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More banking is being considered for California's Auto Club Speedway, to improve competition

  Tight racing at California's Auto Club Speedway is usually only after restarts....but the France family has so far declined to make any changes, either to the track itself or the cars, despite sagging attendance in one of the world's biggest and most important markets (Photo: Getty Images for NASCAR)

   By Mike Mulhern

   KANSAS CITY, Kansas
   A major redesign of the Los Angeles area's Auto Club Speedway is being considered, according to the Los Angeles Times, in order to make for better racing.
   The two-mile D-shaped oval, similar in design to Michigan International Speedway, is banked 14 degrees in the corners, with speeds nearly 210 mph entering the turns. Such high speeds, with such relatively low banking, has made for less than thrilling racing in the 10 years the track has been open. And crowds have not been all that impressive.
   The proposal is to almost double the banking, to 23 degrees in the corners. For comparision, Michigan is banked 18 degrees; and Texas World Speedway (also a two-mile D-oval, no longer on the NASCAR tour) is banked 22 degrees. Greg Biffle tested at Texas World and hit 218 mph.
   The cost of the California redesign is estimated at $23 million to $30 million, and reconstruction would take six or seven months.
   The track, which was built by Roger Penske on land about one hour from downtown LA, is owned by the France family's International Speedway Corp.
   Track president Gillian Zucker has been talking with drivers and teams for about two years about whether or not the track needs to be redesigned to make for better, closer racing. She says NASCAR officials have told her that computer simulations of various changes wouldn't work.
    But Goodyear's Greg Stucker says designing a tire for a 23-degree-banked California track shouldn't be a problem. "We run on tracks with a lot more banking than 23 degrees," Stucker pointed out.
   "It would just be a matter of not only looking at the banking but also the corner radius, and is it going to be progressive banking. I don't see any reason we couldn't come up with a package that would work. The intermediate speedway tire we have now works at variously configured tracks, from the 1-1/2-miles to two-miles. I would be pretty confident that something like that would work."
  However Jeff Gordon -- a three-time winner at the California track, to be sure -- says that track doesn't need to be redesigned. "Look at the NFL -- as big a sport as that is, it still doesn't have a franchise in Los Angeles...which says something," Gordon says. "That track is just fine. Is it one of our most exciting tracks? Probably not. But it's a good track. Any problem they have with filling the stands is not because of the track. It's just that there are so many things to do in Southern California." 
   Ryan Newman: "Racing-wise, nobody brags about the racing in California. It might be fuel strategy or a situation that makes it exciting, but to me it's not a great race track, when it comes to places like Richmond or Bristol where we see a lot of great racing."
   But...."I think a 23-degree banked two-mile race track would be way too fast.
   "Put a race track inside of it shaped like Bristol or Richmond and you'd have it."
   Kasey Kahne says 23-degree banking on a two-mile track "would create a Daytona-type race track probably.
   "I kind of like how it is now. It’s a bit boring at times; it’s a bit technical track. For a driver it’s a pretty neat track because it’s technical. It kind of gets spread out and you lose some of that excitement that NASCAR is looking for, that we’re all looking for. How to gain that back is maybe 23 degrees of banking."

It may help but by itself it

It may help but by itself it won't help as much as some people think. Homestead was banked to 20 degrees and it is progressive banking - it hasn't made the racing better than it had been with flat banking; the best racing at Homestead was when it was a rectangular configuration i.e. Ontario Motor Speedway in 3/5 scale.

Adding more banking will definately make the place faster, and Gillian Zucker's advocacy of restrictor plates will make even more sense on a Texas World Speedway-esque superoval.

maybe instead of plates at a

maybe instead of plates at a redesigned california track, we could use some electronically-limited fuel injection system? you're the smart one here, would that work?

>> you're the smart one here,

>> you're the smart one here, would that work?

though I'm not the guy you asked: of course it would --- there's a limit to how much power you can make with any given FI setup. 33lb injectors on an 8 cylinder car will only net you 450 HP no matter what you do to timing or fuel pressure. This ain't rocket science, not matter what nazcar thinks. There are very simple calculations to determine max hp with FI systems. Jack Roush can explain that to you very easily.

The problem with under-powered cars, as you know, you end up with a plate race, no matter the final means. They'll be all gaggled up with nowhere to go. That's not really racing -- as the 4 annual exhibitions of speed at Daytona and Dega show now.

Sorry. I'm not buying that

Sorry. I'm not buying that with teams as up in the technology arms race as they are that NASCAR can simply limit HP in a FI setup without some kind of physical restrictor to block the development of horsepower like a plate. And you're wrong about underpowered racecars not being really racing - racing is about lead changes, not raw speed.

No. If it does not

No. If it does not physically stop a team from making horsepower, it won't slow the cars down. Electronics invite cheating and teams are so far ahead in the technology arms race that they'll beat the system easily. The only way to keep the speeds down is to make it physically impossible to reach a certain speed. The restrictor plates - and apparantly they can still use plates on fuel-injection systems - do that.

the cars are going 210 into

the cars are going 210 into the turns at California now, right? So adding banking to the turns will help how? By putting corner entry at 225? Yep -- the think tank is at it again I see. The real problem with California Speedway is that its in the greater LA area --- where few care about cars going in circles -- unless its a televised car chase with LAPD.

good question. i talked to

good question. i talked to greg erwin -- greg biffle's crew chief -- last weekend about texas world, and he said they'd have to slow speeds there to make it a worthwhile test facility (plus, of course, add soft walls), and he had some ideas on how to slow the cars there. i'll take that up with him again this weekend, when we both get a break.
but, hey, i like your idea about chasing bank robbers around the track, with TV helicopters in the air.....

the easiest solution is to

the easiest solution is to move one of those CA dates to Vegas --- where we can always and easily handle one more freak show. The crowds turn out, even last week when the track tried desperately to keep the truck race a secret, for some odd reason.

Really, CA hasn't worked no matter which decade or configuration of track. I know why they're forcing it --- but it still doesn't mean its a good reason.

Vegas is not as hot a

Vegas is not as hot a destination as you think it is. It's a transient demographic and Bruton has to use tricks like corporate bulk-buys and ticket discounts to sell his tracks.

>>Vegas is not as hot a

>>Vegas is not as hot a destination as you think it is.

compared to Martinsville? Fontana? Want to try again?

As far as the bulk purchase? So what? Casinos put on shows to give away comped tickets to their customers --- what's the difference? None. It's how business is done here. Create a show, give away a ticket. The bottom line is the stands are full and the show isn't half bad. Fontana can't do that with half the seats --- and if the goal is to maximize profits, as Mr Pyne said all those years ago in Atlanta's infield media center, then Vegas wins.

I suggest doing what no other

I suggest doing what no other oval track has done before - add a chicane, or big inner loop in the backstretch to help keep the cars from stringing out so much like they do there. Make 'em use the brakes for something. There's plenty of room back there to do all kinds of things of that nature.

>I'm not buying that with

>I'm not buying that with teams as up in the technology arms race as they are that NASCAR can simply limit HP in a FI setup without some kind of physical restrictor to block the development of horsepower like a plate.

The physical limiter in a FI system is the injector. You could put 100 psi on an injector that is open all the time and it'll only flow its rated amount. you've got your choice, too. 33, 39, 46, 62 so you can select a size per track. Not that I endorse nazcar doing that mind you.

And I agree with you to a certain extent on the lead changes and that speed doesn't make racing. But having the cars all going the same speed isn't the answer either. Hell. As long as NASCAR is looking at tires go to narrower tires so there is *less* grip. You'll soon find out who the racers are.

And I recall you from all those years ago.... when I used to do this stuff for a living. You didn't care for me then, either (grinning)

>I'm not buying that with

>I'm not buying that with teams as up in the technology arms race as they are that NASCAR can simply limit HP in a FI setup without some kind of physical restrictor to block the development of horsepower like a plate.

For some background on the simplicity of limiting power with FI....

Injector Size = (HP x BSFC) / (Number of Injectors x Duty Cycle) Ex: 400hp engine w/ 8 injectors
BSFC = .500
400 x .500 = 200
8 x 0.85 = 6.4
200 / 6.4 = 31.25

Using basic algebra you can move HP as the result.

more at:


Mr. Mulhern could talk to Jack R or Doug Y or Jim Covey from Chevy to fill in the blanks.

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