Memphis Motorsport Park is a complex with a 3/4 mile paved tri-oval, a 1.8 mile road course and a 1/4 mile dragstrip, located halfway between Memphis and Millington in Tennessee.
Map of road course provided by Guy Watney, Kansas City Region SCCA.
Last Updated: 2007-05-06
The 1/4 mile dragstrip and 1.8 mile road course opened in 1987. A 1/2 mile dirt oval operated from 1987-1989. A 3/8 mile dirt oval operated from 1990 to 1996, when it was torn down and the current 3/4 mile paved oval was built in its place (the paved oval opened on June 5th, 1998.) A 1/8 mile dirt oval operated in 1992 and 1993. A 1/4 mile dirt oval operated from 1998 to 2005 using a former kart track.
This track (or various parts of it) has operated under the names Memphis Dirt Trax, Memphis International Motorsports Park, Blankenship Motorsports Park, and Memphis Round Track.
|Allan E. Brown, The History of America's Speedways: Past & Present. Comstock Park, Michigan: Brown, 2003 , ISBN 0931105617 , pp. 675. Order from National Speedway Directory|
Memphis International Motorsport Park
PO Box 280885
Memphis TN 38168-0885
Memphis Motorsports Park
5500 Taylor Forge Road
Millington, TN 38053
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Memphis Motorsports Park is located on Fite Rd. between US 51 and Raleigh-Millington Road.
This 'Hot Lap' was originally written by Norm Floyd and updated for 2005 by Chris Ingle. You can see great in-car video of this and many other tracks at http://www.tracktapes.com/.
Memphis Motorsports Park is a 1.8 mile facility with virtually no elevation change. It is located in Northern Memphis along with several other racing venues such as a dirt and paved oval track. The .7 mile front straightaway is also the Drag Strip plus shutdown areas, so cars with good straight line speed traditionally do well here. The pavement has moderate grip, but the 'road course' portion is very bumpy with several patches right in the braking zones. The big bump exiting turn 8 (where the asphalt joins the concrete at the beginning of the drag strip burnout area) is now much smoother and most drivers can just keep the throttle planted coming through there.
If you can set your car up a little loose for qualifying and neutral for the race. Slightly loose if fast here, but will burn up your rear tires quickly.
Memphis was designed to represent a sample of several types of race circuits. Turns 1 & 2 ("the carousel" - actually one long sweeper) are slightly banked. They and the front straight emulate an oval track. Turns 3 and 4 ("the kink" and "the M's"; actually a left - right - left - right - left chicane) are like a traditional road (some say autocross) course. Turns 5 & 6 (the "double 90's") represent an airport course. Turns 7 & 8 ("Grant's Tomb", and "the wall") imitate a street circuit with their concrete walls and sequential 90 degree rights.
Floyd drove a Honda Civic in ITC (4 speed, 4.68 final drive) and Chris drives a fully T1 prepared 2001 Corvette Z06, so the descriptions will reflect that.
Start / Finish is about 1/4 mile into the front straight, so you should be in 4th gear when you go by. This is a great time to check the gauges and the mirrors because when you get into the actual road course part, you are busy! Turn 1 is a lot farther away than it looks (almost 1/2 mi.) so just hammer down and keep it straight. You can either stay in 4th gear and run the rpms up to 7K or shift to 5th and conserve the car more. I tend to stay in 4th and eliminate the shift, but still hit about 150 mph!
Try to stay just left of the center of the track because there is quite a bit of junk near the left wall. The braking zone is reasonably smooth and you can brake quite late. If your rivals brake in a straight line, you can brake at an angle (right) toward turn 1 and take the corner away. If you are by yourself though, you'll want to use all the track so stay left and brake in a straight line. Heel-toe shift to 3rd. Turn 1 is a long, sweeping, banked right turn. There is a lot of rubber build-up at the edge of the corner so I enter it about two-thirds away from the left edge. You can let the car scrub speed if you need to and just use the throttle mostly for steering corrections. Pull it down toward the inside until you get to the apex which is very late. The turn does tighten up quite a bit so experiment with different apex points. Squeeze the throttle, open the wheel and aim toward the patch of "new" asphalt on the outside at the exit. If you do it right, you should be full throttle by the exit. Shift 3-4.
Keep the wheel slightly turned and that will take you to the apex of turn 2, which is more of a fast right-hand kink than a turn. You should be able to take it flat out! You'll now be going slightly down hill and should try to get to the right quickly for Turn 3. It's imperative you keep your head and eyes up through this entire section - not only for speed and smoothness, but to watch for cars spinning in front you too!!
Turn 3 is just a left-kink and most cars can make it thru there wide open - it just takes some practice, and no small amount of guts. Keep the car turned left and stay on the gas until about 150' before the FIA curbing on the left. Get the car straight and drive the nose into the ground when you brake. Heel-toe shift 4 to 3. Turn 4 (entrance of the esses) is a very sharp, right-hander, and slow - treat it that way. The entry speed is not near as important as the exit! This is a right, left, right, left series of turns and is tricky to get right.
4-B, C, & D is actually the second most important series of turns on the course, and exit speed is critical. Late apex each turn and don't overshoot the deceptive 4-C. The curbing thru here is very high (especially 4C) so stay off - just barely clip them. As soon as you can, ease the throttle on, and clip the apex of 4-C. At this point you can pretty well straighten out 4-D and get on the power. If you did it right, you may well be rewarded with an opportunity to pass someone down the moderate straight before the 90's. The earlier you can get on the power means a better top speed down the little straight.
You can either stay right entering the 90's and brake at just about the f|ag station, or experiment with different approaches. There are two major patches in this area and they are very bumpy. I found that about 4 or 5 ft off the right edge worked best for me. It was smooth enough to still late brake and allowed a decent entrance into turn 5.
Rotate the car slightly and late apex 5, a 90 degree left, then immediately early apex 6, a 90 degree right. Get back on the power early and hammer it toward 7. The apex of 5 and outside of 6 is just artificially limited by cones so you can experiment a little here and try to get the best launch.
Trail-brake entering 7 just enough to settle the front end and stay out of the formidable looking tire barrier directly ahead of you. This is the most important, and dangerous, maneuver at Memphis. Don't enter the corner too late because the track is slick and there are plenty of marbles out there. Experiment with different approaches and find the spot that works best for you. Once you turn, stay right, but watch for cars entering the pits! The plentiful marbles on the left are made of wall magnet material and if you get in them, that's where you'll watch the rest of the race from - the wall! I'm not sure "stay right, but late apex left" makes sense, but that's what you should do. Hold neutral throttle and let the car drift as close as you dare to the left hand wall of "Grant's Tomb" (so named because the Grant brothers, Richard and Milton both hit it in the inaugural Memphis race). Roll the throttle down, then center apex 8, clipping the inside as close as possible on the right. There are tires there protecting you from the wall just in case you try to apex too close. (NOTE: GT & Formula cars tend to make this 2 early apex turns with a short burst of power between 7 & 8. SS, IT, and Production cars mostly drive it as described.)
Since they've smoothed out the big bump at the apex of 8, you should be able to plant your right foot (still in 3d gear) and then hammer down and drift toward the outside wall. Be cautious on the first few runs thru here. Since the track surface changes, it can still be slick especially considering this is where the big nitro burning cars do smoking burnouts!! Also be careful not to get too close to the wall edge because the pavement literally drops off a bit about 8" from the wall, and will literally suck you in if you get too close! You need to carry your best exit speed here as it is the entrance to that long front straight. Once you straighten out here, shift 3-4 (and 5 maybe), and start checking gauges and mirrors again as you approach Start / Finish.
F/A's have lapped Memphis in under a minute, but it's extremely rare. 1:04 will get the pole for most Nationals. GT1's are under 1:10; SRF's & GP's about 1:20. ITC's usually run in the low 1:30's. In May, 2005, I just set a pole time in my T1 car of 1:11 and raced in the low 1:13s. Enjoy!!!!!
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