Learn a New Driving Skill: Trail-Braking
Eyes at the front of the class, please. It’s time to learn!
A brilliant student once said, “Once you stop learning, you start dying.” That student was Albert Einstein. It’s always satisfying to learn new skills, especially driving skills.
Besides, learning better, faster ways to wring the most out of your Corvette is fun. Having bragging rights at your next autocross or track day doesn’t hurt, either.
Today we’re going to learn about trail-braking courtesy of Team O’Neil Rally School. Trail braking is an advanced driving technique used to turn a corner as fast as possible. To quote Mario Andretti, another one of the greatest minds of the twentieth century, “It is amazing how many drivers, even at the Formula One level, think that the brakes are for slowing the car down.”
To understand trail-braking, you must first have a firm grasp of threshold braking. Threshold braking is the act of braking as hard as possible, right up to the point where the wheels begin to slip. It requires a solid understanding of the signals your car is transmitting to you under high-performance driving conditions.
You also need to have a basic understanding of your tires. To oversimplify, your tires can do one thing well at a time: accelerate, brake, or turn. Introducing a second command — braking or accelerating while turning — reduces the effectiveness of both operations. Trail-braking aims to minimize that compromise and maximize performance.
ALSO SEE: What the Forum Thinks About This Racing Technique
First, threshold brake while approaching the corner. While the conventional wisdom is to brake before entering the turn, threshold braking involves finding the apex of the corner, or the point where you are closest to the inside of the corner while maintaining the highest speed. Up until that point, you can gradually roll off of the brake while turning.
Once you reach the apex, you can begin to gradually roll onto the throttle as you exit the turn. In this way, you can carry the most speed through the corner, improving your lap times dramatically.
At the end of the day, what all this means is faster lap times and more reasons to brag to your buddies. Who can argue with that?