Is a looser set faster?

Mark A Carpenter made an interesting statement about his growing capacity to handle and drive looser sets than before. It is a common place for the people improving its driving style and usually something happening through time, but it is funny to find a written thought about it.

I’ll throw some of my own rambling out there from an “ok” driver point of view. I don’t have the extensive sim background that many here have, so most of my driving and setup skills were developed in unison through iRacing.

I didn’t race much until I hit Class D. I was noticing that many people were driving sets waaaay too loose for their current skill level. I also had the issue that many of the sets posted in the forum were too loose for me, so I started building sets that I labeled “Easy to Drive” in an effort to give myself a better chance to finish a race, not only by preventing myself from spinning, but hopefully those around me. For my driving skill at the time, they felt neither tight nor loose to me, but they were tight and slow for the faster guys. The sets let me finish a race, though, so that made them faster sets than the “loose/fast” ones for me.

As my driving skill developed alongside my crew chief skill, I started to make looser and looser sets. I eventually dropped the “Easy to Drive” moniker, as I felt that no longer represented the sets well (though that’s hard for me to determine myself). The sets didn’t feeler looser to me, at least not in the sense that they wanted to spin on me, but they did get looser in that the car turned better and increased my lap times.


As I started using the looser sets, I started to flirt with what I call “the edge”. It’s that narrow point where, if you can keep your car balanced on it, you get blazing fast lap times. (I still haven’t gotten any alien times, so take this with a grain of salt; they may be doing something different.) The best way I can describe how that feels to me is that it’s like being up on two wheels: not the physics of it, but that it has that kind of really fine balance that requires some amazing car control skill.

If you don’t push the edge, you run on “all four” and are pretty safe. You may still spin out from a sudden jerk of the wheel or by taking a bad line, but the car itself is pretty stable. With my older sets, I pretty much never ran up on the edge. I could still get ok lap times, especially in relation to others in my division (and several people had won div championships with my old sets [some blatant self promotion there]), but they were very stable and safe.

If you push the edge too far, you “roll over”, which translates to the rear letting go you plopping you into a spin.

“The edge” is that balancing point between the two, and at my current driving level, it’s pretty darn narrow. When I first started, it was tissue thin and I couldn’t even recognize it. As I tried to find it, I would go from “all four” (stable) to “roll” (spin) in a flash, so I had to slowly work my way up to finding it.

Right now, I can sometimes find it for a whole corner, and sometimes for multiple corners spread around multiple laps, but that’s really flirting with disaster, though that depends on the vehicle. In the LM, I can play with it all day and probably won’t spin at this point, unless I’m really off. If I miss and overshoot, the worse that usually happens is I’ll burn up the RR too quickly and have to do some counter-steering. But in something like the ImpA, a spin is still a real possibility. I’m more likely to try to maintain the edge in the LM to keep my speed up. (Though I’m not a very consistent driver, so my LM speeds still aren’t “fast”.)

So when it comes to sets, I think it’s a matter of where you place “the edge”. I’ll try to represent what I think is going on graphically.

< is too tight, so the car will push
= is neutral, so the car will neither push nor spin
> is too loose, so the car will spin
| is the edge
[ and ] are the range that the set covers along most oval lines

The HoF sets for the ImpA are pretty much tight all they time, so they would be


When I built EtD sets, I tried for ones that would allow only up to the edge, but not a spin ([<<==|]), but that’s so difficult to achieve (and depends on the driver and line), to keep them safe, they usually ended up like


They were overall tight, but you could drive them fairly neutral and get some speed out of them if you pushed them right.

This might be a average fast set (which I am aiming for now).


It might be tight in some parts of the corner for some lines, but you can get it up on the edge and push it far enough to spin. A pro set would be faster, but these would be more versatile for most people.

I imagine a pro set would be something like


This would be really difficult for a new person to drive. The car will turn very easy, and there isn’t much breathing room before you get up on the edge (pros don’t need much), so it’s it doesn’t take much to go past it and spin.

That’s a pretty simplistic way to look at it, but hopefully it helps some.

References: Tight vs. loose

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