Road Atlanta is a 12 turn road course located near Gainesville, Georgia, 45 miles north of downtown Atlanta, just off of I-85.
A number of changes have been made to the track layout for the 1998 season; see their web site for more details.
Last Updated: 2005-01-25
|TrackTapes.com has in-car video of this (and many other) tracks|
5300 Winder Highway
Braselton, GA 30517
Turn 8A is an optional chicane which was originally added for the SCCA Runoffs.
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To get to the track from Atlanta, take I-85 north to exit 49 ("Hwy 53 - Braselton/Hoschton".) Turn left after taking the exit and look for Road Atlanta on the left after about 5.5 miles.
The following hot lap is courtesy of Chris W. Ingle, 2003 Southeast Division T1 National Champion. Chris has in car tapes available from many tracks at http://www.tracktapes.com/.
Road Atlanta is a great road course located in the north Georgia hills. It boasts one of the longest straight-aways on any track and has some of the best elevation changes anywhere. The track changed a few years ago though. The back straight used to be 5000 ft long and included a series of the scariest curves in all of Motorsports. Everyone knew when they came to Road Atlanta to get ready for "the dip." When the track was changed, they took out the dip and replaced it with a boring (but safer) chicane right at the end of the straight. Instead of keeping your foot planted as you screamed down the hill, now you have to hit the brakes down hill to slow the car to a crawl before entering the slow chicane. Overall though, RA still ranks near the top of all road courses in America and has more than enough for even the veteran driver.
As stated before, the track is safer than it was, but still has some walls and places to get into trouble, especially at turns 11 and 12. The biggest dangers are the concrete walls which are fairly close to the track. The rest of the track is nice and wide with fairly high curbs and tire walls in front of any dangerous areas.
The shift points and gearing are relative to my T1 prepared 2001 Corvette Z06 with stock transmission.
Starting down the front straight, you will probably be in 4th gear. The road does slope down just a bit and the pit lane entrance comes out right about where the turn-in point for turn 1 is. You'll need to stay off the left side a few feet because the track juts in right about where you need to turn. You obviously want to use all of the road, but be careful not to drop a wheel off at this point. You'll be under heavy braking, but the track surface is fairly smooth. Turn in with just a touch of trail braking to help plant the front end. The apex is easily visible, but the track is dropping away from you so it's easy to miss it. You must be under power going thru this turn because the exit starts uphill and you'll need the power to get it up it properly. There are two main ways to handle the exit of turn 1. You can blast thru it and use up all the exit and sacrifice speed at the top of the hill or you can track out no more than 2/3 of the way and be under full power all the way to the top of the hill.
The problem is that turn 2 is a small left hand turn at the top of the hill. If you track all the way out at 1, you can't get a good angle for 2. I prefer only tracking out 1/2 - 2/3 of the way so I can be straight coming over the hill - effectively straightening out 2 and having a nice short braking zone for 3. Use this area to downshift and brake in a straight line and set up for 3.
Turn 3 is a quick right. You'll have to brake fairly hard to scrub the speed from 2, but make sure to wait until the car is straight and settled before braking. Use the inside curbing at 3 to help straighten the turn out some and the car will slide thru the corner nicely. You can keep getting faster through here until the car slides out to the outside curbing.
Power thru the corner and then tuck the car in tight for the left hander #4. Don't swing out wide because you'll need to be on the left side of the track exiting 4 for the fast downhill esses. Once the car straightens out, you can either short shift to 4th or stay very high in the revs and stay in 3d. I prefer shifting to 4th because the high revs make my car too twitchy for this next series. It's slightly better to have a car that understeers (push) slightly thru this section. If you have a loose car thru here, it's very difficult to go really fast and under control.
The first turn of the esses is a bit off camber and down hill, but it's important to power down the hill - it settles the car and suspension and helps you get to the apexes. It's also important to keep your head and eyes up thru this section and not follow the curves - straighten them out, but stay under power and control.
I take the entry to the next turn (5) in two parts, but it can be done in just one depending on what kind of car you have and your comfort levels. You can either use 1 braking zone on the entry and sacrifice track space on entry or use 2 braking zones and get back to the right just a bit more to try to carry more speed up the hill. I use 2 zones with the second primarily for a VERY SMOOTH heel and toe shift back to 3d gear. If you're just cruising, you can stay in 4th and use the torque to pull you up the hill. To get really fast lap times though, you'll need 3d gear. Only do this once you get used to the corner and experienced as a driver or else you will end up in the kitty litter (or worse) on the outside of the corner. It's very easy to loop the car here. When you turn in, be under power. You can be nice and tidy and stay off the curbing on the outside or try to hot shoe it thru there and ride the curbing as far out as you dare. I don't really know that one way has shown to be faster than the other. If you have a low car though, the curbing will scrape the bottom of your car and possibly force you to lose control. I strongly advise being nice and tidy to begin with and not going over the curbs.
Once you get straight and come over the hill, get back to the left for turn 6. If you were in 3d going into the corner, you'll need to shift to 4th around the top of the hill. Turn 6 is another right-hander with a down hill braking zone entry. Again, you can choose to stay in 4th gear or downshift smoothly to 3d. This is a much faster corner than what it appears due to the banking. You can even turn in sooner than you think too.
Once you come thru 6, get the car straight immediately and stay to the left for one of the slowest, but most important corner on the track - turn 7. Make sure you don't put a wheel on the left entry curbing because it is quite high and will throw your steering way off. Downshift to 3d (if you stayed in 4th) and trail brake the entry. Turn in crisply and get under power as soon as possible. The inside apex curbing is very high and will throw most suspensions off and unstable the car. The exit curbing is now lower and smoother so you can afford to unwind the wheel quite a bit while powering out. The curbing doesn't last too long though so get stable quickly and back on the tarmac.
From this point, turns 8 and 9 are basically just part of the long back straight. I shift to 4th and take it up to over 6500 rpms and about 155 mph! Turn 9 is a very long sweeping turn, but you can take it flat out with no problem because the tarmac is still smooth enough. Check your gauges and keep your head and eyes up - enjoy the ride!!! Late apex 9 because you'll want to be on the right side of the track for the next turn. Once the car gets straight and you begin down the hill, nail the brakes HARD. Not only is it a down hill braking zone at incredible speeds, but the road has some small humps that increase the distance even further. This is a very difficult area without ABS! Downshift to 3d gear.
Turns 10a and 10b are standard corners and you can ride over the curbings if you have good shocks. The exit of 10b is very tight and up hill with a small, rough curbing on the exit - stay off.
Aim your car about the middle of turn 11 over the top of the hill (about where the lights on the overhead bridge are). Just as the car gets light (can't put the power to the ground), it's a great time to shift to 4th and power down the hill.
Get set up straight on the left side of the track and look at the apex of 12. Your car will follow your eyes so keep your eyes OFF of the concrete wall on the left. Nail the apex of 12 and track out very smoothly thru the start/finish and begin another lap. Turn 12 separates the men from the boys and you will tell immediately if your car is set up properly as you get to the apex. You really want a balanced car at this track, but for the beginners, set your car up to push just slightly. Severe oversteer at 12, the esses or at turn 9 would be very painful and expensive. You'll definitely want to bring at least 2 sets of brakes for this track because the downhill braking zones really test both the brakes and your skills. There are some long straights that keep the brakes fairly cool, but since they changed the track and eliminated 'the dip,' it really takes its toll on the brakes and tires. Enjoy!!
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