Thursday, December 18, 2014


Locker Room

Need for speed

7/9/2014

Darrell “Bubba” Wallace Jr. celebrates at Gateway Motorsports Park after recording his second career victory. Wallace, who last October at Martinsville became the first African-American to score a NASCAR national series win in nearly 50 years, will be one of the favorites to win the American Ethanol 200 presented by Enogen. Photo courtesy of Todd Warshaw, Getty Images Sport

Darrell “Bubba” Wallace Jr. celebrates at Gateway Motorsports Park after recording his second career victory. Wallace, who last October at Martinsville became the first African-American to score a NASCAR national series win in nearly 50 years, will be one of the favorites to win the American Ethanol 200 presented by Enogen. Photo courtesy of Todd Warshaw, Getty Images Sport

Racing events are packed with nerve-racking action and excitement. And there’s no place better to check it out than at “The Fastest Short Track on the Planet”: the Iowa Speedway.

“We can affirm this because last year, Helio Castroneves blistered the Iowa Speedway track record with a lap of 185.687 mph (17.3324 seconds) in single-lap IndyCar Series qualifying,” says Edward Williams, director of Integrated Marketing Communications at Iowa Speedway.

The Iowa Corn Indy 300 will be on hand this weekend, where drivers will certainly look to set a new track record. Also this weekend, 36 trucks will compete in the American Ethanol 200.

The NASCAR Camping World Truck Series has become one of the most competitive classes. Drivers are fighting for the championship while trying to prove to Nationwide and Sprint Cup teams they belong at NASCAR’s highest level, says Williams.

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So let’s cut to the chase: How hard could driving in a circle really be?

Where to start?

The physicality of the sport is hardly respected. The trucks do have steering assist but not as much as on a regular car. Factor in the higher speeds — “At Iowa Speedway, Verizon IndyCar Series drivers can experience as much as 4Gs” — and number of laps (200) and you’ve got drivers competing with four times their own weight pulling them every turn, and these drivers will fight these forces 400 times during the race.

In the truck, drivers are strapped in tight and wear protective clothing including fire-resistant driving suit, gloves, shoes and a helmet. With the engine up against the firewall, the exhaust underneath them and the oil tank behind their seat, drivers are subjected to temps in the cockpit that can reach 120-plus degrees.

And, of course, skill is involved. Driving right on the edge of control takes an enormous amount of talent, says Williams. You have to know your ride and what’s it’s doing to know when to break and when to hit the gas.

“If you want to get just a taste of what it’s like to drive a race car, disable the power steering on your car, put on several layers of clothes, a helmet and gloves, turn the heat on full blast, tighten your seat belt as much as you can and head out on the road for three to four hours without taking a rest,” Williams says. “Oh, and every 15-20 seconds have a passenger yank on your body and head for about 10 seconds while you are trying to steer. And do all of this with high traffic all around you at speed.”*

*Cityview does not encourage anyone to attempt anything mentioned in this article. If you must, be advised to use any other car but your own.

Also happening this weekend is the Iowa Corn Indy 300, which is now in its eighth year with Iowa Speedway. Folks will notice that this year features 50 additional exhilarating laps. CV

David Rowley is an Iowa native with a bachelor’s degree in journalism from the University of Iowa and a master’s in film journalism from the University of Glasgow in Scotland.

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