Racing School

The Difference Between a Race Car and a Road Car


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Many of us fantasize about driving a race car to work. The power, the acceleration and the speed seem like they would be a dream come true on the road. However street cars and race cars are far from being the same animals. Both have four wheels, an engine, and a drive train; but the similarities stop there. Although the racing circuits are a main contributor of new technology that does make its way to the street, the technology in its raw racing form would probably be all but unmanageable for an everyday driver. Here are some key differences between race and road cars.


Power Manageability

Especially in the world of sports cars, manufacturers put a great deal of effort into making the power that the engine produces manageable for everyday driving. Race cars put out raw power and it is largely up to the driver to filter that force as the car is driven. For example, the clutch in a race car doesn’t do much to dampen the engagement shock when the driver lets off the clutch pedal. All the dampening is done manually. The driver varies the way they engage the clutch under different conditions. In a road car, the vehicle itself has special systems to help the driver manage power effectively, like dual-mass flywheels, spring dampeners, and traction control systems. Without these special considerations, a race car could be all but undrivable for an average motorist.


Suspension and Ride

Similar to issues with power manageability, the ride of a race car would definitely leave something to be desired under road conditions. Race suspensions are extremely stiff and transmit even the finest textures of the road to the driver. In racing conditions this is a good thing, allowing the driver to “read” the road surface and keep a good handle on traction availability. On the road, this would be a nightmare and may well rattle the teeth right out of your head. Road cars are equipped with more versatile suspensions that not only perform well in a variety of conditions, but also insulate the passengers from uncomfortable bumps and vibrations.


Service Life

Road cars are built with a long life in mind. Nowadays there isn’t any reason not to expect any new car to perform reliably for hundreds of thousands of miles. They are built to last. This is not the case with race cars. A race engine is built with one thing in mind: big power. Race engine components are built to be light and strong, but in most cases, they don’t have to last much longer than the end of one race. Race teams routinely rebuild engines before each and every event to make sure their motor is in peak condition. This keeps them competitive, but it also means that a race car certainly won’t earn any awards for long life.


Although it might seem like a dream come true to zip straight to the office every day in record time driving your favorite race team’s car, keep in mind the sacrifices these cars make for their extreme speed. Then you’ll probably be happy you’re in a regular vehicle.

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