MAZDA RACEWAY Laguna Seca

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TURN 1

Turn 1 really isn't an actual turn it is more a bend in the front straight, however you can shorten up the distance and save a little time by coming over on the inside before getting ready for Turn 2.

TURN 2 - ANDRETTI HAIRPIN

Turn 2 is a tight double apex hair pin and key for getting speed for the fast infield Turn 3, 4, 5 and 6 complex. There are a few different lines that you can take through the corner. The car will understeer/push but the key here is not to scrub too much speed. On the left and right of the track there are large painted white strips that you can use a reference for braking. You brake hard downshifting to 2nd and trail brake into the corner. Use your release of the brake pedal to help rotate the car. You can double apex by hitting both apexes or be a little wide, about a half car length, from the first apex but make sure you hit the second apex and get on the power early to get a good run to turn 3.

TURN 3

Don't over slow for Turn 3. Carry as much speed as you can as it will set you up for the very fast 3-4-5 complex important for a good lap time. Use the curbing on the left and a light brake just before turn in. The transition from blue/white strips to white can be used as an excellent reference for the turn in point. The red brick provides a good reference for the apex and you want to be just slightly late and use all of the track on the exit. The turn is faster than turn 2 so you want to be smooth with the wheel. Keep the power on after braking and stay left in preparation for the very fast Turn 4.

TURN 4

Turn 4 is a very fast corner where you can take the traditional almost 90 degree racing line. The blue/white curbing on the entry, apex and exit provide excellent reference markers for braking and turning. The fast guys use just a light lift or a light drag of the left foot brake to get set up for the corner. Be careful on the exit if you put wheels off go straight don't try to recover or you will spin across the track and hit a wall or worse.

TURN 5

You can carry more speed than you think in turn 5, the slight uphill and camber really help the grip on exit. As with other turns use the curbing for reference and for this turn be a little late on the apex and ride the inside curbing. For braking you will be downshifting to 3rd and then get back on the power. You should be at full throttle before the Apex.

TURN 6

Turn 6 is a key corner for Laguna Seca especially in a low horsepower car like the Spec Racer Ford. After the turn is the uphill back straight, any extra speed you can carry will help all the way up the hill. You can use the blue and white curbing on the right for reference points. The fast guys are just lifting here or left foot braking, if it is your first few times at the track you will want to brake a little until you get used to it. The car is a fast turn so be smooth with the wheel and watch out for the Apex too far in and you can hit one of the red bricks and mess up your toe. Turn in early and you can go wide. If you put a wheel of on the outside don't try to yank the car and save it let it run otherwise you can easily spin across the track and hit the wall on the left side. Many a car has done this and you can still see the tyre and paint marks. Exiting the turn let the car run out wide as far as it needs don't scrub speed by pinching the turn or being in a hurry to get over to the left.

TURN 7 - RAHAL STRAIGHT

Turn 7 or the back straight known as the Rahal Straight is all about carrying as much momentum as you can up the hill and setting yourself up for the corkscrew. There is a little kink so you want to be as far left as you can even putting you left tyres over the painted curb on the left. This will let you straighten out your entry for the corkscrew and keep the car balanced under braking.

TURN 8/8A - THE CORKSCREW

Perhaps one of the most famous corners in North America, especially thanks to video games. The Corkscrew is actually not the hardest corner on the track for me, I found Turn 9 to be a lot harder to get right. Depending on if your racing or qualifying you might stay tight protecting the inside line or go wide and then turn in you can use the curbing as good braking and turn in indicators. It is a pretty big drop but there is a tree off in the distance that you can point your car at to let you know where to go and power out of the turn.

TURN 9

For Turn 9 short shift into 4th at or just before the bridge. I try to go out wide and point the car at the corner station off in the distance and then turn in and hug the apex. The car will then swing out wide to the edge of the track on the right and you will have to then get over to the left in preparation for Turn 10. 

TURN 10

Turn 10 requires a short brake and then turn in to clip the apex. You can use the colored curbing on left for brake and turn in points. You want to let the car track out as much as it needs to and not pinch the turn. Careful about about putting wheels off here as the dirt can be soft here and you can easily spin. After letting the car track out you need to get back over to the right and set up for turn 11.

TURN 11

Turn 11 is key for this track do not turn in too early and end up wide as you will scrub off speed and ruin your run down the front straight. Brake hard between the 2 and 3 marker and downshift to second. You can use the outside apex curb though to widen out the turn.  Continue up the front straight with your foot to floor, good time to check the gauges as you get ready to do it all over again.


If you have everything under control you’re not moving fast enough
— Mario Andretti

Thunderhill Raceway 3-Mile

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Relaxing Place to Stay

Our preferred location to stay for Thunderhill Raceway is Super8 Willows, CA. They have some race car themed rooms that are great for those track rats. Call (530) 934-2871 and use promo "Kangaroo" for 10% off the regular rate for your stay.

TURN 1

Is a fast corner use all the track. Build up to this corner, most drivers scrub too much speed and you can gain a bunch of time going down into turn 2. A light brake or a lift is needed for a Spec Racer Ford with the new Hoosiers. Be careful not to early apex as you will end up wide. There are some white dashes painted on the edge of the track that can be used as turn in references. Be careful at a test day as cars might be merging onto the track.

TURN 2

Great long turn for practicing steering the car with the throttle. The Apex is about 2/3rd the way around the corner. I point the car into the turn, brake in a straight line and trail brake into the turn. Get back on the gas and use the throttle to balance the car. The key in this corner for me was looking up and through the turn and the car will go where you look. There are a bunch of cracks and tar fill ins on entry that can be used as reference. I try to be a car width wide to 2/3 wide on the track at entry but play with it as grip levels can very depending on conditions.

TURN 3

Is an off camber corner that sets you up for 3-4-5 combo ensuring you have good speed going into turn 6, the most important corner on the track. I come out wide and then point the car in tight braking in a straight line shifting down to 3rd and getting back on the gas. Give as much gas as you can to help rotate the car to the apex. The apex is very late around the corner.

TURN 4

Run the car all the way to the end of the berm of turn 3. You will feel the car momentarily settle before you turn in for Turn 4. Carry as much speed as you can which will push the car wide going up into turn 5. The berms are great references for turn 4.

TURN 5

This is a blind crest going up hill. Using the hill you can threshold brake later than you think to slow the car up. If it is your first few times doing this turn take it easy until you know where it goes and where to position the car. There is a painted white dot on the right side you can use for a turn in reference. I clip the left berm and point the car straight to get the car coming out to hook the inside wheel on right side on exit. You can also us the shops at the end of the paddock as a reference target until you get the hang of the corner.

TURN 6

Is one of the most important turns on the track as you full throttle all the way from Apex until the braking point of turn 9. This is a long time on the track and you can gain lots of time here by doing it right. That said it is a hard corner to get right and I am not sure I have ever got it perfect yet. Come out of turn 5 on full throttle the car will push out wide on the left but you need to get it all the way over to the right. There are a few ways to do the turn in either a light dab of brakes to load the front wheels, a lift or a short shift to fourth. Try what works for you. With the new gripper Hoosiers I am trying to work my way up to being flat out if possible. The apex is very important as too early and you will have to lift on exit killing speed or too late and you will scrub speed turning in. For turn in there are a variety of white painted marks on the far right you can use for reference, try which one works for you. For me the second to last is perfect. You can use the berm on exit but don't go over it as there is a little drop behind.

TURN 7

Really isn't a turn just track in and then come out ready for turn 8. There is a painted dot indicating the apex or easier to see is the long tar mark from a crack running across the track.

TURN 8

Turn 8 is flat out in a Spec Racer Ford get the turn in, apex and exit right and you will be carrying a lot of speed. The turn references include painted marks or a variety of filled in cracks to use as a reference. There use to be a light dip at apex but they recently smoothed it out. You can use all the berm on exit but at the end there is a small drop off so make sure you are back to the edge of track before it ends. Don't lift or pinch the exit on this turn as you will spin in a spec racer.

Turn 9

This is blind exit you just have to know it is going to be there. You can use the large water tank in the distance as a reference until you are familiar with the corner. Entry is hard short break before turn in. The crossover to Thunderhill West is a great reference for braking and turn in. Get on the throttle and carry as much speed as you can for this corner and you will be rewarded. If it is your first few times doing this corner take it easy if you get it wrong there is a drop and ditch on the outside that can do some serious damage to the car at speed.

Turn 10

A hard brake is required going into turn 10 but don't over brake as you can carry more speed in than you think. There are a set of two cracks across the track that can be used as braking references. There are two ways to do Turn 10 and 11 you can either shift down to third going into Turn 10 or shift going into Turn 11, see what works for you. If Turn 10 seems easy you aren't going fast enough.

Turn 11 & 12

Getting the exit of Turn 11 right is critical for speed down the back straight. Turn 11 is slow and you want to focus on exit speed running out wide here on exit will mess you up if there are barrels or cones on the outside. If you have keen eyes there is a gap in the paint on the right you can use as a reference or use how the apex berm looks as a reference. Key here is brake release and getting the car to rotate so you can straighten out the chicane. In the video above I do it wrong as we didn't have cones or barrels on the chicane.

Turn 14 & 15

This is a great overtaking point is you can out brake your competitor but be careful not to scrub so much speed you get into an over/under situation where they can get a run on you on the exit because they got on the power earlier. The key for this corner according to my data is to trail brake, shifting down to the third and then be on throttle before the apex. The tyre wall on the right goes from white to black to white towards the end of the straight, this is a great braking reference. For turn in there are again painted dashes on the outside, pick which one works for you. Make Turn 14 & 15 one smooth turn, you might straighten the wheel between you might not, but the key here is being smooth and not over turning the wheel while getting on the throttle early. You should be shifting up to fourth on the exit berm of Turn 15.

Finish Line

The finish line at Thunderhill is not at the flag tower it is further down the straight after the pit entry so make sure you keep you foot in it at the end of the race.

 

Thunderhill Raceway 5-MIle

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COMING SOON...

TURN 1

Is a fast corner use all the track. Build up to this corner, most drivers scrub too much speed and you can gain a bunch of time going down into turn 2. A light brake or a lift is needed for a Spec Racer Ford with the new Hoosiers. Be careful not to early apex as you will end up wide. There are some white dashes painted on the edge of the track that can be used as turn in references. Be careful at a test day as cars might be merging onto the track.

TURN 2

Great long turn for practicing steering the car with the throttle. The Apex is about 2/3rd the way around the corner. I point the car into the turn and break in a straight line and trail brake into the turn followed by getting on the gas. Use the throttle to balance the car. The key in this corner for me was looking up and through the turn and the car will go where you look. There are a bunch of cracks and tar fill ins on entry that can be used as reference. I try to be a car width wide to 2/3 wide on the track at entry but play with it as grip levels can very depending on conditions.

TURN 3

Is an off camber corner that sets you up for 3-4-5 combo ensuring you have good speed going into turn 6 this most important corner on the track. I come out wide and then point the car in tight braking in a straight line shifting down to 3rd and getting back on the gas. Give as much gas as you can to help rotate the car to the apex. The apex is very late around the corner.

TURN 4

Run the car all the way to the end of the berm of turn 3. You will feel the car momentarily settle before you turn in for Turn 4. Carry as much speed as you can which will push the car wide going up into turn 5. The berms are great references for turn 4.

TURN 5

This is a blind crest going up hill. Using the hill you can threshold brake later than you think to slow the car up. If it is your first few times doing this turn take it easy until you know where it goes and where to position the car. There is a painted white dot on the right side you can use fore a turn in reference. I clip the left berm and point the car straight to get the car coming out to hook the inside wheel on right side on exit. You can also us the shops at the end of the paddock as a reference until you get the hang of the corner.

TURN 6

Is one of the most important turns on the track as you full throttle all the way from Apex until the braking point of turn 9. This is a long time on the track and you can again lots of time here by doing it right. That said it is a hard corner to get right and I am not sure I have ever got it perfect yet. Come out of turn 5 on full throttle the car will push out wide on the left but you need to get it all the way over to the right. There are a few ways to do the turn in either a light dab of brakes to load the front wheels, a lift or a short shift to fourth. Try what works for you. With the new gripper Hoosiers I am trying to work my way up to being flat out if possible. The apex is very important as too early and you will have to lift on exit killing speed or too late and you will scrub speed turning in. For turn in there are a variety of white painted marks on the far right you can use for reference, try which one works for you. For me the second to last is perfect. You can use the berm on exit but don't go over it as there is a little drop behind.

TURN 7

Really isn't a turn just track in and then come out ready for turn 8. There is a painted dot indicating the apex or easier to see is the long tar mark from a crack running across the track.

TURN 8

Turn 8 is flat out in a Spec Racer Ford get the turn in, apex and exit right and you will be carrying a lot of speed. The turn references include painted marks or a variety of filled in cracks to use as a reference. There use to be a light dip at apex but they recently smoothed it out. You can use all the berm on exit but at the end there is a small drop off so make sure you are back to the edge of track before it ends. Don't lift or pinch the exit on this turn as you will spin in a spec racer.

More coming soon...

 

Once you’ve raced, you never forget it…and you never get over it.
— Richard Childress

Sonoma Raceway (Sears Point)

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In SCCA we use the full course including the Turn 6 Carousel and Turns 8, 8A and 9 Esses.

Turn 1

You will be going full throttle in 4th gear as you approach Turn 1. Check you mirrors here incase someone has a run on you out of Turn 11. The faster line is to swing in tight next to the inside K-wall and position the car in preparation for Turn 2. Where you want the car for Turn 2 will determine how far to the right you position the car on exit. I prefer to go mid track, some people swing all the way out to the right, others go 2/3rds track width. Try the different lines and see what works for you.

Turn 2

Turn 2 is tough to get right. It is an off camber uphill blind right hander. The key is to position the car on entry using the bridge or whatever reference marker works for you. Use the track width by riding the first part of the berm before turning in on the right. Careful following the left entry berm as it continues away to the left and you don't want to go that way. You just want to catch the beginning of the berm on the left. You can brake less than you think and carry speed as you head uphill. Downshift to 3rd. The exit is blind until after the apex so visualize the corner and picture where the exit is going to be. There are not a lot of visual references so this can make it tough for locating brake, shift and turn in points. I use cracks in the pavement. The apex is slightly late, you can follow along part of the berm and you should be at full throttle before the apex all the way to Turn 3. Use as much as you need to track out on the exit.

Turn 3 & 3A

Turn 3 & 3A is a left-right complex with a blind right hand Apex and exit. The right hander is also uphill and off camber which means if you get offline it can get very tricky. After coming out on the left side of the track from Turn 2 you need to get over to the right. Most people over slow for Turn 3 as it is uphill, but you can carry more speed than you think. Turn 3 is compromised in order to get a good exit out of Turn 3A. Either a light lift of left foot break is needed to load the front wheels just before turn in. If you are in 3rd gear the motor will be wound out on the exit of Turn 3A, you can try 4th but it seems slower to me. You can use the right hand curbing as reference for the turn in point. You want to be on the far left of the track heading straight to be set up for the turn in for Turn 3A. For Turn 3A use a late apex and as you get comfortable with the turn you can move the apex further back. You can use the light poles in the stands as a reference for where the apex will be. You should be on full throttle before the apex for Turn 3A heading down to Turn 4.

Turn 4

You can use the walls on the sides for braking references and there is a section where the wall increases in height on the left that you can use a reference for the turn in point. Stay to the left and brake then get back on the throttle. Use a standard apex and you can use all of the exit berm on left, if you have done it right you will have a lot of speed. This corner is a common overtaking location to know who is behind you and where they are.

Turn 5

Shifting up to 4th, Turn 5 is a simple smooth curve setting the car up for Turn 6 you will want to position the car about mid track heading into Turn 6.

Turn 6 Carousel

The Carousel is a fast long left hand turn that is a key corner for getting a fast lap time. Any extra speed you can carry through this corner helps you all the way on the long straight up to Turn 7.  There is a slight hill you will crest where the car can get light. You will want to organize you braking to ensure the car is stable, generally braking just after you crest the hill. The tires on the left and corner station on the right can be used for braking references. Make sure you check the corner station as lots of issues can occur at the bottom. You want a smooth gradual turn through the Carousel applying as much throttle as you can ensuring you apex the inside berm and get a smooth exit. Some people like to brake in a straight line others will trail brake into Turn 6 try what works best for you.

Turn 7

Use the cracks / chips in the pavement and signs on the left as braking markers. Brake hard and downshift to 3rd. Turn 7 is a long double apex turn. The first apex is less important than the second. You can either double apex the turn or be a half to a full car width off the first apex but make sure you get the second apex right. Feed on the throttle and use the run off to get setup for a good run at the esses. You should be up shifting to 4th on the exit.

Turn 8 & 8A Esses

The Turn 8 and 8A esses are all about rhythm, left-right-left-right. Be smooth, pour on the throttle and don't pinch. Drive the car not the track. Watching the fast guys the apexes are all slightly late. 

Turn 9

Turn 9 is straight forward coming out of 8A at full throttle and set up for Turn 10.

Turn 10

Turn 10 is a fast right hand bend with a big wall on the left side. If you can do this corner right there are big rewards as the high speed and wall means people are often hesitant or slow through this corner. As you come out of Turn 9 line up and run over the berm on the left, pick your reference letter in the Toyota sign to aim at as a guide. If this is you first few times at Sonoma, you are likely going to drag the brake to slow down. Work your way up to it this turn and you will be able to give just a small lift before turning into the corner. Turn in is at the end of the berm, be smooth and get a slightly late Apex. You can use a little of the berm on the inside right and run on the berm on the outside left. Make sure you don't put a wheel off as it can be disastrous. You should be full throttle before the Apex all the way down to Turn 11.

Turn 11 & 12 Hair Pin

Turn 11 is the hairpin before heading back onto the front straight if you did Turn 10 right you should be carrying a lot of speed going in and will brake late trail braking into the turn. I use the pit entry lines on the left as a reference for my braking. Depending if it is qualifying or racing your line might be different as you use the inside to prevent a pass or start wider if it is qualifying. I then like to tuck in tight near the tire/barrels and get on the gas early. If it is dry the inside curbing has a lot of grip that you can use to your advantage. Make sure you get the line right so you don't have to lift to avoid the outside wall as this will really kill speed. Then it is full throttle all the way up to Turn 2 with Turns 1 & 12 being bends in the front straight.