At Nashville Superspeedway, the transition from the NASCAR banking to the infield is an event. Upsetting not only the car but the driver in the process. The only way to go fast here is to know your car, know your limit and be willing to push both past your comfort zone.
Nashville Superspeedway has been closed for a long time which means there was little information aside from a track map and a couple dated videos of the road course layout. Really not much in the way of race videos but an HPDE video from 2011 (Nashville Superspeedway Road Course – E46 M3 – YouTube) and a Spec E30 video from 2009 (Nashville Superspeedway – Road Course on Vimeo) served as my reference.
So before I move on to the racing, I want to add some additional resouces for those driving Nashville Superspeedway for the first time.
Track Map and ‘The Line’
First up is a track map I created by overlaying the data from my AIM Solo 2 onto Google Earth. You can see the general road course layout and also the line I took to get the job done.
Note: The Aim Solo did not have the road course available in the database. I was able to program the start/stop line and the above was the result. I’m going to see if I can upload my data to AIM so it will auto detect in the future.
Track Walk / Pointers
This is a challenging and surprisingly technical track. I saw drivers of all levels struggle in one area or another. Here is what I figured out to run fast and consistent lap times throughout the event.
Check out the reference lap below before I break down my approach to this track.
The initial turn in from the banking to the road course after start / finish is super abrupt if you take a wide line. I found a shallow approach running the car on the lower end and transitioning off the banking at the first available moment a lot smoother. Even though this isn’t the ‘mathematically’ ideal line, it yields significant gains in stability through the high speed left hander allowing me to carry much more speed on the approach to turn 2.
This turn requires patience. After the entry to the infield I stay track left until the opening to pit exit. At which point it’s heavy on the brakes while letting the car run out to the right side. Downshifting twice to second gear and turning in with heavy trail braking. If you get on the gas too soon you will understeer significantly and be forced to scrub speed. Be patient and wait for the turn to open up and you can hammer the throttle while letting the car track back out to the right side.
Another tight turn and almost a mirror of turn 2. Track the car back to the left and then heavy on the brakes with a slow release to what feels like an early apex. Once again being patient with the throttle.
Track out to the left after turn 3 and hug the left side of the track while shifting to third. This is a compromise turn and you need to focus on setting the car up for turn 5/6 which exit onto a short straight. I watched a lot of drivers track right before entering this section and it would compromise their exit speed.
Nothing too special here. Just a mid to late apex depending on how your car reacts. It’s ok to kiss the curbing in 5 but hit it too hard and you are two wheeling.
Coming out of the first infield series is super tight. Don’t be scared to ride the gators and if you push a little simply aim for the wall and throttle thru. Even if you drop a wheel or 4 in the grass.
After tracking out to the wall if you need to, slowly arc the car back down the track, shifting to forth along the way. This turn requires a bit of feel but you will downshift to third while braking and then enter the turn. Once again there were two approaches to this turn. I opted for the shallow entry, arcing the car around the apex. Others took a high entry with a tighter initial turn in. YMMV but the car was much more settled with the shallow entry and subsequently easier to setup for turn 8.
This turn is a blast. Don’t be afraid of the gators here. In fact, throw both right wheels on them and it will help rotate the car. Carry enough speed here and you will naturally track left almost kissing the grass and in the perfect position for the next turn.
At this point I’m focused on a smooth turn in aiming to apex at the arrow. The curbing here is much milder than the turn 5 so feel free to run up it if necessary.
Very similar to the turn 5/6 series exit. Get on the throttle early here and track the car out to the right as you accelerate. Making sure not to drop a wheel or two on the outside as you will scrub a ton of speed and pay for it down the long straight.
Two Key Points
There’s a lot of nuance to this track and I may add more details later but I can summarizes my approach with these two points.
- Shallow transitions on and off the banking keeps the car much more stable. This pays off tremendously at T1.
- The tight infield requires patience. Overdriving this section will kill your lap time. Instead, sacrifice a little entry speed at T2 and T3 to rotate the car quicker while trail braking. You will roll on the throttle much sooner.
We had 3 races this weekend. Two sprints on Saturday and an Aussie Pursuit on Sunday.
This was my first time racing Nashville Superspeedway. I qualified P1 but with the small field and short track I knew this could be anyone’s race. I took an early lead with Shawn Taylor in P2 keeping significant pressure on me throughout the race. We swapped places a few times before an out of class racer, driving in a field of one inserted himself in our race. Shawn and I were lapping within 1/10th of each other putting on a spectacular show before this happened. As a result, I came out of the next section with Shawn having a 10 car lead and 1 and a half laps to go. I was hosed at this point and finished the race in 2nd.
And although I can’t control the actions of other drivers, high horsepower cars have a habit of inserting themselves between momentum cars and then parking it in the turns and this driver cost me dearly during the most crucial part of the race.
Unfortunately my camera cut off half way through the race but I was able to capture some pretty cool moments before that happened. Here’s a cool shot from the Garmin Virb 360 of a little over/under action in the infield.
I was fighting significant understeer while fending Shawn off in race 1 and it was made worse by the slightly damp track we had for race 2. But I drove my ass off regardless, doing everything I could to get this car rotated.
It worked for a while and I took an early lead but was eventually reeled back in after dealing with a bit of traffic. With a few laps to go I was passed for P1 while scrubbing speed to avoid the wet grass on the exit of turn 10. This opened the gap large enough for Shawn to slip by and I spent the rest of the race glued to his bumper. Ultimately finishing .153s behind making for some great racing. Enjoy.
Race 3 – Aussie Pursuit
Time for the handicap race and with the tiny gap between lap times in 944 Spec, it was going to be epic. I knew I had to do something about the understeer my car exhibited the day before so I adjusted my rear sway bar to maximum stiffness. Although that’s not the the traditional fix for understeer, I have a non adjustable front bar so I reasoned that reducing grip in the rear would result in higher front grip. I was right and I now had an absurdly loose car for race 3.
It was a handful but it was a blast to drive and I could actually rotate the car a bit better with the throttle. Overall, I ran consistent lap times in the 1.15s range and after a few passes was in first place about a third the way through making this my race to lose. So I kept my head down continuing to build a gap on the 944 Spec field throughout the 25 lap race. Eventually ending the weekend with a first place finish.
Nashville Superspeedway is the second new track on the 2021 calender and it’s another roval as well. I am really starting to enjoy this type of track layout. It’s fast, technical and rewards drivers willing to push the limits. Hopefully, this page will function as a further resource to those new to the track and I can’t wait to race there again next year.