Sprint Car Racing tracks vary greatly in size, shape, surface type and quality of facilities. From small club-run regional tracks to NASCAR-like state-of-the-art complexes, there are thousands of Sprint Car Racing Tracks scattered around the globe.
Tracks such as Iowa’s Knoxville Raceway and Ohio’s Eldora Speedway are big ½ mile monsters, while Indiana’s Kokomo Speedway and Gas City are smaller ¼ mile speedways. The ½ mile tracks produce high speed racing, with “slide jobs” through the big turns common place. The smaller ¼ mile “bullrings” tend to lend themselves to “elbows up”, wheel-banging action.
The banking of a Sprint Car Racing track is important in determining the overall speed of the venue. High banking on the turns enables drivers to power the cars through the turns, where a track with littlebanking requires the drivers to slow the cars to manoeuvre the corners. Tracks such as Eldora Speedway have 24 degrees of banking on the turns and 8 degrees on the straights.
Clay is the most popular track surface for Sprint Car Racing, this is because, when prepared just right, clay provides high levels of grip. Just think back to your art classes at school, add a little water to the clay and it becomes very sticky. Preparing a clay surface is an art, too much water and the track becomes impossible to race on, too little water and the track can turn into a tire shredder. Other surfaces include dolomite, dirt and pavement.
Sprint Car Racing Tracks have personalities, they change constantly throughout a night’s racing. Usually starting off with plenty of moisture at the beginning of the night, the track will often be quite dry and “slick” by the end of the show. This is what makes a crew chief’s job such a important one, they must learn to predict what a track surface is going to do throughout the night and adjust the car to suit.
When a track becomes too dry it loses grip, the tires struggle to grip on the loose dry surface, which creates wheel spin.
If a track it watered too much, or is rain affected it can become “wet slick”, causing the track to become very slippery or “slick”.
You may sometimes hear a driver mention that a track is “taking rubber”, this is when a track dries out and begins to build up a layer of rubber on the racing line, usually producing high levels of grip. As the section of track taking rubber is usually only on the racing line this type of track produces single file racing with little passing.
When the moisture content is just right a track surface can provide heaps of grip, this is often referred to as a “hookey track”.
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