Car prepped a week early. Check √
Rain tires mounted. Check √
Driver mentally prepared for another battle in the rain. Check √
Event cancelled 5 days before race. Wait What!
Disappointment would be an understatement. There is a lot of mental and physical energy that goes into racing and this energy needs to go somewhere. So I kept my mouth shut about the decision for a few days. I had an idea of what had happened that I will explain in a bit. But needless to say, this event has been renamed the ‘Shake and Break’ as it has thrown the Midsouth region into an early season break that no one wanted.
So here is what happened. Memphis International Raceway is our local racetrack. It is a dragstrip with a road course and not the other way around. As such, and I believe I discussed this in a previous article, it is not the safest in the rain. We have to contend with VHC on the first 1/8 mi of the straight which is great in the dry and hard to even walk on when wet. It is a coating used on drag strips for a grippier launch surface. But that wasn’t the deal breaker for this event.
The severe thunderstorms in the forecast, coupled with the abysmal conditions of the hot pits are what got the event cancelled. Basically, the hot pits is a side road (pit lane) running parallel to the dragstrip that we use to avoid the VHC coating on the main straight during rain. It is a regular paved surface and therefore driveable at speed in the wet. Or at least it used to be. It is marked with potholes and debris and has been getting worse over the last few years and frankly has become quite dangerous for novice drivers. (Even some seasoned racers are refusing to run events at MIR in the rain) And therein lies the problem, until Memphis International Raceway repaves the hot pits, I forsee any rain races cancelled from this point forward. HPDE students are backing out in droves when conditions aren’t ideal and it takes more than 10 racecars to host a road racing event. And just to drive the point home, check out the video below. These accidents happened last year when the VHC got ‘damp’.
Next up, NOLA Motorsports Park (May 19-20).