Road Atlanta is big fast and scary. It is most certainly one of the most challenging tracks in the United States, and is also very rewarding and fun!
With a relatively high average speed, and only two really hard braking zones (Turn 7 and 10A), Road Atlanta flows and can be smooth as butter (spoken in a deep southern accent) once you figure it out!
Turn 1: Slow down as little as possible. Period. Braking late is not as important as braking the right amount. Use the speed trace to compare your fast laps to your other laps. Start by comparing with your second fastest lap, then your third, then your fourth fastest and so on. You will find a slower lap where you are faster through turn 1 than on your fastest lap!
Take that lap where you’re faster in turn 1, and use it as your base line lap. Analyze the shape: Is it a U or a V? Turn one is a fast corner. Most cars will do 75+ mph at the apex of turn one. This means that your speed trace should look more like U meaning you slow gradually to the min speed.
Topography: As you pass the pit wall track left on the entry to Turn 1 the track falls away from you. This is where an earlier turn-in is beneficial. Start bending the car in towards the apex pretty early. You should be able to get back to throttle before the apex. The track compresses aggressively and goes uphill just before the apex of the turn.
The track falling away on turn-in, followed by the aggressive compression at the apex is what makes turn 1 so tough. Get out and walk the track to understand it more intimately!
Turn 5: The entry into turn 5 is the last turn out of the Esses. Turn-in to Turn 5 happens right where the road compresses and goes up hill, super uphill! Make sure to hold the car track left past the last part of curbing in the Esses.
Get the car pointed straight before braking, and then get ready for a funky braking zone! Brake a max of 6/10! Look at the picture – the braking zone here is super hill which compounds the effect of braking and turning. It will slow you down quickly! Release the brake as you turn, and be prepared to lose a little bit of grip on turn in. Focus on getting back to full throttle ASAP.
Remember – avoid jumping back on the power too early. Most of the time this causes you to come back out of the gas pedal – that weight transfer back to the front tires can potentially put you in the wall exiting Turn 5!!! Be patient on your throttle application, but don’t lose focus on getting to wide open throttle ASAP!
Use the Long G graph to make sure you’re not braking at threshold into turn 5! Threshold braking here will cause you to over-slow which will compound more issues!
Turn 6: Entry speed, entry speed, entry speed!
- Instead of focusing on braking late – focus on slowing down as little as possible! Maintaining a high corner speed is much more important than braking as late as possible
- An early turn-in is better! Start turning in earlier than normal, with a slow wheel rate (the rate at which you turn the steering wheel).
- Build a belief system to roll in a lot of corner speed! If you are not comfortable getting back to the throttle at the apex because the car is so close to the limit of the tire, you’re on the right track!
Looking for even more insight? Robby Foley Road Atlanta Track Guide!
Checkout the PDF below for Robby Foley’s Turn by Turn Break down of Road Atlanta: