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Re: Masters National Finale at Road Atlanta

Though most participants know the track, this corner by corner description of Road Atlanta is from Wikipedia. (More correctly a subset called Trackipedia) If you have extensive Road Atlanta track knowledge and find fault here, don't complain, just click on this link...
Road Atlanta on Trackipedia and make a correction. There is also a track map on the link.

On the odd bed-fellows synergy marketing angle... Note the ad for the "Lil Bubba Curb Machines" If you don't like the curbing at a track... bring "Lil Bubba" and make your own!

Road Atlanta
From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

Road Atlanta Raceway

Road Atlanta is a 2.54-mile Grand Prix road course located in Braselton, Georgia. The road course has 12 challenging turns, including the famous "esses" series of turns between turns three and five.It also includes a recent chicane section following a long straight, a common safety practice with older circuits. The track is owned by Panoz Motorsports, and is the home to Petit Le Mans, a 10 hour or 1000 mile endurance race of the American Le Mans Series. It also hosts Moto racing and smaller events throughout the year.
Road Atlanta has been featured as one of the main drivable courses in the Xbox racing simulator video game Forza Motorsport.

Turn 1
The entry to this sweeping, fast, right hand turn is flat, but as you enter it the turn has some banking and starts to climb uphill. With that in mind and the fact that it is an increasing radius turn you can carry a bit more entry speed than you initially think. There is not much runoff however, so work up to that speed with caution.

Currently there is a concrete patch near the inside curbing that I use as a marker for the apex, but your mileage may vary. It should be a good starting point for any car and driver combination however.

Be aware of the pit entry blend lines, if your group uses the outside pits cars may be entering the outside of this turn, and if they are using the inside or pro pits, just past the middle of the corner cars may enter from the inside.

there are three common methods to take turn 1:

1.) The traditional way through 1 is to trail brake deep into it. You will see a lot of newer drivers doing this. It may also be a useful technique for racers to keep that guy behind you, well, behind you...

2.) The second and possibly faster way through 1 is to brake early, let off before the turn in, and get on the gas all the way through the turn.

3.) Another variation on this is to slow down even more, and get on the gas at the 50 marker. This should only be done when you are ALONE, because people behind you will not be expecting you to brake so early, however if done correctly, you'll be very fast through 2 which is more of a short straightaway than a true turn.

Turn 2
This is just a slight bend back to the left at the end of turn 1. At the exit of turn 1, drift back to the right side of the track. You will see a painted yellow stripe going up the hill that marks the exit of the pro pits. Put your right tires on or just over this stripe and start turning slightly left just after the stripe ends. This will give you a nice straight line to brake in as you approach turn 3.

At the end of this turn if you arent parallel and next to the outside curbing for the entry to turn 3. You may be in the wrong spot, unless of course you're passing someone on the inside...

Turn 3
This right hand corner is a fairly long downhill run that lasts until the entry of turn 5.

Most cars will use a medium amount of braking to get to the proper entry speed for the turn. It is fairly flat left to right, but does start going downhill past the center of the corner.

With lower power cars, pick an entry speed and throttle pick up point that uses the whole track here, as the next turn is a wide enough radius that you can stay wide open throttle and still hug the inside edge.

Higher power cars may need to compromise the exit slightly to get to the end of the next turn in the correct spot. You will accellerate thoughout the next turn, so too much entry combined with a powerful car may cause you to push too far outside for the entry point and direction for the Esses at the end of Turn 4.

The curbing on the inside edge is fairly smooth, but there is an additional section that has been added inside of that with very rough bumps, so be aware of how much curb you use. As always, curbing - no matter how smooth - can upset the car and cause an embarrasing, painful, and/or expensive crash, so use discretion and common sense if you decide to use any curb whatsoever.

One very important tip: If you do manage to overcook the entry, consider using the motorcycle chicane pavement that is just ahead instead of trying to fight the car into the corner. There is little to no run-off after the exit of this corner, and many cars find their way into the wall after spinning out between the middle of the corner and the exit. No sense balling a car up when you can bail at entry and stay on pavement, just be cautious as you rejoin the track towards the middle of turn 4 if you do use the motorcycle chicane pavement.

Turn 4
This turn begins right after the end of turn 3, it is a flat (not banked), downhill, left hand corner that most cars are fairly wide open through. Be sure to exit the corner on the inside / left edge so you can be set to take a straight shot through the esses that follow.

If you’re using a lot of steering input to stay on track here, you may want to re-think your exit point of turn 4. You should be wide open through this section and making very slight steering inputs. The curbs on each edge of the track here are smooth, so using them should not upset the car very much. Most cars will turn down into the esses at the very beginning of the kerbing on the left, the track is slightly blind here so there is a tendency to turn in late.

At the last part, just as the track starts to go uphill again, make your way to the right edge of the track and prepare to do your braking for the next turn, turn 5

Turn 5
At first glance, some may think this turn is another right hand turn, but it is not. To the right is a cutoff road which is a great place to stop your car if you happen to have mechanical difficulties or something of that nature. Road Atlanta can be split into two halves, but it is rarely if ever run like that during most weekend driving events, and it is never raced in that configuration.

So for this left hand turn, with all the speed you should have picked up from the downhill run through the esses, you will probably do at least a moderate amount of braking. The radius of this turn is fairly tight, but since it is pretty steep at its exit, lower power cars may be able to carry more momentum through the corner than you might initially think.

There is not much to mark a good apex point here. I would start off trying middle to slightly early apex considering the steepness of the exit and the fact that at the exit the curbing is very wide, two to three car widths, and has 2 rows of mild alligator bumps. Many racers find themselves using that curbing to help get a run on a leading car going down the following straightaway that leads into the banked turn 6.

This is the 3rd most important corner on the track, the following straight is long enough that most school groups use it for a passing zone, and you will see many passes for position and lapped cars along this straight as well.

Turn 6
With the straight leading into this turn, all cars will do some braking for this corner, despite its banking. There is a nice concrete patch that makes a great path for left side wheels through this corner.

I would advise against using any curbing near this corner, it is smooth, but the inside edge takes away some of the banking you might be able to use, and the outside edge at exit could upset the car under braking for the very slow turn 7 that comes just after.

There is some grass and gravel on the outside of this corner, but I would advise against planning on using it as a safety buffer as it is not very wide and has a nice hard concrete wall just beyond it.

Turn 7
This is the most important corner on the track. Negotiating this corner properly will allow you to make many passes down the long straightaway that follows and lower your laptime considerably.

After zooming through turn 6 you will once again need to slow down considerably. Turn 7 is the tightest, flattest, slickest corner on the entire track. The key to a quick lap time lies in negotiating this corner in such a manner as to maximize your speed down the long back straightaway. Do your braking early!

Select an apex and path that allows you to pick up the throttle very early, then work on trying to maintain that pickup point while adding minute amounts of entry speed. You should be no more than 20% through the turn before you're at full throttle or near full throttle. This means getting your speed down early, going deep, and getting your turning done soon so you can open the wheel and get on the gas. It is far too common to try and carry too much speed out of 6 and maintain that speed through turn 7. Doing that will delay your throttle application and hurt straightaway speed.

The curbs here are not terribly vicious, especially the corner exit curbing, so using them may not be detrimental. Be aware that the runoff room just past the exit tightens up considerably as the wall veers over to meet the edge of the track, so be aware of this when you start experimenting with entry speeds and throttle pick up locations. You can go off only just slightly here. If you overcook it too much you may find yourself nose first into the tires.

Turns 8 & 9
These two turns are both mild bends in the back straightaway that require no special attention. After the second flag station on your right the track will start to tilt downhill, and at this point you should make your way to the right edge of the track to prepare for braking and entry into the next turn complex.

Turns 10A & 10B
These corners will require the most attention to braking points. There are several markers on each side of the track and dashed painted lines on the track itself starting around 300 yards before the entry to the corner.

If you overheat your brakes, overshoot your braking point, or anything of that sort there is a large gravel trap just ahead, so do not panic if something like that happens. The gravel will stop you faaarrr before you're in danger of hitting the wall that is quite a large distance past the corner and uphill.

Turn 10A is the left turn, and 10B is the right turn immediately following it. Take a path through A that has you finishing that part on the left edge of the track so you can take a slightly late apex on B. This will allow you to climb the hill quickly and carry that speed through the next two turns onto the front straight. That is especially important for lower power cars, as you will likely be wide open throttle from 10A until you brake for turn 1, making it the second most important corner (if you're able to take 11 and 12 wide open throttle that is)

The curbing here is the bumpiest on the track, so I would recommend avoiding it if at all possible. It almost hurts to hear cars go over it, it is THAT rough.

There is also a loop in the track on your right just past turn 10B that is used for drifting competitions and is another great spot to stop a car with mechanical difficulties if you are unable to climb the hill and make your way into the pits.

Turn 11
In the middle of this corner are the pit entries. Most club racing and school groups will use the left or outside pits and the entry for these is just under the Suzuki Bridge on the left side of the track. If your group uses the inside or pro pits, the entry road is on the right side of the track.

So now that we have that out of the way, let’s back up and cover the corner in its entirety. As you exit 10B you will notice the giant Suzuki Bridge, and just below the advertisement there are 3 squares, a red, a white, and a yellow. Use these to determine your position left to right on the track. Each car and driver is different, so the square you may want to position yourself under will be different. If in doubt, ask your instructor or other racers what square they’re using to position themselves by. Most will tell you which square they are placing the driver's seat underneath.

As you pass under the bridge the track will begin to head downhill fairly dramatically and you will begin to negotiate the track’s most extreme elevation change. This turn should not require a lot of steering input and on exit make your way to the left edge of the track to prepare the car for the last turn.

Turn 12
This is a very fast sweeping turn that leads onto the front straightaway. There is not much room for error should you go off so be cautious as you work up to speed. A slightly late apex point is recommended, and curbing use here is not. They are both fairly smooth, and some racers do use them, but they are tall. That combined with the speeds that can be carried here can cause things to get ugly, should the car get upset by them. At the exit of this corner, just above you, is the start stand and pedestrian cross over bridge, and ahead of you is the front straight and Turn 1.

High powered cars will probably view this turn as the second most important turn, as they will need to slow down after the short burst between 10 A&B and through 11 .
You draw 'em a picture and they eat the crayons... (Duck Waddle commenting on the creative ways some people interpret driving instruction.)
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