The Machismo 12-Hour Endurance Karting Event is this weekend, running both Friday and Saturday December 1-2. The 10th annual event sees a record number of teams entered, taking to the track for optional practice during Friday, before setting the grid for the race itself via the 1-hour “under the lights” qualifying session that night. Saturday will see the green flag on the now decade-old tradition, releasing the drivers on their LeMans styled running start to their karts. Catch all the previews here on the calspeedkarting.com website over the past week, and be sure to follow all the event coverage throughout the event on our official Facebook page!
So far this week we have looked at the past history of the event, from its beginnings under the lights at the Rio Hotel with the SKUSA SuperNats in Vegas, to the Bullring at Las Vegas Motor Speedway, and finally back here to CalSpeed. We also went class by class, looking at the rosters for the 35 teams entered, including highlighting a few teams in each category that could make the most noise when the green flag drops on Saturday.
Today we take a look at the element that every driver -regardless of class- will battle with directly over the course of the 12 hours; The Track. In the following preview we’ll take a closer look at the landscape for the 10th running of the Machismo 12 Hour Endurance Race, going corner by corner while putting a spotlight on some need to know information, as well as focus on the pair of new sections for the 2017 configuration.
And be sure to jump onto Facebook Live tonight as we’ll take a guided track walk with CalSpeed’s Mike Smith, designer of the track and lead tester for the karts, providing some insight in what to expect when drivers first hit the track on Friday!
Part of endurance events are racing the track itself, and the 2017 Machismo layout will see a slightly different layout from the past three editions, marking only the second big change to the layout since it was first run here at CalSpeed in 2013. Not to be underestimated, the Machismo track is the busiest one in the CalSpeed repertoire, it’s 15-turn layout offering little time to rest when you’re by yourself, never mind sharing it with 34 of your closest friends. Whether in a Sodi sport kart or one of the VLR 206 karts, the preferred line around the course is fairly similar, with many different types of corners providing the challenge. That said, the slight changes for this year’s event seem to have really helped the flow of the circuit, while also opening things up for working traffic, which there will be plenty of this weekend.
We should also expect some of the fastest laps in the event since the 2014 edition, where teammates Eric Molinatti and Jake Craig went head to head for fastest lap when the softer ‘option tires’ were astride the old Stratos karts. Last year was the debut for the VLR Chassis and the LO206 package here in a 12 hour setting, and while the karts performed flawlessly and the engines held up, lap times were a bit slower because of the harder compound tire employed. Balancing durability with a tire still made for competition karts, the MAXXIS SLH will be the tire of choice for the Pro Class in 2017, cutting laps in testing that should see some of the quickest lap times yet, even with the couple of changes to this year’s layout. From the opening of the lap on the front straight through the entry of the Center Hairpin the track is virtually identical, with only the exit of the Center Hairpin changing, followed by the same Kornakurva section, before the second change on the layout, the addition of the bypass corner. Utilized earlier this year, the Bypass-to-Sunset combination has proven to be not only a bit easier for the newer drivers, but also provides better flow and better opportunities in both passing for position or lapping slower traffic. But without further adieu, here’s a corner by corner look at the track:
While the start of the Le-Mans styled running start will happen on the pit straight, the lap will start and finish on the other side of the course in the traditional spot for CalSpeed on the front straight. While referred to as ‘straight’, the line out of the final corner still takes you over to drivers left, so there is still some wheel input that needs to happen to prepare for the first corner. Also on the front straight will be the blend for the Penalty Box, with penalized drivers running down the edge of the track on the left before blending back onto the racing line by a pair of cones 2/3 of the way down. This will be a prime passing opportunity for the Pro Class drivers, utilizing their extra speed, but will need to get the job done before reaching the Esses.
The key component in making this track when it was first penned, heading through the Esses in the reverse direction requires steady footwork on the entry, as a mistake through the first part is compounded throughout the complex. Braking in this corner varies a lot depending on who you talk to, as there are many ways to take the first ‘S’, but the same refrain is always sung: get the entry to the second ‘S’ correct. This links directly with the Contino Carousel, a double-apex left hander that actually decreases its radius as it goes. Pinching the center of the Carousel too much will cost a driver time, and more importantly speed as it dumps you onto the Pit Straight. Things can get a little busy on the exit of Contino, as the pit entry comes up quick on the right hand side, so drivers trying to make it down pit road should single well in advance; perhaps as early as the front straight.
The chance to rest is short lived down the Pit Straight before coming up on perhaps the most exciting corner on the race track, the Silk Hairpin. Drivers are at top speed heading into this corner, and with it being right in front of the pits and well-lit, it is like having a spotlight on the action. With the high-speed entry into a high braking zone, this is arguably the best passing zone on the circuit, but it also offers up a few challenges when negotiated alone. While the corner has always had a transition of surfaces on the exit, this year new pavement was laid down on the track proper, as well as having an extended curb added. This actually makes the apex even later than it was before, requiring drivers to slow even more to keep from exiting too wide.
The next sequence of corners is simply referred to as “Turn 8”, named after the multi-apex corner at the F1 track in Istanbul. Like that corner, this Turn 8 is actually multiple apexes long, as it circles in on itself before kicking back the other way for the Center Hairpin. Multiple different lines can be taken on its approach, but whatever is chosen at that point basically dictates what is required for the second apex. Too tight in the center of the first two apexes will see drivers run a little wide before the hairpin, and getting back over to the right for the final one could be tough. Things can get busy through here, as it should be basically flat out, and when the Pros try to work through traffic, they may need to take the long way around, fighting marbles that build up on the outside of the turn.
After the triple-apex Turn 8 drivers are immediately snapped to the left with the entry to the Center Hairpin, which can actually be taken more like a set of Esses, or type of Chicane now. This is because of the change to the exit of the corner, which now requires a slightly later apex than in years prior, as drivers turn immediately back to the right to head up the hill. A bit of ‘calamity corner’ last year, this section offers another passing zone, but one that is a bit tougher to get along side and completed while still carrying good speed. It also has another surface change throughout the middle third of it, adding to an already tricky section. For the Pro Class, patience here will allow for an easy overtake without much time lost up the hill, which is different from last year. The short jaunt from the Center Hairpin exit to the next corner will also see drivers blending in on the right hand side from pit lane, so drivers will need to really pay attention if they make a move up the hill.
The next corner is more of a light kink, as turn 11’s distinction is more of a chance to set up a pass into the very next corner, Kornakurva. This is also where drivers will be blending in from getting fuel or mechanical work done, so again, things could get quite busy at the north end of the track. Kornakurva itself is a corner that has been in place since the inception of CalSpeed, however its decreasing radius nature still catches out rookies and veterans alike. While another good passing zone, it exits into the final new section of the course, and with it another great opportunity to get passed the driver in front.
The Bypass corner commonly used for the CalSpeed arrive and drive events makes its debut into the Machismo configuration here in 2017, the tricky off-surface, off-cambered right hander providing another challenge for the drivers this weekend. Replacing the bus-stop section from years’ prior, this corner actually helps the flow into the final complex, but is also a great passing opportunity. Sport kart pilots will certainly utilize this as a chance to work past their opponents, while the Pro Class may wait to the next section to get the job done. The nature of the corner is fairly low-grip, with the off cambered nature making things potentially go from bad to worse in a big hurry.
The final section on the course is also the slowest corner, and one of the most difficult to get right lap after lap: Sunset. Aptly named, sight lines during the dusk time period can be some of the most difficult, as the setting sun is typically directly in the eyes of the drivers. With the edition of the Bypass corner however, the entry to Sunset seems to be a lot more manageable, and allows for a lot of options in traffic with its wide entry. The exit is the exact opposite however; things tighten up in a hurry, especially if anyone bobbles under brakes. Not only the slowest corner on the track, it is also the last of the off-surface corners, it’s slick nature asking a lot from drivers to keep things tidy. After the exit on the left hand side will be the penalty box location for the sport kart classes, the stop and go penalties handed out during the race taking place there.
And with that, a lap is completed around the .7 mile and 15 turn machismo track configuration, a lap that will be just over a minute long for the Pro Class, and around 6-7 seconds slower for the sport kart classes. Any driver that tackles the Machismo race course will have negotiated all different types of corners and different racing surfaces, never mind the potential physical and mental fatigue from their wheel-to-wheel battles along the way. Tomorrow drivers will start hitting the track with open practice at 9am, followed by the Sport Kart Clinic at 12:30pm, and finally optional practice sessions (along with owners) throughout the afternoon from about 2pm-6pm. Qualifying will get under way at 7pm, with all of live timing found on Race Monitor throughout the weekend. Be sure to catch all the event coverage on our Facebook page, and be sure to check out the track walk later tonight!
Bring on Machismo!