Today I will be giving away one of the best kept secrets to going fast on the track.
Okay so it’s not exactly a secret (you already know it just by reading the title!) but many don’t know it exists. What I’m talking about here is knowing how and where to go slow in order to go fast. It sounds incredibly counter intuitive but it can be extremely quick to go “slow” precisely at the right moment in a turn.
Think about this. We are on the track on a straight-away. What are we doing?
We’re full throttle, accelerating down the straight. Eventually we are met with a corner. At this point we must slow down enough to take the turn, and then we re-accelerate after the corner. Pretty much common sense right? Therefore, that must mean there was a moment in the turn where our speed was the slowest.
This fact brings us to the topic of today’s article. I will be talking about “minimum corner speed location.” If you don’t know what I mean by the “M.C.S.L.”term, conceptualize this.
(Minimum Corner Speed Location) – The Spot in the Turn Where the Car was Traveling the Slowest.
If your goal is a fast lap time this is far more important than you even realize! Where exactly this spot occurs in the turn defines your entry speed vs exit speed balance.
(Entry Speed vs Exit Speed Balance) – The ideal balance of compromise between coming into the corner quickly versus coming out of the corner quickly.
In order to maintain this ideal Entry/Exit speed balance it’s crucial to be accurate with your MCSL. Rather than thinking about both variables (entry speed and exit speed), the driver can simplify things by just focusing on where the MCSL wants to occur. And the rest will take care of itself.
Let’s see what this concept looks like on AIM’s Race Studio Analysis.
Figure 4.1 shows a line graph of my GPS speed (top graph) and longitudinal deceleration force (bottom graph) at Turn 7 at Sebring.
When you look at the GPS speed graph you can very easily identify your MCSL.
Furthermore, if you look at the GPS data on the track map (the right side of the image) you get a good visual of that specific spot. What you also see is that your MCSL is at the same moment we transition from experiencing braking force to acceleration force. Two very solid indicators of your MCSL.
In this case, you will see an early minimum corner speed which indicates that the strategy for the corner was more exit speed balanced.
Different Corners Will Benefit From Different MCSLs
That’s where you get into establishing corner priority.
Why Your Minimum Corner Speed Location is so Important
Your MCSL defines your entry speed/exit speed balance. This balance is so critical to setting a good lap time. We know that we can learn what type of corners are entry speed, exit speed or rolling speed corners simply by looking at a track map. Therefore, we can find a general starting point in the corner where we want to be going the slowest, AKA where we want that MCSL to be.
You can see an example of this put into play with a real life example at New Jersey Motorsports Park – Thunderbolt by downloading the track map below!
FREE TRACK MAP
MINIMUM CORNER SPEED LOCATIONS FOR NEW JERSEY MOTORSPORTS PARK- THUNDERBOLT
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Hopefully you’ve downloaded my file above and taken a look at the ideal MCSLs at Thunderbolt, let’s take a look at a classic 90 degree right hand corner as another example…
This Theory Literally Defines the Context of How Hard a Driver Should Push Into the Corner.
This is the difference between maximizing entry speed and maximizing entry speed based in the context of prioritizing exit speed.
If we can commit to hitting our MCSL in the right spot turn after turn, you are nailing your entry/exit speed balance and it will be very EASY to set a good lap time. More importantly, it defines a set of rules the driver must follow when pushing harder for a quick lap time rather than just arbitrarily pushing.
The Trick is Starting to Go Faster and Push Harder and NOT Changing This MCSL Spot.
If you push too hard and your MCSL happens any later in the corner, you have slowed your exit speed and don’t have that ideal entry/exit speed balance. It will be harder to set a good lap time.
Identifying this spot by looking at a track map and sticking to it is something that all track drivers should be doing. Make sure you’ve downloaded the free track map above for an example.
Whether you’re an Indy 500 champion or a regular track day junkie you should be able to define with a reference point where your MCSL is on every turn of the track you’re driving. If you can’t, you’re holding yourself back.
Learning the Ideal Spot for MCSL is Not Only the Quickest Way Around the Track But Also the Safest.
It is generally okay to push your entry speed into an exit speed corner SO LONG AS you work in the context of still committing to that early MCSL. If you can learn to do this, you will either be:
- Ridiculously fast
- Ridiculously fast for how slow you’re going (If that makes sense)
What Do I Mean by That Second Point?
The driver that has disciplined MCSLs but doesn’t set a fast lap time is at least driving with the most ease possible in order to set that lap time. It’s not a difficult drive and he/she isn’t fighting the car very much.
Hopefully this article gives you a new perspective on the importance of where in a turn we want to go the slowest. Knowing where our Minimum Corner Speed Location wants to happen in a given turn is crucial to being fast and it should be a pre-mediated thought. Having the discipline to apply this makes the difference between world champion and runner up.
Which one will you be?
ABOUT THE AUTHOR
From 2006 Skip Barber National Champion to 2015 Spec Miata SCCA Runoffs Champion, and with the 2008 IMSA Lites title in between, I’ve been in the racing scene for quite some time. I’ve been fortunate to race against (and beat sometimes) the best drivers in the world currently racing in various top level motorsports.
I’m very passionate about the art/science of performance driving and want to share that passion with you.
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