Discipline Focus // Open Wheel
“Easy does it”, a phrase I often repeat to myself when I partake in a bit of Open Wheel racing, the thought that just a little too much throttle on the exit of the corner will cause the rear end to wriggle, squirm and potentially spin out is all too familiar. This is racing at its finest, where the optimal racing line and braking points are worth valuable tenths of a second.
Unlike the Touring Car discipline where drivers aren’t afraid to rub a little paint now and then, Open Wheel is all about avoiding contact as the fragile nature of the cars mean only the faintest of touches is required to put a dent in your hopes of a podium.
Slipstream is also more prominent within the Open Wheel discipline, making it a valuable tool in your arsenal as you look to progress up the field. As useful as it may be, you still have to be wary; dropping into the slipstream of the car ahead may give you an overtaking opportunity but your usual braking distance at a corner will have changed, get that wrong and it could be into the gravel trap, run off area, or worse.
Other drivers can also use your slipstream, so while you may be out in front, the driver in second place may well be lining you up, and the next thing you know you’ll be giving up a place. It’s things like this that really makes Open Wheel a special discipline to race in.
Open Wheel is precision racing at its very best.
So what makes Open Wheel special?
- Large grid sizes
- The A.I. opt for clean racing lines
- Cars of similar or pre-defined specification, usually single car class
- Sports-tuned vehicles with lots of grip
- Practice, Qualifying and Race format
- Day time races
So what about the cars?
The Open Wheel discipline is home to some great racing vehicles and track day cars, let’s take a look:
- Dallara F312
- Lola B05/52
- Dallara IndyCar
- Catherham-Lol SP300R
- Ariel Atom 3.5
- KTM X-Bow R
- Ariel Atom 500 V8
- Caparo T1
But how do they handle? Once again we catch up with our Wizard of a Car Handling Designer, Luke Stephenson who had this to say:
“For raw acceleration and agility, nothing can compare to cars from the Open Wheel discipline. These are lightweight, stiffly sprung racing machines that will change direction faster than anything else. The Open Wheel discipline includes a couple of different kinds of car: first, cars such as the Ariel Atom, which are nippy, rear-engined and love to oversteer through the corners. Then there are the mid-engine Formula cars, with thick slick rear tyres and lots of downforce, providing incredible grip that encourages drivers to attack the limits with real confidence.
Smoothness, precision and bravery will be rewarded in these cars; but with such high power to weight ratios and so much grip, drivers will need sharp reflexes to stay out of the gravel if they get it wrong”.