Q: I have heard/read you discuss focusing on brake release points rather than brake initiation points in a turn, and understand how the braking paradigm should change if I can focus on the brake release point. However, for the less experienced driver, determining the right brake release point can be as difficult as finding the correct brake initiation point. Do you have any tips for identifying the brake release point in a turn? Should it be simply theoretically just before the apex?
A: The exact point at which you release the brakes is not the important part – it’s looking to it as you begin braking that is most important. That is what you use to judge where you should begin braking. Whether you actually release the brakes at turn-in, shortly thereafter, almost to the apex, or wherever… the key is that you look for it as you approach the corner. It’s also important to “play with” or experiment with how quickly/slowly you release the brakes, as that will have a big impact on how your car reacts as you turn into the corner. As a less experienced driver, what’s most important is that you simply become aware of the process, as it will begin to become part of your mental programming – the way you do things – now. Many drivers develop habits – mental programs – early in their driving career, and then have a harder time changing them later. So, you don’t have to get overly focused on the End-of-Braking (EoB) point, and know exactly where it is or should be – just become aware of it, and look for it as you approach the corner so you judge your braking based off of it. And that will build great habits/programming that you’ll use even more in the future.
Great response! It’s something that’s developed over time and experience, not a fixed point that you pick and then all of a sudden you’ve mastered it. Look ahead and let your gut tell you when to get off the brakes and start accelerating. It’s not an overnight revelation; it takes experience (seat time). Concentrate on getting on the throttle as soon as possible, and then try to do it a split second sooner than that in many cases.
Since trail braking is so tough to control, I ascribe to the brake then turn/accelerate philosophy for novice (Green and Blue) drivers. As soon as the turn is initiated, the student should be off the brake and rolling on the gas (in credit card thickness increments!). So the brake release point should be at the turn in point.
Another way of looking at this is that when we teach a novice to release the brakes before or at turn-in, we’re teaching them something that they’re going to have to un-learn in the future – and that’s a bigger challenge than teaching them the right way from the beginning. I’m not suggesting even mentioning trail braking to a novice, but instead of telling them to release the brakes at/before turn-in, just teach them to slowly and smoothly release the brakes at the end of the brake zone. Most drivers – even novices – will then release as they’re turning into the corner and the car will be better balanced. And they don’t have to un-learn a bad habit later.
Ross, thanks for your comment here. One of the most frustrating parts of the in-car driver coaching that I received during my early DE experience with my club was the mantra that I must be off of the brakes before the turn in. This is totally against the advanced techniques that I would be expected to know and use later as a solo driver. Thank goodness, I had a couple of friends who were also instructors who coached me fairly early on about how to be comfortable with braking and turning at the same time. In my opinion, it would have been much better to incorporate the learning of this technique into the structured portion of the instructed groups.
I agree, Randy!
Great Q/A, cheers.
I’ve experienced the car as a factor too with novice drivers along with their skills and experience. With less power it’s not quite as tough to slow the car while turning and even though they don’t know it, a lot of people are trailbraking in everyday street driving. With the faster cars there are times when it seems more appropriate to do “most” of the braking in a straight line. But since reading Ross’s suggestion a while back about incorporating some level of trail braking without mentioning it per se but just through thinking about the release point, I have yet to encounter any problems. And agree it must be easier to continue building on a skill rather than stop one technique and learn another…
as an instructor looking to learn communication skills, you have helped significantly with your answers here. Just had a student who had been brainwashed into believing braking must be done in a straight line. In 2007, or 08 I had the opportunity to attend Proformance racing school, while a pretty novice driver. What you and Don and the other instructors were able to instill into us was “look up, look around the corner, and drive your own car” will be my next focus as an instructor. I specifically remember hearing “as a spectator, we shouldn’t be able to detect when someone got off the brakes and on the throttle”
thanks still Ross, for helping me remember, not only what I was taught, but how to communicate it more clearly.