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Motorsport Ranch is a 1.7 mile 40 foot wide racetrack that is exceptionally smooth. The 40-foot width and clear runoff areas make the track safe and lots of fun. All curbing is smooth, low racetrack type curbing. This particular track is great for learning since many of the turns are off camber, or banked away from the direction of turn and the track challenges your assumptions about what is the best way to run a quick lap. We will need to pay particular attention to WHY we are doing specific things. For example, the first turn is a smooth uphill right-hander. Entry is from the middle of the track rather than the far left which is more normal for a right-hander. The reason we would normally be left is to widen the arc so that more speed can be carried through the turn, which results in a higher exit speed. Here, however, a sharp left hand turn greets us at the exit. Therefore, we cannot carry speed out of the corner. We need a technique that will allow a fast entry, reduce the time spent in the corner and allow just as much speed as we can get rid of at the exit to make the next turn. We shall see. First a few definitions:
Turn in -The point where we stop following the road and turn toward the inside of a corner.
Apex - The point where the car is closest to the inside edge of a corner.
Early Apex - An apex that occurs before the geometric center of the corner.
Late Apex -An apex that occurs past the geometric center of the corner.
Track out - The point where we allow the car to return to the outside edge of the track exiting the corner.
Grab your copy of the track map. Let’s go! We are going counter-clockwise.
RATTLESNAKE: We are headed down what is normally perceived as the front straight at Motorsport Ranch on our way to a smooth quick lap. We have exited Big Bend and have moved over to about the center of the track. Our first corner will be the entry into Rattlesnake. Rattlesnake is a series of turns just over the wall from the hot pit. It starts out with an uphill medium speed right followed quickly by a hard left, a short right, and a hard left entering Wagon Wheel.
The track was paved in three courses at the end of the straight and we can clearly see the pavement "lanes" as we enter the first corner. We will stay in the middle "lane" to about 2/3 of the way through the first right where turn in will occur. Notice, we have been turning, but we were actually just following the road. We then turn right into the corner on a line that will make a straight line between the very late apex of the first right and the center apex of the first left. The line will just touch the left curb about the middle of the next corner. As soon as we get the car headed on our straight line between the curbs, we brake hard. This will occur just at the top of the hill. At this point we are looking at the right or outside edge of the track at a point after the left-hander or second turn. We make our left turn in a manner that will just keep the car from running off the right edge of the track and it’s path will be parallel to the right edge when we get there. We quickly check the flag station to our left.
We will follow the right edge of the track here through the next right-hander. There is no need to follow a "line" through here. Give it up. The turn before this right, and the left immediately after are much more important. Wiggling the car here will just upset it. Just go the shortest distance and follow the curb. The track starts down hill in this turn.
WAGON WHEEL is a 180 degree corner with a downhill entry, an off camber middle, and an uphill exit. The track makes a hard left out of the snake into the Wagon Wheel Still going down hill. We won’t. Fight the urge to get the car turned quickly to the left. Instead look at the outside edge of the track toward the middle of Wagon Wheel. Take the car there and again make it parallel to the outside edge of the track when we get there. This will require discipline. To do it we will basically drive straight down the hill near the left curbing, but go past the curbing before we start a left hand turn. The right edge point we are looking for will be the lowest point in the corner.
The second half of Wagon Wheel is uphill. We will smoothly turn in from the outside edge of Wagon Wheel near the middle of the turn and make a late apex ¾ of the way around the corner. This will be the second apex in Wagon Wheel. The first occurred right at the beginning when we drove past that left hand curb. Just before the track out point coming out of Wagon Wheel, the track reaches the top of the hill. Our track out point will be on the right edge. After track out we will check the flag station to our right, check our mirrors & gauges, and set up for Ricochet.
RICOCHET is a fast downhill left of less than 90 degrees. Most cars will require very little braking before this turn. Many will go flat out. The turn in point looks very early but it’s deceptive. Make a smooth turn in from the right edge and as soon as we have the turn set to just miss the left curb about the center of the corner, look at the track out. There is a nice sandy patch at track out. Take the car to the right edge at the end of the sand. Keep the car on the track and don’t do anything quickly. Don’t even think about lifting off the throttle after turn in to this corner. Just boogie. Track out will place us on the far right edge of a very wide straight. We check our mirrors and gauges then move to the far left edge and relax a little.
LITTLE BEND is a classic right-hander with a slight downhill entry and a slight uphill exit. Coming into Little Bend we will be on the far left edge of the track. Use the brake markers to brake in a straight line, downshift and follow the left edge of the track until it has turned about 20 degrees, then, turn into the corner to make an apex just past the center of the corner on the right curb, then track out to the left hand edge. We check the flag station to our left, check our mirrors and gauges and set up for Buzzard Neck.
BUZZARD NECK is, again, a classic flat right-hander with a short straight following. We will be on the left coming into Buzzard Neck and turn into an apex that is just a couple of feet late. Track out to the far left and let it keep turning after track out. We will not be able to get all the way back to the right to set up for Horseshoe on the short straight, but that’s OK. Make sure we stop the right turn in time to leave room to settle the car and brake hard in a straight line before turning left into Horseshoe.
HORSESHOE is an increasing radius, down hill entry, off camber middle, up hill exit and blind track out corner. Lots going on here. We will be only about 10 feet right of the left-hand curb entering Horseshoe. The track in this corner follows the slope of the hill that it is going around and the off camber situation is worse the further to the right we are in the middle of the corner. If we stay toward the left side of the track we will have less off camber. Apex about 2/3 of the way through the corner. Since the corner straightens out some after the first half, we will stay on the left curb for about 15 feet at the apex. We will be able to get quite a bit of power on before the apex and accelerate hard as we cross the face of the hill going uphill after the apex. As we crest the hill we will finally be able to see the right edge of the track and the track out point. We will stay right and quickly set up for Boot Hill and Tombstone.
BOOT HILL is a flat left of about 60 degrees. The turn in to Boot Hill will come quickly after the track out point of Horseshoe. When we get going really quick we will take Boot Hill and Tombstone as one corner throttle steering through both. But for now we will make a smooth turn in for Boot Hill looking at the track out point almost from the turn in point. The apex will not be all the way to the curb on the left, but will occur about 6 feet right of the curbing and about the center of the corner. We will be constantly accelerating through this corner. At track out we will be at the right edge of the track and we will just pause and then turn in for Tombstone.
TOMBSTONE is a flat corner of about 60 degrees that leads onto the fastest section of the track. The faster we go here the sooner we will need to turn into Tombstone since the car will slide before the apex. The apex at Tombstone will be on the left curb and just past the center of the corner. We will be looking at the track out point on the right side coming out of Tombstone before we get to the apex and using the throttle to keep the car on the track. Again, when we go really well, the turn into Tombstone will back up to the track out point of Boot Hill and there will be no straight in between.
We will stay right on the straight after tombstone. We check our mirrors and gauges and probably shift up a gear. We check the flag station to the right in the middle of the straight, relax and find our brake and turn markers for Big Bend.
BIG BEND is a fast smooth wide left-hander. We will use a slightly late apex here. From the right edge of the track we will turn in very smoothly. As soon as the arc is set to just miss the curb at the apex, we will look at the right edge of the track ahead for the track out point. We can add power continuously here with full throttle occurring near the apex. The track is very wide at the exit. Fight the urge to get started early on the next straight. Use all of the track width at the exit. Check the start-finish station to the right; it was centered in our windshield just before track out. Now set up for another good lap.
Hand drawn map for easy visual.
Overhead picture for more detail. (click on picture for full size graphic)
Now with topo elevation lines imposed-click for full sized version.