RaceLeague – How to Race on Ovals

This guide will teach you how to turn left. You might think it’s easy, but you will find that ovals aren’t as simple as you once thought.

Guide to Race on Ovals

What is Oval Racing?

Oval racing began at the end of the prohibition era when moonshiners of the southeast United States would modify their cars to go faster. Once alcohol was legal they had nothing to do with these cars, so they started racing them. The first stock car tracks were either on beaches, dirt, or public roads. They would turn left as to imitate horse racing tracks and because the driver side was on the left, giving the driver more visibility. As the sport started to grow in popularity the modern oval track was born. Paved ovals with banked corners allowed for the cars to reach higher speeds. These paved ovals took over the southeast and soon the country.

Oval Racing Doesn’t Seem That Hard, It’s Just Turning Left!

You may think that oval racing is just turning left, but that is far from the truth. In oval racing there are many different tracks such as superspeedways, where you are at full throttle all the way around the track, or short tracks, where you have to let off the gas and sometimes brake to get through the corner, and even intermediate tracks, where you have to let off the gas a little bit to get through.

How Do I Oval Race Then?

In oval racing there are many things that can help you win. One of the biggest things a driver can take advantage of is the wind. When a car is driving at high speed, it punches a hole in the air. You can take advantage of this pocket which will pull you forward, this is known as the slipstream, or draft.

Another useful technique is the bump draft. Bump drafting is when you use the draft to get to a higher speed than the driver in front of you, and instead of passing them you bump into their rear bumper. This causes the car in front to go faster and thus pull you along quicker. Please keep in mind to not bump draft if the cars have pointed rear or front bumpers, or if you are in an open wheel car.

The final techniques are what I like to call “Driving Like Dale” because nobody could drive like Dale.

Driving like Dale is simple. You drive clean until somebody makes contact with you. You catch up to them, and spin them into the wall. Another way to drive like Dale is to do the “bump and run” where you go into their bumper and either push them high and out of the way or you just wreck them. Either way people will hate you but you will win.

What is the Point of Going in Circles?

This comes up when most people ask about oval racing. I often respond with “We actually race in ovals” to be funny, but when you break it down to the simplest terms, oval racing is close to the same as horse racing and road racing. We race in ovals not to get anywhere, but to feel the thrill and excitement of going 200+ mph in a hot metal box. We want to push the very limits of the human body and mind. Oval racing is so much more than turning left: it is the fans, the thrill, the rivalries, the personalities, the tracks, oval racing is the embodiment of America and though that is used as a negative generalization, it is quite true that we have built so much off the back of oval racing.

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