For our “How 2s” on stock car drafting and making pit stops, we contacted former CSU student and current sprint car driver Matt Starr, who is preparing for the upcoming season by competing on regional dirt and paved racetracks.
The concept of drafting is simple. When you pull up right be hind a car’s rear bumper, you make the car in front of you do most of the work, so that your car has more horsepower available to make a pass.
“The car in front is already pushing air up and over itself. When you get behind it the air continues to be pushed over your car without facing the same resistance,” said Starr. “The whole idea is getting air up and over your car so that you have the extra horsepower to get around the car in front.”
Drafting also can have an effect on a car’s handling. As a result of the air being pushed off of the lead car’s back bumper, stability of the rear wheels and handling is lost. This results in what is called a “loose” condition where the rear wheels have a tendency to want to slip out during turns.
For the car following the leader, the opposite is true. The front wheels lose steering capabilities and as a result the car does not want to go where the tires are pointed. This condition is referred to as being “tight.”
“The faster the track, the more you can feel the difference,” Starr said.