January 18, 2023

The Definitive Guide to Racing a High Horsepower Car

Dion von Moltke

Car Racing

The Definitive Guide to Racing a High Horsepower Car Image

One of the most frequent comments I hear while coaching is, “well that doesn’t work in my car”. So, I wanted to dive into a little more detail on the nuances of different types of cars. And also cover how we adjust our driving to match the car.

In this article, we’re going to break down how to drive high-horsepower race cars. Before we start, I want to make one thing clear. I do not change the fundamentals of how I drive a racecar fast when I drive different cars.

How I approach driving a Spec Miata vs. a Porsche 911 GT3RS Cup Car vs. a Daytona Prototype vs. a DTM car is about 98% - 99% the same. It’s the nuances of that last 1% or so that matter and change here.

Okay, now that we have that out of the way, let’s dive in!

Adjustments to Make When Racing a High-Horsepower Racecar

1. Where you pick up the throttle REALLY matters

If you take away one thing from this article I want it to be this. The single biggest adjustment I make when hopping into a high-horsepower car is focused on where I pick up my initial throttle in a corner.

Where drivers can get in trouble in high-horsepower cars is when they try to put the throttle down too aggressively with too much steering input in the car. What typically causes this? Being too early to throttle.

I focus heavily on timing my initial throttle application to coincide with my hands beginning to unwind the steering wheel. If I am not ready to unwind the steering wheel and I begin to accelerate I will induce more understeer into the car.

Want to learn more about where to time your initial throttle application? Click here!

That understeer means when I get to the point of the corner exit where I want to aggressively get to throttle I will have more steering input. That means I’m asking for the tires to give me lateral grip and they, therefore, have less grip to give me for traction.

That means I have less grip to put the throttle down than I normally would. At a minimum, this means I’m hurting my lap times, but it also means the car is at higher risk of snapping around on me as I accelerate hard out of corners.

2. Optimize For Full Throttle

When it comes to how to generate the ultimate lap-time in a high-horsepower car I will optimize more for getting back to full throttle over having a higher minimum speed.

This is where there is a ton of nuance involved in the conversation and the difference between the types of cars is there but very small. To help show the difference let’s use a real-life example.

This all applies more to sweeper-style corners or medium & high-speed corners. So, let’s use Turn 4 at Laguna Seca. Turn 4 is a sweeper, medium speed corner, that is an exit speed corner. It’s all about finding the balance between roll speed in and where we get back to full throttle.

In a high-horsepower car, I’m very focused on trying to get back to full throttle about 1.5 car lengths after the apex point. Where in a momentum car I would be okay with rolling in relatively a little more entry speed and working back to full throttle about 1 or so car lengths later. Notice how the differences I’m speaking about here are minute, but they do matter.

3. Smoother Throttle Applications

This one may sound obvious… but it’s worth adding! When you have more power to put down, you need more tire grip to be able to provide that traction. Typically, the level of grip in high-horsepower cars doesn’t increase at the same rate as the power increases, which means we are fighting traction more.

In any car, I always think about Andy Lally’s saying, “Butter smooth on entry, cowboy on exit.” We have a whole article on that quote I HIGHLY recommend that you can view by clicking here.

What Andy Lally is saying here is that on exit we need to do anything we can to get back to and keep full throttle. Once we start progressively adding throttle we never want to have to reduce or lift off the throttle. So, I’m making sure I’m progressive enough to not spin the tires and have to lift off the throttle.

4. Longer Trail Brake

This coaching point is a little more dependent car to car, but generally, in a higher horsepower car, I’m going to trail brake deeper into a corner.

The reason here is I want more rotation in the corner, so my hands are straighter at corner exit. This takes more lateral load out of the car at exit while I’m trying to put the power down which will give me more traction as the tires have more grip to give.


I want to make it very clear that my adjustments in a high-horsepower car are small. It’s that subtle last 1% or 2% that I change, but by in large how I drive a low horsepower car and a high horsepower car is the same.

I don’t really change my lines or fundamentals. I make small adjustments to four key areas:

  1. Where I pick up my initial throttle application
  2. Where I get back to full throttle
  3. How smooth I am when picking up the throttle
  4. How deep into a corner I trail brake

I hope this has been helpful!

If you want to make sure you are driving a high-horsepower car safely and effectively I highly suggest you start working 1-on-1 with one of our Blayze coaches today! To learn more about getting started with your pro coach click here.

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About the coach

Dion von Moltke

Daytona 24 Hour Winner

Car Racing

I've spent 20 years of my life in this sport that we all love so much. During that time I was fortunate enough to have a 10 year professional career where I won the Rolex at Daytona 24 hour, the Sebring 12 Hour (twice), and became an official driver for Audi. After retiring from professional racing I became a co-founder at Blayze. My goal with building this platform is to make it more affordable, accessible, and convenient to learn personally from the best coaches in the world!

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