Understeer” with the dirt guys here. Good Luck!~

Mark


#9 Michael Ferner

Michael Ferner
  • Member

  • 2,214 posts
  • Joined: November 09

Posted 12 November 2010 - 19:29

I am not sure how it works in your country but I wouldn’t use words like “Oversteer or Understeer” with the dirt guys here. Good Luck!~


"Loose" and "push" will be fine, though...

#10 RStock

RStock
  • Member

  • 1,341 posts
  • Joined: March 08

Posted 12 November 2010 - 19:45

Peter an AMCA is much the same as an IMCA in the states.


I'm asuming you mean an IMCA modified, because IMCA does have a Sprint Car class as well as a few others.

Edited by REDARMYSOJA, 12 November 2010 - 22:44.


#11 Peter Leversedge

Peter Leversedge
  • Member

  • 616 posts
  • Joined: September 06

Posted 12 November 2010 - 22:00

Mark - Spot on and like you said if one finds it boring on a dirt bull ring they are not going fast enough.........

#12 Lee Nicolle

Lee Nicolle
  • Member

  • 5,883 posts
  • Joined: July 08

Posted 13 November 2010 - 01:25

I'm asuming you mean an IMCA modified, because IMCA does have a Sprint Car class as well as a few others.

Yes, I believe they are similar with a prodution front clip and the rest fabricated.Leaf rear. And control/claimer 350s
Mark, very well put and explained.

Edited by Lee Nicolle, 13 November 2010 - 01:26.


#13 MarkMisegadis

MarkMisegadis
  • New Member

  • 11 posts
  • Joined: October 10

Posted 15 November 2010 - 17:03

I'm asuming you mean an IMCA modified, because IMCA does have a Sprint Car class as well as a few others.



Very Good Point! Yes - IMCA Modifieds.

Mark