What do you do if it rains?

by Rob Schermerhorn on June 26, 2011

“What do you do if it rains (at the event)?”

RAIN HAPPENS! Make the best of it. I volunteered to instruct a few years ago at a one-off track day event; assigned two students that day and having fun with them in the morning (dry) it began raining just after lunch and I couldn’t find one of my students. Fifteen minutes into our session I found him (a novice), “I thought we were on ‘rain delay’” was his response to my “where have you been?” I could understand his conclusion: NO ONE WAS ON TRACK! a day with 60 participants registered.

Driving on wet racetrack Performance driving in the wet is a vital skill to learn

Reassuring him all was well and this was a somewhat rare opportunity he agreed and we had a glorious time together, the only vehicle on track for 45 minutes until some advanced drivers joined us.

That title question is #1 on our list when we (Hooked On Driving – performance drivers school) field email and phone calls prior to one of our high performance driving school events.

Here’s the short answer: We Drive!

The ideal performance driving school or racing school day at the track is a mix of dry and wet sessions; it just does not get any better! I’m sure you don’t agree with me but it’s true.

Gaining experience in the wet on a racetrack, under guidance from an experienced coach, is second to none for learning car control skills that directly translate to public road driving; plus if you think about it, when was the last time you called in to work because it was raining and you were convinced you’d crash so “put me down for a sick day”? Never, right?

Here’s what to expect during your first on-track wet weather session:
1. The car will get wet (a big deal for some owners)
2. You will drive slower vs. dry weather
3. It will feel faster than the dry, but only initially while you’re acclimating
4. If you’re following the advice of your coach you’re no more likely to drive off the track than in a dry session
5. By the end of the session the method will “click” with you
6. You’ll want to do it again!

Moisture on the surface of the track reduces grip, hence reducing the ‘prudent’ cornering speed; you experience the edge of adhesion at lower velocities vs. dry weather, you will slide, but it’s just like driving to work in the rain and making a mistake, sliding your car on the public road. We have a controlled environment and plan for this exact situation! We want you to learn car control skills and what better way?

I’ll cover the exact techniques for rain driving in a future article. So what do you think, can we change your opinion on this subject? Let me know your thoughts.

{ 3 comments }

Steve McGilvrey July 1, 2011 at 2:29 pm

I believe you can learn in this environment, just seems it would not be as much fun though.

Rob Schermerhorn July 1, 2011 at 2:34 pm

Thanks Steve! Obviously I look forward to wet sessions (too rare sometimes) but I do understand your perspective. To be successful it takes a different approach, rather than “drive fast/ drive flat-out” switch to “relax, slower pace, look for grip… increase pace as you become comfortable”. We’ll follow up on this piece with a more specific tutorial.

Rob Schermerhorn July 25, 2011 at 12:00 pm

We did have rain for about 90 minutes at our July 18th event…. The following quote from one participant driver (piloting his new $50,000 sports car, never been wet):
” I had a great time, even (or maybe especially) in the rain… Believe it or not, that was the first day I had run the windshield wipers.”

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