3. Chemical Makeup The chemical makeup of the compound of the rubber will help determine how much traction is available from a tire. A softer tire will provide more traction, but the maximum amount of traction that can be utilized over a long period of time concerns how the tire holds up to heat and wear. A tire that is a little harder may sometimes hold up better and be faster toward the end of the race when the tires have built up a lot of heat and are well worn after a number of laps.

4. Angle of Attack The amount of traction available from a tire can actually be enhanced by simply increasing its angle of attack relative to the direction the car is traveling, but only up to a point. From going straight ahead, we can turn the wheel, and, with each degree of angle of deviation from the direction of travel, the traction in the tire increases up to a point.

There is a limit in the angle of attack that we reach where the gain in traction begins to go away. Going beyond that limiting point causes a sudden loss of grip, and traction falls off drastically. This principle is true of all four of our tires. This is a very important point to consider because it is at the very core of handling balance. We regulate our handling balance with the steering wheel within a small range of difference in front-to-rear traction.

5. Equal Loading An opposing pair of tires (tires on the same axle at the same end of the car) will develop maximum traction when they are equally loaded. That is a generally true statement that has been made many times in the past in countless publications. Upon more careful examination of how we do things in circle track racing, there is a unique situation in which that is not exactly true.

That situation is when we have a tire on one side of the car (usually the left side) that is built with a softer compound than the opposing tire, whereby it may be able to develop more grip under the same loading as the opposing tire. So increasing the vertical load on the inside tire with the goal of attaining equal loading for both tires, by whatever means, may not actually generate more traction because of the difference in grip per pound of vertical loading created by differences in compounds.

Track Configuration The shape of the track for both dirt and asphalt can influence the available traction in several different ways. As we apply power, we need to know a little about how the track is banked, how the banking angle is changing coming off the corners, and how the radius of the turn might be changing. A highly banked racetrack is very forgiving when it comes to needing traction. The car creates a greater amount of downforce than a flatter track due to the banking and associated lateral forces. Many times, the tires are loaded to the extent that the available horsepower cannot break the tires loose. The tracks at which we worry about increased cornering forces and increased bite getting off the corners are the ones that are flatter and have less surface grip.

Pitch Angle The severity of change in banking angle of the racing surface in the portion of the track where we are initially accelerating can cause changes to the pitch angle of the chassis that works to unload one or more tires, which can reduce forward traction. A track that goes from high banking to low banking fairly quickly can cause the left-rear tire to unload quickly, making the car loose. There are two ways this can happen. One is when the outside edge of the track drops in elevation and the right-front tire follows the drop-off, which, in turn, lifts weight off the left-rear tire. This causes loss of traction in that tire.

The other problem occurs when the inside edge of the track rises to match the elevation of the outside edge of the track. As the left-front tire rises, the LF and RR pair of tires become more loaded momentarily, causing loss of loading in the opposing pair of tires. The loss of crossweight (RF to LR) makes the car lose traction in the rear.