Q: “One thing I continue to struggle with (even after 20 years of largely amateur sports car racing) is finding and retaining my brake points. What could/should I be doing to create these points of reference from seemingly nothing?”
A: First, are you making notes of your references on a track map? Actually, writing them down? If you do that, they’ll stick with you better – you’ll remember them better. And I’m talking about actually writing by hand on a track map. A quote I like to refer to is from social behavior scientist, Robert Cialdini. He says, “People live up to what they write down.” In other words, if you write down your references, you’ll live up to using them more often.
Plus, if you know that at the end of every on-track session you’re going to sit down with a track map and write notes, your brain will automatically begin to store what’s important for you to do that. Sure, it takes practice, but you’ll keep getting better at note-taking, the more you do it.
Finally, one thing many drivers make a mistake with is focusing too much on where they begin braking – what I call the Begin-of-Braking (BoB) point – and not enough on where they end braking, the End-of-Braking point (EoB). If you look to where you want to end your braking – that point where your foot has finally come completely off the brake pedal – you’ll naturally be looking more into the corner, and you’ll find that where you begin braking is easier to find and use. In fact, your BoB becomes more of a secondary reference point, and the EoB is your primary reference. Think about it: you judge where you begin braking based off of where you’re going to finish, rather than just using a point on the straight as where you’re going to begin braking. After all, is it possible that the speed you’re at as you get to where you begin braking is different, based on how you got out of the previous corner or the traffic you’re racing with? And shouldn’t that change where you begin? The best way of judging this is by looking more for your EoB. Don’t get me wrong, you don’t have to have an exact point – a crack in the pavement, for example – to tell you where you finish releasing the brakes. But if you’re visually and mentally focused in that area, your braking will be more consistent.