Heartland Park is a facility which includes a multiple-configuration Road Course and a 3/8 mile clay oval which was added for the 2001 racing season after a brief experiment with a temporary dirt oval located on the drag-strip. For 2006, a large asphalt pad was built in the infield for use by SCCA Solo programs; this pad is now the home of the SCCA Solo Nationals, which for several years previously had been held at Forbes Field, just to the north of Heartland Park.
Heartland Park is located just south of Topeka, Kansas. The track is used by the SCCA, IMSA, AMA, IKF, NASCAR, ASA, and ARCA. There are 4 road course configurations that are regularly used, including the 2.5 mile "Grand Prix" circuit and the 1.8 mile "Full NASCAR circuit", used by ARCA, ASA, SCCA, and NASCAR.
In 2006, the SCCA Runoffs (the Sports Car Club of America's national championship in Club Racing) moved to Heartland Park. The first year's event was generally well received, with a few understandable first time glitches. It is likely that changes will be made to turns 1 & 2 and turn 8 for 2007 to address some of the issues.
The contract between Heartland Park and the SCCA is for 3 years, but usually these contracts are renewed a number of times. Typically the runoffs are held at the same track for 15 to 20 year stretches. This Link provides a copy of a letter from a member of the SCCA BoD and an article from a Topeka area newspaper on the subject.
The oval has 8 degrees of banking in 90 foot radius turns, with 6 degrees of banking in the straightaways.
The original version of this page was supplied by Kris B. Mandt. Since 2004, major updates have been provided by Guy Watney, Kansas City Region SCCA.
Last Updated: 2007-04-26
|TrackTapes.com has in-car video of this (and many other) tracks|
When Heartland Park first opened in August 1989, it was the first major new motorsports facility to have been built in the United States for over 20 years. Although it is better known for its drag strip than the road course, a number of professional racing series have visited the track, including IMSA, SCCA World Challenge, Trans-Am, ASA, Nascar Craftsman Trucks and, most recently, the Miata Cup. The track is mainly used by SCCA Club Racing and various marque clubs. Owing to persistent financial difficulties, the road course was neglected for several years and there were serious doubts about its survival. In 2003, the track was bought by Ray Irwin, owner of Blackhawk Farms Raceway and committed road-racer, who has instituted a program of major renovations of the facilty. These include re-routing the track so that it no longer uses the drag strip (which was extremely treacherous when wet), enlarging the paddock, construction of new timing, maintenance and concession buildings, garages and shower facilities, complete re-surfacing of the track and generally improving the amenities for racers and spectators.
The first 3/8 mile dirt oval operated in 1999 and 2000, and was called Martin Cat Power Speedway. A different 3/8 mile dirt oval operated from April 21st, 2001 through 2002 under the name O'Reilly Auto Parts Motor Speedway. This track reportedly reopened in 2006, and is currently refered to as the Heartland Park Dirt Track.
|Alan E. Brown, The History of America's Speedways: Past & Present. Comstock Park, Michigan: Brown, 2003 , ISBN 0931105617 , pp. 322. Order from National Speedway Directory|
Heartland Park Topeka
1805 SW 71st Street
Topeka, KS 66619
Used in 2004-5. The carousel (Turn 3) will be repaved in the fall of 2005 and used in 2006. Use of the dragstrip as a major part of the road course is eliminated.
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The racer's entrance is at Gate E on Gary Ormsby Drive, to the east of the marked intersection on the map.
Take South Topeka Blvd south, past Forbes Field, to Gary Ormsby Drive. Turn east (left) and follow the road to Gate E. Turn right and the registration building will be ahead of you.
Take I-70 to Topeka, then I-470, heading towards Wichita. Leave I-470 at exit 177 (South Topeka), get onto South Topeka Blvd (IMMEDIATELY after the toll booth, on your right: use the right-most toll booth and watch for vehicles using the automatic K-Tag lane) heading south, and follow the directions above.
Take the Kansas Turnpike to exit 177 (South Topeka), get onto South Topeka Blvd, heading south, and follow the directions above.
Access to the track from the major highways is good. The entrance to the track is under a bridge, so it is possible to enter and leave the track while races are in progress. There is ample paved paddock space and permanent restrooms, but presently no showers. Some electrical hook-ups are available on the west side of the paddock. Camping and pets are permitted (pets must be kept on a leash at all times). A number of different grades of race gas are available from self-service, credit-card operated pumps. Concession stands and a souvenir shop are open on most race weekends, for limited hours. An O'Reilly Auto Parts Store, which carries a larger-than-usual selection of racing-related items, is located on the east side of South Topeka Blvd just south of I-470.
The false grid is located on the west side of the paddock. The new pit lane is rather narrow and enters the track on driver's left close to Turn 0. Pit-in is reached by going straight, rather than turning right, at Turn 12. Sound control for SCCA events is on driver's left just before Turn 9. Tech and impound are generally located in the southwest corner of the paddock, close to Turn 0.
The track has good access from major highways. There is ample space for RV parking and plenty of grass for those who wish to camp out. For most Club events, there is no designated worker parking area. There are also a number of inexpensive motels and eating establishments within a few miles of the track. The corner stations are well equipped and have large gazebos. Being located in Kansas, the weather is highly changeable, so it is as well to come prepared for anything.
There are two differing Hot Lap presentations available. The first is a recent version provided by Chris Ingle describing the course as it appeared in mid-2006. The second is a slightly older version provided by Guy Watney, based on the course through the mid 2000s. The course was extensively reconstructed between the writing of these two versions.
Chris W. Ingle - 2006, 05 and 03 Southeast Division T1 National Champion, #7 T1 Corvette Z06.
TrackTapes.com has DVDs of this and many other race tracks.
As of September 2006: Overall HPT is a fairly simple track, slow, nearly glass smooth with low curbs. It's relatively safe, but is in need of more tire barriers due the large amount of concrete walls around the entire facility. They aren't exactly close to the track itself, but if you go off, out of control, at high speed, on wet grass, the next stop will be painful. The amenities of HPT are very good, well marked, and improving as the Runoffs get closer. There is more than enough paved paddock area which is slightly slanted to allow for water runoff. Because of the probability of high winds there, it's best to paddock in an East-West direction.
All speeds and shift points are relative to my 2001 T1 prepared Corvette Z06.
The track itself is simple to learn and no real surprises. There are only two small elevation changes of note: turns A and #7. The curbs are really too low, which encourages drivers to drop wheels off at the apexes to straighten out the turns even more. It's essential to use the curbs here, but hopefully HPT will put something in the grassy area to discourage drivers from doing that. It simply throws dirt, gravel, grass, etc. back onto the track.
As you head up the front straight, keep your eyes well ahead and up and run up the hill toward turn A on the left side. The pit lane exit will be on your left and marked with a double-white transition line/barrier. I tried to put my left side tires as close to those lines as possible without crossing. This gives a straighter shot over the rise in the hill (turn A). As you crest the hill, put your right side tires over the curbing and then aim slightly left for a comfortable turn-in point for #1 which is a right hander. I hit around 130 mph here so you need to get the car as straight as possible for the slightly down-hill braking zone. You'll need to brake harder than you think, but you are still turning slighly! Downshift 4-3 before the right turn thru #1. Apex late because this will set you up for the left-hand turn #2 and a small straight. Both #1 and #2 are 90 deg turns, so use as much of the curbing as possible.
Unwind the wheel out of #2 and stay in 3d gear up to the long 180 deg left-hand turn #3. It's banked a little which makes it faster than it looks. You'll have to experiment on different entry points and find where your car sticks the best. I found that entering the turn 2/3rds up the track and slowly bringing it down to the inside apex curbing worked best for me. It's a very late apex! Apply as much power as you can and unwind the wheel coming out of the corner. I do a very late apex and don't track out quite all the way, but am at full throttle coming out - still in 3d gear. Move back to the left about 2/3-3/4 of the way to get set up for #4.
Turn #4 is a fast right-hand turn, so you want your momentum going straight on entry and NOT going to the left. Although going out wider will give you more room to negotiate the corner, you don't want your momentum going to the left while you are trying to turn right. In my opinion, it's better to give up a little in turn #4 for a faster exit from turn #3. Turn #3 is a faster corner so you can gain more there. Ensure to use all the apex at #4 and track out appropriately. Get the car settled and straight quickly because you now have to hammer the brakes for a tight right-hand turn #5.
Turn #5 is slow, but I'm still in 3d gear. Use all the apex and track out to the very edge of the tarmac. Begin moving to the right quickly to get set up for yet another tight corner #6. Brake very hard here and downshift 3-2. It's a slow left-hander with the exit of the corner moving slightly uphill. You can use 3d, but the car will bog down! It's easy to miss your braking point here - so don't. It leads to a long straight so you really need to get it right. Trail braking on virtually all of these corners will help the front end stick and allow you to rotate the car adequately. Once you come out of #6, shift 2-3 and get ready for turn #7.
Turn #7 is a very fast, uphill, left-hand corner that is one of the few pucker-factor turns on this track. Just after you shift to 3d, turn in under power and use all that apex. The curbing is still low and the bumps don't upset the car if you have decent shocks. The corner flattens out a bit as you go thru it and the car tends to slide around. Control the oversteer out of the corner by tracking out all the way. Shift 3-4. Quickly check your gauges - head and eyes up looking at #8.
Turns #8 and #9 are just a chicane with an expanding apex/radius. #8 itself is a very sharp, left-hand turn and it is also easy to miss your braking markers here. Heel-toe 4-3 in the braking zone, use a late apex, all of the inside left curbing and then put your right side tires over the curbing which starts turn #9. This is a bad area for people to run off track or drop their wheels so be careful about debris on track. It will be slick. Apply the power gently through the right-hand #9 and be prepared for snap oversteer due to different sealants on the tarmac and the previously mentioned debris on track. Get on power as soon as you dare and unwind the wheel mindful of the debris. Your left tires will most likely run over the next set of curbs on the left side of the track. If you haven't noticed it yet, this track has some serious transitions - better have a balanced car! The curbs again are low and shouldn't upset the car. Shift 3-4 once the car straightens out some. Your brakes will be cooking at this point! Check your gauges.
Turn #10 is the 2d of the pucker-factor corners and you'll have to make some compromises on the next two turns. #10 is a very fast left-hander. I downshift 4-3 and turn in earlier than you might expect with my left side tires on the curbing as far as possible. Power thru the turn and track out about 2/3 - ?? of the way. That allows you to carry lots of speed thru here but still get thru the next right-hand turn #11 in good shape.
Once thru #10 and the car straightens out, nail the brakes again and trail brake the entry to #11, using all of the inside curbing. Throttle thru the corner and aim straight at #12. Nail the brakes and either stay in 3d or smoothly heel-toe shift 3-2. I've tried both and am not convinced one way is quicker than the other. I don't try to swing the car back to the right for turn #12 because I want to use a straight braking/shifting zone and I don't want my momentum heading to the right before I turn left. Swinging out wide would also set yourself up for another racer to pull an inside pass.
I just hug the inside of the left-hand #12. If you stayed in 3d, you'll be amazed how early and how hard you can plant your throttle foot. If you downshifted to 2d, you'll have to watch power-on oversteer. Either way, don't let the car drift out too far. Try to stay tucked in fairly tight as you round the corner so you'll be set up for #13 and #14 (more transitions).
Brake hard for the right-hand #13 and if you aren't in 2d gear, downshift smoothly 3-2. Trail brake and late apex #13. Try to stay to the right upon exit so you get a better entry into 14 and for the following front straight.
Brake hard again for the left-hand #14. Trail brake the entry and the car will rotate nicely over the left side apex curbing. Power out of the corner as hard as you can controlling the oversteer. You can either drift out over and wide of the pavement dimples and rejoin the racing surface where the two pieces of tarmac meet or you can stay tighter in - electing to not drift out so far. The benefits of drifting out is that you control the oversteer more and are capable of putting more power down. The consequences are that you are now using much more pavement, traveling further, and taking more time. I'm not convinced that either line is any better than the next. You'll have to experiment with your car and see which feels better to you.
By now, your brakes are smoking hot. There's just simply not been enough straight-away anywhere to cool them off. To go an entire session (or race), may require some brake management and you may not be able to use them 100% each time. Keep that in mind if the pedal starts to get a bit long.
I tested on both Thursday and Friday and could run consistent 52s in the heat with old tires on a full fuel load. The track seemed to get quicker as the weekend went on and more rubber laid down
Overall - C+ track that takes lots of seat time to get fast. The track will get faster as more rubber gets laid down. Hope this helps!
This is written for the courses as they are presently configured. As is pointed out elsewhere, the track is undergoing major upgrading, and this section will be updated as the work proceeds.
Beginning on the front straight, Turn 0 is a very fast left-right combination, with the apex of the right invisible over the crest of a fairly steep hill, which can make the car rather light. (Turn 0 is so called because it made its apperearance when the front straight was relocated off the drag strip. To avoid re-numbering all the stations, the new first turn was named Turn 0.) It is important to keep as far to the right as possible at the crest of the hill to avoid being pushed out onto the grass on driver's left and to avoid slower cars leaving the pit lane on driver's left.
Turn 1 is a simple, slow left hander. The only difficulty is getting rid of all the speed you've accumulated without drifting too far to the right on the turn exit since you will need to get over to the left for the right hander at 5. Turn 5 is a simple, late apex right turn. It is important watch for people trying to outbrake you to your right. Turn 6 is a very slow left hand turn: apex late and get on the gas as soon as possible, since from 6 to 8 is essentially a straight with a curve in it. Turn 7 is a flat-out left. The left-right combination at 8 is hard to get right. In my opinion, give up any speed you need to when entering the left-hander in order to get set up properly for the right. If you are being closely followed, you might want to approach the left a little more towards the middle of the track than usual, in order to give your competitor less room. When exiting the right, keep as far to the right as you can, since the left side of the track can get slippery with dust and marbles. Turn 9 is a simple flat-out left and over the bridge towards 10. Watch for the yellow lights, which perform the function of a yellow flag. (Note to drivers of powerful, evil-handling cars: Please do not blow by better-handling small cars going over the bridge and then sit like a cowpat in the middle of the road between 10 and 14. They can do this bit quicker than you, and you will get rear-ended.) Apex the left at 10 fairly late and, again, try to avoid drifting out too far to the right. The right between 10 and 11 is best handled as an early apex turn: carry as much speed as you can through it and aim for the apex of 11. You will be able to pass cars that are too far over to the right, trying to late-apex 11 (which is pointless, since you're virtually stationary anyway). Crawl round 11, hugging the kerb, get over to the left to late-apex the right at 12 and, immediately, the left at 14 (there is no longer any straight between 12 and 14) and back onto the main straight.
This is essentially the same as for the 2.1 Mile course, except that you can exit Turn 1 faster as you need to be over to the right for the left-hander at 7a. Be careful when going through 7a: you are going fairly quickly, and it can bite.
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