Asphalt Racing vs. Dirt Track Racing: The Surface

Sumit Bhatnagar

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When the drivers and the teams make a transition from asphalt racing to dirt track racing, the most obvious change that has to be taken care of is the ‘track's surface’.

In both the cases, the nature of the surface is entirely different. In most cases, Asphalt is hard and fairly smooth. It stays consistent in the amount of grip it gives.

On the other hand, Dirt can be under the sun in any condition. However, this depends on the material used for the surface, the grading, the moisture content and also, whether or not ruts and holes have developed over the course of an event.

Owing to its ever-changing characteristics, dirt track is much harder to plan for.

The interesting fact is that as the track crew waters the dirt tracks during the afternoon before the first practice, the dirt tracks are fairly tight with lots of grip in the beginning.

The surface material becomes drier and more compact as the event proceeds. Finally, it either goes to a black-slick condition or becomes very dry-slick with loose material covering the surface.

It is, therefore, of utmost importance to constantly evaluate the changing grip characteristics. Accordingly, the team must be ready to make adjustments in order to be successful on a dirt track.

Bear in mind that a car that is set up for higher g-forces will be good in practice and may be qualifying as well.

The track becomes slicker and the g-forces go down as more laps are run. A setup that is good at a higher level of g-force is considered to be ‘loose’.

Therefore, the team should attempt to make the necessary setup changes and should also know exactly what changes to make and how far to go with those changes.

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