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Discussion Starter #1
I am looking for experienced opinions on trail braking. Not asking about situation specific such as diving in to pass but just as a general way of driving. I know that Bondurant says to do it and it seems like most others say to do ALL your braking in a straight line. I trail brake and always have. Mainly I am wondering if this is a trait that I need to stop. At my current level the car sticks pretty well in both trail braking and in neutral state turn-in.
 

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You have to walk before you can run, and if you try to run before you learn to walk, you fall. Schools teach straight-line-only braking in order to get students not to overwhelm the front tires, and to focus on the line, on where to look, on braking modulation and so on. THEN they can bring trailbraking back into the mix.

My opinion on trailbraking is ALL fast drivers do it, even if they say they're not doing it. Show me the telemetry from a fast driver who literally comes off the brakes 100% before putting any steering into a corner, and I will eat this computer screen.

There are some good insights from people like Carroll Smith into the physics of why trailbraking is preferred, but to summarize, and completely ignoring the effects on car balance and tire loading, and the fact that some cars require more of it than others, generally if you're not trailbraking, you're not getting all you can get out of your tires. You're leaving a lot of the Traction Circle on the table, and if you do that, you're losing time. It's well known that a tire can give only 100% lateral grip (turning) or longitudinal grip (braking, acceleration), but if you ask it to do some of both, the sum of the vectors is more than 100%. Doing some turning while still braking maximizes your tire usage.

Waiting to come off the brakes 100% before turning is just as silly as not applying any gas until the car was totally straight coming out of the corner. :D



I am looking for experienced opinions on trail braking. Not asking about situation specific such as diving in to pass but just as a general way of driving. I know that Bondurant says to do it and it seems like most others say to do ALL your braking in a straight line. I trail brake and always have. Mainly I am wondering if this is a trait that I need to stop. At my current level the car sticks pretty well in both trail braking and in neutral state turn-in.
 

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Corral Day Kittah
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Straight line braking sets your car up appropriately for a turn, puts the nose of the car down to prepare for the change in direction and reduces your speed to accomodate your turn. I've found over time that trail braking has come naturally to me as my seat time, handling skills and familiarity with the car increase.
 

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I've found over the years that trail-braking also helps front heavy POS cars like Mustangs to turn in a bit easier, by keeping a bit of extra weight shifted forward so the rear will rotate.


cheers
Ed N.
 

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I'm just going to echo what has already been said. I was taught to brake in a straight line, and I had to when first starting out. If I didn't I would either get the ass end out of shape or go too hot into a turn. As I have progressed as a driver I have started to trail brake and was even complimented on how well I did it by one of my last driving instructors. Didn't even realize I was doing it. Every good and experienced driver I have seen and been in the car with trailbrake. Some of them I know I can't learn the braking point by watching tailights because they have one foot on the gas and one on the brake and somewhere between the two all the time.
 

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I usually come into corners way too hot so I am always trail braking. I picked up the technique quickly when I began autocrossing way back in the day.
 

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Discussion Starter #7
I appreciate all the responses. I too found trail braking to be a natural progression vs. something that I tried to learn. It made 4WD offroad buggies turn-in when they did not really want to. At my last (first) track outing I was instructed by the instructor following me that he did not want to see any brake lights if my wheels are turned. I understand now the walking/running analogy. Being that I have been doing it for years and feel that I do it fairly well I plan to keep on doing it unless I am really given a hard time about it. I received word yesterday that the instructor and the track owner were satisfied enough with my driving on my day with them that they are ready to sign me off to race their summer wheel to wheel series. I have the Revolution school this weekend and one morning open track event before race time. My plan for race day is to run the pace and let anyone who is all over my bumper get by without much fuss. As an inexperienced road racer I feel this is a decent way to start.
 

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I received word yesterday that the instructor and the track owner were satisfied enough with my driving on my day with them that they are ready to sign me off to race their summer wheel to wheel series.
You're talking about NPR's summer series, right?
 

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Yes, will you be racing? I would like to meet you.
wow, one track day and you're in, sweet!

Nope, not racing, my junk doesn't have any safety gear. But let me know what races(s) you'll be attending, I might make the trip....I could even crew for you'd like the help.

Mark
 

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Discussion Starter #11
As of now, I plan to make all the races, but the first is questionable on if my car will be ready for the race. I will be there regardless to run the lapping event that morning. I am always by myself so any help would be great. At this point if I have any major malfunctions I will just load it on the trailer.

They were mainly looking for consistency, predictibility and that you can keep track of the cars around you and not freak out. I am used to running in packs (normally in REALLY rough banging all over each other packs) so that does not bother me.
 

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Fantastic summary by everyone, I feel like I'm in a place to put more focus on this now.

I'm curious; how many left-foot-brakers do we have? I don't do it, but now that I'm in an uncompetitive car for solo, I'm considering trying it out. Also, for the autocrossers here, if you do left foot brake, do you run the whole course that way, or only certain elements?
 

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Discussion Starter #14
Do you have to get your cage modified to comply with the rules?
That is a tough one to answer. They refer you to SCCA rulebook for cage requirements. SCCA has a couple different cage requirements per the class you run. Since we do not run SCCA classes then it is unclear which ruleset to use. it appears that once I add a seat brace that I will be good. There are some bars and gusets that I want to add but I believe I am legal as-is. They mainly just want you in a safe car, they don't seem to be that picky about every specific detail as long as it a well thought out well built design.
 

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That is a tough one to answer. They refer you to SCCA rulebook for cage requirements. SCCA has a couple different cage requirements per the class you run. Since we do not run SCCA classes then it is unclear which ruleset to use. it appears that once I add a seat brace that I will be good. There are some bars and gusets that I want to add but I believe I am legal as-is. They mainly just want you in a safe car, they don't seem to be that picky about every specific detail as long as it a well thought out well built design.
SCCA? Last time looked (this was like, a year ago), they were following the NASA rulebook for rollcage specifications... I'll have to go look for the SCCA cage specs in case I ever get the $$ to build one for my junk!

Mark
 

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Discussion Starter #16
In my opinion if you are good for NASA then you will be good. SCCA calls for tubes from the front hoop to the firewall, but they will let this go as I questioned because you can't do that in CMC. Grand Bayou requires two door bars on each side of the car.
 

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...At my last (first) track outing I was instructed by the instructor following me that he did not want to see any brake lights if my wheels are turned.
MFE shared a technique we've used with autox students for years (and I encourage him to edit my post for clarity).

Imagine a string tied to your wheel from either your gas or brake pedal. As you increase your steering input, you must decrease the amount of gas/brake - because your car only has 100% to give in the form of turning, braking or acceleration. As you turn the wheel, your pedal must go up generally at the same rate of your steering input.

As you combine any of those items (turn, gas, brake) at the same time, you still only have 100% to give but must divvy that up between your inputs.

If you think you can change the rules of physics, as it appears I did when we first started autoxing, you can into corners like a bull with a full on, elbow cross steering wheel lock, wondering why your car continues in a straight line.
 

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MFE shared a technique we've used with autox students for years (and I encourage him to edit my post for clarity).

Imagine a string tied to your wheel from either your gas or brake pedal. As you increase your steering input, you must decrease the amount of gas/brake - because your car only has 100% to give in the form of turning, braking or acceleration. As you turn the wheel, your pedal must go up generally at the same rate of your steering input.

As you combine any of those items (turn, gas, brake) at the same time, you still only have 100% to give but must divvy that up between your inputs.

If you think you can change the rules of physics, as it appears I did when we first started autoxing, you can into corners like a bull with a full on, elbow cross steering wheel lock, wondering why your car continues in a straight line.
^ This is how I was taught, good stuff.
 

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I'm curious; how many left-foot-brakers do we have? I don't do it, but now that I'm in an uncompetitive car for solo, I'm considering trying it out. Also, for the autocrossers here, if you do left foot brake, do you run the whole course that way, or only certain elements?
I left foot brake any time I am in a hurry. I practiced how to do it while driving on the street when not in traffic, then honed it while auto-x'ing.
 

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I'm not a left-foot-braker, but almost all of the really fast autocrossers I've ridden with do it, esepcially FWD guys. They'll sometimes flat-foot the gas for long periods at a time and use the brake for steering assist.
 
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