Racing Around The World: Pavement Racing, Indiana. USA

Winchester Speedway

The high banked half mile track of legendary Winchester Speedway is not for the fainthearted, once you’ve seen a race car complete a hot lap you fully understand and totally agree with the sign that hangs on the pit road gate along the home straight.

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Winchester Speedway is the first half mile track to ever be built in the USA back in 1916 and after Indianapolis Motor speedway is the second oldest running speedway track in the USA.

Spectators get superb viewing of the entire track from the modern grand stand that runs along the home straight. The usual race track amenities are available with cold drinks and hot food being served in the large building towards turn four of the home straight. If you are of legal age and have ID a bar is also located in this building offering alcoholic drinks and a relaxed race-track-atmosphere.

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The pit area sits within the infield area; this is closer enough for spectators to be able to observe the prepping of race cars.

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On our visit we had a double billing on offer with the Must See Racing Series; Super Modifieds and Winged Sprint Cars

Super Modifieds

For those that have no or little idea of this series. The Super Modifieds are in essence an ‘original’ style Indy car, front engine mounted. That has have developed and adapted to running short ovals. Add to that a Wing and remove as many car building rules as you can and you end up with an original style Indy car with a V8 motor mounted outside of the car for inside weight, a ‘movable’ wing that changes the air flow depending of straights or turns and some fancy suspension.

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With the lack of rules governing the construction of these cars, the race car builder has pretty much a free rain in design and construction. And you’ll be hard pressed to find two identical cars.
Check out their rule book online and see for yourself – MSR Super Modified Rule Book

The result: these cars complete a lap of Winchester in the 13 second bracket, which on a half mile track works out as an average speed of 138mph !!!

Remember that sign on the pit gate.

The down force and subsequent traction of these cars along with the ‘relaxed restriction rulings’ makes these quite possibly the fastest race car you’ll see on a pavement oval.

The Feature Start Including the Wreck.

And Onboard Video of the same wreck (Now that’s what we call acceleration!!)

Wing Sprint Cars

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Simular but not the same as those that run on Dirt. Probably the most obvious difference will be the tires. While still bigger at the back than on the front, the rear outside tire is no where near as big as those on the Dirt, the last thing you want to do in a pavement sprint car is go sideways!!

Following the open ruling Super Modifieds the Wing Sprint Cars look twitchy and un-stable or in a word – frightening.

Despite having weigh rulings governing inside weight and a host of other governing rules these cars are still laping in the 15. Second mark. Absolutely crazy.

Remember that sign on the pit gate !

Pavement Racing is different from the Sprinters you’ll see on dirt. You’ll not see a slide job or a wheel stand. But what you will see is fast, very fast sprint car racing. Holding their line, working the inside or outside line to make a pass.
While that might sound less exciting than what you’ll see on the Dirt. You just need to change your mind set to experience the thrill and excitement of pavement racing.

On the gas and getting past back markers with 2nd place chasing you down.

Like their dirt counterparts these cars need to run on the edge to get the best from them. Remember these cars DON’T have rear view mirrors. The closeness of the racing and passing is real edge of your seat stuff.

 

Anderson Speedway

Anderson Speedway is a quarter mile high banked pavement oval. The track is within the city of Anderson and close to all local amenities so no problem with grabbing a bite to eat before and after the meeting at any of the local 24 hour fast food restaurants.

The track has a large car parking area, the left hand side of which is available for RV Parking and Camping.

Ample seating is available with bleacher style grand stands on the home as well as back straights, around turns one and two while turn four boasts a high bleacher stand, not suitable for those with a fear of heights.

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All the usual race track amenities are available with the main food outlets sitting behind the home straight bleachers. This is also the location of a large roof covered pavilion / picnic area, great for shade from the sun and a place to seek cover if rain falls.

The main pit area sits behind turn 3 & 4 (apart from the Little 500) and superb viewing of the pit area and on / off track road can be viewed from the ‘high Turn 4 bleachers.

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Photo Stephen Cording

Photo Stephen Cording


Photo Stephen Cording

Photo Stephen Cording


Photo Stephen Cording

The 65th Little 500

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The little 500 is a non-wing pavement sprint car race like no other in the world. The little 500 is on many a bucket list for both race fans and drivers alike and for good reason.

The main jaw dropping points of this historic event –

It’s 500 yes 500 laps or 125 miles.
They start three abreast, no not a parade lap the rolling lap to take the green.
They pit stop for fuel.
It’s 500 laps of sprint car racing.

The little 500 week begins with open practice sessions and qualifying during the week. A vast improvement on the 1960’s & 1970’s when qualifying was two weeks before the race. These practice sessions & qualifying are FREE for spectators to attend and run during the day time so leaving the evening free for you to attend racing else where.

On race day Anderson speedway do a superb job in creating the big race feeling, A autograph session in which it is compulsory for every driver racing in the Little 500 to attend takes place a few hours before the green flag in the roofed pavilion on the home straight. A great opportunity for drivers and race fans to interact and connect.
I have to admit how surprised I was that a few drivers wanted to keep chatting and in no way did I feel hurried along or part of a corporate type autograph session.
There is no charge for this you just join the line, but I would recommends purchasing the $5. 48 page race day programme that comes with an autograph page, mind that soon fills up.

Pit Stops

Now this is something new for a sprint car race. For the Little 500 the infield doubles as a pit stop area. No sprint car is allowed a starter motor and engines must be off during refuelling. So push trucks are required!!!

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Starting to sound interesting. Racing Fuel has to be gravity fed and this makes for some interesting re-fuelling rigs.

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The Race

The thirty three qualified cars grid up three abreast for the start of the race, the green drops and the race is on. Like with any longer distance race you can’t win it on the opening laps. You need to be in it at the end to have any chance of taking the win.

When you consider that the lead cars are lapping in the 12 second bracket if your running just half a second slower than the leader then your looking at going a lap down every 24 laps, then consider the time lost for a pit stop this really is a unique sprint car race.

Another factor that plays a major part role in this race is driver endurance. You might have seen just how exhausted a sprint car driver looks after a 30 or 40 lap feature can you imagine increasing this to 500 hard laps. As one driver said during the post race interview “My leg went numb, my foot was numb I couldn’t feel the pedal. My shoulder and arm was numb I couldn’t feel the wheel, I got so hot I think I’ve been cooked and I saw I still had 200 laps to go, I can’t explain just how tough this race is. Other drivers have told me about it, but you just have no idea and you realize that what you thought you’d done to prepare for this race was nothing. You have to race it to understand just how tough it is.”

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And on top of all the above you risk mechanical or tire failure. I’m sure your all only too aware just how hot a V8 motor and workings become, and with heat come fatigue, and things breaking. Sprint Cars have to be driven on the edge to handle correctly. On the edge is not good for equipment management.

Below is a video of Shane Cottle (White #4 car) closing in and looking to make the pass during the closing laps on race leader and eventual winner Jacob Wilson (Green #07 car) before the worse scenario.

Stephen Cording 2013

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