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Join Date: Nov 2002
Location: Shennandoah Valley, VA
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American Le Manns Series in DC

Speaking of racing - did many of you go to last year's race in D.C. Man, was it hot. This year it should be the last weekend in June, and hopefully, at least a little, cooler.

What were your impressions of the race track and the race?

I'm especially interested in feed back on the race track itself (I know, spectator visibility was poor, and I have no input on the price of beer). Do you have any comments on the racing surface, corners, transitions, etc.

Did you find it incredible that a race, and actual race track, actually made it into D.C.? And in a freakin' parking lot?

Thanks.

Old 01-20-2003, 12:39 PM
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I thought that it was great. I think that the DC area could easily support a major roadcourse and the associated races. I went with about 20 friends of whom, only about 5 of us knew anything about the race, the cars, or the teams. Everyone I went with had a blast and are planning on going again this year.

Spectator visibility did suck from the seats, but once you were on the infield, you could get closer to the action than any other race I've been to. I would imagine that the corners were a little difficult since there was no banking at all. I'm sure for the drivers the lack of run off space was a bit imposing at times since you're only option was to go into the concrete.
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Old 01-26-2003, 11:30 PM
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Glad to hear you had a blast.

Yes, the corners are essentially flat (turn 1, 2, 4, and 7 are at 1 percent banking, turn 5a is at 0 percent because of the big run-off (at the chicane) and because it then goes uphill, and turns 5b and 6 are at two percent. Turn 3 is variable - The track shifts from 1 percent to the right, to 1 percent to the left (about where the metro tunnel emerges from the ground (partially for drainage reasons and to set up the entrance to turn three. The apex of turn 3 is about 1.5 percent, partially because the parking lot goes uphill, and exists at 2.5 percent, again because of the parking lot going uphill).

The real challenge was to try to design a racetrack that could still be used as a parking lot for the other 10 months of the year. We had several considerations to deal with. The hardest consideration was getting the parking lot to drain, so rain would not affect the racing surface. After that, we had to build up sections of the parking lot so they would blend in with the track, so that it could still be a parking lot.

I also have to compliment the DC Sports Commission, for standing behind the Gran Prix group, and working with the DC Gov't to allow this thing to be build. Even Mayor Williams added verbal support to the race - this went a long way with getting the permits resolved.

In interviewing the drivers, most loved the smoothness of the track, so compliments are due to the paving contractor, Aggregate Industries, who did a wonderful job with a specially designed asphalt. This asphalt has a polymer additive, which makes it up to four times stronger that normal roadway asphalt - this was done to prevent the high lateral forces of the cars from shoving the asphalt in the corners, and to prevent raveling of the surface from braking.

Actually, each corner except 6 has a run-off area. They may seem to be almost non-existent because they are sort of hidden due to the safety walls, but they are long enough for the cars to stop if they enter a corner too hot. This assumes that the exceptional capacity for these cars to stop is not hindered (i.e. brake failure). Turns 3 and 5a seemed to have the most trouble, either because of steering failure (the Corvette hit the wall pretty hard, but the driver was ok) or because of being bumped in the corner by another car (like the Star Mazdas) which typically hit the walls AFTER the run-off area.

We hope to have a revised soundwall design to pacify the residents better this year - I have to admit, it was louder than I expected it to be. Also, the slurry seal treatment that was put down on the infield shortly before the safety wall were erected should not lose aggregate as bad as it did for last year's event. This did not affect the track, but did require the pit crews to spend some time cleaing their tires of small stones picked up in the pit area.

FYI - if you want to go to a road race course where you can stand near the track - try Turn 1 at Summit Point Motorsports Park - you can stand about 15 feet away from the inside of the turn. Hope to see you there sometime!
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Old 01-27-2003, 05:42 AM
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Sounds like some insider information there Prof.... Did you worked with the DCGP this past year?

I've been to a few tracks this year (DCGP, Petite Le Mans, VIR500, and this weekend, Rolex 24) and the thing that is missing from the DCGP is the altitude changes. Road Atlanta has a great view of the action at the bridge after turn 10b where you can see all the action from turn 7 down the hill and through the hard left/right combination. I think that this part of the action is missing form the DCGP but I hope that it will inspire people to show some more interest in road racing as a whole.
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Old 01-27-2003, 06:43 AM
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I assisted in some of the preliminary design work (materials selection, pavement design, pavement section, etc) and was asked to go to RFK when a CADD rendering had Turn 3 (under the metro rail) over three feet in the air, and several other design flaws. I was asked to redesign the verticle profile on-site (surveying and designing on the tailgate of my pickup) so as not to cause a delay to the Contractor. To say the least, it was hectic. I worked to survey, design, layout, provide the cross-slopes, and stay at least one day ahead of the Contractor's excavation and placement of stone. Turn 3 took several attempt to get it to blend in properly, and Turn 5a was a real problem, due to the extended over-run area. Once the stone base was in place, and the DCGP folks blessed it, I left to return to my normal duties. Since the stone base actually set the eventual pavement surface, the Contractor had to match that surface as he put down each successive layer of asphalt. Fortunately, the Contractor did an excellent job. Per the Contract, the asphalt had to be in place 60 days prior to the race, so the asphalt could cure. We made it with only several hours to spare.

I also had some concern with the concrete verge curbs on the inside of the corners, and made some recommendations to reduce the aggressive nature of those curbs. As originally installed, they would have shredded the undercarriage of the cars, so an asphalt backing was placed towards the infield. If you drove over the curb, you definitely felt them. That's why when the Panoz car passed the Audi on Turn 1, he had to pit, because he thought he cut a tire, but had not.

From the battered parking lot we started with, to the wonderfull comments we received nationally, it was amazing.

I, too, would have liked more verticle changes, but unfortunately, there was no possible way to incorporate either a Gravity Cavity or Cork-Screw.

I also understand that NASCAR "may" try to hold a road course race, but that's still exploratory. Kenny Wallace's team owner is a promoter and Kenny was there on the Photo Op day to drive a Cadillac around the track.

The Gran Prix group has an exclusive 10 year lease on the parking lot, so 9 more to go and then maybe we can build a more exciting track (preferably out in the VA countryside - do you think the Middleburg horse set would mind? There is some great rolling terrain as you approch the Blue Ridge Mountain).
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Old 01-27-2003, 07:45 AM
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I would love to see a track like VIR in the area. I'm sure with the promise of something like the DCGP, this area could sustain a large scale road course without a problem. Look at Summit - it's a decent course which is booked almost every day of the year. Imagine what a really nice course/"country club" could do.
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Old 01-27-2003, 08:00 AM
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Summit Point is only a 30 minute drive for me. I've been visting there since the early '70s, at least once a year... sometimes bikes, sometimes cars. I would like to see their caliber of racing increase (like in the good ol' days when Group 44 would bring their full fleet, Bob Sharp and his Nissans, and Paul Newman and the rest of Hollywood would show up). The National SCCA meet does not draw like it used to (my opinion, of course). I think that rather than building a complete new track, the money could be better spent to improve the Summit. Summit Point is gradually making improvements (gravel traps, etc), but a big infusion of cash would help.

I can't help it, I'm just a supporter of a track that consistently is there - they can't even get any local newspaper support (unless Newman, Jenner, or Cruise show up).

That reminds me - I need to check their web site to see if the '03 schedule is posted.
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Old 01-28-2003, 12:08 PM
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Nice to hear that somebody who obviously knows whereof he speaks likes Summit Point. It remains one of the best kept secrets in the DC/NOVA area. Drivers adn enthusiasts know about it, but public awareness is zero.

Bill is pending money at Summit. This year sees the opening of a new track - the Shanendoah Circuit, that promises to be a gem. The track map is http://www.get-fast.net/sp-shenandoah-circuit.jpg , and the following notes are from the Potomac region web site. We have a DE scheduled on the new circuit in November!!

As you have most likely heard, our friends at the Summit Point Auto Research Center (SPARC, formerly Summit Point Raceway Associates, Inc.) are in the process of building a new, 3rd track at Summit Point. In addition to the Jefferson Circuit and Summit Point Raceway, the new track will be called the Shenandoah Circuit. After many delays in dealing with construction issues, construction is now under way. As of the time this article was written (January 2003) the track is anticipated to open in the July/August 2003 timeframe.

Bill Scott, owner of SPARC, has put a lot of thought into the layout of the circuit. His primary objective was to design a circuit that challenged cars and drivers alike. In fact, it would be fine with Bill if the Shenandoah Circuit was the most challenging in the country, and horsepower alone will not provide the best lap times! There are many interesting elevation and camber changes in the design, and even replicas of some famous turns, such as The Carousel at the Nürburgring – which Bill and his wife Barbara actually surveyed last year.

The track will have multiple lengths/configurations available. The shortest for karts, the mid-length for competition (1.68 miles) and longest (2.3 miles) for club events. The reason for the shorter competition circuit configuration was a limitation on competition surface expansion; hopefully, these restrictions will be removed in the future so that the competition circuit can include The Carousel!

PCA Potomac has a Drivers' Ed event scheduled for the Shenandoah Circuit on November 1-2, 2003. Mark you calendars and be sure to register for our inaugural event on the new track. Starting in 2004, we may even hold our Club Race on it!
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Old 02-04-2003, 11:32 AM
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Date Conflicted

The date of the event last year sucked, it was the same weekend as the Pittburgh Vintage Grand Prix - and it was the year Porsche was the featured marque. Wanted to go, but went to the Vintage race instead.

Keith
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Old 02-09-2003, 09:53 AM
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The good news is that the race is moved to June 27 (practice), 28 (Trans Am), 29 (American Le Manns). You should be seeing ads for it soon. Hopefully, being almost a month earlier, the temperatures will be more bearable.
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Old 02-14-2003, 08:07 AM
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New Date...

Well, that new date sounds like a great change!! I'm going!! Sounds like it'll be more comfortable earlier in the year, that was a hot weeken in Pittsurgh last year, can't imagine what DC was like. Ouch...

Keith
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Old 02-17-2003, 04:05 AM
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DC was miserably hot.

On Friday it was 95+ in the shade. I spent most of my time in the pits on Friday - Damn near had a heat stroke before I decided to leave.

Saturday was more bearable due to some breezes and some cold drinks.

Sunday was hot again, but not as bad as Friday.

FYI - Bottled water was $3, Beer was $5.

The gatekeepers let you bring in soft coolers (6-pack size) and small soft backpacks. So freeze some bottles of water and save some cash.
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Old 02-19-2003, 11:45 AM
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Wow - just heard the news on Saturday - this year's race was cancelled due to conflicts between RFK, the Grand Prix Holdings group, and the ALMS (American Le Manns Series) group. Bummer.

This track went from being the finest racing surface in the world to a non-event!

Hopefully, new sponsors can be found to run the race next year.

Expect to see a lot of problems due to the financial agreements. (Luckily, we got paid.)
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Old 03-11-2003, 05:30 AM
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Below is the link to the Washington Post article on the cancellation.

http://www.quattroclubusa.org/r/potomac/news/news_03082003.html

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Old 03-11-2003, 08:07 AM
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