Tweaks? Yes – But, to the untrained eye, the dirt track inside The Dome will look the same
Over the last couple months, I’ve been hearing a lot of discussion about possible changes to the 2017 Gateway Dirt Nationals. Those whispers told me that the temporary dirt oval might look a little different in a couple weeks.
But, last years race was the most spectacular form of auto racing, I’ve ever seen. So that had me curious about the layout of this upcoming race.
What’s the plan?
Will the track be bigger?
“Well, I think there’s just a lot of hearsay,” Cody Sommer, promoter of the Gateway Dirt Nationals tells RacingNews.co . “Somebody will take a comment like, ‘Yeah, we’re going to make the track a little different.’ And they’ll turn it into bigger or whatever.”
“The bottom line is, the track, to the average eye isn’t going to look any different. Kevin and the entire team will sit down and thoroughly think about how we can tweak this, or change that. I think, given the first year, the track turned out very well.”
“But, we also are smart enough to know there are some tweaks and changes that we can make, to make it better. So, we’ll do that. To the average eye, I don’t think it’s going to be an obvious change.”
If it ain’t broke, don’t fix it.
“I look at it this way. We had some pretty dang good racing last year. If it ain’t broke, don’t fix it.”
“That doesn’t mean that it wasn’t like a squeaky wheel. We need to put some grease on it and change some things here or there. But, it’s not like we’re going to flip it on it’s head and change it entirely.”
“Maybe a little bit different shaping. Maybe a little bit different banking. Maybe a little narrower here, a little wider here, just tweaks.”
I’m from St. Louis. I’ve been to a lot of things at The Dome. I’ve never seen any racing surface get any closer, to the seats.
Are you restricted on how close you can get?
“Yes, there is some restrictions there. It’s mainly insurance. Distance to the crowd and all that.”
Were you at the limit last year?
“We were set within our insurance requirements. We always have to stay within what we’re required to do. There’s some flexibility there. Some of that stuff can be worked on, in advance.”
That track was laid out the way it was because that’s what I wanted.
“That track was laid out the way it was because that’s what I wanted. Dimensionally, that’s a legitimate 1/5th mile. People can believe what they want. But, the tape measure doesn’t lie. Those measurements, they’re comparable to other 1/5th mile tracks.”
“I think the racing actually backed that up as well. Track banking and things like that, kept the speeds a little slower. That’s why you see guys that were maybe running a little bit different gear than they’d run at a Belle-Clair or Macon. It still raced similar, it just was a little bit slower.”
There’s no reason to go 100 mph inside of a building.
“But, there’s nothing wrong with that. You’re inside of a building. There’s no reason to go 100 mph inside of a building. There’s just not.
That event’s about action packed, fender rubbing.
“You don’t need to go 100 mph to put on a good race. I think we proved that. That event’s about action packed, fender rubbing.”
Racing isn’t all about speed
“No. We’re in the business of entertainment. It just happens to race.”
“It’s entertaining to see someone’s tempers get hot. It’s entertaining to see a driver lean, on another driver. That’s not always easy to do when you’re going 100 mph. It’s actually dangerous.”
“I’m not saying that it’s not dangerous inside of a Dome at slower speeds, on a 1/5 mile. It certainly is. It’s certainly more possible, the fastest you go.”
“As everybody saw, there was a lot of fender rubbin’. There was a lot of door slammin’ and a lot of bent sheet metal.”
But not a lot of terminal damage – The bumps created mistakes, mistakes create passing
“I talk to a lot of different people at a lot of different events. Every once in awhile I’ll have a driver or someone industry related make a comment about how rough it was.”
“I always kinda walk away from it or I comment in a manner of like, ‘But, how many cars went out of it with the rear end tore out of it? How many cars went out with the front clip bent?’ ”
“Sheet metal, in the grand scale is affordable when it comes to maintaining a race car. That’s pretty much what guys were damaging, the sheet metal.”
“A rough, choppy race track going at the speeds of a 1/5th mile. It’s a lot different than a choppy race track at 100 mph. There’s nothing wrong with it being a little choppy.”
“It makes for good racing. And the cars themselves, they’re absolutely equipped to handle it without ripping parts off and all that.”
“I think it provides good racing. That’s not saying we don’t want it a little smoother, of course.”
The inner tires
The weren’t secured to anything. As the race went along, they were pushed further and further down the banking. Eventually, drivers found themselves running through the concrete.
Do you plans to prevent that?
“We’re going to do some stuff a little different there to prevent them from moving. People are just going to have to see what we’re doing there. That’s a tweak of the track.”
“One could argue that’s what made Friday’s race so good. So, you gotta keep all those things in mind. Yes, we want to tweak it. Yes, we want to fix it. But, you also don’t wanna take away, what was amazing.”
“It’s a balance. That’s why making wholesale changes is never a good idea. You’re likely to have an outcome that you don’t want, when you make wholesale changes.”
2017 Gateway Dirt Nationals
The 2017 Gateway Dirt Nationals will be hosted at The Dome at America’s Center in St. Louis, Missouri. The races will be run on December 14th-16th, 2017. Each night is a good one, take your pick.
THURSDAY – GENERAL ADMISSION
CLICK HERE – DEC 14th
FRIDAY – SINGLE DAY TICKETS
CLICK HERE – DEC 15th
SATURDAY – SINGLE DAY TICKETS
CLICK HERE – DEC 16th
2 DAY TICKET – FRIDAY & SATURDAY (SAVE $5)
CLICK HERE – DEC 15th-16th