Once around NHMS
By Ellen Beck
North Country Region – PCA
1.6 mile Road Course – Configuration Using No Ovals/Both Infields
New Hampshire International Speedway is a one-mile NASCAR track with 12-degree banked ovals. The road course utilizes portions of the NASCAR track plus an outfield road course section with several elevation changes. The road course can be run in several different configurations. In the description of this particular configuration, we make use of both the north and south infield chicanes. (Reference attached course map). This narrative describes the student line as taught by North Country Region – PCA.
Pre-staging takes place at the start/finish line in pit lane, and cars are sent down to a complete stop at final staging at Turn 1, the beginning of the south infield chicane. The flagging station at the end of pit lane controls your entry to the track, but ALWAYS check your mirrors before moving off, for once you leave pit lane, you are unable to see oncoming cars. Follow the access lane, and enter the track proper, moving quickly onto the line in the second part of the chicane (2b).
Turn 2 (b)- South Chicane (Esses)
The line is along the right edge of the track with the turn in cone midpoint along the berm. Look left for the apex to 2b, and turn in quickly. The apex is located at the pavement transition from the infield chicane to the track oval, and is a very definite dip. There is no track out cone for this turn, let the wheel unwind slightly, steering under strong throttle toward the wall, looking left down the track. Move to within a car’s width of the wall and be observant, as potentially slippery marbles and track debris tend to collect along the wall.
The stretch between Turn 2 and the entrance to the braking zone “chute” before Turn 3 is a passing zone for all run groups. Passing is usually on the left, with the car allowing the pass staying right. All passing should be completed before entering the braking zone “chute”.
If the line through is driven correctly, the car will be positioned properly along the wall for a straight entrance from the main track into this short “chute”. Enter along the left side, brake early and decisively, and downshift to second gear. Turn 3 can be driven in other gears, but is probably a 2nd gear turn for most Porsches. Be sure to complete all braking and shifting before the last cone on the left, which acts as the turn-in cone.
This turn marks the beginning of the outfield road course section. A 90-degree right-hand turn, it continues another 90-or-so degrees into Turn 4. This corner is the slowest of the track, and with little run-off, potentially the most dangerous. The concrete barriers and tire walls are very solid and very close. Do not carry excessive speed into this corner. As you turn-in, look right, up the hill, reaching around the corner as much as possible with your eyes. Apply the throttle smoothly, placing the right hand wheels on the rumble strip at the apex. Allow the car to track out to the cone located just past the tire wall on your left.
Continue looking up the hill to the right to see the next apex cone, you will be under strong throttle and the exit of Turn 3 transitions quickly into Turn 4. The apex on the right is centered on a short painted berm. Allow the car to then track out fully to the left side of the track. Be careful not to drop a wheel off the left side here, as it is soft dirt and may catch your wheel.
This uphill is a passing zone in the upper run groups, particularly needed for horsepower differentials. Passing is done on the right, with the car allowing the pass moving out along the left side of the track early and staying in the middle of the track over the hill to allow right-hand pass completion before the crest. (Cars allowing a pass will find it easier to stay a bit wide of the Turn 4 apex, cars passing should be accurate here.)
Midway up the hill, start looking for the Turn 5 apex cone on the right, which is hidden by the crest of the hill at this point. Driving blind over the top of this hill, you will want to find some visual markers to smoothly transition from the left to the right side of the track in preparation for the downhill. Move the car toward the center of the track and follow the right hand edge of the pavement with your eyes. The point at which this pavement edge meets the horizon is a good visual marker. Keep aiming at it with your right front wheel as more of it appears in your field of view. As you crest the hill, your right hand wheels should be perfectly placed at the apex cone along the berm on the right edge.
Continue under strong throttle down the hill toward the bowl. The right edge of the pavement bows out several feet here, and there are two approaches to the downhill. Some choose to follow the slight curve of this pavement edge, straightening out at the bottom for braking. It is also possible to drive in a very straight line, from the apex at the top of the hill (turn 5) looking straight toward the turn-in cone (turn 6) at the bottom, allowing the pavement edge to move away from you and then back in again.
Turn 6 (The Bowl)
This is a fun left-hand turn with significant camber Brake very firmly and downshift if needed, looking left around the corner for your apex and track out cones. Be patient on the turn-in, a common mistake is to early apex this corner. Wait to turn until you are very close to the turn-in cone, and it looks as though you may run right off the pavement. Be looking left, turn decisively, and don’t give up the apex. This turn-in requires more steering effort than first expected, keep looking around the corner. The apex is located midpoint of a painted berm.
The camber of the bowl will help keep your car properly placed, and a precise apex will set you up nicely for the sweeping uphill exit. (Continue looking left and the apex cone for Turn 7 will come into view.) Apply throttle just before or at the apex, and unwind the wheel just a little and hold it. Allow the car to track out to the exit cone midway along a very rough rumble strip. Done properly, no further steering input is necessary to place your left wheels precisely at the next apex cone, Turn 7.
As you are exiting the bowl, be thinking ahead and look beyond Turn 7 up the hill to gauge your line. The track sweeps slightly left and then right over the crest of hill, however you want to drive this section between 7 and 9 in as straight a line as possible. Note the flag station on your right, a tower called the “tree house”.
Place your left front wheel at the apex rumble strip of Turn 7. Point the car slightly right and straight over the hill, which will place your right front wheel on the rumble strip at the track-out cone two-thirds of the way up the hill on the right. The track out cone for turn 7 is also the turn in cone for Turn 8. Continue straight over the hill, drifting slightly to the right, steering for the right edge of the track at the crest of the hill.
The apex for Turn 8 is located just before and below the tree house flagging station. Newly paved in 1999, the correct marker point for the apex of Turn 8 is the junction of the new pavement and the pre-existing white line along the edge of the track, configured in an angled “V”. This “turn” will not seem much of a turn, more a very shallow curve to the right.
A fast and somewhat blind section of track, the car will have a tendency to feel very light over the top of the hill and it is important to keep some positive power to the rear wheels here. Make sure you let the car settle before beginning to brake for Turn 9. See the apex cone for Turn 9 ahead (on the left side of the track) and drive in a straight line down to it, moving from the right to the left side of the track.
Brake hard and in a straight line as you approach this left-hand downhill corner. Slightly off-camber, this corner does not reward over-aggressiveness. (Downshifting may be needed, dependent on your car, and can take place in the braking zone before Turn 9, or just before the turn in to Turn 10.) Turn 9 is actually a double apex turn. The first apex is along the grass edge and short berm on the left, the second at the beginning of the concrete wall on the downhill side of the turn.
As you reach the first apex, keep looking left around the corner, but be patient with the turn in, which is properly made well past the apex cone, and mid-pavement on the track. Turn left smoothly and decisively, at steady throttle, and straighten the wheel to end up parallel to the concrete wall on the left of this downhill.
Brake along the wall in a straight line and then angle right toward the apex cone. The apex is right at the end edge of the tire barrier. Past the apex, track all the way out to the left edge of the track under acceleration. Smoothly move back over to the center of the pavement, looking ahead and left to Turn 11. (This is a very short passing zone for the upper run groups.)
Turn 11 (a&b) - North Chicane (Esses)
The esses here are really a slight jog into a left-hander that takes you back onto the front straight. From the center of the track, look ahead and see a straight line into Turn 11. The left wheels should touch the left-hand apex of 11a at the low berm, then point the right hand wheels straight at the turn in cone for (11b). Brake here, in a straight line. The turn in cone for 11b, at another shallow painted berm, is also the track out cone for 11a. Wait to turn in until your right front wheel is at this berm, a late apex through 11b is safer and ultimately faster.
Looking left, turn in decisively and run over the 11b apex berm on the left. The pavement in 11b tends to be slippery, and there is a thin strip of old pavement right along the apex berm that rewards accuracy with superior grip. Track out fully under acceleration, running over the exit berm and look ahead for the apex to Turn 12 on the left.
Cars intending to enter Pit Lane will have raised their fist out the window just before Turn 11b (or earlier). The Pit Lane entrance is on the left just beyond the 11b apex and before Turn 12. Be aware of slower cars and adjust your pace through 11a&b in accordance. Cars planning to pit should make sure to signal their intentions both very early and very clearly.
Turn 12 is the transition from the infield esses back onto the main track. The apex is the end of the white concrete pit wall on the left. Check your mirrors in anticipation of the upcoming passing zone, run close to the apex wall and track out to the right and along the wall onto the straight.
Move to within 3 or 4 feet of the wall on the right hand side and proceed down the main straight. This is a passing zone for all run groups, where passing is done only on the left. All passing should be complete before entering the braking zone. This is the time to check both the status of your gauges and the flagging stations.
Brake and downshift using the descending numeric markers along the wall as a guide. Adjusting according to speed and traffic. Complete all braking and downshifting before turning in to the infield Esses.
Turn 1 (the Chicane or Esses)
New pavement in 1999 has changed the angle of entry to this left-hand corner and there are two popular choices. Once again the issue is the pavement transition from the main oval to the infield chicane, and the dip which tends to unsettle the car. Observe the flag station on the left at the end of the main straight, and be aware that cars will be entering the track midway through the esses.
The traditional approach is to follow the right hand wall into the braking zone, and turn in at or near the number 1 marker. This will take you over the pavement dip at a right angle and position you in a fairly straight-ahead entry to 2a. Another approach, often favored by 911’s with very firm suspensions, is to angle over to the left side of the track shortly after entering the braking zone, to end up very close to the flag station. Looking left, you will cross the dip at an oblique angle, and turn left into the turn, hugging the left side. Consult with your instructor regarding the best path for you and your car. For both approaches, enter Turn 1 with a steady throttle, and place the car parallel to the series of cones along the left side of the track.
Turn 2 a&b
Of this series of cones, the last cone is the turn in cone for 2a, tap the brakes lightly to steady and slow the car, and at this last cone jog right fairly quickly, crossing over the track to the right. 2a is best late apexed, touch the apex cone berm at midpoint or slightly beyond. Drive the car parallel along the very short section of pavement just beyond this apex cone. Look left and turn in at the last cone, near the end of the painted berm.
Having looked left, see the 2b apex cone located trackside at the dip in the pavement back onto the main track, and turn left, angling across the pavement transition as you accelerate and track out to the wall. A late apex is safer here, as has been the case throughout this infield section.
Congratulations, you have just completed your first lap of New Hampshire International Speedway’s road course! Have a fun and safe event.