In the bleachers at the racetrack, you and a friend watch the cars as they zoom around the oval strip. Look at how they take the corners!—you shout above the roar. How do they do that without crashing?
Besides years of experience, your friend says, they’re running perfectly calibrated camber. You tell your friend that you don’t even know what camber is! She tells you that camber is the angle made when the top of a tire leans either inward or outward from a car. You might have thought that wheels sit exactly perpendicular on the road, but on most cars, the tops of tires generally tilt inward about a half of a degree. This is called negative camber. This slightly increases a tire’s contact patch with the road, giving it more stability when the body rolls going around a corner.
Racecars usually feature more aggressive camber angles than road cars. Racecars need a wider contact patch with the road in order to round corners at fast speeds. On oval racetracks, where drivers always turn left, the tops of the right-side tires are tilted so that they lean inward, while the left-side tires are adjusted so that they lean outward. This combination of camber angles achieves optimum grip and counteracts the natural tendency of the right tires to slide to the outer shoulder or lose contact with the road when rounding corners. The different camber angles on either side of the car give it more overall stability on the sloped racetrack.