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Pobst Position: Hills
Page: 1 Links
Pobst Position: Hills
Have you ever raced Watkins Glen? Great track, yes? I love it. But, don't you have trouble with turn nine, coming out of the boot? Seems like everywhere else, your cars rocks. You can get it just where you want, then in turn nine it all the sudden becomes a handful. Being a little dense sometimes, I had the same problem for years, then, one fine day, a more observant friend happened to mention it. Every other corner at The Glen is nicely banked! We get used to all that on-camber grip, then pop out of The Boot, and blech, no response. The main reason there is no helpful camber there is that turn nine is where the long course rejoins the short course cut-off. The surface is relatively flat, and at the top of a crest, right where you need to start entering the corner. This is a great illustration of the important effect that hills and road camber have on your race car&and your street car, too. The good news is that it is the same for everyone. Complain all you want, but remember everyone else has the same issue. The answer? Simple! Don't push as hard through there. Slow down your hands and your car in that entry, don't let it slide around too much, keep it right on line. It won't feel fast, but you'll leave the pack behind you.

I lump these two track characteristics together because they create very similar effects. Uphill or on-camber, more grip. Downhill or off-camber, less grip.

Another great example is the uphill at Lime Rock. A couple years back we were there in a Porsche, and I noticed a lack of steering response at the top of that hill. Photos later showed why. The front tires were a foot in the air! Talk about a light front end. No wonder I had to be real careful about straightening the steering over the top, sure don't want to land with the wheels turned any at all. West Coasters, you've got The Corkscrew, which is slow, so easier to deal with, and The Eagle's Nest, turn five at Thunderhill. I just watched the track's video, and learned for the first time that turn nine is the only corner at Thunderhill that is really banked. No wonder I feel I overslow that every time! Told ya I can be dense, but you knew that&

Point is, always be aware of the contour of the track, and adjust your driving for it. For example, when cresting a hill, always have the car balanced for the landing. No push in the front, no loose in the back. [Editor Philip, I agree no here is probably bad grammar, but I'd like the NASCAR slang sound, please] If you get a death wiggle, that's why. When cresting, or going downhill, or off-camber, there is less grip. Landing, heading uphill, or banked/on-camber, there's more. I love attacking an uphill corner, like turn eight at Mid-Ohio, or 3a at Infineon. The car's momentum drives it into the pavement as the road rises, generating really rewarding g-force; feels so good. But, better apex late and straight, cause grip will disappear and you'll run wide rapidly when the car lightens up over the top. Even banking usually does not show up until after you've entered a corner, like turn six at Mazda Raceway Laguna Seca, which you even enter over a crest! What a trip. Light and scrabbly entry, then fantastic cornering power, then ZOW it suddenly disappears again as the camber goes flat on exit. No wonder they have that huge gravel trap out there.

As I write, KPAX/3R Racing heads for the Long Beach street race. City streets are crowned, meaning the outside will usually be off-camber, and the inside, on-camber. Looks flat at a glance, but it's not. Bad grip, better grip, bad grip again. And very little practice. And walls, everywhere. What a challenge. I think we're gonna win.
Originally printed in Sportscar June 08
 
 
 
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