Carolina Motorsports Park
Web site: http://www.carolinamotorsportspark.com/
Questions forum: Driving Carolinas Motorsports Park forum
MyTrackSchedule.com Carolina Motorsports Park Track Schedule
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It has got to be one of the most challeging circuits on the east coast, if for no other reason than it is hard to get a good rythm on it. One of Alan Wilson's earlier tracks (I think) it has two very different sections... turns 1 through 10 flow together nicely, incorporating the layout's only elevation changes, it is the higher-speed section of the layout. Nice gators (similar to FIA style in look) it really gives you a feeling of being on a real track. 1 and 2 are nice switchback style, increasing radius (and speed) corners leading onto a short straight. Turn 3 is a relatively fast left hander leading to a longer straight which is slightly downhill and your speed increases dramatically here. Turn 4 is a fast left hander, but you're immediately greeted by the right hand turn 5 which is the beginning of the Carosel. Done right, turns 5, 6, and 7 can be taken with one set of the steering wheel using the throttle to modulate your turning circle. When performed properly, you should be full throttle coming around the middle of the carosel (turn 6) as its increasing radius coming out of turn 7 onto a downhill straight... feels great when its done right.
The second hardest place to get correct on this part of the track is turn 8. Its a very fast right hander leading onto the back straight. The braking zone is uphill, and its an increasing radius turn... with MILES of run-off on track out... but its semi-blind due to the elevation change and treeline on the inside of the corner. It takes a while to get it right. Most people turn in WAY too early and run out of room on track out, or they simply take it too slow to make use of the ample track-out space. Turn 9 is a non-issue, simply a bend on the back straight... you're full throttle all the way from the exit of turn 8 (maybe even the turn-in with the right car) thru turn 10... maybe. Turn 10 can either be a non-issue like turn 9, or it can be one of the scariest places on track.
Turn 10 is a very fast right hand bend, but at the apex is where there is an asphalt cut-through... complete with gators which sit a few inches above the asphalt. If you turn in too early, you'll hit these gators, and chances are they will upset the car while your turning at between 110-120 mph... NOT a good time to upset the car!! Unfortunately, I've seen some bad accidents at this section. There's TONS of run-off track left, but inevitably, when the left two wheels are dropped of the side, the driver tries to bring it back on track... and usually what happens is he/she is thrown back across track, sliding into the grass, and continuing to slide all the way to the tree line that lines the pit straight. Thanks to us (Triangle Z Club/Tarheel Sports Car Club) they added a wire tire barrier along those trees to help prevent getting tangled up in them. We demanded they put it there after one of our instructors lost his C5 in those trees during our time trial.
If you stay on track here ( ) you are now on a very short chute where you need to settle the car for some very hard braking before the left hand turn 11 (think 120mph down to 30mph.) Turn 11 is the start of what most people refer to as the Autocross section. The whole section is very flat, and the track seems to narrow (even though I don't think it actually does). Your car's gearing will be the single best determining factor as to how you approach this section. Turn 11 is decreasing radius, so you wait til around 11:00 PM to start your turn-in... generally you'll be in second gear here since its such a tight turn. Here's where it gets tricky... the gator on 12 is SO tall, that if you hit it wrong, its gonna literally bump your car back across track and probably off it. In the process it will knock your front end out of alignment too. If you late apex it, it can be taken with a small amount of speed, usually its those few RPMs right in between whats too fast for 2nd gear, and too slow for 3rd gear. Short straight before 13, a true 90 degree turn, but the gators at corner exit are so scalloped that if your alignment was good after 12, it won't be if you run over these after turning in too early. The straight is again, just long enough that you think you should gear up (if you're in 2nd) but you'd be immediately gearing back down to 2nd to power out of the turn. The straight from 13 to 14 is long enough to build up some speed, but its kinda pointless if you're not competing because turn 14 is a slightly off-camber, decreasing radius right hander leading onto the pit straight. If there was ever a poster child corner for 'slow-in-fast-out', this is the one. If you waited til 11:00 on turn 11 to turn in, wait til about midnight for this one. And whatever you do, don't turn in early and run out of track exit... the gators here are BRUTAL!! Known to bust hubs and axles under the right circumstances. The pit straight is pretty long and will let you relax the death grip you've had on the wheel through the Autocross section... then turn one comes up on you fast and quick... and 90 degree, off camber left hander.
It's definately a workout, but I think the track surface is good. Lots of people who drive aggressively don't like the track because they say its hard on brakes and tires... and it is in the sandy plains of South Carolina, so make sure you got a good few coats of wax before heading out there. They finally paved the paddock drives (though not the parking areas) in 2003, so that certainly helped reduce the amount of sand that made it on track, but it is still a concern.
Hopefully we'll hold events there again in the future... we stopped in 2005 since Rockingham re-opened, and there were some policy conflicts that the track imposes on renters which we had a hard time swallowing .
I personally highly recommend this track to anyone in or around the area.
Stacy King HPDE Chairman Triangle Z Club / Tarheel Sports Car Club
The follow sections describe the turns or series of turns on the race track in a step by step detail from various people who have driven the track
GPS Track Map and Vehicle Dynamics
* Carolina Motorsports Park Telemetry with Toyota MR2 * Carolina Motorsports Park Telemetry with BMW E30
Typical Lap Times
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