Eat your Wheaties at Carolina Motorsports Park
Written by Sandro Espinosa "el chupacabra", Carolina Motorsports Park - SE30 Track Record Holder & three time NASA National Champ.

CMP opened back in 1999, the site is an old World War II fighter-training base located in the middle of nowhere in SC.  An extremely challenging flat track, CMP offers a lot of different types of turns.  CMP is very technical as there's very little grip due to all the exposed, larger sized aggregate. It takes a lot of patience and precision to go fast around this track but it will teach you how to drive your race car faster at any other track you visit.  A trip to CMP will create a lot of good memories racing but most of all add to your driver skill-set.  Hopefully, the following turn-by-turn analysis of the track will help you in your approach. 

Turn 1: As you are flying down the front stretch, you can see the brake markers on your right. SE30 cars like to brake late to try to pivot the car into the turn, a bit before the 2 marker, then turn sharply and aim for the rumble strips at T1 apex. This will cause you to be better set up and balanced for turn 2.


Turn 2 & 3: As you come off T1 with your car pointing towards the rumble strips of the apex at T2, you want to be as far to the right of the track as possible once you exit. T3 is a fast turn - no brakes - and very little lifting, but the more track you use at turn-in and track-out the better because this is the only dangerous part of the track. If you go too wide on the exit and hook it, you can end up in the ditch to the left of the track.


Turn 4 & 5-6-7 "Carousel": You can get a lot of speed approaching Turn 4, but it's a throwaway turn as there is very little straight-away following it. So, keep it in 4th gear and make it as straight as possible tapping the brakes as late as you can. The complex that follows it is very technical, requires a lot of patience and quite a bit of left foot braking to make the car rotate, the rumble strips help with this as well. 

Turn 8: This is one of the most fun turns at CMP if you get it right.  Although this is not an easy turn, you can definitely feel it when you are right, or when you are wrong. This is an uncomfortable turn because you need to apply brakes earlier than you think and get on back on the gas earlier than it feels right. Turn 8 is a banked turn, so it's really important to position your right wheels just inside the apex rumble strip.  (Warning, this is one you don't want to use).

Turn 10 "The Kink": this is barely a bend, but since the track-out falls off, you need all the courage you can muster to keep it flat.  Make this bend as straight as possible by using a little of the curbing, but be careful not to use too much and panic on exit as you can hook it to the right. If you run out of track on exit (to the left), just keep it straight and re-join safely.

Turn 11 "The Hairpin": this is the best turn to initiate a pass, not on entry as a dive-bomb (which requires no skill and eventually gets the trailing cars a chance to catch up), but as a set up for the next complex of turns. The best line for the hairpin is to turn as late as possible, with a significant amount of trail-brake.  Turn sharply here and use all the rumble strips possible (by now, I suspect you've seen a pattern of using the rumble strips to turn the car here), be super patience on throttle input, and track out using every inch the track gives you.

Turn 12-13: As you exit the hairpin, dive all the way left and brake really late, but don't brake for a long time as you need to get right back on the power.  This is another great place to pass someone on the inside and just before the last turn. Hug the right side of the track on exit, and again use all the track available to you.


Turn 14: This is another turn where you have to be really patient, don't brake late on this one, take a more traditional approach "slow-in fast-out" make sure your car is well balanced during braking, sharp steering input, use the rumble strips (on the right, not left) to help you rotate the car and slow throttle inputs to power out of the turn.  The outside rumble strips here are not your friend, they often create an uneasy re-entry to the track and destroy a very balanced car (and alignment). 

There you have it, CMP will sharpen your driving skills.  Whoever tells you this track is no good, is not a real driver and they probably didn't eat enough cereal growing up.

February 14, 2018 by Carlos Mendez

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