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Old 8 Mar 2003, 04:30 (Ref:528550)   #1
Tailwind
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Tailwind should be qualifying in the top 10 on the grid
Test track

Mark Armijo
The Arizona Republic
Mar. 7, 2003 12:00 AM


Sherrie Buzby/The Arizona Republic

John Naughton, a former golf instructor, is general manager of Arizona Motorsports Park. The project was handled by Colorado race course designer Alan Wilson.

Arizona Motorsports Park, a 155-acre Litchfield Park racing facility still being completed, is drawing raves from amateur racers throughout the Valley.

Dan Webb, Arizona regional director for the National Auto Sport Association, toured the site recently and immediately began counting the days when the first wheel could be put down on the racer-friendly, 16-turn, 2.23-mile road course.

"It's pretty unbelievable," said Webb, whose organization already has scheduled a two-day event there next weekend. "Nothing against the other two facilities (Firebird International Raceway Park and Phoenix International Raceway), but this is a true road course. It's very, very nice.

"One of the most important things for amateur racers, especially beginners, is to be able to race with a lower level of anxiety. AMP (Arizona Motorsports Park) offers that. It's one of the safest racetracks in the United States because there are no barriers to hit. There's plenty of generous runoff room."

Constructing a road course with barriers placed far away from a 40-foot-wide racing surface to protect drivers veering off the layout was a purposeful design, AMP general manager John Naughton said.

"Drivers won't have to worry about tearing up the cars as much on this racetrack," Naughton said. "That's what we wanted to achieve when (Colorado race course designer Alan Wilson) designed it for us."

Naughton, a former golf instructor, was lured from Colorado by his stepdad, Dan Maloney, to oversee construction of AMP, which began nine months ago. Following purchase of the land, which borders Luke Air Force Base and Falcon Golf Club, Maloney hired Wilson, a renowned racetrack designer, to come up with an appealing road course attractive to amateur racers.

The course's longest straightaway is about 1,700 feet, but there also are plenty of intriguing turns with double and even triple apex corners.

"It's very technical," Webb said. "The straights have enough length to allow for a generous amount of acceleration, and there also are four generous braking zones."

Maloney and Naughton are amateur racers, but Maloney's original intent was to buy land for a large autocross pad. But one idea led to another, which eventually led to AMP.

"The more Pops started thinking about it, he wanted to try and provide a safe atmosphere for the weekend amateur racer," Naughton said.

Apparently, he's succeeded.

In addition to the road course, which could be divided into two approximately 1.13-mile layouts, there is an 800-feet-by-800-feet pad for autocross events and also a 15-acre, high-performance driving pad for ride-and-drive events.

Autocross drivers compete on squared-off courses lined by cones, such as those sometimes held on the parking lot beyond the outfield fence at Tempe Diablo Stadium.

Naughton also said he expects several CART Champ Car teams to use the road course for testing.

CART owner/driver Adrian Fernandez of Paradise Valley already has toured the track, and, like Webb, came away impressed.

"It's fantastic," Fernandez said. "There was only one concern we had and that was with a little dip at the end of the back straight, but they said they'd fix it.

"It's got a lot of good corners and some are the likes we see at tracks on (the CART) schedule. Some are fast, some are slow. That's good for us to test. For SCCA (Sports Car Club of America) racers, I think it's good because there's quite a few opportunities for passing."

Although a timing and scoring tower has yet to be constructed at the facility, at 15402 W. Camelback Road (about seven miles east of Loop 101), it won't prevent the track's unveiling this weekend with an SCCA event.

Naughton also has lined up several Arizona Sports Racing Association events, and Professional AutoSports also is scheduled for a May race.





So if they built the grandstands and other facilities, would it also be a possible race venue for CART. Phoenix and Tucson are big enough to support a race. I imagine there would be a number of people that would come out from Souther California.
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Old 8 Mar 2003, 11:01 (Ref:528795)   #2
Lee Janotta
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Lee Janotta should be qualifying in the top 10 on the grid
Alan Wilson _again_??? Cripes, that's it, I'm definitly submitting the Vegas design to CART, maybe I can take some work away from him and Tilke. The last decade is going to be looked upon by future generations as a dark age in track design.

In theory, CART could use it for races... Mid-Ohio's not exactly a state of the art facility either... But at least it's got character. Alan Wilson's tracks are pure vanilla.

On reflection, sorry to sound so harsh... Any successful venue for CART, I guess, is cool these days. I just _really_ don't like Alan Wilson's tracks.

Last edited by Lee Janotta; 8 Mar 2003 at 11:04.
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