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Team3S Member Track Report:

Chris Thompson:  Lowes Motor Speedway, Charlotte, NC

NASA Virginia Region HPDE, Sept 7/8 2002

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Chris Thompson's '93 Stealth TT

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{ Click HERE for a printable version [533k]. }

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Just got back from participating in a NASA Virginia Region event at Lowes Motor Speedway in Charlotte, NC on Sept 7/8 2002.  I was the only Stealth/3000GT there amongst hundreds of cars.  NASA, at least in the VA region, runs fantastic events, and this was no exception.  At almost all of these events you can do driver training, or race.  But unlike most club events, NASA has a really quality, affordable training program.  Under $300 for the entire weekend if you're just training in HPDE - and you'll be busy most of the time.  This event was a "Hyperfest", so will probably be written up in the next Grassroots Motorsports, if you want additional info.  In the picture of car on track, above, it looks like I'm coming up to turn 3a, so I'm going pretty slow at that point.  I think that's the Viper behind me - hard to tell in the dark...

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I'm still training, but running this course was almost better than sex.  We ran 90% of the high banks and straightaway, and even got to run under the lights at about 8:30.  What most of you all who have watched races at Charlotte maybe don't realize is that there is also an infield course under all those cars and media in the infield, which we also ran as part of the circuit.

Lowe's Track Map
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This track map is above, and other info about the event are HERE  The infield is relatively short and simple..., with only 6-8 turns, depending on how you take them.  At the end of it, you get onto the high banks of the oval - the steepest in the states (maybe the world?).  All of my compadres said it freaked them out when they hit them, but they seemed as natural as sunlight to the Stealth.  If you are doing good, your exit speed from the infield track is only maybe 80 mph, but once you hit the banks on the oval the fun really begins.  You can just keep it on the floor it for the next 2.5 miles or so.  You get to a couple of G downforce on the banked part of the track, and some cars bottom the suspension, but not the Stealth.  And it just eats this part of the track.  This is really where I was catching and passing everyone.  The NASCAR guys do this at close to 200 mph - there's no reason we can't carry maximum speed through all this in our cars even in stock trim.

The NASCAR guys don't have to deal, however, with one minor inconvenience - just before NASCAR turn 1, you have to decelerate from 150 or so to about 40 to take a left into the infield track, and this is one even the experienced racers missed repeatedly.  You want to hit track right on the straight, and hard brake just about where the main flag stand is at mid-straight and apex at a drain grill on your left at the edge of the oval into the infield.  Track right to a late apex 75 degree left turn 2, go about mid-track and return to the left to setup turns 3a and b.  Turns 3a and b can be treated as one sweeper or double apex - the latter worked better for the Stealth.

After a 1/2 mile straight, you have a rising right on slightly late apex in 4, leading up to a deceasing radius right on 5, and then a rise dipped to the left side of the track, guaranteed to upset just about any car.  In our cars, you want to hit about middle track, and lift slightly before the rise to settle the car and then constant acceleration over it.  You have a long downhill sweeper left, technically turns 7 and 8 which leads you out onto the oval.  In our cars, treat it all as one with a late apex on the last turn and go as close to the pile of tires on your right as you hit the oval.  You floor it as soon as you see the oval, and if your dogs aren't really barking through this sweeper, you aren't doing it right.  You'll come out just at the start of NASCAR turn one on the oval, so you come out hitting the banked turn.  You just stay on your arc and hit "the wall" at an acute angle with the right foot on the floor.  You'll need to go up the bank about halfway in order to get completely turned around, and then basically apex turn 2 and run the straight close to the wall.  On turn 3, you can see the line because of where the black tire lines are.  You come down the bank aiming right for the line below the start of the blue spectator stands, and you shouldn't have to turn the wheel again until you unwind.  It's not quite an oval at this point - you want to nearly hit the wall where you see lots of others have, and then apex the dogleg in the oval, and track right.  Then brake at the flag stand mid straight and do it all over again.

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In my class I ran right over everyone, including 2 'vettes, a 911 (even lapped him once in 10 minutes).  I didn't run over the Viper, but he could never catch me, either.  I was driving a straight stock '93 Stealth R/T TT I've owned for a couple of years and use for a daily driver.  I don't think even the plugs have been changed in it from new and the odometer reads 115,000.  The only mod I did was to put 40 pounds front and 38 pounds rear.  Even ran stock brakes.

Two reasons for running over everyone.  The first was a bit more experience, but not much.  This was only my third track day ever, and some of the drivers had less experience, some a bit more.  They moved me up a class on the second day.  I started at the very end in the pits, very much expecting to pit when I got in their way.  Instead, I passed six cars in front of me within the first lap.  In this group, all of the drivers had between 5 and 10 track instruction weekends, and were driving very fast modified cars.  In about twenty minutes I got lapped by the top three cars, which I didn't think was too bad for a rookie in a daily driver.  But that's the second difference - it takes a good while before our stock car becomes the limiting factor.

The traction control of the Stealth is so far above most anybody out there that the driver gets away with so much that the other better drivers can't, and the torque allows you to get up quickly after the turns. It's almost like cheating.  NASA VA is almost done for the year, but I understand they will be doing this same routine at Lowe's twice next year - see ya there!

---Chris Thompson

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Article 2002-2004 Chris Thompson, All Rights Reserved.
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