Sprintcar :: 360 Victorian Title Avalon Raceway
This is one of those fringe motorsports that I have always wanted to visit and for the longest time it had been on my list of motorsports to cover. I was inspired to cover Sprintcar because of a rally photographers friend, so I jumped in the GSS van and headed to Avalon Raceway Geelong.
I have never been to any motorsport where all the fans bring their own seating. So while everybody was busy finding a good spot to sit down, the water trucks continuously did laps to prepare the track for the racing ahead.
Soon after the trucks had finished watering down the track, the racing teams started to enter. One by one, the cars were pushed in by their support team buggy. I must say that I found it strange they didn’t enter under their own power.
The pushing theme continued throughout the day, with push starts given by various utes and 4wd’s. Once these beasts were given their starting push, every car put down a few low speed laps to warm up their engines.
Each class of sprint car had a decent number of competitors and group by group, they all put down warm up laps.
Having a dummy starting grid / second pits in the middle of the track felt unorthodox compared to other motorsports i have attended and yet I understand why they have to set it up this way.
This is the spectators point of view and I had to share this view as I didn’t have a media pass unfortunately on the day.
Siting at different points around this oval style track gave a different perspective of the corners and the cars that were approaching.
The amount of speed these cars generated in a small straight was incredible, especially while on the dirt. Not only do the cars have a crazy amount of torque, but the real secret to getting all this power around the track seems to be the super wide tyres that keep these beasts on the ground.
With three hundred and sixty cubic inch engines, these sprint cars put down between 600-700 horse power. With a power-to-weight ratio comparable to a Formula 1 car, these sprint cars are no joke!
The Front of a sprint car does not look like your average high powered race car, with its strange front spoiler and big fat tyres. The unorthodox body covers its’ super light tube race fame. Under this frame is an untamed v8 power plant that makes more noise than an angry dragon that is hooked on crack.
The urban name for sprint car racing is Caveman Drifting. It’s a dirty sport and certainly not for the faint hearted. It is really a mix of rally and drift with a bit of Nascar, all rolled into one sport.
Although this car had a substantial smoke trail following it, the car actually was not on fire. Often these cars run so hot and they have to cope with a lot of vibration, this can cause oil hoses to become slightly loose and spray oil on the headers. This is one of the main causes of smoke trails from sprint cars.
The spray of mud from the cars was incredible and not long after the first few laps it literally started raining mud when all the cars got on track. With the velocity of a paintball these clumps of mud would fire out and stick to you and everything around you.
The crowd was one of the largest that I had seen at any local motorsport event I’ve attended. With an audience this big, I am surprised you do not see sprint cars on tv more often.
Not only does the track get cut up as the event goes on, but the drivers have to cope with the changing light conditions. As the sun gets lower the track develops patches of light and shade and this definitely adds to the difficult task of driving at high speeds on a dirt track.
This car lost grip and found itself in a wall. We all know motorsport is dangerous and so it was really good to see the driver walk away from this crash.
The racing is close and furious, whether it be in dash format or main A / B racing format. The competition is always very fierce.
After each session the cars would return to the pits though a small gate in the wall. One of the best things about sprint cars is the lack of downtime on track action, it seems there is always something happening.
The time trials are one part of the sprint car format that I really enjoyed. It was great to see how each driver approached the track. The lap times the cars set, position the cars into the correct race heats based on their recorded time. Sorting the drivers by times set, made for much better competition and excitement in the final heats.
One of the biggest crashes of the night was this near flip into the wall. Lucky these sprint cars have great cages and big wings to save the driver from harm.
When there are twenty plus cars on the track, there is not much room for error and especially when these bad boys get up to speed. Being only centimeters from a concrete wall while power sliding on dirt, really takes some crazy confidence.
As the light faded and the sun went down, things started to get cold. This was my first experience with sprint cars and it is fair to say I’m now officially addicted! The sound, the speed, and the atmosphere all combine to create one serious spectacle.
Thanks for reading,