-Editors note- Road Atlanta is on my mind, due to an upcoming trip. Check out this descriptive "how to" by longtime Atlanta racer Bowie Gray!
-Words and vulgarities and silliness by Bowie Gray-
Road Atlanta, In a slow car, Bowie-style
Figure that this works for anything under about 150 whp and/or that laps over about a 1:42. Faster than that and some of the "Stay 100% flat" stuff becomes a lie. A dirty, dirty, painful, expensive lie. DRIVE WITH CAUTION IT'S NOT OUR FAULT IF YOU STUFF IT.
Turn 1: Don't try to dive bomb this turn. Brake about where the pit wall ends on the left. Brake 60-75% of the car's capacity, at the most. Your whole goal here is to not upset the back tires. Turn 1 is very, very, very fast. Even on 200tw tires it will be very fast. You will likely be between the 3rd and 4th here. Start your gentle turn in a bit early, as the car will understeer almost all the way down to the apex because the track is doing subtly downhill. Right before the apex the hill will catch you. You likely will want to stay the hell off the apex curbing. Once you have tracked out from 1, stay tracked out. Don't blend back right more than about a car width before 2.
Turn 2: This isn't a turn, it is a bendy straight. Stay to the left third of the track, work your turn in later so that you can brake along the left edge of the track for 3. Beware of getting the LF tire on those curbs though, as they can cause lockup and ruin a tire/your day.
Turn 3: 3rd gear. ASSuming your car is fairly softly sprung it is going to like a lot of curb here up to a point, but if you use too much curb you'll start bouncing and it'll suck. There’s a sweet spot that you have to experiment to find. Get your braking done and focus on being able to get back on the gas early here, you've got a LONG straight down to the bottom of the esses that starts right now.
Turn 4: Again, not a turn in your slow pile. Stay track left as much as reasonable without binding up the car to set up for the esses. You'll go to 4th somewhere in here.
Esses: Treat the curbs like slalom cones and try to be able to hit the back sides of them. Again, don't bind the car up, it'll only slow you down.
Turn 5: 3rd gear. Here’s some home-track advantage stuff right here. You'll notice EVERYONE absolutely dive bombing the living shit out of the braking zone/entry sector there. I say Ney Ney! Brake early and gently. Brake and downshift between the last set of left side curbing in the esses and the right side curbing that sets up for entry at 5. I know, that's too early. I know, that’s stupid... try it. What'll happen is you'll give up 3-4 car lengths on entry to that dude that you just can't do anything with, then while he's trying to OHMYGODBRAKEDOWNSHIFT SHITI'MONTHECURB FIGHTTHEREAREND WHEW TURNINGASGASGAS!!! you'll be giggling softly to yourself, as you were back on the loud pedal before that shit ever started and you drive right by him up the big assed hill out of 5. Just be careful not to plow into anyone's rear bumper going up the hill, 'cause you'll have 10mph on them and that shit hurts. Oh, and stay off the entry and apex curbs but use the hell out of the track out curb. Like put the whole freaking car on it.
Turn 6: 3rd gear unless you’re in a Honda with a 4.9 or some such similar ridiculosity. Brake either at or just before the first painted dashed lines, grab third, and chuck that motherfucker in there and GO, bitch! You've got banking, this turn is fast fast fast. Like 8 at CMP, if you’ve been there, but faster. And yes, you could have gone faster there last lap, you pussy.
Turn 7: 2nd or 3rd gear car/torque dependent. Exit 6 at the left edge of the track and find the fucking brakes right now, dammit! Now come to a complete fucking stop (or at least it feels like it) turn WAY right, scream FUCK because yet again you came in too fast to get back on the gas pedal, and be irritated for the next 5300 feet down that long-ass straightaway that you just fucked up the entry to. This is a good time to scream "GO BITCH GO!" to your poor car.
Turn 9/Black Flag: Breathe. Check the gauges. Bumpdraft some poor bastard so he screws up his braking into 10a. Giggle softly again.
Turns 10a/10b: 2nd or 3rd gear. Brake somewhere around 50 feet after you start to pucker. Slow car, remember? Chuck it in however much the front tires will hold. Don't pick up a deathpush here, because you've got to hold mostly track left to be able to bend back right for 10b without lifting, which is CRITICAL, because you've just started the 2nd longest straight on the track that runs to turn 1.
Turn 11: Yes, the track is still going to be there on the other side of the hill, Helen.
Turn 12: DON'T LIFT YOU FUCKING PUSSY!!!!! No, really, you just lifted, I heard it, and we'll find it in the data later and tease you for not having a set of vegetables and call you Gladys until the next race. Now straighten it out, grab another gear, and have at it again. Try to keep it out of the walls, they hurt.
-Editors note.... I asked Bowie (damn that's a cool racecar driver name......) about his track and racing experience, and he figures he's got 2500-3000 laps around Road Atlanta. His "bio" is as follows...
"So I started autoxing at 15, HPDE stuff at 17 (1994) with a group called Car Guys. Started instructing with PCA at 19, Car Guys at 20, etc etc.
Got my SCCA license in '99 in a borrowed/shared 1st gen CRX (Thanks Dean!!!) after my cage failed tech. (for a cage to fail tech in 1999 is some scary shit in hindsight).
Raced in ITA in 2 different Miatas from '99-'12 with various forays into OPC with pretty good success. SARRC Champ in ITA in '01 and '02, Got in debt, scalled back. Atlanta Region Pro IT champ in ITA in '07. Won the ARRC in '07 in Pablo the famous ITB Golf (Thanks Kirk!!!) Had kids, scaled back yadda yadda. Now screwing around in an EP '04 RX-8 (nee Continental Challenge, we should do a summary of that whole deal). Last couple of years started to see some success in it. ARRC wins (thin fields) in '14 and '15, 4th and 2nd at the 2015 Road Atlanta Majors.
RA specific stuff: I totaled my daily driver/only car '91 Civic DX hatch at Road Atlanta T1 in Feb 1997 as a Freshman in college. Had to hitch a ride home.
First race there was the ARRC enduro, 1999. ITA Miata. Put it in the tires at 7. Finished 4th I think.
Raced there sporadically 2000-2001.
Moved to GA summer 2002. I've raced there countless times since then. Really started to figure the place out in probably '05.
Speed at Road Atlanta was my racing "White Whale". Everywhere else I've ever driven was easy comparatively. I've run probably 25 tracks on the east coast, from Sebring to Watkins Glen.
The only body damage I've ever done to a car on track (that wasn't just bump and grind with some other poor schmuck) has been done at Road Atlanta. That's kinda scary."