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 Track Information

 

Background

Carolina Motorsports Park was developed by a group of enthusiasts and racers from the Southeast, led by Joe Hooker and Bob Humphreys. Land acquisition was completed in July 1998 with construction starting soon thereafter.

As of July 1999, the track was completed and officially opened.

The site is a pre-war (WW2) fighter training base located about 7 miles south of Kershaw and 17 miles north of Camden on Highway 601 in South Carolina, and is approximately one hour drive south of Charlotte International Airport. The west course is mostly flat, but the east track crosses a small stream running through a valley that is approximately 35' deep, resulting in some distinct elevation changes.

Design Philosophy

Wilson Motorsport was asked to design a road course that would meet full AMA and SCCA National use and safety standards, even though the initial use of the facility contemplates only club level racing. Alan Wilson, President of Wilson Motorsports has designed several other tracks in recent years, most notably the GingerMan Raceway in Michigan and the infield road courses at Las Vegas and Pikes Peak Speedways. As was the case with these three tracks, CMP has been designed specifically for motorcycle use. The idea being that if motorcycle riders like the track, race car drivers will love it!

The Carolina facility, which Wilson describes as "Ginger Man on steroids" follows his established style of wide open, level, and very smooth run off areas surrounding a 36' wide track containing several complex radius corners. He has included several significant braking areas designed to encourage overtaking and close racing. Wilson has tried to avoid the need for concrete or steel barriers as much as possible (recognizing that spectator safety must always be maintained) and has achieved this at CMP. CMP will have barriers on the outside of only two corners, on the pit lanes, and over the river crossings. Even then, the barriers at the Lone Tree and Angels Angle corners are set well back and it is not expected that they will be reached except under very extreme circumstances. A goal of the design has been to run AMA National-standard races without the need for additional safety measures, including airfence or straw bales, thanks to the wide open run-off areas and carefully located sand traps.

Although CMP was constructed as a club level facility, it was designed for future public attendance events and offers several exceptionally good vantage points. Almost 100% of the west track is visible from the pits and public areas, while the east track offers spectacular views of the Faith, Hope and Charity, Outback, Avenue and Angels sections from extensively shaded spectator areas.

 

Track Layout

Alan Wilson has designed the track to form two seperate courses which can be used simultaneously. The West track (0.988 miles) was specifically designed to be very technical and quite slow to serve as a prime venue for race schools.

 

The East track (1.18 miles) is much faster. Combined, the two courses become a very fast, technical, challenging and extremely interesting 2.235-mile National-standard track.

Rather than use common turn number terminology, CMP has followed European traditions by naming each corner, believing that this will quickly give the facility its own distinct character. Naming the corners should also reduce confusion when the tracks are used in their different configurations.

The first turn is named Camden Corner after the nearby historic town, and follows the 1640' Pit Straight. This is a wide, 80' radius corner which will be very deceptive because it calls for a late apex if the first of the Esses is to be taken correctly. Consequently Camden Corner is expected to be the scene of much overtaking as the faster line into the corner may grant a rider or driver the lead position exiting but will severely effect his/her ability to race through the Esses effectively.

The Esses are well spaced, 100' radius corners with the second element significantly faster than the first. This 346' section rises up a gentle grade with the apex of the second Ess located on the crest of the hill. These should be fun, flowing corners, in which the exit speed will be crucial to the fast downhill and long uphill sections that follow. After the second Ess the track drops some 20' to the river crossing before climbing 30' up Dam Hill to Consipiracy Corner which is 978' past the last of the Esses. This left hander will present a major overtaking opportunity because the corner speed will be far greater than the entrance to the right hand turn that follows just 128' later. Conspiracy Corner should provide an opportunity for a competitor to dive past another who is on the correct line for the long, sweeping Faith, Hope and Charity carousel that follows, but will leave the passing competitor with a much less efficient entry to these multiple radius corners. However, the track is wide with plenty of run-off area so some significant overtaking can be expected through the different segments of this long carousel sweeper. Each element of this complex has different corner radii and angles making a correct racing line crucial to the long, downhill straight that follows.

The Outback, named because it really is out in the countryside, is an 1841' straight with a very shallow kink that ends in a steep downhill section, called, for the reason that many a competitor will breath its name in trepidation, O'Hill! O'Hill drops 20' off the Outback down to the river crossing and the beginning of the steep uphill entrance to the heavily cambered (7 degree) Angels Angle. Angels is a 15' radius, 72 degree corner that continues to rise as it curves out along the 370' exit straight to The Swoop. Angels Angle is likely to become one of the more talked about turns in racing because it must be taken fast to make best use of the 1980' run through The Avenue to The Kink that follows. Angels Angle will however, appear to be much slower than it really is and will become a corner that will really sort out the better competitors.

The Avenue is a spectacular, sweeping run out of the forest through the heavily cambered Swoop (518' radius, 33 degrees) that leads to a very high speed approach to The Kink. The 162' radius, 35 degree Kink should be a corner that will seldom be taken flat out and may require either heavy braking or just a confidence roll off the throttle, depending on the skill of the competitor and the handling set-up of his/her machine. This very fast turn has a wide open, flat run-off area and a huge sand trap set well back to catch a competitor who is unable to regain control if he/she leaves the track surface. An errant exit from the Kink will also penalize those who find the 843' long Runway straight too short to get back onto the correct entry line for Mulligans Corner.

Mulligans is a double apex corner (named Mulligans because riders will usually want to take it again to get it right) whose natural, flowing exit will result in a too tight entrance into Charlies Corner. Consequently competitors will need to choose between a fast exit from Mulligans or a slower but better line into Charlies (named after one of the owners' young sons). This 100' radius, 128 degree corner leads onto a short, 387' straight to Lone Tree, a very slow 91 degree right hander necessitated by the relatively small run-off room available. Lone Tree corner leads onto the 1009' long Kershaw Straight and is therefore an important corner to master as this is a significant overtaking section located in front of a major spectator area.

The final opportunity to use braking to fight for position before the finish line is the Last Chance Corner, located at the end of the Kershaw Straight. This is a tight, 57' radius, 116 degree corner leading onto the Pit Straight which must be taken very late in order to exit at the highest speed. This corner shape offers a late braking competitor a good opportunity to fight for track position even if his/her exit speed onto the straight is compromised by a less efficient racing line.

Facilities

In its first year of operation, Carolina Motorsports Park is intended to be used for club racing and track rentals only, and will have limited facilities for spectators. The large, flat, 21 acre paddock is grassed with paved service roads and has many trees. The west track pit lane has been included in the first phase of operations, with the east track pits to be added once the facility has become fully established. Race control and timing and scoring facilities are temporary buildings at this time, with specifically built facilities expected to follow within a few years. The general goals of the owners of CMP are to establish the basic circuit as a top level, safe, and effective facility for their targeted user groups before developing it further as a major spectator venue.

Safety

CMP has been designed and built with competitor and worker safety as prime parameters. While the track itself is both fast and complex, the penalty for mistakes is more likely to result in embarrassment and a trip to the sand traps than to damage or injury. Wide open, level run-off areas surround the track encouraging competitors to get their vehicles under control on the grass rather than having to resort to heavy braking and panic maneuvers. In those areas where space is limited, very well constructed tire walls have been installed. Steel guardrails are located in prime positions, (pit lane, the river crossings and at Lone Tree Corner and the end of the safety zone at Camden Corner), but are otherwise notable for their absence.

CMP is built in an area that has very soft, sandy soils. This has allowed for the establishment of extensive sand traps to catch cars and motorcycles that cannot be brought back under control on the wide, flat, grass verges. These sand traps are generally set well back from the track in order to provide plenty of recovery room for riders.

Corner worker staions have been built to the highest standards, featuring circular, tripple layer guardrails, fronted by tire walls to provide strength and impact resistance. Each post will also feature a shelter from the weather.

Summary

Carolina Motorsports Park is the newest racing facility in the country, representing an exceptional standard in driver and rider safety, enjoyment and challenge. Built as a club and rental facility, CMP has the potential to be developed, over time, into a major racing venue for the East Coast. Initial response to the new facility has been strong, with heavy track bookings already recorded and significant interest being shown by many other car and motorcycle organizing groups.

 

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