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Brand Spanky New NCM Motorsports in Bowling Green, KY

8 October 2001
St. Louis, MO
Brand Spanking New NCM Motorsports in Bowling Green, KY

I was lucky enough to get a chance to play at the inaugural event and first ever HPDE event for NCM Motorsports at there new track in Bowling Green, KY.

We ran the Grand Full Course a 3.15 mile 23 turn track with a 2300' main straight and several design elements made using the C6R's race data of the other tracks to replicate the turns as close as possible to the original tracks. The teams at Corvette Racing and Pratt and Miller advised the Museum on the layout, incorporating features from their most challenging track, the Le Mans circuit. The track management for this first event was extremely cautious and ran a tight and very structured event to make sure everyone was safe and focused on learning the new track and not setting any new track records. The track itself was complete but the rest of the facility was still under construction. The track and paddock areas are paved with the same asphalt formula they used at COTA, they had a double wide trailer for a class room and course control. The rest of the facilities were not even started yet but planned to be completed by track open for 2015. So with the porta potties standing guard at the paddock we were ready to play on the newest track in the USA. I did not go there for the facilities but a real bathroom would have been awesome.

We ran on Friday and Saturday with another group coming in on Sunday and Monday. The instructors for the weekend got to see and run the course for the first time on Thursday. Talk about a challenge, imagine being the instructor on a track you have never seen before, there is very little video of, and one of the most challenging courses I have been on yet. Oh and you have (4) 20 Min sessions to figure it out so you can teach someone else that has never seen the track tomorrow. The instructors had their hands full as every car but about 10 of us had to have instructors they needed a bunch just to get through the weekend. The few of us that did not have instructors assigned were eager to pick their brains prior to us going on track and I was lucky enough to at least grab one of the instructors to ride with me for the first session and go over the basics of the line. It certainly helped but I did not have a handle on this track until the end of my third session.

The Good News: We now have another amazing and very technical track available for us to play on, and at least for me it is within a 5 hour pull so close enough to make it back home in the same day if need be. The track is very technical, and If you have run Barber Motorsports it is very much like barber only about twice as long with 23 turns it is a lot to learn and remember. Most tracks will have one maybe two sections that require the driver to think ahead a turn or two and if you get off line in one area you have time to gather the car and setup for the next turn or complex of turns and get back in the groove. This track is not like that, of the 23 turns only about 5 of them are throw aways, the rest will have to be executed with perfect car control in order to have a shot at any kind of predictable lap times.

The Track:

Turns 1 - 3 are worth about 4-5 seconds alone if you get it right,coming down the main straight turns 1a-1b are a bus stop chicane in about 3/4 way down the long straight when I was pushing hard I would use 5th on the straight but most of the time I would just float at the top of 4th gear for about 600 feet prior to braking to enter the bus stop. The bus stop is a classic slow in fast out setup but if your car can handle being on the curbs you can make it a fast in and fast out. The curbing headed into 1a is large but the ramp on the curb is smooth and extended enough that it did not upset my car at all, once I worked my way into using the curbing I had all of the car except the drivers front and rear tire on the curb. Crash the curb stab the brakes and start left in 1b, do it right and you will be in 3rd and flat from turn in to the turn two braking point. One area of concern as you come out of 1b is the blend line for pit out is on the left side of the track and they will be exiting the pits and dumped onto the track out of 1b, they are also blind coming out of the pits and will not be able to see into the chicane to see you coming, you will be able to see them before they can see you, but only if you look that direction it is not in your natural line of sight for the apex or track out of 1b, you have to get in the habit of checking for cars coming out of the pit or you will meet at the track out of 1b and the braking zone for 2. Turns 2 and 3 are really a single radius sweeper, turn in and apex 2 about 15 feet off the inside curbing the goal is to make no more steering inputs until the exit of 3. Hold the steering input and let the drivers side tires kiss the outside curbing between 2 and 3 (DO NOT get on this curb, it is FIA cubing and you will spin or get sucked off track) The apex for 3 should come naturally if your turn in angle was correct at 2 and if anything you should start to unwind the wheel a bit. The apex for three is after the inside curbing and you you will be full throttle in third from the FIA curbing between 2-3 and through the apex onto the next straight. The esses (Turn 4) leading to turn 5 are full throttle from the apex of three to the braking zone at turn 5. Turn 4 is a throw away and the esses can really be considered a straight with very little steering input needed. I was out of gear about 300 feet prior to my braking zone for 5 in forth gear and the brake for turn 5 is merely a brush to help set the front end. Turn 5 is fast (Flat out in 4th will be possible when the track grip rises) and as the day goes on and the turn becomes faster you will find yourself using the inside curbing to extend the track a bit. It takes a while to get the nerve up as the speeds are high, the apex is blind and the braking zone for turn 6 is not revealed until after the apex of 5.

Turn 6 is a tight right hander and is more than 90 degrees so given the speeds of 5 getting the car straight and on the brakes hard prior to turn in on 6 is very important. You can downshift to 3rd during the braking zone for 6 or after the apex to setup for 7. You can take the apex very late on 6 if you scrub off enough speed. Entry into 7 is the key to 8, 9, 10. Get it wrong and the 8-10 complex is slow and agonizing. after the apex at 6 you will track out to the grass on the left, the pavement makes a 45 degree turn to the right, just follow the pavement for about another 50 feet then turn in for 7, 7 is a really really late apex you will be able to use the inside curb at 7 but you will still be turning while you are on the curb so be careful not to upset the car to much. track out of 7 is actually to the extreme right side of the track, if you track out and drift to the left coming out of 7 you will not make 8 and will be forced to hug the inside of 8 a long way without touching the gas pedal. The entry into 8 is again late the transition from track right coming out of 7 to the start of turn 8 is from about the middle of the track, you should be no where near the inside of turn 8 until after you start up the hill and the apex is really at the end of the inside curbing almost on the grass. With my car because of the uphill part of turn 8 I was able to make the turn in at 8 and get back on the gas long, long before the apex, from the apex through turn 9 and up to the braking zone for 10 I was in 3rd and flat out, you can drop to second but if you do you will have to short shift to 3rd by the end of 8 and the entry to 9. You want to hold 8 as long as you can and turn into 9 a little late, remember you should be flat out and the car will be picking up speed the entire time from here on out to 10, turn 9 is really not a turn but how you decide to go through 10 will let you do more with 9. After trying every way through 10 I could I decided to make 10 a diamond in stead of an arc entry. If you choose to go straight into 10 you will make the turn in for 9 later and drive over the top of the inside curbing for 9 putting both of the passenger tires and as much of the car on the curb as you dare. this will straighten out 9 to 10 and allow you to stay on the gas much longer than if you try and arc 10. It looks like 10 can be made into a softer radius but it did not work for me. Coming out of 9 and watching for the inside curbing going into 10 I was trying to make the line as straight as possible, you will still be turning a little and will need to get on the brakes hard to make 10. The curbing on the outside of 10 has red and white stripes and within a few tries you will know what stripe to head for coming into 10.

Turn 10 has about 5 lines all of them are slow so do what works the best for you and your car, but I can tell you if you use my line from 8 - 10 and the other guy is sweeping out on 9 and 10 you will both meet at the same turn in point for 10, only you will get there faster as you will be covering much less real estate and be on the gas from 8 into 10 and he will be coasting through the entire arc waiting to turn for 10. I could have made many passes at 10 by using this method if I was on the bumper of the guy at 8 and he was using the arc method through 9 and 10 I could have taken him at 10 with lots of room to spare but the organizers would not allow passing in any of the turns. 10 is about a 40mph turn and the exit curbing is FIA rumble strips, you get on the rumble strips and you will not be able to get on the gas. The fastest way through is to straddle the exit curbing of 10 but when one of the guys in our group did the organizers were not happy with him at all and requested a chat in the hot pits. He obliged and did not do it again. With the NCM group two wheels outside the white line is considered an off, does not matter if there is pavement there or not.

Turn 11 is not really a turn either and coming out of 10 you will just move to track left to setup for 12. 12 again is a late apex, but DO NOT touch the inside curb, my car is very soft and has no issues playing around the curbing but this curb would throw me way out into the exit curbing at 12 and make me miss 13. It is much better to give up 12 and brake more for a slower entry, take it later and get back on the gas as soon as possible to open up 13 through 16. from the late apex on 12 I am flat out in 3rd through 13 shifting before 14 and staying in it until I run out of gear just as I start to move left through 15. 14 is not really a turn but the track surface makes a table top just after 14 due to the cross over pavement when they run the two track configuration. As a result of this table top in the track you do not want to be on the inside of 14, you want to stay midway or to the right of the track until you see what your car will do over this part of the track. It will get very light at speed and you do not want to be making any steering inputs going across this jump.

Turn 15 is not a throw away but for me since I was out of gear at the apex I chose to brake a little going into the corner, when the grip increases on the track I think 15 will be flat as well but going into 16 is diabolical and scrubbing some speed at 15 is not really a sin.

Turn 16 is very deceptive, I was going faster and faster through this thing all weekend and still never felt like I was going as fast as I could, but with the off camber entry into the turn, with a transition from up hill to down hill at turn in, makes it a tough one to get any confidence in. The best I can tell you about 16 is to take it slow at first and build up to the speed, it is tricky and nothing about it makes you feel good about what the car is doing until you get to the apex then your like man I should be able to go much faster through there next time, but the feeling at entry to 16 is that there is nothing left. The apex is just past the inside curbing and you do not want to touch the inside curb if you do you are way to early.

Turn 17 on paper looks like there are two apex but just ignore the first set of curbing as your real apex is the 2nd set of curbing and you can use as much of the curb as you want, track out to the left edge of the track and get ready for 18 - 21,

Turn 18 - 21 is another set of turns that if you blow one and mainly 19 you will never get back to the line until the end of 21, much time can be lost in this complex and when you get it you will be amazed at how much easier it is to maintain speed, until you get this part right you might as well forget about any decent lap times. 10-15 seconds can be lost or found in these few turns. Going into 18 there is a white painted line that follows the edge of the track about 15 feet inside of the pavement, you will use this as a reference to see how tight you can make 18 and end up at the inside curb at 19. 18-19 is a decreasing radius turn and you will be using the throttle to steer the rear of the car, If you go into 18 to fast or too early you will not get to the apex of 19, stay out on 18 and follow the painted line until you see the apex point of 19. Just after the apex of 19 there is a drop off in the track with about 30-40 ft of elevation change you need to be track right at the bottom of the hill to setup for 20 if you miss the apex at 19 you will be thrown track left for 20 and you will not make it through 20 with any kind of speed, it is uphill and you need to be on the gas to get out of 20 through 21 with any kind of speed. If you come through 19 and you hit the inside curbing at the apex of 19 the car will almost hook and be pulled to track right at the bottom of the hill this is exactly were you want to be and is how you will know if you got 18 - 19 right. Going through 20 there is a dark spot at the seem in the middle of the track as you start up the hill. You want to be turning left and straddle that dark spot roll in the throttle and with the uphill part of the track you can add more power as the car will gain grip and start to turn better. you want to exit 20 heading up the hill with the car on the extreme left side of the track, turn 20 has been called the turn that will never end, stay tight to the left as long as you can then stay a little longer you want turn 21 to be as late an apex as possible or you can end up out in the weeds before 22, not a good place to be. If you hold 21 to as late an apex as possible you can drive over the curbing at 22 and go into 23.

Turn 23 - this is the last turn and a very important one, the exit of 23 is fast and the inside curbing should be avoided, the track out of 23 will be to the edge of the track leading onto the main straight, the edge of track left ends with grass and about 5 feet on the other side of the grass is a concrete wall separating the pit in drive from the main straight. the entry to 23 is also pit in and depending on if there is someone coming into pit or not will determine how fast you will enter the straight. I ran this corner like turn 10 at Putnam Park, use the pit in road to extend the straight by another 40-50 ft and let you get on the gas sooner and longer. I was entering the straight at 80-84 mph and full throttle in 3rd gear from the pit in road till I shift for 4th about were the first part of the track wall stops, back on it through 4th and if you are willing and have the power you can shift to 5th for about 600' prior to the brake markers, I was not happy having to get two downshifts done to get from 5th to 3rd prior to turning into the bus stop so I would just float the 600' in 4th to make the braking and downshifting much easier to go into 1. If you do not use the pit in road to increase the arc of 23 you have to be very careful on the exit of 23 as that wall is very close and you will most likely be reluctant to get on the power until nearly track out on 23 and you know the wall will not be in play. Using the pit road is much safer in my opinion. Just keep in mind that you will not be able to do this if someone is exiting the track, the pit out drive is very short and anyone headed to pit road will be doing about half the speed you will be doing. You should try both methods as you will likely have to use them both when dealing with guys coming off track.

I not sure if these track notes will be of much use as I am sure the line will be evolving as the track surface develops more grip over time, but until I get back there in April 2015 this is what I have to share. I did not shoot any video as the organization was not really wanting anyone to keep lap times or shoot video, they were very keen on presenting this as a Drivers Education event. In april I will be there with one of my normal run groups MVP and I will have video and track data to share. The two Vipers in our group both shot video as it is a permanent part of there track cars and turns on automatically to record video and data. I will try and pull some stills from their video to add to this write up for a visual reference but for now the track map attached will have to do.



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Very nice write up Dave.
Very nice write up Dave.

I am sure the line will change as the track develops more grip, I would call this a fast safe line. There is some video of Andy Pilgrim doing fast laps in a ZR1 with ContiSlicks (I Believe). He runs a totally different line in 7-10 and 18-20 and his entry and exit at 23 makes me nervous for anyone without his skill set. In the three laps in the video he ran 16 three different ways highlighting how difficult that turn is to get. If one was to emulate anyones lap I would think Andy's would be one to watch.

<iframe width="560" height="315" src="//www.youtube.com/embed/H8Cep_nx--Y" frameborder="0" allowfullscreen></iframe>

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Great video. What video recording system are you using? It looks extremely clear and the colors look great.

I did not shoot the video but it looks like a Hero3 to me. I have shot many video using a Hero3 on a windshield mount and they all turn out that clear and with great color.