NASCAR meets cycling. It can work. I saw it with my own jet lagged eyes at Lowe’s Motor Speedway in North Carolina this past weekend while waiting for data to be gathered as part of a feature we’re doing on aerodynamic testing.
The Carolina Cycling Time Trial Association use the track every three weeks or so to run a time trial. The banked oval circuit is like a velodrome, except that it’s 2.3km around and has a seating capacity for 100,000. Mostly it’s used as the arena for the incredibly popular sport of NASCAR racing. If you don’t know what NASCAR is, this clip from The Onion will tell you all you need to know.
A closed circuit like the Lowe’s Motor Speedway is ideal for time trialling. It’s very fast (the 10 mile track record is 18’41), safe (without cars, obviously) and you don’t have to turn left as often as you do on a velodrome. So it’s long enough to hold proper length time trials without too much bunching up happening on the circuit. It’s also kinda cool to race inside a stadium as big as this one. It would be amazing to do it in front of 100,000 fans, but I’m not sure we can sell time trialling to the masses. It just ain’t fast and dangerous enough.
The CCTTA do make it easy to participate, though, and that’s a lesson organisers around the world can learn. You don’t need to be part of a club or have a licence to race, you can register in advance or on the day, and the timing is done via timing chips and mats. It costs anywhere between $16.50 and $30 to race, depending whether you enter in advance or not and the length of the race.
The result? Up to 300 riders turn up on a Wednesday evening, from beginner to pro, ages 10 to 87, all getting a kick out of pushing themselves to their own limits.
Make it easy, get the word out, and they will come….