COTA Notebook #2
COTA Notebook #2
SPECIAL GUESTS. The Lone Star Le Mans event has not only attracted the world’s finest sports car teams and drivers to Circuit of the Americas – there are some special guests too. Ex-F1 ace, NASCAR driver and this year’s Indy 500 winner Juan Pablo Montoya was seen in the Porsche FIA World Endurance Championship garage this morning. The Columbian of course is no stranger to sports car racing – he is a three-time winner of the Rolex 24 at Daytona with Chip Ganassi (2007, 2008 and 2013).
THE OUTER LIMITS. The cars competing at Circuit of the Americas this weekend are using two distinct racing lines. The FIA World Endurance Championship entries are scrupulously observing the painted track limits, while many of the drivers in the TUDOR United SportsCar Championship are running over curbs, driving through runoff areas, and taking liberties with the track limit lines.
The explanation: WEC entries are equipped with sophisticated GPS systems that allow officials to track and subsequently penalize any transgressions of the track limits. IMSA officials have determined that track limits can’t be enforced consistently because the TUDOR Championship cars are not outfitted with GPS, and consequently have decided that all of the track’s paved surfaces are in bounds.
THE HEAT IS ON. With temperatures in the mid-90s and humidity to match, keeping cool at COTA is a high priority for drivers, mechanics, and fans. The drivers in the closed-top WEC Prototypes and GT cars are spared from searing cockpit heat by provisions in the WEC rules that require air conditioning systems that must maintain cockpit temperature within specified limits.
The air conditioning system must maintain a temperature of 32 degrees C (89.6 degrees F) when the ambient air temperature is 32 degrees C or lower. When the outside air temperature is above 32 degrees C, the a.c. system must maintain a temperature equal to or below the outside temperature. With a predicted high of 94 degrees F in Austin on Friday, the air conditioning systems will be working hard to meet the series’ standards.
A ROOM WITH A VIEW. The signature landmark of Circuit of the Americas is the observation tower that overlooks Turn 17. The tower is 251 feet tall – equivalent to a 25-story building! The impressive COTA facility covers 1,500 acres and features 132 feet of elevation change in the run up to Turn 1.