True Speed: The Opportunity

Welcome to the 1st video in this 3 part video series! In this video you’ll learn about a strategy that most aspiring racers ignore: how to quickly progress as a racing driver with minimal time and money invested.

The next video is coming out soon. BUT I want to untangle any confusion you have before we start talking about pro racing techniques. Let’s start with a clean slate.

So, what racing concept, technique, or tactic has you confused or struggling? Leave your note below (right now!) so we can straighten things out right away. -Matt


  1. I definitely need help w/ slip angles. why do we need them and how do they make you faster?

    • Hey what’s up Ben? Slip angles seem a bit complicated on the surface, but they’re actually quite simple.

      A slip angle is the difference between where a wheel/tire assembly is pointed and the direction it’s actually traveling.

      For example: during a large understeer the wheels are turned where you want to go, but they’re sliding across the driving surface in a different (forward) direction.

      That difference is the slip angle.

      But slip angles also exist at the rear wheels too.

      Another example: picture a drift car doing it’s thing. The tail is hanging out and the rear tires are travel sideways – in a different direction then the wheel/tire assembly is pointed (straight, in line with the car).

      That difference is also a slip angle.

      When you learn how manipulate slip angles at the front and rear of the car you’ll be in complete control of changing the handling characteristics of the vehicle – with no mechanical turning required.

      Does the car want to understeer? Increase rear slip angles. Does the car want to oversteer. Decrease rear slip angles.

      This is done by learning how to manipulate weight transfer of the vehicle.

      But don’t panic! There is a very thorough video later in the series that goes super in-depth about slip angles and how to use them to your advantage in racing.

  2. Did you seriously not do any tuning between the two iRacing clips in the video? That seems unlikely?

    • It’s true! I didn’t any tuning at all.

      All the examples in this video (and all the examples in later videos) are done with the default Global MX5 Cup Car settings – zero tuning.

      The only difference is how I manipulated the weight transfer in the moment to achieve different handling characteristics – and therefore different potential speeds.

      I know for a fact that you can run a 57.1 at Lime Rock Park (you’ll see in a later video) without even changing your tire pressures.

      True Speed comes from negotiating with the car to make it do what you want.

      Don’t panic, we’ll get to all that in later videos. 🙂

  3. That was a great visual example of neutral steer (or as I like to call it, “neutrasteer”) I always have to try visualizing what your explaining on the podcast or Facebook live feed by thinking back on my own driving experience or watching GoPro clips. The video instantly explains each step as you Talk about it, which is much more clear to learn from. I look forward to more videos.

    • Hey what’s up Ben?? Great to see you here in the Video Series.

      Yeah I remember the exact moment when I had the lightbulb moment where I went, “Oh my gosh! I can teach this inside iRacing!” Sooo much of a relief for me.

      You think it’s tough visualizing the podcast as a listener? Try teaching it! lol

      I’ve been on a wicked tear about neutral steer/zero steer/four wheel drifting for a while now.

      I’m really stoked about a video that comes later, in the actual course section. It’s a hyper deep dive into rotation and neutral steer.

  4. Hi Matt,
    My query relates to brake release – or more specifically how do I know how close to threshold I am in a given corner, and when to release the pedal pressure. Between engine noise, the muffling effect of the helmet etc. I’m not sure how close to the limit I am. I know its all part of the learning curve, but any tips would be appreciated.
    The car is a track specific build, with sticky tyres and individual masters, a balance bar and no booster.
    What would be handy, is a dash display for brake pressure – like a tacho – where lockup point could be indicated by a red section on a bar display. Works for my engine…
    Cheers and thanks for the great information so far.


    • Hey Steven. This is a GREAT question. First of, does your car of ABS? I’ll come back to that.

      There are several things in play here that we can talk about.

      1. Tires produce the highest amounts of grip when they are rolling AND slipping.

      For example: when accelerating out of a corner most drivers think that zero wheel spin produces the most traction – but that isn’t true. A small amount of wheel spin (maybe 3-5%) is actually grippier.

      Another example: it’s the same for braking, except opposite. When a car is slowing down, the tires produce highest levels of grip when they’re turning slightly slower than the driving surface is moving past.

      This concept is called a Slip Ratio or Percentage of Slip.

      2. At the same time, cars must be braked degressively. That means in long braking zones brake pressure must be decreased more and more as the vehicle slows.

      75% brake pressure at 90 miles per hour (the threshold in that moment) may cause the wheels to lock up at 40 miles per hour, so you may have to gradually retreat from the brakes to 65%.

      The threshold is always changing.

      This is amplified in aerodynamic cars. The braking grip (because of aero downforce) available at 160 mph could be 4Gs, while that same brake pressure will certainly cause total wheel lockup at 100 mph.

      3. Here’s the tactical part for you, Steve. I’m hoping your car has ABS. I know a lot of drivers don’t like computer assists in their cars, but in this case ABS would be an easy solution to your problem.

      NOT because you should be activating it during the braking zones (you wouldn’t want to do that), but because your car knows exactly where that fine line of threshold is. When you go over that line the car takes over and pulsates the brakes.

      ABS systems are excellent, immediate, flawless coaches to help find the threshold. If you aren’t activating the system you know you aren’t near the limit of braking. If you are, you’re over the limit.

      4. If your car doesn’t have ABS then it’s a little trickier, but still doable. The limit of braking is simply something you have to feel.

      Be aware that you need to find that 3-5% slip ratio in the braking zone, and remember that you often need to retreat from the brakes to stay at the threshold.

      Also keep in mind that not every corner requires threshold braking. Braking is often less about slowing the car down and more about making sure the weight transfer is set to give the car maximum grip through the corner.

      Don’t worry! There is a very extensive and thorough video (later, in the course section) about using the brakes to set the car up and even turn the car. Yep, you can turn the car with the brakes.

      All the best,
      Matt C

  5. Does a racecar driver drive his limit all the time in his entire race? How do I understand a car’s tire wears out in race? It will be great if you can help. 🙂

  6. Hey what’s up, Turag? Nice to meet you, thanks for jumping in on this.

    Racing drivers don’t always drive at the limit, and there are some very good reasons for that.

    There are two main speeds that a driver uses: qualifying speed and race speed.

    Qualifying laps are obviously critical to get a good place on the grid, so you’ll be pushing as hard as you possibly can.

    But since running lots of qualifying laps in a row is risky, most racers will back it down a tad for the length of the race – you have to finish the race. That’s called race pace.

    But they can also be mixed together. If you’re in a do or die situation during a race then you can run a few heater laps (qualifying type laps) to get the result you need.

    It’s all about risk VS. reward.

    These two driving speeds also relate directly to tire wear, the other thing you asked about.

    Drivers don’t care about tire wear during qualifying, because the tires only need to last a couple of laps.

    Running excessive qualifying type laps during a race can cause excessive heat in the tires – the tire temperatures begin to exceed their optimal range.

    Once tires exceed their optimal temperature range they start producing less traction AND start deteriorating rapidly.

    That’s why a road racer can absolutely dominate the first half of a race and then lose 10 spots right near the end.

    He pushed hard right from the start, exceeded the tires optimal temperature range, and the tires wore out.

    That’s what happens when you run lots of heater laps – qualifying type laps.

    Race pace allows you to have a competitive tire for the duration of the race.

  7. Hi Matt,

    Very happy to have found this resource you’ve created. I am an avid iRacing user and do some recreational karting regularly (bi-weekly basis). My question is somewhat related to rotation and neutral steer, but overall focused on maintaining momentum to improve pace. In the karts, I’ve always found on my own that less (or even zero) brake, while utilizing rotation methods, in general translates to improved lap times. I’d like to learn more about what more I can do, either related or unrelated to rotation, to maintain momentum. I am only about 3 tenths of a second of the pace of my good friend who is a very skilled kart driver, working at the facility where we practice. On iRacing, specifically Lime Rock with the MX-5 Global car, I find myself in the mid 58 second range. Thanks for your help, greatly looking forward to the remainder of your videos.
    By the way, I am also a Northeast local (Westchester, NY).

  8. Hey there Jake, so nice to meet you. It sounds as though you already have a great grip on rotation.

    I think you’re really on the right track here – momentum is the key. And I like that you singled out two specific types of rotation without brake inputs.

    There are two common ways to rotate with no brakes: turn-in and throttle lift. Using them in the proper situations will definitely help with momentum.

    Both of these types are specifically covered later in True Speed (in the course section).

    Here are a couple more things to think about to keep your momentum up.

    1. Corner exit speed. Most amateur racers try to lower their lap times in the braking zone (I’ll come back to that), when they should be focusing on the corner exit.

    Imagine two drivers taking turns in the same car in the same corner. One of them exits at 52 miles per hour and one exits at 54 miles per hour.

    On the surface it’s not that much of a difference.

    But if the straight following that corner (like the final corner at Lime Rock Park) is long then that 2 mph difference will compound for the entire straight. It adds up to a significant amount of time.

    Your number one concern on the track is higher corner exit speeds. That means…

    2. Braking zones don’t matter much. In fact, braking zones are far less about slowing the car down than setting the car up for the following corner.

    For example: an uneducated racer will wait until the very last second to brake – he believes that braking late and white knuckling the wheel will lower his lap times.

    The problem is that when a driver brakes late he has a tendency to stab at the pedal. This upsets the car and shifts an unnecessarily large amount of weight forward – making the front very heavy, and the rear very light.

    In this state the car has little potential grip. So even though he may have gained a minuscule amount of time by braking late, the car is so unbalanced that it can’t produce much grip through the corner – making him slow through the entire corner AND at the corner exit and thus the following straight.

    Another example: a pro racer will use the braking zone to make sure the car is balanced going into the corner, even if he has to start braking earlier.

    Because he’s less aggressive with the brakes he shifts less weight to the front of the vehicle, leaving the car more balanced.

    Even though he may have to give up a small amount of the time in the braking zone, he definitely makes up for it through the corner and on the following straight (the most important part).

    There’s a lot more about this in a Live Facebook Video Q&A that I did a few weeks ago.

    As a side note there’s a video later in True Speed (in the course section) where I compare two laps at Lime Rock Park to show how to drop from a 59.6 to a 57.1 – only by changing your technique.

    What are your thoughts on all this, Jake?

  9. Hey Matt!

    I’ve been simracing for a couple years now but I’m not top material.
    In the months that remain of 2017 I’m going to prepare to do a national kart championship next year.

    My main question for today would be, how can I obtain useful information to improve my racing and what would be a great method/place to start?

    I know that, to come out of nowhere into a competitive scenario I will have to be smart and I need to start working on that front.

    Thank you so much for your help!

  10. What’s up Vitor? GREAT question, let’s hit it.

    I love that you asked how to get useful information. That’s the key – getting new, high level, proven methods from people who have been there, done it, crushed, it and are willing to share.

    You’re already doing the first thing I always recommend – sim racing. You can log a billion hours for essential no cost, all in your free time.

    But before you get back into the seat, there needs to be something new to apply (or something your specifically working on mastering).

    Another inexpensive thing that you should be doing is reading. Reading is perfect for the Theory and Knowledge steps to becoming amazing at anything.

    The more you know, the more you have to implement, the faster you progress.

    I highly recommend that you read Tune To Win by Carroll Smith and Going Faster! by Skip Barber. Those are the two best racing books on the market.

    In addition, I also recommend the Racers HQ Podcast and the Speeds Secrets podcast. Both are full of exclusive interviews with world-class racing guests who will stimulate your Theory and Knowledge.

    What do you think, Vitor?

    • I am totally on the knowledge searching mindset!

      Just watched the 2nd video too and the way you explain everything is so “true” in a way that you really can pass to the viewer the confidence that you have on your words!

      You really provide such unique content.
      Thanks Matt!

      • “I am totally on the knowledge searching mindset!” YES. I love this.

        Glad to hear the second video helped you out and THANK YOU for the positive feedback. That means a lot.

        The third video will be out tomorrow. Stay tuned. -Matt

  11. Matt, thanks for your in-depth answer.

    I had already thought of getting the “Tune To Win” and some “Speed Screets” books but I still didn’t get them… Of course the “Racers HQ” material isn’t going to get on the side (way too good to let it waste haha :D)

    Once again you managed to lead me into a good path,
    Thank you Matt!

  12. Hello there, for some reqson i can hear the sound when you switch to Iracing.
    I am watching it in an Iphone.

    Thank you for the videos!!!!!

    • Hey there Hans. Thanks for checking out the video series.

      I just completed some follow up tests about the audio issue, and I can’t replicate the issue you’re seeing. I tested the audio on my iPhone and across multiple browsers.

      Try restarting your browser. If you’re not using Google Chrome, I recommend giving that a try.

  13. “The only difference is how I manipulated the weight transfer in the moment to achieve different handling characteristics – and therefore different potential speeds.”

    Nice. This is the key for getting the turning moment done, quickly.

    Smooth is NOT fast…

    • Hi Peter. Thanks so much for popping and and leaving your feedback – a very valuable thing to me.

      The smooth is not fast concept has definitely been an awesome lightbulb moment for many drivers in my crew.

      I’ve been paying attention to your virtual track walks with Ross. SUCH a brilliant idea! Let’s chat. -Matt

  14. Hey Matt,

    Thanks for the great video.

    I understand driving as close to the limit as possible is key to getting the most out of your tyres.

    Was just wondering, can you manipulate weight transfer to essentially have a ‘higher limit’?

    I feel I can drive to MY limit and get the car sliding around a bit, but maybe the way I’m balancing the car isn’t always optimal for a certain corner. How can one recognise that they’re not balancing the car well enough?

    • Hey Brad! Jake here.

      Traditionally, you can’t get a higher limit with weight transfer. You’re using that weight transfer to get optimum use of your tires. Tires only have so much grip, and weight transfer is used to maximize grip.

      The easiest ways to figure out if you’re not getting optimal balance is to see where your car is facing at corner exit. If you’re facing the outside of a corner at exit, you’re putting too much strain on the front tires. If you’re facing the inside of the track at corner exit, you’re overusing the rear tires. (i.e.- understeer/oversteer) You want the car to slip just enough to point you in the right direction at corner exit. Each corner is different and will require a different attack. Finding the “sweet spot” takes practice. I find that watching videos of faster drivers than myself on YouTube can help. Make sure to watch a video that has some telemetry on screen (most importantly throttle/brake inputs).

  15. I’ve been following Racers HQ guidance for a year now and have shown lots of progress on the track. I understand rotation and can do it on the sim, next up is real world application on the track to see how much more time I can cut off. I’ve avoided doing this until I felt comfortable with weight control, corner entry and exit, and of course trail braking. I think I’m ready now.

    My question on rotation though, is when to use this technique, and when to not use it. All corners are different. When should we not rotate? Or do we always rotate? Even in double apex carrousel turns? What about fast sweepers?

    Thank you!

    • Hey Cesar! Great question! My take on rotation is this: Use it. How much rotation depends on the line you need to take in each corner. If you’re not rotating the car, you’re not getting the most out of the tires. When it comes to double apex turns, ignore the fact that there are two apexes and make it one long corner. The car will go where you point it, and a little rotation will help you get the most out of the tires.

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