Category Archives: Rich Soule Racing

Thoughts on the line at CotA

CotA Track Map
After many thousands of laps at CotA I can say for certain that the turns that most folks have trouble with are the following:
  1. Turn 3
    CotA Track Map - Turn 3.PNG
    You should enter turn 3 from as far LEFT as you feel comfortable. You should NOT go to the right side of the track to enter turn 3. Ideally you are carrying as much speed as possible through 2 and are brushing your driver’s side (assuming left hand drive car here) wheels right over the edge of the apex curbing at 3 on your way into the apex of 4. Cars end up in the wall on the exit of turn 3/entrance to turn 4 because they tried to enter 3 from the right hand side of the track. I believe the thought is that “Turn 3 is a left hand turn, you should enter it from the right side of the track.”, but turn 3 leads directly into turn 4, so driving from apex to apex in a straight line through 3 and 4 is MUCH more efficient and much, much safer.
  2. Turn 7
    CotA Track Map - Turn 7-8-9
    Turn 7 is one of the two more important turns on the track as it is one of the two INCREASING radius turns on the track (the other being  turn 19, see below). Instead you should take care to NOT late apex 7 and to track out of turn 7 to the right hand side of the track and then throw away turn 8. Unless you are driving a tricycle you are going to be traction limited going through turn 9, so entering turn 8 from the right hand side of the track (to get a ‘good run up the hill’) is just plain silly.
  3. Turn 8
    See above. Enter turn 8 basically ON the curbing on the right hand side of the track and force the car over to the right as much as possible to open up turn 9. Turn 8 is the throw away turn.
  4. Turn 13
    CotA Track Map - Turn 13

    Turn 13 is often taken too fast and early apexed which leads to throttle bobble as you are exiting 13 (or going wide and off track). Instead take 13 a bit deeper and brake a bit harder and turn in a bit harder so that you apex 13 a bit later than you think you should and you’ll be able to constantly add throttle all the way into 15.
  5. Turn 19
    CotA Track Map - Turn 19

    Turn 19 is an increasing radius turn, so it can be taken much, much earlier and much, much faster than most do.

The rest of the track is mostly just ‘regular’ corners and most get them mostly right.

However, the above corners are where my green, first day ever, students often end up being significantly more efficient around the track than just about everybody else in the run group, often to the point where the student will ask me “Why are they going over there to enter turn three?”, or “Why are they going over there to enter turn eight?” while we basically coast behind them off throttle so that we can give the car in front of us enough room to get through the corner. My answer “I’m not really sure why, but as you can see we are significantly more efficient by taking this line, aren’t we?” and, every single time, I get a very enthusiastic “Yes!”.

This also applies to MANY of the advanced students that I coach.

Data analysis bears out the above too…

 

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Rich Soule Racing adds a new car to the fleet

It all began with a trip to the incredibly dangerous BringATrailer.com

I’d had a 2004 Radical SR3 for a number of years which I loved, but a 2008 Radical SR3 done up like a Mazda 787B came up for sale and on a lark, I threw in a very low bid. The 787B liveried Radical was four years newer and also had a very desirable (and expensive) paddle shifter upgrade and a spare set of wheels. Who knows, maybe nobody else would bid… Four days later the auction was coming to an end and the car still hadn’t hit market value. Maybe I could grab it? I put in a bid at way under market value and watched the timer go down. A new bid came in, so I put in a new slightly higher bid. This kept on going back and forth for the next (very stressful) 11 minutes (Bring A Trailer always leaves the auction open for two minutes after any bid, so there is no sniping…). At the end of that 11 minutes I saw this:

Capture

Wow!

I’d gone from this:

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to this:

3AE96891-B553-4F62-BE6D-096BF82FC74F-7827-000008D84179DC70

This led to a number of issues:

  • I now had two Radicals.
  • I had to explain to my wife why this was a good thing.
  • The new Radical was in Los Angeles and I live in Austin.

A quick conversation with the seller solved issue 1. He’d sell my older Radical for me.

The 2nd issue was a bit harder to resolve, but having the first issue solved sort of helped me a bit. I also reminded my wife that I’d be very happy with the newer car and I’ve always appreciated how much she values my happiness. I also got her a dozen roses delivered to her office. I think I’ll be OK on this one.

Depending on what my first Radical goes for, I might come out of this pretty clean. I did get the 2nd car at the lower end of market value and it did have a very nice set of extra wheels with brand new tires. Add in the pneumatic paddle shifters and I don’t think I would have been able to add those upgrades to my current car without going over the purchase price of the new car minus the sales price of my old car (we’ll see what my old car goes for…).

The final issue began this past weekend’s great adventure. When I first purchased the white Radical that meant I’d have to get a truck and trailer. Since both my wife and I instruct for various organizations I ended up getting a two car covered trailer and an (older) F350 dually.

IMG_3630

A friend of mine had a Radical Pro Sport that he had purchased from Bring A Trailer, but the organizations he was running with wanted him to only run it in the instructor run groups, so he was looking to let someone else have fun with it. His car was down in Houston. The seller of my new car said he’d also sell my friend’s Pro Sport. Thus a plan was born: Drive to Houston, pick up friend’s car, drive to LA, drop off both cars, load up new car and drive back to Austin. Planned travel time: Friday to (very, very early) Monday morning. I knew this was pushing it, but hey, why not?

Last Friday I took off from Austin and drove down to MSR Houston to pick up my friend’s Pro Sport. It took a bit to pack everything up (lots of spares) and then I headed out to Los Angeles. Unfortunately, the dually had a blowout in one of the inside rear tires as I was driving on I10, but luckily for me, this happened before I got past San Antonio.

IMG_3634.jpg

I very carefully and slowly drove back to Austin (everywhere that could have fixed the tire was closed at this point), spent the night with Stacy and then took the truck over to Don Rucker Tire and Wheel first thing in the morning. We decided to replace all the tires on the rear of the truck and I headed back out to LA.

It was quite a trip.

  • Times I ran out of gas: 1
    (GPS said there was a gas station just down the road, but when I got there they were out of diesel)
  • Times I almost ran out of gas: 2
    (Again, iExit/Waze/Google said there was a gas station, but when I got there… nothing.)
  • Times I got the truck and trailer stuck in mud: 1
    (The Wilcox AZ Holiday Inn and Suites had a big dirt lot that they made me park in. While I slept, rain happened. Then this happened:
    IMG_3641
    The tow truck barely had to help me get out, but help me out he did.)
  • Miles driven: 2,890
  • Miles driven on I10: @2,475
    (Goodness gracious this is a boring drive, but when you are towing a 44′ trailer behind an F350, boring isn’t all horrible.)
  • Dollar Amount of Gas Purchased: $814.48
    (I kind of think there might be some pending charges as this doesn’t seem like all that much).
  • Hotel stays: 2
  • Truck Naps: 1 (about an hour or so)
  • Hours spent over the whole trip: @88.5
    (Between the stop in Austin to get the blowout fixed and the stops along the way, I didn’t get back in Austin until 4:30 am on Tuesday morning).
  • Daniel McFadden’s seen: 1
    (I was Daniel’s first ever instructor at an HPDE a long time ago. Daniel is now an instructor himself and lives out in LA. He came over to say hi when I picked up the new car in LA.IMG_3647)
  • Number of Tuckers seen: 1
    IMG_3651
    This is Preston’s actual car that he drove away from the courthouse after he won the case that cleared his name. Unfortunately, it was too late at that point and Tucker Automobile never happened.

At this point I’m just looking forward to the next event at CotA (or somewhere else) so I can drive the car on track.

If you see me there, please feel free to ask for a ride.

Rich


24 Hours of Lemons Racing

The 24 Hours of Lemons is a race held over 2 days where contestants build a $500 car and race it against others on a road course. Safety equipment doesn’t count towards the $500, so it is (usually) very safe. I’d been driving on tracks for years before I gave wheel to wheel racing a try and I can honestly say that there is nothing like it. Going through a tight corner on a road course 3 wide with less than an inch between you and the cars on either side of you is thrilling in a way that almost nothing else is. I’ve been sky diving before and racing is more of a rush than sky diving.

Normally I’m not really into these, but this just hit too close to home. Yes, that is me in the last picture.

Here’s me driving the Blue Goose on track before that picture was taken:


Corner Worker Looks – How many can you do per lap?

It’s time for a post about cars, this time for something that I call Corner Worker Looks.

So, what’s a Corner Worker Look? Any time you are driving on track and you look at a corner worker, you’ve just done a Corner Worker Look. This doesn’t mean that you have counted the lines on the corner worker’s face, only that you’ve glanced in their direction and you know that they are doing either nothing or something. Obviously if they are doing something, then you take that extra fraction of a second to see what they are doing. Are they standing up? Sitting down? Moving? Not moving? Waving a flag? Holding a flag in their hand, but not waving it? You get the idea.

The next time you’re at the track, ask 10 different drivers how many corner workers (or lights, as some tracks use lights instead of corner workers) are at the track. I’d be willing to bet that you if ask 10 different people, you will get multiple answers. That shouldn’t be the case, of course, as there is only one correct answer to the question. If you then follow up that question with “How many times per lap do you look at the corner workers?” I can guarantee that you will get a bunch of different answers. This question doesn’t necessarily have a single ‘right’ answer. As long as the answer is equal to or higher than the number of actual manned corner worker stations, then you’ve been given a ‘correct’ answer. However, just because an answer is correct, doesn’t mean that it’s the best answer. What’s the best answer? In general, the higher the answer, the better.

We look at corner workers when out on track because (in my opinion) corner workers are by far the most important thing to pay attention to when driving on track. Corner workers save your life. When you enter turn 2 at Texas World Speedway (TWS) in excess of 130 MPH, it’s the corner worker that lets you know that there is something around the corner that you can’t see yet blocking the track. Without the corner workers telling you what’s going on, driving on a track would be much more dangerous.

On a track with 8 manned corner worker stations (Texas World Speedway for example), I do 27 corner worker looks each and every lap. When I tell the students how many times I look at the corner workers per lap, I get a varied reactions. With new students I usually get a “How do you do that?” With more advanced students I get everything from “How can I do that?” to “That’s impossible and/or unnecessary.”

In addition to looking at the upcoming corner work, sometimes I’m looking 3 to 8 corners ahead of me, sometimes I’m looking a few corners behind me. I do this by setting a CWL Spot (Corner Worker Look Spot) at a specific place on the track. Every time I go over that spot I take a few hundredths of a second to see what the corner worker is doing. There are plenty of times that I’ll have line of sight to a corner worker that is so far away that I won’t be able to see exactly what kind of flag that they have, but I’ll often be able to tell if they have a flag or not. If they do have a flag, then I know that something is happening. The more I know about what’s going on at the track, the better I’m able to drive.

Did a corner worker behind me just throw a checkered flag indicating the end of a session? If I’m racing in a time trial, then I know that this is either my last lap to set a fast time or that I won’t be able to set a faster time than I already have, so I should back off and not run the risk of a spin. If I was only looking one corner ahead, then I wouldn’t have this information. Even more important, did the corner worker behind me just throw a red flag? It’s possible for different corner workers to respond at different speeds, so by looking at corner workers that I’ve already passed, I may learn something earlier than if I was waiting for the next corner worker.

I look so far ahead and behind because it gives me more information. Recently at TWS I was coming out of turn 2 and I was able to see that:

  1. Turn 10 had no flag. (Corner worker F in the image).
  2. Turn 8 had a yellow flag and a debris flag. (Corner worker E in the image).
  3. Turn 4 had a debris flag. (Corner worker B in the image).

BTW, turn 7 is one of the fastest and most dangerous turns in Texas. It’s got severe on camber banking and a very dangerous track out. I’ve pulled 1.7 Gs going through turn 7 in my car. Coming out of turn 7 (very fast) you only have a small window to see the corner worker in 8 before you are past them…

So what did I know?:

I knew that there was something on the track ahead between turn 4 and turn 8. I knew that there was some kind of incident (car off track, and I saw the car and where it was) between turn 8 and turn 10. I knew that I wasn’t going to be flying through turn 7 at full speed. I knew that there might be something (probably debris, could be oil or coolant especially as there was a car stopped off line between turn 9 and turn 10) BEFORE turn 4 on the track even though the corner worker in 2 didn’t have a debris flag as the debris flag could have gone up just as I passed the corner worker in turn 2.

By looking so far ahead I was able to be more prepared than most of the other drivers on the track. Especially those who were looking only one corner ahead.

Most drivers spend way to much of their visual energy focused on the car in front of them. Most drivers also don’t look as far ahead and behind as they could.

So here’s my challenge: How many CWLs can you do at your local track?

Below is my CWL map for Texas World Speedway. Each manned corner worker station is labeled with a letter from A to H. Frequently the corner worker station at the start finish line isn’t manned, but I always look, just in case it is. Each yellow dot is very near to the spot on track where I have a planned CWL Spot. Each is labeled with the corner worker letter that I’m looking at followed by the total number of times I’ve looked at a corner worker that lap. It starts with A-1 (yes, you can look through the garage structure as you cross start finish and see the corner worker in turn 2) and ends with H-27. That’s 27 looks a lap. If you have not been to TWS, there is quite a bit of elevation change on the track which let’s you see quite far at times.

Let me know what you think!

Texas World Speedway with Corner Worker Looks

Texas World Speedway with Corner Worker Looks