Is it too early to start preparing for the Indianapolis Motor Speedway? We don’t think so. With the 2017 SCCA Runoffs to be held at IMS, we turned to our factory driver Tom Long to help get you ready. Below, take a read through his track notes – a turn-by-turn analysis.
Front Straight. The Front Straight is extremely long, and feels very narrow blasting over the famed S/F line bricks on the most high speed part of the circuit. Be mindful the road course travels counter-race to the oval; you are actually headed toward Indy Turn 4 with the pits to the right.
1 The braking zone can be quite tricky as cars are arriving at top speed and slowing for a fairly tight 3rd gear corner in most cars. The brake zone also happens to be the best overtaking spot on the circuit. At the transition from the oval to the road course, the pavement is fairly smooth, but the oval has better grip level than the road course. Caution through the transition is advised until you get used to it. The main objective here is to carry good momentum into a late apex and to compromise your exit to setup for Turn 2. Exiting Turn 1 no more than mid-track will serve you well in your setup and approach for Turn 2.
2 Turn 2 can be quite tricky as you do have to make a speed adjustment on entry – more so to transfer weight over the nose of the car to help point yourself into the corner. The apex goes over a gradual rise that makes the exit somewhat blind and catches most drivers out as it comes up quickly. Have your eyes up, and look through to the exit as you approach the apex. Use the exit curb here, which is smooth and even to the track surface; however, watch dropping a wheel to the grass as this will hurt your run to Turn 4.
3 Turn 3 is a slight bend to the right, taken at full throttle in any car. Hug tight to the right along the curbing to allow a straighter approach for the braking zone of Turn 4. This also allows for a more protective line.
4 Turn 4 continually tricks drivers into braking too late, missing the turn-in point, and ultimately making them miss the apex. The mindset here is actually exit speed, so it’s paramount to get the car slowed properly and setup for the apex through the exit. If you follow someone into Turn 4, be ready to take advantage of them overshooting the brake point, which allows an easy opportunity to slip by at turn-in. Do not get reeled into following and becoming too greedy with extending the run through Turn 3 and forgetting your brake point for Turn 4! There is not much for a reference point into Turn 4; this makes it the most overshot corner on the circuit. Believe it or not, even more than into Turn 1!
5 Turn 5 can be taken flat out in most cars. The exit is more critical as it sets up the entry for Turn 6.
6 As mentioned above, for this very long radius left-hander, a tighter inside line on entry can help be protective, but ideally entering from mid track will allow for the best radius through this long lasting corner. Carrying entry speed is important, and be patient with throttle application for proper car placement. It’s key to compromise the exit to properly get setup for Turn 6a, which leads onto the back straightaway.
6a Turn 6a should be approached with an early speed adjustment so that throttle can be added through apex to get the best exit speed possible. Keep eyes up, looking through the apex and exit to help deliver proper throttle application (timing).
7 This corner’s turn-in speed is surprisingly faster than most give it credit. Carry maximum momentum from your run down the back straight through the brake zone into the apex. Having said this, the momentum of the vehicle will make Turn 7 exit/Turn 8 entry a compromised approach as you’ve carried all this speed. This is OK, as Turn 8 will then simply become a connection between Turns 7 & 9. Turn 7 braking can also be another passing opportunity if you’ve been able to get a better exit on your competitor down the back straight and started to pull alongside. However, since the braking zone is not very long, passing requires careful and pre-planned setup prior to braking. There is an access road, driver’s right in the brake zone, which can be used as a great reference point in combination with the brake markers.
8 As discussed above, the entry to Turn 8 is a compromised approach from the ideal line, normally entered from driver’s left. Arrive at Turn 8 mid-track, a brush of the brakes to set the nose and get the car to turn crisply into a late apex. This will set the car up for a nice wide arc for turn-in at Turn 9.
9 From the exit of Turn 8, be right-of-center track for the entry at Turn 9 to allow for the best possible radius. Using the apex curb here can be quite helpful. Exiting Turn 9 on driver’s right is critical to holding the left steering input to get setup for Turn 10.
10 Turn 10 starts a fairly long full throttle run down to Turn 12, which makes it very critical. Setup from mid-track after the exit of Turn 9, and breathe off the throttle early to let the nose settle for turn in, applying power before the apex. Note, power application is before the apex to allow the best exit speed possible. So, remember to back this corner up on your approach, slowing early, allowing the car to accept power sooner. Apex curb use is OK here as well; it will help straighten the radius through to exit.
11 This turn is taken at full throttle. The biggest item to note is to take advantage of the higher grip surface of the oval pavement (due to the grooving cut) as it joins the road course. This can be felt rather significantly. Of
Course, build up confidence as this transition can be quite intimidating re-entering the oval!
12 Turn 12 transitions back off the oval into the infield, hard braking with keeping entry speed in mind. Over slowing the entry is quite common as the apex speed is higher than anticipated. However, the exit is somewhat compromised to get properly setup for Turn 13.
13 Turn 13 is very tight, late apex, with the most important item to keep in mind is focusing on exit. The exit here leads the run through Turn 14 all the way onto the front straightaway. Watch exit curb use here as it can make the traction difficult.
14 Taken at full throttle in almost all cars, the most critical piece is to have smooth, slow hand inputs as to not early apex through this long bend onto the front straightaway.
Overall, the entire circuit is smooth, as are the curbs. Most find the road course track surface tends to be lower grip than the speedway portion. Keep in mind most corners lead into the next; not overdriving any one particular corner is critical to achieve a nice smooth flow over the lap. Enjoy and good luck!
For more on Tom Long coaching, check out this video.