Shanghai International Speedway

February 9, 2009 by  
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Viewed from overhead, the shape of Shanghai International Speedway is reminiscent of the Chinese symbol “Shang,” which translates as “high” or “above.” According to computer simulations, current-generation Formula 1 cars will lap the track in about 1:34 at an average speed close to 205 kilometers per hour (roughly 127.4 mph). On the longest, 1175 meter straight, which links Turns 13 and 14, cars should reach a maximum speed of 327 km/h (203mph). This distinctive speedway – which in sheer size will overshadow every other track in the Grand Prix of Nations – incorporates 14 wide-ranging corners, an equal blend of left and right-handers that combine to form a 5.45 kilometer (3.39 mile) lap.

The Shanghai International Speedway has an overall length of 5,451.24 meters and includes seven left and seven right turns. The longest straight runs parallel to the Dragster track between the turns T13 and T14 and has a length of 1.175 m. The standard width of the track is between 13 m and 15 m, expending up to 20 meters in turns, such as T13.

Further unique characteristics of the Shanghai International Speedway are turns with snail-like narrowing (T1 to T3), turns with snail-like expansion (T10 to T12) and two pointed turns (T5 and turn T13).

The axis of the Shanghai International Speedway is at its lowest point on + 4.50 meters above sea level, the highest point in T2 is on + 11.24 meters above sea level. The maximum upward slope amounts to 3%; the maximum downward slope to 8%, the transverse downward slope of the roadway is 2.5%.

The combination of turns and straight lines, with the rising and falling of the gradient, permits top speeds up to 327 km/h on the longest straight line (between T12 and T13) and a deceleration to 87 km/h is required by drivers in close turns.

The constant change between acceleration and deceleration sections, connected by high-speed sections, presents a challenge to driving skills, offers sufficient opportunities for overtaking maneuvers, resulting in an intense motor sport experience for spectators.

Texas Motor Speedway

February 9, 2009 by  
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Located in Fort Worth, Texas, the Texas Motor Speedway was built between 1995 and 1996. The original track featured a dual banking system with a 24-degree bank for stock cars and an 8-degree bank for open-wheel vehicles. The track is classified as a superspeedway as it is more than one mile in length and it is similar in layout to the Atlanta Motor Speedway and Lowe’s Motor Speedway. The track’s ‘Turn 4’ was reshaped in 1998 to make transitions from the turns to the straightway easier. Further renovations that same year eliminated the dual banking and resulted in the track currently in use today.

The Texas Motor Speedway measures 1.5 miles in length and features a quad-oval design. It has been banked 24 degrees in the turns to facilitate fast racing and the front straightway juts outwards a bit. It also has a seating capacity of more than 200,000 for NASCAR and IndyCar racing events. The track features tunnel bumps on Turns 2 and 4 which add to the its uniqueness. The track is currently owned by Speedway Motorsports Inc. At one stage the Texas Motor Speedway was considered to be the ‘fastest non-restrictor plate track’ to appear on the NASCAR circuit. Qualifying speeds exceeded 192 mph and corner entry speeds were often clocked at over 200 mph. However, with the gradual wear of racing surfaces other tracks, such as Atlanta, proven to be faster. Currently the top qualifying record is held by Brian Vickers who posted a 196.235 mph speed in 2006.

The Texas Motor Speedway is home to two NASCAR NEXTEL Cup races – making it a very popular racetrack with big attendance figures. The races which it hosts are the Samsung/Radio Shack 500 and the Dickes 500. It also hosts the O’Reilly 300 and the O’Reilly Challenge – both of which are Busch Series Races. The Bombardier Learjet 550 is the only Indy Racing League race that it hosts.

Gilles Villeneuve Circuit

February 9, 2009 by  
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The Gilles Villeneuve Circuit was named in honor of Gilles Villeneuve, a Canadian driver and father to Jacques Villeneuve. The circuit was constructed on a man-made island named Ile Notre-Dame, which is located in the St Lawrence River, in Montreal. In addition to hosting the Formula One Canadian Grand Prix, the circuit hosts an event in the NASCAR Busch Series. It was also home to the Champ Car World Series Grand Prix of Montreal that was hosted here between the years 2002 to 2006.

With its location in the St Lawrence River, for most of the year, Ile Notre Dame is a quiet island that is lush and green and the fastest moving objects on its surface, are animals, cycle enthusiasts and the joggers. But for a few days each year, within this idyllic setting, the island comes alive with racing action and all its accompanying noise and frantic activity.

The Gilles Villeneuve Circuit is part street circuit, and is extremely fast, with a common problem for drivers being to misjudge the barriers that are located very close to the track. The most famous part of this track, is a wall that is located just outside the end of the last chicane, which said “Welcome to Quebec” and was later nicknamed the Quebec Wall. Three Formula 1 champions had their races brought to an abrupt end when colliding with this infamous wall, namely Jacques Villeneuve, Damon Hill and Michael Schumacher. The wall no longer carries the name Quebec Wall, but was renamed the Wall of Champions.

In 2005, the curbs in the last chicane were made higher, and drivers complained that they were more difficult to see and that the curbs made the chicane even more difficult for drivers to navigate. The changes were extremely controversial, as they had reduced the area for general admission ticket holders, to see the race. This forces spectators to purchase grandstand tickets, to enable them to see.

Normand Legault was awarded exclusive rights, by the city of Montreal, to host two race weekends on the track. Legault is the promoter for the Formula One Canadian Grand Prix. The contract for the rights, runs from the year 2007 to the year 2011, after which there is an option to extend it from 2012 to the year 2016. The Champ Car Races have been replaced with the NASCAR Busch Series and the Grand American Road Racing Associations’ Rolex Series.

Silverstone Speedway

February 9, 2009 by  
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Britain’s Silverstone Speedway, with its rich history in the world of auto racing, is incredibly fast with a long complex of high-speed corners that thrill spectators and challenges drivers. In fact, most of its twist and turns leave other circuits in the dust. The change of direction is so quick that driver’s testify to feeling the “speed” of the car. You need good aerodynamics at Silverstone, so this is where all the hard work in the wind tunnel before the race pays off!

Silverstone Speedway was opened as a World War II airfield in 1943, near the leafy village of the same name. Once the war had ended in 1945, Britain was left with a number of sprawling airfields, but without a major racetrack: Donington Park was still a military vehicle storage depot, Brooklands had been sold off, Crystal Palace was in a state of disrepair, and Brands Hatch was still under-developed.

The Royal Automobile Club was interested in Silverstone as a potential site and approached the Air Ministry in 1948 and a lease was arranged. At this time, the centre of Silverstone Circuit was a farm that produced cereal crops and raised pigs! Out of such humble surroundings legends are born: the RAC employed farmer James Wilson Brown to create the first Grand Prix circuit at the site and gave him just two months to build it.

On October 2nd, 1948, amid straw bales and ropes, the first event at Silverstone Speedway took place, the RAC Grand Prix. The crowds came in their thousands, thrilled to see the return of Grand Prix racing after so many years of war austerity. The 3.67 mile course sent the 23 competing cars racing round part of the perimeter track, up the two former runways and back to the perimeter. This layout meant cars were racing towards each other head-on until they turned sharp left and returned to the perimeter. For this reason, canvas screens were erected across the centre of the circuit to stop the drivers being distracted whilst the spectators were not permitted to enter the centre of the circuit because of the potential damage to growing crops.

The winner of the inaugural race at the Silverstone circuit was Luigi Villoresi in a Maserati, who recorded an average speed of 72 mph to claim the first prize of £500. A year later, after the hazardous runways were eliminated and a chicane was inserted on the full perimeter road, Silverstone Speedway hosted a second major event in May 1949 – the Formula One Daily Express International Trophy – virtually a second Grand Prix, won by Alberto Ascari.

Another of Silverstone Speedway’s most famous classics also began in August 1949, the Daily Express International Trophy for Formula One cars and for this meeting the Club chicane was dispensed with and the circuit took up a shape that was to last for a quarter of a century.

Back in 1950, Silverstone Speedway was the birthplace of today’s FIA Formula One World Championship. Today the Speedway remains one of the world’s most historic tracks, but the challenges faced on every corner are no less daunting than any other circuit raced by the greatest names in F1 today.

Talladega SuperSpeedway

February 9, 2009 by  
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It took two men of vision (William “Bill” France along with Bill Ward) to look beyond the bare dirt expanse and abandoned buildings that stood before them, to see the potential for what would ultimately become the biggest, fastest and most competitive super-speedway in the world – Talladega Speedway.

There were several possible sites in the Southeastern United States for the proposed speedway. Talladega, Alabama emerged as the top choice thanks to it’s accessibility to the interstate, and being in the middle of a population base of at least 20 million people within 300 miles. Over 20,000 acres of available land to construct on didn’t hurt either!

Back in 1969, the Super Speedway was called the Alabama International Motor Speedway, and in 1989 the name changed. But long before then, the track had surpassed every initial expectation in terms of sheer size, speed and competition.

With Bill France as the guiding force, construction began on the site on May 23, 1968, with the first race being the ‘Bama 400 Grand Touring race several months later on Saturday, September 13, 1969. Ken Rush drove his Camaro to Victory Lane in that event. The next day, Richard Brickhouse won the first Grand National race – the Talladega 500 (now known as the UAW-Ford 500), edging Jim Vandiver and Ramo Stott.

Putting that first race weekend on the record books wasn’t as easy as it may sound. The practice and qualifying speeds were so high (Charlie Glotzbach won the pole at 199.466 mph) that the tire companies – try as they might – could not in the time available come up with a compound that held together for many laps. The Professional Drivers Association (PDA), led by Richard Petty, declared the situation unsafe, and left the track Saturday afternoon.

It was not long before the Talladega Speedway came into its own with unprecedented speeds and unparalleled competition. The combination of the two also played a major role in the development of many drivers’ careers as they built reputations for setting records and taking wins at what quickly became known as “the largest, fastest and most competitive track on the circuit.”

The track at the Talladega is 2.66-miles long, four lanes wide and is banked 33 degrees on each end, with 18-degree banking in the tri-oval. This layout has produced some of the fastest and most competitive racing in history. The backstretch is nearly 4,000 feet long, and stock cars have reached speeds in excess of 220 miles per hour in competition.

The grandstands seating capacity at the Speedway is 143,231 including the most recent expansion of the O.V. Hill South Tower. The 212-acre all-reserved infield holds many thousands more.

Many stars have raced around the track’s challenging curves, but the track’s true dominator was Dale Earnhardt, who posted 10 NASCAR NEXTEL Cup wins at Talladega over the years. Earnhardt’s first victory was in the 1983 UAW-Ford 500, driving for Bud Moore. He won again the next year in his first season with Richard Childress. When he captured the 1990 UAW-Ford 500, he became the first three-time winner of that event, then added UAW-Ford 500 wins in 1991, 1993 and 2000.

Earnhardt also had victories in the 1990, 1995 and 1999 IROC races, as well as the 1993 Aaron’s 312 Busch Series race, to give him a total of 14 career victories at Talladega. That put him ahead of Davey Allison, who had four ARCA triumphs and an IROC win to go with his three Aaron’s 499 victories.

Fans know that flag-to-flag competition is the name of the game at Talladega Super Speedway, and the record book backs this up.

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