It’s an old tradition made new again in Central Tennessee with a recent racing renaissance involving both NASCAR and IndyCar.
Nashville’s high-speed road near Lebanon lay dormant for nearly a decade before NASCAR brought its Cup Series racing to town last year. This was the first time NASCAR had been in Central Tennessee in 37 years.
Coming back again this weekend, many people are probably still too unfamiliar with the old and new sports of town.
Track President and General Manager Eric Moses can relate. He has only been a part of the racing industry for a couple of years now but has learned at lightning speed. He agreed to give NewsChannel 5 Traffic Anchor Rebecca Schleicher a racing lesson. Or, as some might call it, “a crash course.”
“So it’s not just about moving fast and turning left?” I teased.
“It’s so much more than a quick turn and a left turn! That’s important, but it’s so much more than that,” Moses said. “There are a lot of nuances going on. Who’s outdoors, who’s in polluted air, and who’s pushing who’s getting a better speed back stretch.”
The track in Wilson County is 1.33 miles of concrete, with room for 38,000 fans watching the drivers go by at breakneck speed.
“Car vs. skill.. which is more important?” Schleicher asked.
“That’s a great question,” he said. “So the short answer is that it takes both. A really good driver on a really bad ride isn’t going to win races.” “A really bad driver on a really good ride isn’t going to win races either, but he could be competitive. The nice place is finding a really capable, talented driver and pairing them up with a really good ride and that’s what you see with drivers like Jimmy Johnson.”
To name one of the greats.
This year the teams are racing the new next-generation car and in central Tennessee, the teams are tackling a fairly new track.
“I think it provides a really great mix of teams, crew chiefs, digging crews, and drivers trying to figure out and solve this track with a new car on it,” Moses said.
He adds that the drivers are some of the biggest star athletes he knows.
“These guys sit in a car without air conditioning for three to four hours with 30 other cars around, six inches on each side, doing speeds of over 150 mph on an elongated track.”
Musa teaches us some terms that only true fans know.
“attachments They are brand new tires because they stick to the track; scuffs The attempts already made on the car are used, maybe a few laps in practice that can be reused in the car.”
Those terms were new to him, too. He says he recently heard them on a radio and texted Daryl Waltrip to ask what they meant. Fortunately, he said, the NASCAR legend didn’t give him a hard time.
This weekend, fans can watch the Rackley Roofing 200 NASCAR Camping World Truck Series Race, the Tennessee Lottery 250 NASCAR Xfinity Series Race and the Ally 400 NASCAR Cup Series Race, better known as the featured event.
Moses explains that races are named for the miles they include. And of course sponsors. Very important to this sport.
“And that’s why our drivers look like their trademarks are tattooed on all of their motorbikes and cars,” he laughed.
Finally, with the two speeds around the track, it was time for the speed round for the lesson. Schleicher asked Moses several quick questions about the shooting. Here were his answers.
Rotation angle: 14 degrees
Number of tire changes in a regular race: 5
The maximum speed for drivers will reach: 185-186
The number of turns in the Ally 400 Moses laughed: “I can’t do that in my head.”
We can help him with math. It’s 300 laps.
The track chief says there’s no wrong way to cheer. But he believes the best way to learn is to watch in person.
“You get a better sense of the speed, the sights, the sounds, and the smell of everything that’s going on here at the track,” he said.
Just don’t forget to bring your ear protector.
This year, fans get the chance to drive on the track with their own car. Charity sessions will take place on Sundays at 9 a.m. for $60 per vehicle.
Participants can take three laps behind the fast car and even bring a few passengers for a ride.