Video: Open Wheel vs. Closed Wheel Racing

There are a number of routes any young, aspiring driver can take to try and form a career, but often, many are under the impression that there’s an ideal route. In reality, there’s no such thing. Most of the time, people have to try and find whatever seat presents itself to them, since money-no-object racing is out of the question for many a driver.

However, it seems drivers these days will get their start racing open wheeled machines. What the open wheeled machine can offer, as we delved into in our karting feature not long ago, is an intensity and response that’s hard to find elsewhere in the racing world. The dartiness and nervousness inherent in most lightweight open wheelers, also known as single seaters across the pond, hone a driver’s reactions and force smooth, meticulous inputs from the driver.

They also guarantee to teach the idea of momentum and how to conserve it. While this can be learned in just about any category of racing, the open-wheel cars at the lower rungs of the ladder boast huge grip and little power and make any loss of momentum immediately noticeable. Additionally, the lack of fenders forces drivers to compete cleanly without any bumping or nudging, since the fragile framework does not allow for horseplay. Because of these two aspects, learning just how to position a car in relation to a competitor’s becomes apparent in a short period of time.

http://2.bp.blogspot.com/-A6rM3htnWkA/UZj7qkMuApI/AAAAAAAAABk/fAyG4bP0Yow/s1600/Paulo.jpg

Low-power, responsive cars like this Formula Ford 1600 give any driver the fundamentals they need to be successful, and force them to compete cleanly.

These skills help any driver on their way, but eventually, reality will come knocking harshly, and if their father isn’t a business magnate or a real estate mogul, they will have to choose whatever options are available, if they’re so lucky. Quite often, GT cars, also known as tin tops, offer the promising young driver a paying career that tends to last a bit longer than the typical open wheel career. GT categories are numerous and since many of them involve two or more drivers sharing a car, there are more seats available.

Open wheel cars are lighter and require an exceptionally delicate touch to get the most from them, and not to imply that closed wheel cars don’t, but their responses are generally a bit slower than those of an open wheeler. Sometimes different techniques, like curb hopping, actually help rotate a bigger, softer machine — just take a look at V8 Supercars and the shenanigans they get up to.

http://www.btcc.net/wp-content/uploads/2014/12/1578735.0003-720x400.jpg

Conversely, closed wheel – like these BTCC cars – encourage a bit of nudging and bumping.

Whatever the route taken, finding a foothold in the racing world takes talent, guts, business acumen, marketability, and money. Especially money. It’s a shame that there are only so many seats available for those frothing at the mouth for a racing career, but that’s reality. If luck smiles upon a young driver, they’ll have to understand the commercial realities of motorsport and try to coalesce those as best with their own personal ambitions, which is no small task, since whichever route they take, they’ll have to love the machinery to really excel.

About the author

Tommy Parry

Tommy Parry has been racing and writing about racing cars for the past seven years. As an automotive enthusiast from a young age, he worked jobs revolving around cars throughout high school, and tried his hand on the race track on his 20th birthday. After winning his first outdoor kart race, Tommy began working as an apprentice mechanic to amateur racers in the Bay Area to sharpen his mechanical understanding. He has worked as a track day instructor and automotive writer since 2012, and continues to race karts, formula cars, sedans, and rally cars in the San Francisco region.
Read My Articles

The Art of Driving delivered to your inbox.

Build your own custom newsletter with the content you love from Turnology, directly to your inbox, absolutely FREE!

Free WordPress Themes
Turnology NEWSLETTER - SIGN UP FREE!

We will safeguard your e-mail and only send content you request.

TURNology - Subscribe to our Newsletter

We'll send you raw engine tech articles, news, features, and videos every week from TURNology.

TURNology - Subscribe to our Newsletter

Turnology NEWSLETTER - SIGN UP FREE!

We will safeguard your e-mail and only send content you request.

TURNology - Subscribe to our Newsletter

Thank you for your subscription.

Subscribe to more FREE Online Magazines!

We think you might like...



Engine Tech

Hot Rods & Muscle Cars

Corvette Enthusiasts

TURNology - Subscribe to our Newsletter

Thank you for your subscription.

Subscribe to more FREE Online Magazines!

We think you might like...

  • Engine Tech
  • Hot Rods & Muscle Cars
  • Corvette Enthusiasts

TURNology - Subscribe to our Newsletter

Thank you for your subscription.

Thank you for your subscription.

TURNology - Subscribe to our Newsletter

Thank you for your subscription.

Thank you for your subscription.

Loading