066 – Colin Braun: Learning Tracks & The Secrets to His Speed

Colin Braun joins me again (he was on episode #7 over a year ago) to talk about his approach to learning a track he’s never been to before, what it takes to get to throttle sooner, how to use the brakes, being smooth with the steering, and what “rotating” a car really means. Basically, he shares with you what he does to be so bloody fast! We recorded this episode while driving from the Lisbon airport to Portimao in Portugal, so we also share a couple of funny travel stories (since Colin’s luggage had gotten lost on his flight and would be in the same clothes for the next 4 days…)!

Colin has won races and championships in sports cars, NASCAR and open-wheel cars. He’s the youngest driver to have ever stood on the podium at Le Mans, won the IMSA Prototype Challenge championship five times, and won NASCAR Trucks series races.

Follow Colin at colinbraun.com, www.facebook.com/ColinBraun, @colinbraun on Twitter, and @colinbraun on Instagram.

I mentioned being able to download my past webinars – go to SpeedSecrets.com/Webinars to do so.

1 Comment

  1. (I wrote this prior to finishing the pod cast. Once I finished listening to the whole discussion I picked up many great pointers. Colin has many good insights and gives good reasons for what he does. Worth a second or third listen).

    One activity that I like for developing the skills for learning a new track is autocrossing. Each course is different ( but there aren’t, as a rule, any significant elevation changes, and never blind corners as there are in road courses). I like auto crossing my shifter kart because I not only have to predict my line from walking the course but also have to predict which gear will be needed. Shift points and brake points can be tricky to predict.

    The targets change throughout the day. The line gets cleaned up ( first runs in the morning are usually on really dirty surfaces), temperatures and therefore tire grip increase, and corner strategies are modified as needed. I try to set the lines together so that I can take the corners in the highest gear possible and still be on the sweet spot of the power band (only a few thousand rpm at most with a race-tuned two stroke engine).

    However, I’ve noticed that sometimes you may choose a tighter line and therefore a lower gear because you travel less distance. (To me, a well laid out course is wide enough to allow you to choose wide and fast or tight and short. I have many times chosen the latter, even though the former is more of a thrill).

    Just about every track has an on-line video which is a must to watch. If possible and if time and track management permit, I like to ride my bike around the entire track several times. Use of landmarks, to me, are only a temporary crutch to be used while initially driving the first laps. I like to set the geography of each turn and series of turns in my mind to establish the right “feel” for how the turn flows, including elevation changes with respect to changes in tire loads, pavement profiles, and runoff areas “just in case”. (I think you quoted Jackie Stewart’s views of using landmarks vs. developing a feeling for each turn). Besides, racing in heavy rain or following a car closely or racing at night pretty much wipes out the use of landmarks, especially if they are far away. However, I still like brake markers or using some trackside references wherever and whenever they are visible.

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