Looking at a ‘new’ corner, I think we all understand the concept of ‘outside-inside-outside’, to maximize the arc or radius. I know my Dad brought that knowledge to us back to Opelika, Alabama after his first visit to Sebring, as a spectator. That was 1957, and he never missed another until 2006! So in his honor, and since he designed it in 1986, let’s look at turn one at Sebring, a fast, left hand ‘blind’ apex corner.
First off, what is your goal here? “Get thru it as fast as you can”???
Does that mean not brake much (we’ll address next time) run Full Throttle by the apex?? Turn in under power??
Well, the line and grip are the two key factors here, and right now, we don’t know either one. We know it turns left (even tho you can’t see thru it) So we start with the first physics equation I ever understood. Mark Donahue’s 15gr=(mph) squared, as taught to me the first day I joined Skip Barber, by Bruce MacInness, in 1984.
15 is a constant, so no focus here, but the G stands for grip and the R for radius. I don’t know either on my first lap!
So very simply, and this posting coulda started right here
“over slow the entry from the extreme right side, it’s a left hand turn, (within 2 feet of right wall at Sebring) ride a bit of brake pedal just beyond the end of the wall and gently bend the car in, looking for a LATE apex.
The later the apex, the more road left over at the exit, which means your body work repair bill, or laundry bill, won’t go up this lap.
Now we have a ‘feel’ for the corner, and with road left over, can work on turning a little bit earlier and perhaps adding a little more power a little sooner.
We have to pause here to look at our first goal, “get a feel”, or “site picture” for this corner so we can slowly add speed. And never run off the road!
But, one of our worstest* natural instincts is to ‘early apex’. 1/3 of all crashes are caused by ‘running out of road’ at the exit, due to early turn-in or too much power. So that’s why we have to force ourselves to ‘overslow’ and turn late initially.
So on lap 2, let’s turn a little earlier (where did you turn lap one?), which will give us a little earlier ‘angle of attack’ to the apex, and should use up more road at the exit. Lap 3, earlier still…with our goal to finally use all the road at the exit. When you have finally turned TOO early, you won’t be able to unwind your hands on the way to the outside, or add the last bit of power. If you have to lift or add steering, you’re way too early. The exit of every corner tells us if we’re “OK”, with these clues:
A: Unwinding steering from apex out
B: Progressively adding power toward exit
C: Read your redneck data. At the exit, glance at your tach or speedometer. That is INSTANT feedback on your progress, or lack of.
I often coach from the right seat, with my own AIM or SOLO set to MPH so I can actually read minimum speeds IN the corner, in addition to the exit…
We haven’t yet addressed your most valuable asset, your EYES! And I know you’ve heard this a thousand times, the car will go WHERE YOU LOOK! Good or bad. What drives the car? The hands and the feet. They can’t see over the dashboard! As you approach the turn in, get your eyes toward the apex! That tells the feet when to start releasing some brake, and how much, and tells the hands how much to ‘bend’ the car in.
In a type 1 corner (leads on to a straight away), EXIT SPEED is king.
But the ‘sweet spot’ of speed in your race car is trailbrake entry speed, which we’ll address in a future post..
SO: Slow more than you think you may need to, turn later than you want to, and you’ll live longer than you plan to!! Slow in, fast out. Fast in, NO out!
TURN IN: When your outside front tire leaves the edge of the road
APEX: The inside of the corner you want to ‘touch’ or be very close to. BUT, the proper ‘angle’ is critical. If your headlite gets there and immediately wants to ‘leave’, you may be ‘early’. Your ‘elbow’ should get there. Like shooting pool, it’s a game of ‘angles’.
TRACK OUT, or EXIT: When car touches outside edge and your hands should be straight and throttle WAO. Time to read the tach/speedo.
Terry L. Earwood
Former Chief Instructor Skip Barber Racing School
1973 U.S. National Drag Racing Super Stock Champion
Winningest Driver Firestone Firehawk/Motorola Cup, 1996National Champion.
2014 Baja 1000 Class C Champion
Current Trans Am Series Driver Development Manager