Early Apexing: Bad On The Track, Even Worse On The Streets

Base Road

Behold, my magnificent MS Paint (3D!) skills at work.

Imagine the above scenario. Orange blob on the right of your screen is driving west and will turn south. Blue blob is approaching the stop to turn left (west) onto a larger road.

How should the orange blob make the turn?

early apex

If the orange blob chooses this path, there could be problems. And yet, I encounter this nearly every single day.

When discussing corners on a racetrack, invariably racers will mention the “apex.” Simply put, the apex of a corner is the innermost point of the corner. Putting your inner wheels as close to the apex as possible will, generally, shorten the distance driven around the corner, yielding the fastest time around the racetrack.

Racers will also discuss “early” versus “late” apexes – where the car touches the inside of the corner either before or after the geometric apex. Some will joke about an early apex being akin to lack of bedroom performance, but in general, an early apex is a slower way around a corner. Wiki has a decent discussion of the ideal racing line:

By Paradigm Shift Driver Development [CC BY-SA 4.0 (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/4.0)%5D, via Wikimedia Commons
How does this apply to the street scenario above?

Well, the driver in the orange blob in picture two above chose to maximize his speed through the corner, ignoring the possibility that there may be another vehicle at the apex. He early-apexed.

Thankfully, I  (in the blue blob) anticipate this, and stop well short of the intersection.

proper apex

Orange blob driver should have driven perpendicular to the turn lane, then made a ninety-degree turn directly into his intended lane.

I suppose this is a PSA to all of the orange blob drivers out there – consider your apex, and consider your fellow blob drivers. The seconds you save by cutting the corner aren’t worth the potential damage to property or health.


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