Why is a manual transmission better for racing?

Car transmission transfers torque from your engine to your wheels, through the driveshaft and the differential. It also gives the driver more control over your vehicle’s speed and engine by ensuring the engine runs efficiently in the optimum RPM band.

Manual cars are becoming more extinct as the automobile industry advances. Professional racing competitions, such as NASCAR, still use manual vehicles to this day. As a result, one cannot help but question, ‘why is a manual transmission better for racing?’

Automatic vs. manual racing

Traditional automatic transmissions felt more sluggish and accelerated far much slower than their manual counterparts. As such, it gave rise to the belief that manual vehicles were faster than automatic cars.

However, automatic cars accelerate faster than manual cars, because the driver does not need to press on the clutch pedal to shift gears.

However, professional drivers of manual vehicles, such as race car drivers, know precisely when their engine requires a gear change, even before it is time to shift the gears. By predicting their driving conditions, they take advantage by generating more power and speed and shifting gears, when the engine needs it.

In racing competitions, you want to produce more power and speed than your opponent. With an automatic vehicle, you have to wait for the gearbox to automatically change the gears and boost your torque and power. This may translate into sluggish racing performance.

In manual vehicles, a race car driver has full control of the engine’s ability to produce power and rotational force. This ensures achievement of maximum speed in the shortest time possible.

Why are manual cars faster in races?

Manual transmissions give the driver more control, in terms of power and speed when driving, when compared to traditional automatic vehicles. Depending on the driver’s skill, there are a few driving tips one can use to win a racing competition against an automated vehicle.

However, after a while, manual cars were inadvertently viewed to promote driving mistakes, especially when driving at such high speeds as those seen in racing competitions. Similarly, automatic transmissions were found to change gears quite slowly in races, making them inadequate for racers.

However, NASCAR racers utilize a four-speed manual vehicle for all its races. These manual vehicles do not use synchros, meaning drivers can change the gears at any time as long as they match the road speed.

By simply feeling the road and the vehicle, drivers know when to change the gears to obtain power and speed. They do not have to use the clutch; thus, saving on time, contrary to popular belief.

The sound and feel of the vehicle enable the driver to know when to shift gears after matching the road speed, even without the use of the gauge.As a result, automakers came up with a solution for the pursuit of pure speed and control that the racing community required.

Continuously Variable Transmissions (CVT) and automated manual transmissions are better racing options than the traditional manual and automatic transmissions. CVT vehicles are the standard gearbox for many modern cars as they deliver incomparably fast performance and excellent fuel economy.

Can an automatic beat a manual car?

Can an automatic beat a manual car?

An automatic vehicle accelerates quicker than a manual one. When starting an automatic car, you do not have to press on the clutch pedal and let go of the gas pedal, ensuring the engine is in proximity with the torque’s sweet spot.

Automatic cars do not have gear shifting since it does this automatically with the help of computers and processors.  As such, the energy from the engine transfers to the steering wheel as quickly and smoothly as possible.

Therefore, this quick energy transfer facilitates the fast acceleration in automatic vehicles; hence, the possibility of automatic cars beating a manual car. However, in races, drivers are accustomed to feeling the speed and manipulating the engine to produce maximum speed and rotational force.

They shift gears with excessive ease and efficiency. Racing car acceleration depends entirely on a driver’s skill to swiftly change gears without reducing the car’s momentum as opposed to the vehicle’s ability itself.


Racing enthusiasts believe manual vehicles offer the real driving experience as opposed to automatic cars. However, some racing brands use an automated vehicle (well, semi-automatic).

Therefore, when asking, ‘why is a manual vehicle better for racing,’ consider the controllability of the car and driver’s skill when driving in any condition.

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