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Braking Techniques

 

Part 1: Braking Overview

 

Part 2: Threshold Braking

 

Part 3: Trail Braking

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Braking Techniques

Part 1: General Overview


The skilled use of the carís brakes is probably the most difficult of all the basic driving techniques. The time it will take to become proficient at controlling the use of the brakes will probably be longer than the other techniques. Most drivers finally learn how to maximize the brakes well into their training as a racing driver. Some drivers will always struggle with learning how to use them effectively.

 

It is helpful that you look on your own to identify and understand the different components that make up the carís braking system. It is actually a very simple system thatís made up of only a few components. 


1) The brake pedal assembly with master cylinders, 

2) The brake lines that lead to the calipers, 

3) The calipers and rotors. 


There may be a few additional accessories involved such as a brake bias controller, ducting and maybe a brake light with switch. One element you wonít find on racecars is the Anti-Lock Braking System (ABS). Most race sanctioning bodies donít allow this device in the car because it is considered a ďdriverís aidĒ or handicap for the driver. To keep the ďsportĒ in auto racing, systems like ABS and traction control are prohibited with the exception of safety issues in Formula 1 where traction control is allowed and the showroom stock class where the car cannot be modified in any way besides adding mandatory safety equipment.

 

Assuming that the braking system on your car has a greater capacity to withstand the abuses that the braking components endure, we first look at the tires. No matter how expensive your brake system is or how powerful it may be, the one thing that will limit your stopping ability is your tires. When we decelerate, the weight of the car shifts forward. When this happens more pressure is exerted downward on the front tires causing an increase in front tire grip. At the same time the back of the car is being unweighted causing a decrease in rear tire grip.

 

In most racecars and even street cars the front brakes are made heavier duty than itís rear counterparts. Most racing cars have an adjustable brake proportioning system so that the driver can fine tune the front and rear brake bias to match that of the bias in tire traction during maximum braking. How does this benefit the driver? 

 

Hereís a test to see if you understand the physics of the braking system: with the brake bias adjustment control, which direction would you adjust the brakes when going from dry weather condition to wet weather?

 

Answer: the direction of adjustment if it started to rain would be; to the rear. Most people would say to the front because they understand that you donít want the rear brakes to work too hard in slipperier conditions. This may cause a spin. But, in fact with less traction you have less grip therefore less weight transferring to the front tires. Now, does that make sense?

 

Now that you understand that weight transfer does have a great effect on how well our brakes work, next we'll move onto the actual technique of applying the brakes: 1) Threshold Braking and 2) Trail Braking.

 

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