An Unusual Weekend at Nashville Superspeedway – May 2024

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May has been a busy month. Formula Drift, NOLA Motorsports Park, and then Nashville Superspeedway. Nashville would turn out to be an interesting conclusion to the month with wild weather and a few unusual experiences.

Friday TREC Race

The weekend with NASA Mid South started Friday with a TREC race. TREC stands for Team Racing Endurance Challenge and is the endurance series run by the National Auto Sport Association. Races are 4 to 8 hours and involve multiple drivers in the same car. I was asked to be the anchor driver for Team Dover in the 944 Spec car.

Excited to get behind the wheel of a 944 Spec again, I jumped at the chance. And then the car did this about 10 minutes into the race.

944 Spec racecar with broken spindle threw wheel into the windshield.
Photographer Spencer Clarke caught the failure when the front spindle let go.

Front spindles are a known but rare failure on 944 Specs. This one happened to let go first thing Friday. Cracking the caliper bracket off. Adding insult to injury, the brake line held on long enough to swing the wheel into the windshield.

Damage from the broken 944 Spec spindle.
Without a spare, this failure was terminal on the 944 Spec.

Bummer, but on a positive note, I had plenty of time that afternoon to work on the Super Touring Miata alignment.

And then Acura Shows Up

Like I said, there were a few unusual experiences this weekend. One of those was Acura filming a commercial Friday night. Although we rented the track for the weekend, management at NSS decided they could double dip and rented the track to Acura from 5pm to 5am Friday night.

Logistically, this was dumb as you have lots of people that stay at the track during race weekends. And the Speedway is unique in that everything from RV’s, haulers to actual tent campers are present.

I will admit that the film operation was pretty cool. Using boom cars and tons of custom equipment to try and make Acura SUV’s and the new Integra look cool. What I didn’t appreciate, nor anyone else staying at the track that evening, was the decision of the production company to place an Integra Type S in the paddock garages at 3 am and incessantly rev the motor to redline.

I know it is difficult to think in action/reaction terms for most, but this woke everyone staying at the track. And I can’t seem to understand why these shots weren’t filmed at … I don’t know … 5,6,7,8, or 9pm. Regardless, a 3am wakeup call is not ideal, and you could see it on everyone’s face the next morning.

An interesting boom truck is onsite for the Acura commercial shoot at Nashville Superspeedway.
The Acura commercial at the track was a big production.

Unusual Faces

But enough complaining. The Acura crew came with quite a cast and one of them happened to be professional driver and drifter Tanner Foust. Not only is he my favorite Top Gear US host, but he was also a super nice and down to earth guy. When I was making my way across the paddock, we made I contact, I did a double take, and he nodded his head like, ‘yep, it’s me.’

We talked about racing for about 10 minutes, and I must admit I was slightly star struck. Something that normally doesn’t happen, but I definitely wasn’t expecting to run into Tanner Foust at one of my races.

Picture of Driftopia (Chris Simmons) with Tanner Foust at Nashville Superspeedway.
And, of course, I took a pic.

To the Racing

Sleep deprived and cranky, I still had a race Saturday, and the weather was horrible. In my opinion, and this is rare for me to say, Nashville Superspeedway is simply not worth racing in the rain. In fact, we had these same conditions over a year ago when Shawn Taylor and Brian Hurley collided in 944 Spec. Breaking a pelvis and ribs respectively.

I didn’t expect much in race 1 and I didn’t get much. My car was simply undriveable in the rain. Hydroplaning at ridiculously slow speeds and forcing me off track on multiple occasions. I suspect the 2015 rain tires that came with the car may be the culprit, and I could not facilitate a reasonable lap time. Instead, I ran slow and practiced my left foot braking during the race. Something I have been building up to lately.

The video below is a short compilation of how bad it was driving the Super Touring Miata in these conditions. Hint, I’m supposed to be turning left.

Sunday Races 2 and 3

Sunday was a different story. With a good night’s sleep and a drying track, it was time for some real racing. And race 2 did not disappoint. I started towards the back with the faster cars and aggressively worked my way through the field. Then, in the bus stop, I drop a rear wheel on the gravel and immediately spun. This caused light contact between me and Shawn Taylor. Once I restarted the car, I was at the back of the field running last and Shawn had a bent control arm.

Dropping a wheel into the gravel on the outside of the bus stop at Nashville Superspeedway.
To say we were racing hard is an understatement. I was on the short end of this moment but not for long. (Another great shot by Spencer Clarke)

Back on track I put my head down, kept the intensity up and reconnected with the pack after a few minutes. I then dispatched the field one at a time until I finished solidly in 2nd place behind the Spec46. Overall, this race was very satisfying.

Finally, race 3. With the dry conditions holding I pushed the car hard. Once again working my way through the field but this time with no drama. I had a fun battle with Daniel Yee in his Super Touring 5 CRX as well as rookie Maverick Radford in Spec Miata. Taking 2nd overall again and working the car back towards a track record … almost.

Next

That’s it for Nashville Superspeedway this time around. We have a month plus break right now so I will be working on the Exo Car ‘Ghettocet’ Build Guide and a few other projects. Progress will be posted on the front page. Til then.

By Chris Simmons

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