Wednesday, August 29, 2012

How to Drive Calabogie - Onboard Video and Instructions

Calabogie is one of the most fun and addictive tracks I have driven. Here are turn-by-turn instructions on how to drive it:

PIT OUT - You enter the track on the left side of the front straight. The concrete pit wall is very high and as you go on the track, you cannot see cars coming down the front straight. Watch carefully for the signal from pitout. Stay to the left. The blend line is very tight - wider cars, beware.

KINK - This is one of the most exhilarating turns at the track when attacking it at full speed. If you are just coming on the track, stay to the left all the way to the next turn. If you are at speed coming down the front straight, apply light to medium brakes on the approach, settle the car down, and be gentle on the throttle at the apex. The Kink is intriguing, and especially in the rain it will catch some drivers by surprise as the terrain drops quickly downhill and emphasizes the tendency of a tail-happy car to oversteer. Track all the way out of the Kink and don't jerk the car back to the left for the next turn (Jacques).
JACQUES – This is a greater than 90° right-hander. The approach to it is fast from a fairly steep downhill along an intimidating 6-foot-high concrete pit-wall on the left. Brake at ~ 80% intensity and slightly diagonally to the wall (you are still moving left from the Kink and don't want the car to get loose so close to the wall). Stay close to the wall at turn-in. Hit the mid-corner apex and track out, just like in a classroom textbook. The edge of the track comes towards you fairly fast here but with the right turn-in, it is reasonably wide. Overall, I see a common mistake with many drivers not using all the road available at trackout here. 

NOTE: When it's raining, there is a little river running from right to left in the braking zone of Jacques. BE CAREFUL! Apply brakes earlier when wet!

GILLES - An uphill right-hander with a blind apex. IMPORTANT: The approach is uphill, but the corner is actually flat. You do not see the apex as you go uphill. As soon as the road crests, turn in. This may not happen intuitively on your first few laps since you have no reference to where the track goes from there. After a few laps, you should be more confident and able to turn right as soon as you get over the crest. If you wait until you see the actual corner, you will be too late on your turn-in. The safe line is to take 'Gilles' as a very late apex and bring the car back to the right side of the track on the approach to 'Easy'. The faster drivers will take a slightly earlier apex and stay in the middle of the track or even track two-thirds of the way out on that short straight. You need to find out what works for your car and level of experience. They key thing about exiting Gilles is to position the car in a way that would allow you to go flat out through 'Easy', which leads to the longest straightway on the track.

EASY - As the name suggests, this corner is easy. A 25-degree flat kink to the left leading onto the 2000-ft long back straight called Rocky Road. You should be using full throttle from the exit of Gilles through Easy onto Rocky Road. Staying in the middle of the track or two-thirds of the way out on the short connection between ‘Gilles’ and ‘Easy’ does not compromise the speed you can carry onto the straight since there is ample room to track out. At first it might appear that in order to carry maximum speed onto Rocky Road, you should be using the whole track and move to the right on this approach to Easy, but after a few laps, a faster driver will find a more optimal compromise through the turn. To maximize speed from Easy, turn in using a slightly early apex. Do not force the car to turn, just turn relatively early and remember, it's only a 25-degree kink!

ROCKY ROAD - This is the 2000-ft long back straight and one of the best passing zones. You have lots of time there to check your mirrors, let others pass or prepare for a pass on others. Take the time to scan your gauges. Take a deep breath. The driving line is a traverse from the right side of the track to the left side as you approach Sir John A., a non-essential bend to the left. The road drops downhill right after Sir John A. This is NOT a corner and should NOT be taken as such. As you approach the end of the Rocky Road, you should be on the left side of the track and the “Apex” of Sir John A. is actually your braking point for the next corner (Mulligans). Brake hard in a straight line right up to the apex of the next right-hander, Mulligans.

MULLIGANS – As you are braking hard and downshifting from Sir John A., you’ll “hit” the apex of Mulligans in a straight line just as you get close to the curbing on your right. I actually like clipping the curbing slightly as I slowly ease off the brakes to loosen up the rear of the car and help it rotate for the turn. After the apex in Mulligans, you have to gently track out, unwinding the steering wheel ever so slightly. You may accelerate for a bit toward the next turn (Big Rock) and the most experienced drivers will treat the approach to Big Rock as an extension of the breaking zone for Mulligans and carry more entry speed into it. 

BIG ROCK – The actual rock is there on the left, completely out of your field of vision as you are looking left through Big Rock. You can see it if you look to the left but only on a slow warm-up or cool-down lap. At the ENTRY point of ‘Big Rock’ right at the end of the curbing on your left (EXIT of Mulligans), you start the turn-in of a long right-hander. The road continues to drop down and you have to be patient and get to the apex right at the point where the elevation changes to uphill. The turn into and through Big Rock is on a wide radius. It is difficult to pick up visually. Rather than following the track, you are driving across it. Visualize a smooth arc that will place the car in the middle of the track on exit. Hug that curbing for only a short distance (maybe 20 ft) and track out to the middle. From that apex you can accelerate hard and should not have to lift for the next turn. Stay in the middle of the track on the uphill climb, there is no need to hug the inside (right side) too long out of Big Rock to line up with the next left-hander or it will just take away momentum. Even though this corner has considerable banking, if you approach it too fast, you will get pushed to the outside and lose all the momentum on the following steep climb up to Candy Mountain, as you'd be forced to lift.

CANDY MOUNTAIN – Left-hand corner with a blind apex. Staying in the middle of the track, coming out of ‘Big Rock’, you get to the top of Candy Mountain at full throttle. It seems at first that you have to hit the apex on top of the crest. It will take some time to get used to it, but you need patience here and wait until AFTER the crest to get to the apex about 60 feet further downhill or you will be correcting the turn-in or be on the grass to the right. The apex is again almost at the very end of that curbing. Let the car track out all the way to the right onto the next long straightaway, which will should be a passing zone for all schools. This straight is not as long as Rocky Road. Watch for the braking markers in the next corner (Temptation) and use them as a reference for braking, or you will have a hard time slowing down enough into the next corner. Big Rock and Candy Mountain is a rhythm section. They flow together at speed. Give the car enough time to settle after the exit of Big Rock. When you start cresting the hill at Candy Mountain, turn in.

TEMPTATION - This is one of the toughest corners I have seen anywhere! A carousel-like 180° (or more) decreasing radius left hand corner with a VERY late apex. It is very hard to find a proper braking point here. The faster cars will approach the turn diagonally toward the left and track all the way out to the point where they can see the apex (in other words, treat the turn as a double-apex). The apex is more or less the point where this section joins the East track. Don’t be “early” on the apex and don’t accelerate too hard or you will run out of track at the exit.

NOTE: In the wet, you have to be extremely careful with acceleration at the exit as you continue on to the EAST track. There is no camber and no curbing at the exit of the corner. Going uphill to the next corner, the fastest line is along the right edge of the track.

DELIVERANCE - Easy right hand corner over a crest. The approach for faster cars is from the right edge of the track up the hill. Straighten out the wheel at the crest as you continue to accelerate throughout that turn. DON’T LIFT when you crest this hill and do not even think about dialing in more steering right at the crest. Take it easy on the first few laps until you know the right speed. If you are going too fast and have to lift coming over this crest, you will very likely end up in the left Armco. The next sections have constant elevation changes, a real roller-coaster. On that straight you want to stay more to the right. As we are going uphill, there is a slight bend to the right, just let your car “drift” to the left side of the track. Past the crest the road drops down again into the next complex of turns, which got its name because it resembles a duck’s head on the map.

THE CROWN - You should look at the next two corners as ONE long right turn with a double apex. You will approach The Crown from the left edge and turn in as the road drops further down and you can see both apexes. Turn in just once and hold the steering wheel. There is no need to adjust, it brings you perfectly around both corners.

THE BROW - As you come around The Crown, let the car drift out to the right. Hold the steering wheel and it will get you to the apex of The Brow like magic. It is important here to hold the speed, even accelerate a little through these two corners. You can feed more throttle before the apex of The Brow and be at full throttle on the short straight. As the road goes uphill again, brake hard in a straight line, right up into The Beak.

THE BEAK - This corner uses the natural banking as you enter the corner uphill and exit it downhill. The corner is a right-hander that opens up towards the exit. Do not go with a very late apex. If you cut a tighter line through it, you will save considerable distance and give up only marginal speed for a short distance at the exit, making it a good compromise. Brake right into the corner, use all of the pavement, turn in midway, stay very tight in the first half tightening up the steering, then track out halfway. You can use a lift halfway through the turn to induce a more aggressive rotation and turn the car faster through it. You can accelerate out of the turn almost flat out but be careful with the approach to the next turn. 

THE THROAT - The roller coaster ride continues: the track goes uphill again at the apex of this corner. Do not turn too early or too late and use all of the road on the way. The compression in this turn will provide good grip out of the corner. Be careful of how much speed you carry out of this turn because the braking zone into the next corner is short and you cannot see the entry of the Hook as it flattens out again. Try to straighten out the braking zone, cross the track from left to right and brake in a straight line.

THE HOOK - Through this tight left-hander the road rises uphill again. The fastest line through The Hook is a relatively early apex, and then track out all the way to the right side. Not using all the pavement at trackout was one of the most common mistakes I saw over the 3-day school I attended. The uphill section at the exit is called The Ridge and is the highest point on the track. The Marshall to your left would be showing you the checkered flag that would indicate the end of a session at that station.

THE SPOON - Just as you go over the crest, the track turns to your right and opens up into a long downhill section (almost like corner two at Mosport but to the right). You want to position the car about 1/3 in from the left side and as soon as you crest, turn right and keep accelerating all the way down. This was one of the toughest turns for me to get right. The apex is at the very bottom of the hill, a few feet before the end of the curbing. Be careful, if you are late on the turn-in at the top, or a little wide on the way down the hill, it is hard to get to the apex. It is slightly off-camber on the left side and the speed you carry here forces you surprisingly quickly to the outside. This is an exhilarating section as you really need some guts to gain speed all the way through The Spoon and to the next corner, 4 Left. There is another compression at the bottom of The Spoon as the track goes uphill again. You are going at a pretty brisk pace at that point. DON’T LIFT, BE SMOOTH through The Spoon.

4 LEFT - About 45° to the left, a bit downhill and open. You have to do some light to medium braking to settle the car down as the road flattens a bit before the corner. Then, just get back gently on the throttle and carry the speed through, with the apex at mid-point in the corner. Let the car drift all the way to the right and keep it there for the next turn. NOTE: Do not apex 4 Left early. If you are carrying huge speed from The Spoon, you WILL run out
of track on an early apex. I saw at least two cars go off at The Spoon during the school.

QUARRY ONE - Fast downhill approach to these next three linked right hand corners, Quarry One, Watts Up and Wicked. You can take them almost as one very loooong turn with little adjustments for each. There are many different lines through this section. The fastest line is to not track all the way out so you can minimize the distance traveled and rotate the car aggressively with mid-turn lifts, then get the car all the way to the outside of the third corner so it will set it up well for the final turn, leading to the front straight. This section is a lot of fun and a great opportunity to play with aggressive slip angles!

WATTS UP & WICKED – Between Quarry One and Watts Up you can unwind the wheel a little and apply some more braking. This will allow you to carry more speed through Quarry One. Turn a bit harder into Watts Up, you don’t need to get close to the apex, this brings you perfectly in line for a very late apex in Wicked. There is hardly any adjustment on the steering input required, carry the speed through the whole section, do not accelerate and about 270° later you are perfectly in line on the right hand edge for that short uphill stretch to the last corner.

NOTE: The Pit-in road goes straight off at the last right hander (Wicked). If you intend to go into the Pits, indicate this early enough on the entry to Quarry One by raising your arm outside your window.

WILSON’S - Uphill 90 degree left hander that flattens out as the track continues on to the front straight. Textbook 90° corner, be patient with the throttle as you may have to lift on the exit if you were early. Key here is to start accelerating at the right spot and at the right intensity just before the apex. The front straight is another passing zone, stay to the right if you are being passed, or stay on the right if there is no other traffic. Have all passing completed by the time you reach the Kink. 

'Bogie is an incredible track. Enjoy it!