Understanding The Apex of a Corner

We’re here at the end of the sunset straight, which is a fairly quick area of Reno Fearnley. The cars are coming down anywhere from 65 to a 90 or 100 miles an hour. At a track day, we always want to remember that we’re driving at seven-tenths so the cars have come in. The way they get through this turn is really critical. We really want to come in slow and exit on the throttle as soon as we can. What I’ve got is three cones here illustrating how not to do it. For beginners, they may have a tendency to break for the turn without slowing down and turn in too soon. They’ve prevented themselves from having the opportunity to make the full arc of the term. They’ve started the arc and that arc is going to carry them the wrong direction. That direction will be just out to the edge of the track where they can probably just turn around and get back on the line for the next turn.

However if they are going more than seven-tenths, that’s where it can bite you. You can go off headed at the unintended consequences of that little tire wall. That’s the early apex. Most drivers, even new drivers and more mature drivers have been taught to drive down the middle of the lane on the highways. It’s only a safe way to do it. It would be natural for someone to drive down here, learning the line and feeling that the safest thing to do is to stay right in the middle of the road. A potential problem, which happens with most streetcars is your car is going to understeer and never be able to get a proper attitude to be able to accelerate out of the turn.

As the drivers progress through the end of the turn, the car is still fighting to go through the outside of the turn and they haven’t gotten to be able to get control of the car and accelerate. The problem with driving down the middle of the track is you may wear out your front tires. It might be really exciting and you might be having fun, but you won’t be going as fast as you’ll be way out here before you get on the throttle. That’s not the best way to go either. This time we’re going to come into this turn and we’re going to get it right. In that process, you’re going to learn one of the most important things to driving quickly, smoothly and safely around a track and that is using the entire track. Start on the outside of the entry, going to the inside, then to the middle of the turn and use the track by exiting all the way to what we would call the track out point on the outside of the turn.

Another way to look at this is we can actually make a 180 degree turn into roughly a 160-degree turn by softening the arc. What we’ll do to make this happen is come into the turn. We’ll get on the brakes a little bit earlier and we’re going to go straight a little past the arc of the turn and give up a little bit of speed at the beginning of the turn. This time we’re coming around the turn coming toward the apex. If we get it right, we actually can be driving down the end of this turn, feeding the throttle hopefully before the apex, which is way faster.

Now we’re about to leave this beautifully taken turn after we’ve done the asymmetrical late apex. We’ve got the car in a nice straight line coming out of the turn, and I’ve put two cones down there that might be a little bit confusing to you. The one on the left represents what we would call a pinched exit. This pinched exit creates the need to go into the right and really adds turn to the next turn ahead of us. Now if we let the car out to a true track out point, this car is on the throttle on a straight line, going all the way out. Bottom line is letting the car use the whole track. That is the fastest way to get down to that next term.

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