What to look for in my data: Barber Motorsports Park

What data channels do you use to analyze these three corners?

Barber Motorsports Park is undoubtedly one of North America’s premier road racing facilities! APEX Pro HQ is only 20 minutes away in downtown Birmingham, AL.

Turn 1: Very fast corner! It is also downhill and the apex of the corner is blind on turn-in. I like to use the speed trace here because this is an intimidating turn and the shape of the speed trace shows will show us if we are confident or not. If the speed trace is shaped like a “V” in Turn 1 then we are treating it like a slow speed corner – this means confidence is low! To remedy this and achieve a more “U” shaped speed trace, I like to coach drivers to brake lighter – apply the brakes slightly sooner and softer. Don’t hesitate to coast a little mid-corner in Turn 1: Release the brake very quickly after turn-in and do not immediately apply the throttle!

  • Line of sight is limited at turn in, so work up to carrying speed here.
  • Make sure to let the car track all the way out to the edge of the track on exit!
  • The brake zone is pretty bumpy (the track is being re-paved in Aug. 2019), I find it helps to relieve a little brake pressure over the bumps to keep ABS from interfering.

Turn 5 (Charlotte’s Web): For me Turn 5 is the foundation of the track – it has an immense affect on your lap time AND it is the only threshold braking corner! The braking zone into Turn 5 is also the best over taking spot on the track. There are some fundamental things to know about Turn 5/Charlotte’s Web:

  • The track drops downhill significantly between the 2 and the 1 brake board. Walk the track and stand in the gravel trap to get a sense for how steep the drop off actually is! It’s very easy to carry in too much speed. Make sure your initial brake pressure is strong – this is a threshold braking corner!
  • We all start off braking too early into these types of corners. That is OKAY! The key is to still get on the throttle as if the car is at the limit of the tire mid corner. Picking up throttle too early causes a lot of problems, and can really limit our potential when we do get the braking zone right.
  • There are sort-a-kinda two apexes. But, the second of the two is where we want to go back to power. I find that some cars like to clip the first apex and then slide out track right before arcing back in to the second apex. Others seem to like one gentle, long arc through the corner to the second apex. Try both, see what you and your car prefer!
  • The exit is slightly uphill – this means getting to wide open throttle (WOT) ASAP is super important for a good exit. The corner is a fairly long radius, so it’s easy to lose patience and commit to the throttle too soon; which can be just a bad as getting to WOT too late!

Turn 7: The next corner on the track after Charlotte’s Web is Turn 7. This complex of turns is referred to as the “Museum Corner” or “Museum Complex.” This complex starts with Turn 7, turn 8 is, well, not really a corner, and Turn 9 is the sharp downhill right-hander that leads on to the back straight. Over-slowing the entry to Turn 7 is the single most common cause of not getting this section right. Due to the way this complex works, Turn 7 is an Entry Speed Corner! Do not give up a single MPH of entry speed here! Below are our three keys to haulin’ the mail into the Museum Complex:

  • Treat it like the FAST corner that it is. I see too many drivers brake too hard too late, and then do not release the brake pedal soon enough. Not releasing the brake pedal soon enough will spell disaster as your entry speed increases!
    • Instead, brake softer and sooner than you think is necessary (you can always move your initial brake input closer to the corner as confidence builds), and roll out of the brake pedal sooner so that you are hovering over the brake pedal at the apex curbing of 7.
    • If you can get back to full throttle easily between Turn 7 and Turn 9 – you over-slowed!
  • Turn 7 has a very similar feel and rhythm to Turn 12. If you feel more confident in Turn 12 then try treating Turn 7 the same way.
  • Most cars will see well over 60 MPH minimum corner speed here. Cars with aero and a lot of tire may be closer to 90 MPH! This turn takes some fortitude – make sure you work up to it. Remember, high minimum corner speed is not produced by braking late and hard (back, back it up!).

Email me at andrew@apextrackcoach.com with questions and feedback on the “What to look for in my data” video. I want to hear what you think!

I hope you enjoyed this. More to come…

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