VF. Other U.S. Racetracks

This is part two of a two part series. I posted part one in April 2018, with the intention of putting up part two about a month later. Somehow I got caught in a vortex of “can’t get anything finished” and it took more than a year. Sorry. You might want to re-read part one before reading this it might help this one make a more sense. Part one is at VG. The Fall and Rise of West Coast Racetracks. It’s about racetracks in the three west-coast states.

This long overdue part looks at tracks in the rest of the country. Keep in mind I’m not raced at any of these tracks except Daytona, and only spectated at Barber. Tracks listed come from various sources including the MotoAmerica, WERA, and AHMRA schedules, and talking to racer folks. Once I got a track name I used Google’s satellite and terrain views and the track’s own website to glean information about it. There are probably errors here, feel free to post corrections in the comments section. There’s no real order of this listing except it tends to go west-to-east.

Utah Motorsport Park, Tooele Utah. This is a top rank track, hosting MotoAmerica races and World Superbike series in the past. It is a multi-configuration track with the outer track being 3 miles with around 20 turns. There are some elevation changes to make some of the turns more interesting.

Las Vegas Motor Speedway, Las Vegas NV. LVMS is a Daytona-like tri-oval with an infield section for sports cars and motorcycles. The “classic” road course is 2.4 miles with 12 turns. Unlike Daytona, the road course does not use any part of the tri-oval but is completely separate. It’s an interesting looking track, with a good mix of different types of turns but no elevation changes. WERA schedules a couple of events here each year.

Arizona Motorsports Park, Litchfield Park, AZ. I like the looks of this track. 2.25 miles, 16 turns, no long straights. It’s in a suburb of Phoenix, and looks to be pancake flat. From satellite images it looks very undeveloped; there appears to be no buildings onsite. It reminds me of Sears Point in 1973. Actually there was one building at Sears back then, a snack bar with restrooms.

High Plains Raceway, Denver CO. This one looks good. They claim a long course of 2.55 miles with 16 turns and some elevation changes. There are two straights, the longest being about a half mile. It’s in the plains a bit east of Denver, so there’s not much to run into if you get off track.

Sandia Speedway, Albuquerque, NM. This is a short racetrack, only 1.7 miles, with 14 or 15 turns. The main straight looks to be about one third of a mile. I know club racers use this track but I‘m not sure it’s ready for top-rank Superbikes. The 1.7 mile length is a problem, but the original Laguna Seca track was only 1.9 miles, so it’s possible.

There used to be a track near Pike’s Peak. I remember Eric Bostrom winning AMA Nationals there on a Ducati some years back but I don’t know if it’s still active. I can’t find out anything about it on the web.

Mid-Ohio Sports Car Course, Lexington, OH. This track hosts the annual AMA Vintage Motorcycle Days in mid-summer, along with WERA vintage races. This circuit is a 16-turn, 2.4 mile track. The track is set in rolling terrain and has some decent elevation changes. Wayne Rainey told me he would love to run races at Mid-Ohio, but MotoAmerica races in the rain and it’s impossible to race on Mid-Ohio when it’s wet. Unfortunately, it can rain anytime of the year in that part of the U.S.

Circuit of the Americas, Austin Texas. Another great track, the home of MotoGP’s Gran Prix of the Americas. It’s fairly new and is built with lots of run-off and gravel traps so it’s pretty safe. It’s long, nearly 3.5 miles with 20 turns and a very long back “straight” that actually curves a little and goes up and down some.

Hallett Motor Racing Circuit, Jennings OK. Located just 35 miles from Tulsa, it’s another shortish track. They claim 1.8 miles with 10 turns and 80 feet elevation change. There are no long straights, as expected, so it’s a technical track where riding skill can make up for a lack of horsepower. I talked to a racer who ran an AHMRA race there and he liked it, said the hosts were really nice. From satellite shots it looks like a good club racetrack, but maybe not up to MotoAmerica standards.

Road America, Elkhart Lake, WI. Another top tier racetrack, four miles long with 14 turns and some decent elevation changes. MotoAmerica is a regular visitor. There is a long start-finish straight that starts with an uphill climb, so horsepower is important here. There are also a wide variety of curves. A good track.

Brainerd International Raceway, Brainerd, MN. Brainerd had AMA National motorcycle races some years ago, even the World Superbike series for three seasons. It was a very fast track, but as the bikes got faster there was one turn that became very dangerous and the bikes went away. In 2008 the track added asphalt that created a new, 2.5 mile, 13 turn course that uses part of the old 3.1 mile track but avoided the dangerous curve. They added a 300 degree sweeper, nearly a full circle, leading off the old course. They have motorcycle racing on their schedule, called CRA Superbikes.

Gingerman Raceway, South Haven, MN. I had never heard of this track before doing this search. They claim a very safe track of 2.14 miles with 11 turns with “dynamic elevation change on a naturally rolling landscape.” Their schedule shows motorcycle track days but it’s not clear that there is organized club racing. It looks like it ought to be OK.

New Jersey Motorsports Park; Millville, NJ. The Thunderbolt Raceway is one of the mainstays in the MotoAmerica series and I’ve watched several races on television in the last few tears. Length is 2.25 miles with 12 turns and a one-half mile straight. There’s a bit of elevation change and a pretty good mix of different types of turns. A good track for motorcycle races.

New Hampshire Motor Speedway, Loudon, NH. For many years the AMA raced Nationals at Loudon but stopped as the bikes got too fast for that track. It was short, less than two miles, and the top racers would be lapping the slower riders after only a few laps. That older track layout is gone, and the current one is completely different. The new site has a NASCAR oval with an infield road course that incorporates part of the oval. It’s still a pretty short track, 1.6 miles with maybe 14 or 15 turns. The old track had some elevation changes and the current track, which was built on the same site of the old track, likely has some up and down as well.

Thompson Speedway Motorsports Park, Thompson, CT. This road course is another short one, 1.7 miles, with 10 turns. The terrain looks like gently rolling hills so there is bound to be some elevation changes.

Pittsburgh International Race Complex, Wampum, PA. This is a really good looking race track. The MotoAmerica series now runs there. The website describes a 2.78 mile, 19 turn road course that follows the natural terrain, and the terrain is pretty hilly. There are a couple of short straights, several sweepers, a set of esses and two tight hairpins. Looks good on the computer screen.

Roebling Road Raceway; Bloomingdale, GA. This is a 2.02-mile, 9-turn road course, “featuring ample run-off room and some of the fastest combinations of corners in the country,” according to their website. It’s close to Savanna; both AHRMA and WERA race here. It’s a bit of an oddity – according to their website this is a “non-spectator track.” Racers and their crews only admitted. From the satellite image the track is a collection of sweepers, with no tight corners. There may be a little bit of elevation change.

Carolina Motorsports Park; Kershaw, SC. This site has two short tracks that can be combined for a 2.28 mile, 14-turn track. It looks good, with a nice combination of curves from tight hairpins to fast sweepers. There looks to be at least one dip in the track so it’s not totally flat. It’s on the AHRMA schedule, so it must be suitable for motorcycles.

Talladega Gran Prix Raceway; Munford, AL. This track is very small, 1.4 miles with 8 turns. Their website says, “TGPR was originally designed by Ed Bargy as a motorcycle road race course…” Frankly it looks like a good track to tune and test bikes, but it’s too short for big bike racing, and it’s less than 50 miles from Barber Motorsport Park in Birmingham (below).

Barber Motorsports Park; Birmingham, AL. This is a great place for motorcycle racing, with a 2.38 mile, 17-turn racetrack with a good variety of turns and no long straights. This is a skills track, not a horsepower track. MotoAmerica races here and so does AHRMA. The site also has the Barber Motorsports Museum, the largest motorcycle museum in the world. The annual Barber Vintage Days and AHRMA race in October attracts thousands of motorcyclists, and is a must-do-at-east-once, if not multiple times, event.

Virginia International Raceway, Alton, VA. Another of the top tier racetracks. VIR is a multi-configuration racetrack with five different configurations. MotoAmerica uses the North Course (2.25 miles, 14 turns). The track is in a hilly, forested area and they claim an elevation change of 130 feet.

Daytona Speedway, Daytona, FL. Daytona Speedway has several different configurations. The classic course, for the Daytona 200 race, is 3.51 miles with nine turns plus a quick left-right-left chicane. The course is flat except for two 31-degree banked turns that kinda give some sense of elevation change – at the top of the banking you’re many feet above the ground. However, the banking and today’s Superbike top speeds are too hard on tires, and the Daytona 200 is now a 600cc Supersport race. There’s another configuration that is used for Superbikes that only uses one of the two banked turns with a longer infield section. The big bike race is, I think, 66 miles (100 km), so the tires are not overstressed.

So it seems that there are a lot of racetracks scattered around the country, some short, some long. My original idea was to explore the possibility of having regional MotoAmerica series so racers who couldn’t afford the travel could race top-spec bikes. Then I learned that WERA tried this idea and it didn’t work.

It seems people aren’t inclined to travel just for a regional championship. If there are going to be MotoAmerica regional series there will have to be a bigger reward than a regional title. Perhaps a promised seat on a national team might be attractive enough. It would require a lot of resources from MotoAmerica that I don’t think they have right now.

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