Turn by turn guide to the Brainerd International Raceway track

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Brainerd is one of the fastest road course tracks in the country. As an example, one of the Trackpedia drivers averaged 87.2 mph at Road America -- which is generally considered to be a pretty fast track. At BIR, the same driver in the same car averaged 95.4 mph.

For the lap time hunters, there are 3 critical sections at BIR: Turn 1, turns 7 and 8 ("the 7-8 complex"), and turn 10. If you master these three areas, you will be rewarded with excellent times.


Track Map


Here are two full track videos on YouTube and Google (the YouTube video contains telemetry data that is better viewed in a seperate window directly pointing to the video )...

Turn 1

Turn 1 at BIR is probably the fastest corner on any North American road track. It's a 60 degree heavily banked turn that allows an expert driver to carry all the speed built up on the long straight through the corner. Amateurs will do well to limit their entry speed to this corner.

It comes at the end of a very long straight. Most cars will exit turn 10 at over 60mph and will then be under full acceleration towards turn 1. A 300bhp car (Porsche 996, Ferrari 348) can hit 145mph before entering turn 1 depending on the exit speed from #turn 10.

Extreme care should be taken on this corner. It's a very fast corner. You enter the corner about 1/4 of the track width down from the outside of the corner. Then aim the car at the late apex under steady throttle. Make sure you get the car down to the apex as if you don't then you'll likely be carrying enough speed that you'll spin trying to adjust your line once you realise you missed the apex. The only thing on your mind through this corner should be get down to the apex and keep the car balanced. Once the apex is reached then start applying power smoothly and let the car drift to the outside of the turn again ready for turn 2.

Expert drivers in appropriate cars will be able to enter at 140+ mph and exit at over 150. Obviously, an amateur can easily get killed trying to copy such a drivers approach to this turn so don't do it, you're at the track for enjoyment and to drive home afterwards. Be conservative. We recommend initially entering the corner at around 90mph and then slowly over time add 5mph to your entrance speed. Take it slowly, don't push it and don't take any risks. You won't improve if you're dead or have an accident here. If you feel uncomfortable then take 5mph off and stay there till you're more confident. Baby steps.

There are a lot of tire marbles high on this turn so stay on the right line and you should avoid the marbles.

If lap times are a concern, this is the turn where most novices and intermediate drivers lose a lot of time. The following vid shows a decent example of how you can drive this VERY fast corner. The car is a 2003 Nissan 350Z on BFGoodrich KD tires. The driver takes a decent turn-in point. Note the the end of the pit wall on the left. The driver is using very slow and smooth input to begin the turn. Note that all of the speed is being lost from the forces due to the corner's banking and the car not having enough torque in 6th gear to overcome it. Very little drift is occuring. No braking was done during this. Although the driver "breathes" (ie: half-lift) the throttle just before turn-in, throughout the rest of the turn, the driver was using full throttle!

Turn 2

Turn 2 is a standard flat sweeper, without the banking you see in turn 1. It is also 20 degrees tighter than turn 1. However, there is quite a bit of track available and most cars can easily carry 100+ mph through this corner. Just build up to it if it's your first time at the track. It's relatively smooth through the whole corner, although the curbing can be harsh on stiffer suspension setups. Aim for a standard late apex.

Turn 3

This turn has a surprisingly high rate of rollovers. Cars (Porsche 996) can exit #turn 2 and approach this turn at almost 130mph. Very hard braking is needed to slow the car to around 40-50mph for the turn. A late turn in point and apex allows the following straight to be extended giving the best laptimes.

The outside curb for this corner has a deep outside rut. If your back end gets over the rut, abort the turn and continue straight until the car can get back on track. Attempting to continue the turn once the rear wheels are over the curb will likely lead to a spin.

Turn 4

Turn 4 is basically almost a throw away corner as #turn 5 follows very quickly and you'll need to get your car on the left side of the track to take #turn 5 quickly. The main reason for this is that the straight between #turn 5 and #turn 6 is longer than the straight between #turn 4 and #turn 5. This means that a high exit speed from #turn 5 is the objective as the benefit is more given the straight is longer. This requires sacrificing exit speed on #turn 4 by basically staying tight on the left side of the track when exiting #turn 4. Aim for getting your left front tire to ride over the indent in the track that is just past the late apex to stay on the inside 1/2 of the track coming out of #turn 4. This is obviously going to lower your speed through this corner.

It's very easy to spin on this corner if you don't pay attention as you'll end up towards the right side of the track on exiting and then you'll be fighting the car to bring it to the left side for #turn 5. If you fight too much then you'll likely spin here although this is one of the better places on the track to spin if you really want to spin.

Turn 5

This corner is mainly about having a good exit speed for the 750 ft straight to #turn 6. A late turn in will allow the straight to be extended in to the actual corner and this will give you more speed before braking for #turn 6. Some drivers opt for a somewhat early turn in as it is easy to carry speed on the exit from the turn while still getting set up properly for #turn 6.

Turn 6

This turn has a 950ft straight following it so once again, it's a very late turn in, hit a late apex and then power out letting the car drift to the right heading towards the next corner. There is a slight downhill coming out of this turn, so carrying good speed on the exit and using the whole track can help the momentum.

Turn 7

This is a nice corner as you can take it pretty fast with little braking depending on the car. If you late apex it slightly and turn in at the right point then you can run your inside wheels over the gators and barely notice as all the weight is on the outside of the car. If you do this and do it wrong then you'll feel the gators! At this point you'll be carrying quite a bit of speed and if you did a late apex then you should be on the left side of the track ready for #turn 8. It's important to realize that you only have 300ft to #turn 8 and if you're doing 75-80mph through this turn then 300ft doesn't take long to cover. You'll need to brake for #turn 8 and it's important to setup turn 8 so you have good exit speed given there is a longish straight following 8 and through 9.

For novices, we recommend not overrunning the gators as this can unsettle the car, not something that helps the relatively quick left-right weight transfer that occurs between turns 7 and 8.

The following short clip shows an almost perfect line through turn 7 and subsequently how it sets up and goes through turn 8. I don't recommend attempting to induce the drift unless you are very experienced with your car. The track goes off camber past the mid point so if you drift out too far the potential for spinning goes up considerably. However, if you can manage it, you can see that it sets up the correct line for T8 -- which is key. For those concerned with lap times, the turn 7-8 complex is one of the 3 most critical sections of the track, as it leads on to an effective straight (see description of turn 8).

Turn 8

This corner is important as you need to exit 8 quickly so that you have speed when entering #turn 9. Take a mid-apex at 8 and take the entire right side over the gators. These gators are easier to run than #turn 7. Instructors recommend going over these gators, even for beginners, as these rumble strips are very wide, so you end up getting about 2 feet more track width which makes a very big difference in the amount of speed you carry here, which will increase your speed all the way to #turn 10 in most cars. If the car is weighted properly through the turn you will only feel a reassuring rumble as you get set up well for #turn 9.

Turn 9

This corner is fast corner. 300bhp level cars can exit this corner at probably 80-90mph. BUT, there is a bridge with armco around it on the exit of the turn. Don't hit the bridge. It's going to hurt and if you're lucky then you'll at least be able to walk home! The best thing to do is don't even look at the bridge. If you look at it then you'll hit it. Think of it as the bridge that isn't there. Initially exit at a very comfortable speed and get the line down. Once you are hitting the apex consistently then start increasing the speed slowly. Don't go for bust on the first lap or bust you'll be.

This corner is important from a lap time point of view as there is quite a long straight following it up to #turn 10 and your max speed will basically be determined by your exit speed from this corner and the hp of your car.

Unless you have a very powerful car, once you get comfortable with the correct line, you should not have to brake before turn-in. Most cars with around a 1:10 (1 bhp:10 lbs or 1 bhp:4.55 Kg) power-to-weight ratio (eg: 996 Carrera 2, 350Z, Lotus Elise, etc) should ideally be able to maintain full throttle from the exit of turn 8 all the way through turn 9 and up to the braking zone of turn 10. Keep in mind that turn 9 is a larger radius turn than turn 2 so your speed should in theory be able to be higher than your T2 speed. 9 looks more daunting with the bridge but there is a lot of room.

turn 10

This is the one of the most important corners on the track. Your maximum speed at the end of the straight is basically determined by your exit speed from this corner. The main thing to realize with turn 10 is that the exit of this turn is much wider than it looks. There is a lot of track at the exit and making use of the track to have a higher radius curve through this corner is key to a fast exit speed. If you use all of the track then the car will likely be heading straight for the pit wall entrance on the left of the beginning of the straight once the turn is complete. Don't hit the pit wall. A Porsche GT2 has been seen barrel rolling down the pit lane. So, when you straighten the car up, move over to the right a little to miss the corner.

The following 14 second clip shows a descent line through T10. It probably looks like the driver turned in too early. But notice how much room there is after the apex. Most novices try to take the text-book late apex which, in most cases, would be the right thing to do. However, this is a corner that has a wider section of track after the apex than before the apex -- effectively making it an increasing radius turn. Don't overdue it, though, and slide into the media tower.

The straight following this corner can be a complete nightmare if the track is wet. The drag races held at Brainerd use a chemical to make the drag strip very sticky. The drag stick is the first 1/4 mile of your straight. There is also a lot of rubber laid down on the drag strip. If it's wet then the chemical becomes more slippery than ice. Many an experienced driver has spun in to the wall when the track conditions are like this. Also, the blue "paint" in the middle of the track is actually a big sticker - perhaps vinyl. It is marginally less slick to drive down the middle. Driver skill will not help you if this is the case so extreme caution is a must. You should consider T10 a throwaway turn when the track is wet, if you come through T10 with any speed and on the normal race line, you'll still be cornering when you hit the ice-like drag strip. Crawl through T10 at the center of the track and enter the straight right down the middle at a low speed (<45mph) and don't turn, don't brake, don't accelerate until the car is past the drag strip. Straying from the middle will move the car on to the slippy chemical treated lanes and you're basically done for the day if this happens. You will also experience a Cashectomy if you don't have good track insurance.