Road Course Terminology
High Performance Road Course Driving Terminology
If you are new to the sport of high performance driving, there are certain things you need to know. It would be in your best interest to review this page prior to driving on track for the first time. If you have an instructor, he/she will be using this terminology while giving instructions.
Knowing this will also increase your overall level of safety & performance.
The point during the corner where the car comes closest to the inside edge of the turn.
An early apex occurs when the car touches the inside edge of the track too soon which will cause the car to run out of track at the corner exit unless you slow the car and/or increase the turning of your steering wheel. Remember though, your tires can only do so much at one time. If you slow the car and turn at the same time, the car must be going slower than if you did either function alone.
A late apex occurs when the car touches the inside edge of the road further around the corner than necessary, leading the to the car to use less than the full track width at the exit of the corner unless the driver begins to unwind the steering wheel and/or accelerates the car.
The vehicle dynamics of front vs. rear end grip. In cornering, the aim is to get a balance of front and rear cornering traction. In braking, it is a matter of having the front and rear ends of the car do their appropriate share of braking in proportion to their different downloads.
Proper balancing of the car is essential in high performance road course driving. It is a main factor in obtaining higher speeds in a safe and controlled environment.
“BLIP” The Throttle
In order to perform a proper downshift at higher speeds, a throttle “blip” enables an increased engine RPM to allow the engine speed to match the driveline speed for smooth engagement of the next lower gear. This is usually done while braking which means; you are using the brake and the gas pedals at the same time. This is NOT something you learn at the track. You should practice this technique, often called "heel & toe" downshifting at lower speeds on a clear highway. You perfect it at the track, but learn it elsewhere. Missing a throttle blip and downshifting while turning can cause you to spin.
This is a specific point prior to corners where you must be on the brakes, slowing the car for the turn. If you go past your brake point at a high rate of speed, you will not make the turn. It is in your best interest, and will be MUCH safer to begin your laps by braking EARLY into a turn and then slowly gaining the skill and confidence to brake later. You also have more to gain by working on your exit speed.
CONSTANT RADIUS CORNER
This is a corner which can be defined by a single radius throughout the entire corner.
This is the area where you are decelerating while making your turn into the corner. Once you begin the corner, you will then slowly begin to apply throttle, all the way through the turn. You may also hear your instructor refer to this as your "Turn in Point".
DECREASING RADIUS CORNER
This is typically a corner where the first section of the turn has a larger radius than the second part of the turn.
DEEP "into a corner"
This is where you delay your corner entry "turn in" as long as possible. This allows for several things, one of which is a "late apex".
The speed a car can attain at the "track out" point of the corner and consequently the speed carried onto the following straight.
This is one of the most important parts of high performance road course driving, working on obtaining higher exit speeds. This is where you can greatly decrease your lap times.
HEEL and TOE DOWNSHIFTING
This is where you "blip" the throttle in order to synchronize gears while downshifting, and at the same time continuing to have constant pressure on the brake pedal. This is not something you will learn quickly. In fact, it could take a very long time to master it, but if you never start practicing it, you will not get proficient at it.
INCREASING RADIUS CORNER
Entering a corner where the radius of the early section of the corner is tighter than the radius of the later section.
This occurs when you lift off the gas pedal, even if a small amount.
Be cautioned, lifting while in a corner can be very dangerous. It can cause the rear of the car to get light and spin around to the front. Knowing “when to lift” will prevent you from carrying too much speed into a corner.
This is the "best" path around the course. The "line" can vary with track conditions and the type of car you are driving as well as the type of tires you are using. You are looking to find the "fast line" around the track.
This can also be termed as "Oversteer" and can cause the front of the car to turn better than anticipated and would cause the rear end comes around.
Adding a bit of steering, usually in the second half of a turn to make up for an early apex. Don't pinch if don’t you have to. Let the car track out to the edge of the track.
This would be a point on the track that you can visualize in order to know when to turn in, brake, downshift, etc…
Camber is the same as "Banking"
Negative camber is when the track "leans" away from the inside of the corner.
Postive camber is when the track "leans" into the inside of the corner.
Negative camber works against you and Positive camber works with you.
This is the point at the start of a corner where the driver begins to turn the steering wheel into the turn.
This is the point of exiting the turn where the car gets as close as it can to the outside of the track.
Caution: You will hear this term at the track. It is NOT for beginners.
Trail braking is the technique of continuing your braking while turning into the corner. If not done correctly, it can cause you to spin. Do not use this technique until you get more experience!