Grip-it & Slip-it!

There’s grip on the other side of slip, I was advised by a fellow corner worker (and much better autocrosser) one year at the SCCA Dixie National Tour event. I want to explain what I think he meant and then add to it.

The figure shows the typical shape of a modern high-performance street tire’s lateral force vs. slip angle curve, starting from the transition section and continuing some distance beyond the peak.

slip

As autocrossers, we couldn’t care less what happens to the left of line A. But, take a look at B to C after the peak. Not much of anything happens, really, except the tire keeps on gripping after the peak is reached, even as more and more of the contact patch starts to slide. Look how gradual the decrease. That’s the grip on the other side of slip.

What does this mean to us as autocrossers who don’t care about tire wear? It means we don’t worry about exceeding the peak! If we operate anywhere in the range from A to C we are doing well. The tighter around the peak, the better.

Now, another thing to notice: Look at the graph and estimate the average Force value between A and B. Now do the same for the average Force value from B to C. Which one is greater? The average Force from B to C is higher. If we have to choose between A-B or B-C, B-C has the higher average grip level. We will be faster there, going around a corner, on the other side of the peak.

There’s one drawback to operating beyond the peak in the range B-C: some folks will accuse us of over-driving. My answer? “Yeah, I know. I’m working on it.” Then I just keep on grippin’ & slippin’.

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