Went to Stapleton over the weekend which is a sorta temporary road racing circuit set up at the old Denver airport. One thing about airports… run ways are long and don’t have many exits. There is no way to make this track anything other than way long. It is 2.65 miles (according to the map) and several of the straights are 2000′ long. One is 3000′ long.

A quick trip around the track is:

Turn 1 is a 90 degree left hander which is narrow. This makes it one of the tightest turn on the track. There was a long straight leading to this turn and you have to do heavy braking to slow enough. Soon as you make the 90 degree left and reach the track out point, you have also reached the apex point of a gradual right turn that leads to the front straight. The trick here is to carry speed through 1 and get on the gas early.

Turn 2 is not sharp enough (nor narrow enough) to make you have to swing in to the apex. Just carry from the apex on out at WOT. This leads to the longest straight (3000′) to turn 3.

Turn 3 is a slightely more than 90 right hand turn that goes up a little.

The pavement here, between runways, is rough. The better your suspension, the faster you can go here without under or oversteer. This is a hearvy braking section. Turn 4 is like turn 2. The track is so wide that you can complete turn 3 at track out which is the apex of turn 4. Just start turning in at the apex and you will still be able to turn enough to complete the turn before the outer edge of the track. There is an up to down hill transition in here that won’t cause problems if you straighten the wheel a smidge as you fly over.

Turn 4 leads to a short chute to turn 5 which is a more than 90 degrees back to another runway section. It is up hill and you have to super late apex it because the track isn’t so wide up there. This turn happened to be right between 2nd and 3rd gear shift point. I started with 3rd gear but as I got better, I tried 2nd and was able to get my 3-4 upshift done earlier. Down the first part of the back straight up to middle of 4th.

Turn 6, 7, 8 and 9 is what is called the bus stop. Most tracks would call it the kink. The bus stop is a left right straight right left that slightly gets in your way down the back straight. You have to brake down to 3rd to make the first left-right. But, you can then go WOT through the short straight and past the right left back on to the runway, er, I mean, back straight. This part of the runway is downhill and has a gradual right, then left in it. They can be taken WOT, accelerating from 3rd through 4th gears. If you are really fast through the bus stop, you are carrying so much speed down here that even these gradual turns at triple digit speeds are fun. The car leans over and easily makes it but it is tight enough to be fun.

This all leads to turn 12 which is much less than 90 degrees and is down hill. Brake fairly hard here but not too much. You want to carry as much speed as you can towards 13 because there you have to cram on the brakes and shift into 2nd. 12 is on of those turns that if you feel comfortable turning your car at max effort at tripple digit speeds, you will be fast. If you don’t like that feeling, you will lose a second or two per lap right here.

Turn 13 is a sharp, super late apex right that leads to the final straight and back on to the runway we started on. The track is about half a football field wide here so you can swing way on out there keeping your speed up and you can carry lots of speed onto the front straight. You get up to 4th again before turn 1.

Because the track is so long and mostly straight, it lacks a lot of technical skill areas. Big horsepower cars will have a significant advantage here. So will turbos which don’t suck (so to speak) as much as naturally aspirate cars at the high altitude. However, because the straights are so long, how much speed you can carry through the corners is very important. It is even more important than how early you can get back on the gas.

Another thing that was fun is that many drivers just don’t get it… they don’t get how to carry speed through the turns. This further slows them. It was fun driving the track, flying through turns at WOT and then keeping it WOT all the way for 1/2 mile or so. Slower cars, with less performance, grip, power and speed through the turns would, literally, be going 20 MPH slower than I could go. As I chased Bruce McPherson around on Sunday, we would just blow by the slower cars and it was a feeling you don’t usually get on race tracks.

Before turn 3 or 12 is the hardest braking. I think turn 3 wins, though. The reason why is because I went through an entire set of R4S brake pads in about 6 sessions. The last session came to an abrupt end when I was doing my 120 to 60 braking there (not even at max effort) and I heard "Pop!". My brakes didn’t go to zero but make more noise than normal and my car had a "rough" feel during braking. In the pits revealed that these R4S pads had done another vaporization on me. In all honesty, the pads aparently reached a certain temperature, then disintegrated to nothing. I had baking plates on rotor for my right front. My left fronts were worn down to less than 1/8" of material. They were new as of last Wednesday.

Note that R4S pads can survive a Texas World Speedway and a Mid-Ohio plus 10k miles of street with no problems. Just don’t get them over a certain temp or, kablooey!

In other mishaps, on day 1 I found a nail or screw of some sort. Blew out my right rear in turn 3 (which was a right hand turn, fortunately). Spent a few hours remedying that situation (track is only 20 mins from home.) When I got back and did my 3rd session, it started to rain. Rain turned to hail, then to flooding. Day 1 sorta sucked.

You heard about brakes in day 2. (Still had 3 hours in the day when that happened.) When I got home to switch wheels/tires and brake pads, I busted a wheel stud in the right rear. And, to top it all off, my "start/lap" button on my wrist watch broke! Anyone ever replaced wheel studs?

All in all, it was a good weekend. Even a bad day at the track is better than working. The new Konis made a huge difference and the car felt way more stable. I put them on "1 rotation" the whole way, except once when I tried 1 in front, 1/2 in back. That made it looser instead of tighter.

Bruce McPherson was there as well. We both kicked about everyone elses car except for a few Porsches that came off trailers and were about 10 seconds a lap faster than me.

On day 1, when Bruce was not here, a Ferrari 355 ran. It had the awesome sound and the automatic shifting transmission. It would snap into gear so fast. There were also 2 Vipers there, one a modified GTS. These 3 cars ran about the same lap times I did or worse while Bruce beat me by 2 or 3 seconds per lap. Most of the organizers were commenting on how fast the NSXs were.

Happy driving.


At the Track
Track Tales