New Hampshire International
Speedway (NHIS) is is one of the last family owned NASCAR tracks in the
country. While SCCA operates the course in what some call a roval (a road
course mixed with the NASCAR oval turn), during open track days they use the
slower, and perhaps safer chicane/chicane configuration that does not use
the NASCAR oval section. Because this track is only 90 minutes from my home,
it is considered my local track and one in which i have achieved the most
amount of laps.
Unlike Watkins Glen
International (WGI), NHIS is a rough and
tumble highly technical course. This is a very tight track, and one that has
many rough transitions from one part of the course to another. You really
need to get on with it in quick time as things happen very fast as you toss
the car back and forth in some sections. As i always save the bleeding the
clutch and brake for just before the first track session, once those were
done it was full steam ahead.
With merely two days, a grand total of about 80 minutes in
the car under my belt, it was time to warm things up and see what we could
achieve on my home course. As with the WGI event, was braking way too early
and needed to adjust my braking points. Feeling the high G-forces is a
thrill for seekers such as myself, as is finding the fastest way around a
road course racetrack. At 8:30am the weather was sunny and around 65F. My
first out lap was a slow 1:44 as wanted to get things up to operating temps
and scrub the tires. The second lap was a record-setting (for me) 1:18.5.
The best lap ever achieved in the tintop in this same chicane/chicane configuration
was around 1:25.
As the day went on the sun shined brightly as ambient
temperatures reached approximately 80F. Various tire pressure adjustments
were the norm as was the usual equipment and bolt checks, as this rough
track has a way of loosening up anything and everything in one's car.. and
perhaps your teeth too!
Between the heat of the day and the very nature of NHIS, one should be
in top shape when driving a car capable of such high G-forces. Endurance is
key and thank goodness for my decades of 4+ hours of drumming sessions and
other highly physical activities!
All in all things went well as the heat of the day ramped
upward. The only two noteworthy less than positive comments would be passing
a car at 2b and going a bit too deep into the throttle and getting a touch
sideways and running out of gas during one session. NHIS tends to consume
quite a bit of petrol and underestimated things a bit. This is great to know
during an open track day versus being in the heat of battle and running out
of gas on the very last lap. As they say, "To finish first, first you
So now comes the real truth of the day, what does the
computer say was my best lap times of the day. Have been data mining the
sessions and best laps to learn what works and where time can be shaved off.
Knowing this track well helped quite a bit as times dropped to below 1:12
while still conserving the engine. Because this was a practice day, my usual
efforts are to short-shift and save engine wear and tear. Have a very good
idea what real lap times could be given a race event and am very pleased. Alas, my old video system could not handle the brutal nature
of the open wheel car, so no video with the new car. A Chasecam
is on order and hope to have it on the car for the next event. Feel free
to see the video section for what a basic
lap in the tintop of NHIS looks like. As always...
Enjoy the Track,
Steven R. Rochlin