Street Racing

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For many people, the idea of street racing creates bad vibes especially if it’s an illegal event. As an event, it precedes cars by several centuries as there were many illegal horse races and chariot races on the roads before the invention of the motor car.

The heyday for street racing was in the 1960s with a race that should have taken place at Woodward Avenue Drag Strip in Detroit, Michigan. However, because the racecourse was often unavailable the organizers took it to public roads instead. This was only the beginning of their problems.

Organizing Chaos

The consensus among street race organizers is that it’s best to avoid the busier areas of the city and suburbs. This might have to do with safety or it possibly could have something to do with not getting caught!

Apart from that, there seems to be a whole spectrum of how an event can be held. Some are almost spontaneous; others are planned precisely over several months-it all depends on who the organizers are.

hot-rod-875524_1920However, it comes together and despite the best planning things can still go wrong. In an event in Southern California in 2018, several bystanders were killed as well as a number of the drivers. One of those killed was to a nineteen-year-old returning from Disneyland.

As for the money aspect, the amount of money being bet on these events is staggering. It’s a ready-made audience of gamblers.

As well as racing another activity bet on is the “side-show” or “takeover,” which refers to a crowd of cars associated with the organizers who will block a junction just ahead of the racers coming through. As the racing cars need to get as close to each other as they can, crashes often occur. Side bets get placed on that as well. Basically when it comes to street racing “High Stakes” is measured in peoples’ lives.

Law Enforcement Response

The police are trying to fix the problem using a special task force but they face challenges including that they are likely to suffer assault while physically attempting to break up events. Even when they do raid a race they may find the ringleaders are elsewhere, remember that it is a virtual event too. The task force must look at the big picture.

With modern social media and the ability to generate flash mobs many, it can tough for police to prevent a race. Organizers have plenty of incentive to keep it up too, because there’s a lot of money in it, as we’ll return to in a moment.

Modifications

Race organizers sometimes move to a whole new area where police haven’t had a chance to prepare. An event in Sweden was covered by filmmaker Stephanie Benini who used a reality TV style way of broadcasting to focus on the event itself. The video shows a number of police cars at the scene. The whole thing lasted nine hours, between 11pm and 8am and police weren’t able to shut it down.

If racing weren’t dangerous enough inherently, experts viewing the movie footage have observed some of the cars have been massively upgraded. One Volvo, for example, has rear tires in the film that don’t match any Volvo being sold on forecourts. Maybe improper customization will play a part in future street races and future race accidents.

Even though it is an illegal event the organizers tried to be as sensible as they could be, closing down roads for the racers. But as stated above, the danger aspect cannot be removed completely.

Legal Races

As an interesting side note, racing returned to Woodward in 2018. Here’s a story on the topic.

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Running a Profitable Race Track

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The most traditional method, of course, is ticket sales. But that’s just scratching the surface.

To examine how a racetrack operates let’s look at one of the more popular race tracks in the country; Daytona International Speedway. You can get a decent idea on how such a track makes its money by studying who it caters for. Although it is usually publicized as a NASCAR race track, especially the worldwide renowned Daytona 500 there are many different races that it hosts, including ARCA (Automobile Racing Club of America) and SCCA (The Sports Car Club of America) as well as Moto America Superbike and bike events with  Motocross.

auto-racing-583032_1920It cannot rely on simply one track but the largest one is a tri-oval shape, similar to an egg with a pointed base. The reasons for the shape was to create the best sight lines for spectators and in so doing create the best event.

For fans, there are “access all areas” style events where the garages and all the background activity is on show to the general public. They generally include live entertainment and various displays. It’s all just another way to make the facilities work.

Another income stream comes from giving bachelor/bachelorette party’s couple of circuits around a racetrack. These usually come in two levels amateur or advanced.f1-1605909_1920.jpg

If golf courses can offer pro-shops where you can buy equipment or talk to a pro about your game, then race tracks can and have upped their simple gift shop to offer in-house performance tuning and fabrication services to private consumers.

It is not just racing that creates capital from the site; there have been a number of football games for the local team which has also occurred here. Flexibility is everything in running a business.

How the Race Track Increases Performance

 

auto-racing-558065_1920NASCARs, and similar racing cars outperform normal cars because of their engines, right? Well, yes, in part. Is it design? Mid-race maintenance by a pro pit crew? Neither of those, well, not entirely, anyway. Even if you add it all up you’d still be missing performance contributions by the race track itself.

Banking

Perhaps the most noticeable assets of the racetrack which improve the action is the banked curves. Having a bank allows cars to attack the turn with greater efficiency. In the IMS tracks are banked between 23 and 36 degrees. More recently, some oval tracks are progressively banked, which allows outer cars to maintain higher speeds through the turn, making the race more competitive.

Some banks have nicknames like “wall of death” and it is easy to see why.

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The Groove

By far the least well-known track performance feature is the “racing groove.” This is the name given the ideal route around the track and it removes or shaves off several precious secrets. But even that isn’t as simple as it sounds. The grove shifts about depending on weather and track conditions.

If you want to see the grove, look for a thick black line coming out of the turn, which is rubber left from the high-performance racing tires. This rubber is actually the biggest reason why the groove shifts. The extra rubber on the track can increase tire grip or make it slicker depending on temperature and other factors.

So on some days, a racer has won by staying in the groove the entire race, but more often racers have one from reading the track conditions and knowing when to alter their line into and out of the turn to by on groove or not. It’s a balancing act because the new optimum line might take you across the older grove which can cause a slide out. Add in the fact that all the other race crews and drivers are attempting to improve their groove and you’ve got a recipe for some big wrecks.