Right-hand or left-hand drive racing setup

Designers of non-open-wheel race cars have to decide on which side of the car they will put their driver. The answer is simple for most American designers, with teams, drivers and car-buying fans accustomed to left-hand drive. But in international driving racing competition, the solution must consider other factors.

Take the recent 24 Hours of Le Mans. Of the 54 entered cars, 31 featured the driver’s seat on the left, with 23 on the right. All of the prototypes were right-hand-drive except for the three LMP1 Audi R10s, while all of the GT cars had the driver on the left. Why opposite layouts between classes, and why were Audi’s cars the only left-side prototypes?

Like NASCAR cars that perform better on ovals with the driver on the apron side, sports cars perform better with the driver on the inside of turns. Clockwise tracks, obviously, have more turns to the right, and counterclockwise tracks (like ovals) have more to the left. Stefan Pfeiffer, the race engineer for the Flying Lizard Motorsports Porsche GT team, once calculated the effect of sitting on the inside of corners as significant.

Most American Le Mans Series tracks run clockwise, as does Le Mans, so why do Audi and the GT cars go the left-hand-drive route? Julian Cooper, the Lola Cars chief engineer who oversaw Lola’s six right-seater prototypes at Le Mans, wonders, too.

One reason is the drivers. Teams face a disadvantage when drivers have to adapt themselves to an unfamiliar side of the car. Whether it’s a British driver adjusting to the left or a French driver adjusting to the right, it takes a certain amount of time to gauge the precise edges of the car. Allan McNish was the only Brit among nine Audi drivers at Le Mans, so Audi’s left-hand drive makes sense if the team wants to cater to the majority. But Cooper, who has seen many drivers adapt to the British Lola, believes drivers aren’t the main consideration.

In fact, the fans are the biggest consideration for Audi and other teams. Fans buy street cars, and Audi’s Le Mans win will certainly attract them to the marque. It makes sense to have drivers on the left side since fans drive on the same side in their road cars. A company like Lola, which does not build passenger cars, only considers performance. Peugeot sells right-hand-drive cars and chose the right for its 908 LMP1 prototypes.

Flying Lizard’s Pfeiffer felt the corporate hand when he brought his performance observations to Mercedes-Benz in the 1990s to work on its DTM German Touring car.

Hence the entire GT class runs left-hand drive. All entries are required to be production-based. Because GT cars have a stronger relation to their street counterparts, their seating position does as well—even for the British Aston Martin, which produces many left-hand-drive street cars. But even though both Aston and Audi might have sacrificed some performance for marketing purposes, it wasn’t much; they won LMP1 and GT1, respectively, at Le Mans.

 

Top race car seats available in the market

A racing car will not be complete without a high-quality seat. The latter must offer the comfort, support, and safety that are necessary to ensure a flawless race car experience. Whether you are a novice or seasoned racer, you must pay attention to choosing the right seat. Do not just believe what manufacturers are claiming. Be responsible enough to differentiate the options for the best racing seats.

Racing for an extended period can be cumbersome. There is a need for you to have the right training, and more importantly, the right seat. A racing car seat is a seat that comes with an orthopedic and ergonomic design. Manufacturers have invested years of product research and development to come up with innovative principles that will meet the needs of racers. They have technical features that are not commonly present in the normal seats. It minimizes back strain, and consequently, will help you to get rid of fatigue.

The main function of a racing car seat is to make sure that you will be contained in your position. This means that no matter how fast you drive, you will be kept stable in the seat. This will result in better control, allowing you to easily grip the pedal and the steering wheel. Most importantly, in the unfortunate occurrence of a crash, such seat will be a live-saver.

As you try to decide on what to buy, one of the first things that you should do is to resolve on the specific type of the racing car seat that is appropriate for your needs. In this case, the following are the options that you will have:

  • Reclining Racing Car Seats: This is a good choice if you have a racing street car. You can make a powerful statement with this seat, but you do not need to forego your comfort. It can be reclined in different positions depending on what you are most comfortable with.
  • Fixed-Back Racing Car Seats: For the more serious racer, this is the common choice for a car seat. This is also perfect if you want a classic look for your car. The position is locked, but it does not make it short in providing the support and comfort that is needed by your back.
  • Suspension Racing Car Seats: It is the perfect choice for off-road adventures. Many racing enthusiasts would prefer this type of seat because of its versatility. It will move based on the movement of your car because of the integrated suspension.
  • Bench Racing Car Seats: This may be less common than the other types, but it is equally promising in terms of its functionality. As the name implies, it looks like a bench and will be perfect for seating two people. The configuration will be dependent on the design of your car.

Types of fuel used in sports car racing

The most common fuels used in race cars these days are:

1. Leaded and unleaded gasoline

Gasoline is used in drag cars, rally cars, stock cars, and even Formula One cars. Surprising but true, despite the vast amounts of technical effort spent developing a Formula One car, the fuel it runs on is surprisingly close to the composition of ordinary, commercially available petrol. It was not always so. Early Grand Prix cars ran on a fierce mixture of powerful chemicals and additives, often featuring large quantities of benzene, alcohol and aviation fuel. Indeed some early fuels were so potent that the car’s engine had to be disassembled and washed in ordinary petrol at the end of the race to prevent the mixture from corroding it! Over the years more and more regulations have been introduced regarding the composition of fuel, a move driven in part by the oil companies’ desire to have demonstrable links between race and road fuel. Since 2014, each car has been limited to 100kg of fuel per race (105kg from 2017). All of Formula One racing’s fuel suppliers engage in extensive testing programs to optimize the fuel’s performance, in the same way any other component in the car will be tuned to give maximum benefit. This will likely involve computer modeling, static engine running and moving tests.

2. Methanol

This fuel is used by Champ Cars and was formerly used by Indy Cars. Methanol is also known as methyl alcohol, wood alcohol, and wood spirits. Methanol is mostly derived from the steam reforming of natural gas.

3. Ethanol

This fuel is used by Indy Cars. Ethanol is also known as ethyl alcohol, grain alcohol, and EtOH. Ethanol is mostly derived from the fermentation and distillation of starch crops such as corn and wheat.

4. Nitromethane

This fuel is used in the fastest classes of NHRA drag racing which include Top Fuel, Funny Car, and Pro Stock. Nitromethane is a simple organic compound with highly explosive properties. It is used as a fuel for race cars because it provides 2.3 times the power of similarly oxygenated gasoline.

5. Diesel

This fuel is used by many types of race cars. Diesel is often found in race cars that compete in endurance racing, supercar racing, and it also powers many of the vehicles that have set world land-speed records. Diesel is derived from the distillation of crude oil.

Technically speaking, anything that powers a race car can be considered a racing fuel. Other kinds of racing fuels that exist are:

1. Biodiesel
2. Bioethanol
3. Hydrogen
4. Natural Gas
5. Propane

There are also many manufacturers of racing fuels and some of the largest are:

1. Sunoco
2. Shell
3. Torco
4. Elf
5. VP

Racing fuels are always changing. New ones are constantly invented, existing ones are improved, and some simply disappear due to obsolescence or environmental concerns. It will be interesting though to watch the evolution of racing fuels over the next 50 years.

How safe is your Sports Car?

Speed and power lure many consumers to buy sports cars, but while they may be fast, are they safe? New crashworthiness test results found that there is a range in the safety that sports cars provide.

To qualify for the TOP SAFETY PICK award, vehicles must earn good ratings in five tests (that evaluate the front, side, roof strength, and head and seat restraint areas) and have a basic-rated front crash prevention system.

To earn the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety highest award, TOP SAFETY PICK+, vehicles must earn good ratings in the five categories and also receive an advanced or superior rating for front crash prevention.

The small overlap test replicates what happens when a vehicle runs off the road and hits a tree or pole or clips another vehicle that has crossed the center line. It’s an especially challenging test because it involves a vehicle’s outer edges, which aren’t well-protected by the crush-zone structures, according to the group, as crash forces go directly into the front wheel, suspension system and firewall.

Given that sports cars have high crash rates, it’s especially important that they offer the best occupant protection possible in a crash.

For example, strong roofs are especially important for sports cars, which have among the highest driver death rates in single-vehicle rollovers, according to the group. Stronger roofs crush less in rollovers, the report noted, reducing the risk that people will be injured by contact with the roof itself and the risk that unbelted occupants will be ejected.

A sports car can be stylish as well as safe, and it doesn’t have to be a luxury model. A new car is not necessarily safer than older models – many used cars rate well in terms of safety and are affordable too. Older cars, particularly those with the right safety features, can be just as safe as or even safer than some new cars.

So how safe is your car? Buying a safe car is one of the most important purchases we make and choosing the right one can be difficult. Whether you plan to buy a new or used car or even rent sports car, make safety a high priority and do your homework. Compare the car’s safety features and star rating to other cars in the same class.

As the saying goes, safety first! We wish you safe and exciting driving on the racing tracks all around the world.

How much weight to consider in sports car racing

Whether you’re running a track day beast, a budget racing car or if you’re just serious about exotic racing, it’s worth putting your ride on a diet. Here are a few ways of cutting down that weight figure!

Remove or swap heavy electrical components

Even cars several decades old can be chock full of heavy creature comforts, many of which you can bin to save weight. Say bye bye to the air conditioning compressor, and that’s around 5kg gone. A further 10 or more kilos can be shed from removing the heater matrix, fan and associated piping. The stereo is a prime target too, along with all the speakers and wiring.

The things you can’t do without can then be swapped for lighter versions. Car batteries – for instance – typically weigh around 10-15kg, a figure you can half by switching to a smaller race battery.

Strip out the interior

This is where you can make some serious free reductions; it’s just a question of how far you want to go. Assuming you’ve started with the obvious – removing any random crap you don’t need in the car, ditching the spare wheel and jack etc – you can then look to take out the carpet, underlay and rear seats. Depending on the car, losing the rear seats could save you around 25kg, and that’s before you turn your attention to the front chairs.

If your car has electrically adjustable seats, they could weigh as much as 35kg each. In an ideal world of exotic racing, for maximum because race car-ness, you’d ditch the passenger seat entirely, and swap the driver’s seat for a sports seat tipping the scales at around 12kg. This will give you a total saving of almost 60kg.

Want to go further? You can expect to shed a further kilo or two by taking off the door cards, or over 10kg by losing the dashboard.

Fit lighter body panels

If you’re really serious about shedding the kilos, consider swapping steel or aluminum body panels with replacement items made from GRP (glass fibre-reinforced plastic). The bonnet, front wings, boot lid, doors and even the roof can be swapped for GRP, giving your car significant weight savings.

Lighter wheels

By swapping to a lighter set of wheels, you could save yourself around 2-3kg a corner. Doesn’t sound like a huge amount, but the benefits go further than just cutting down the car’s overall weight figure. Reducing rotational mass of the rims means that the suspension doesn’t have to work quite so hard, and you’ll see small improvements in acceleration, as it’s easier for the engine to spin lighter wheels.

Tires to use in different types of races

In recent years, mainly since Pirelli became F1’s tire supplier in 2011, tires have become one of the biggest talking points ahead of each Grand Prix weekend and it’s primarily down to the different compounds provided for each race.

As of 2016, instead of getting two different dry-weather compounds to use at each race, teams are now able to choose from three others on offer from Pirelli.

So that’s five dry-compound tires as well as the intermediates and full wets. But just what do they all do?

Drivers use a minimum of two different compounds during the course of a race (unless they’ve had to use intermediates or full wets at any point on Sunday afternoon) so a non-stop strategy is never possible, even for a dream racing.

Pirelli’s stated aim has been to return the races to having at least two stops and maybe even three. A further rehash to the rubber rules is that there is now a fifth dry compound this season, the “ultrasoft”, which has become the softest on offer, sporting purple-coloured sidewalls.

The new regulations have seen a greater variety of strategies adopted, as not all drivers will be running the same tire types, let alone sticking to identical pitstop windows.

At the 2008 Japanese Grand Prix the tires had the grooves painted green, as part of a promotion by the FIA to reduce the impact of motoring on the environment, called Make Cars Green. The softer of the two types of tire still had the second innermost groove painted white, as per normal.

Upon the return of slicks at the beginning of the 2009 season the white stripe to indicate differences between the tires was no longer possible due to the lack of grooves on the tires. Subsequently, in a continuation of the Make Cars Green tires in Japan, Bridgestone painted the sidewalls of the option tire green instead.

Ways to improve race car handling performance

Handling is a subjective matter. Of course, it heavily depends on your car’s capabilities and partly on your talent behind the wheel. Speeding and hard driving aside, there are actually ways to help improve the stability of your car even when you are just casually cruising at a high speed

With our exotic car rental, there is no need to worry about handling performance, but still, these few tips might be helpful.

Strut Bars

Possibly the most easily found aftermarket accessory out there are strut bars. It helps tighten and hold together parts of the chassis that flex when you are going around the bend.

Polyurethane Bushings

The bushings in most cars are mostly made of rubber and in the end like the rubber sole on your shoes, they wear out and just break off. Polyurethane bushings are much more durable and tough, providing an inexpensive way to improve handling and possibly even the ride of your car.

Weight Reduction

What most people don’t realize is that weight reduction actually improves the handling of your car. Less weight means less wear on your tires and brake pads too. Parts made of carbon fiber, magnesium and titanium are all lightweight and helps reduce your vehicle’s total weight.

Coilovers 

A set of sports absorbers or coilovers is possibly the most effective method to significantly improve your car’s handling. This upgrade will keep your car stable at high speeds. It also lowers a car’s center of gravity, which increases stability.

Tire Pressure and Wheel Alignment

By adjusting the camber, toe angle and caster of your wheels you can improve the contact points of your wheels and tires on the road, which ultimately improves the stability of your car while driving on a straight line or going through a bend. Many people neglect tire pressure. Keep your tires inflated to ensure cornering stability and balanced fuel consumption. As for better tires, stickier rubber equals better grip equals improved handling.

Add-Ons

Electronic stability control (ESC) and traction control are two systems that are designed specifically for improving your car’s handling. Both units have built-in computer systems that notify your car when something goes wrong. ESC activates once your vehicle starts to lose control. Traction control gives you the ability to accelerate quickly on slippery roads.

However, just because you’ve made some modifications to your vehicle doesn’t mean physics of extreme driving doesn’t affect you. As for our exotic car rental, you can rely on our sports car and experienced instructors.