PACE Motor Sports sanctioning body Formula USA conducted its scheduled test at the Indiana State Fairgrounds in Indianapolis yesterday in order to test the transponder system that will be used in qualifying, and to gather data for equipment eligibility and restrictor rules for the upcoming Wrenchead.com National Dirt Track Series, which opens at Texas Motor Speedway in Fort Worth, Texas, on May 6.
According to PACE officials, the test was a success, providing Formula USA with an excellent opportunity to observe the diversity of state-of-the-art dirt track equipment, which it had hoped could be combined in the series' premier National class.
"We satisfied our safety concerns," PACE Dirt Track Operations Manager Bob Moran said after the test. "After watching the various equipment and making adjustments to ensure their equalization, we feel that we are in the hunt, and we can go forward with our rules-making so that we can create a series which will be open to all three of the current types of equipment, using the Harley-Davidson XR750 as the standard. Our goal was not to alienate anybody."
Taking part in the test were several of the top AMA dirt track teams in their respective classes. Reigning AMA Grand National Champion and multi-time AMA 600cc National Champion Chris Carr headed the list of participants. Joining him were factory Harley-Davidson team rider Rich King, top-running AMA/Supertrapp SuperTracker rider J.R. Schnabel and Continental Tires representative and GNC short-tracker Greg Tysor. Carr's H-D of Sacramento team rolled out two Harley-Davidson XR750s and one 600 for the test, while King had a trio of Bill Werner-prepared XRs and Schnabel brought an XR750 and a 600, and also tested the Team Powell/Sunoco Suzuki TL1000 of Bill and Carolyn Powell. Tysor showed up with his personal Yamaha WR400, which has been converted into a pseudo-dirt-tracker, in order test the 400's engine performance against that of restricted 600s.
Perhaps the most eye-opening test of the day came when Carr hopped on his 600 to test with King, who was on a factory 750. The pair ran consistent 38-second lap times together, with Carr's Kenny Tolbert-tuned ATK600 appearing to have a slight edge on an Indy Mile racing surface that did not groove up until late in the day. Furthermore, Schnabel's restricted 1000 ran similar lap times to the 750 and 600, with Carr and Schnabel engaging in brief wheel-to-wheel battles during the day. Trap speeds were also consistent, ranging in the 119-122 mph range.
Formula USA also tested restricted 600s against the 400 of Tysor - the experiment expected to form the basis for a Junior-division class at some Wrenchead.com events. Trap speeds for the restricted racers hovered in the 106 mph range, while Tysor was able to break 103 mph on what is essentially a stock Yamaha. Carr also tested all four types of equipment, climbing aboard both the WR and the Powell Suzuki TL. When it was all over, PACE Motor Sports Vice President Mike Kidd, who was in attendance at the test, was very pleased.
"The most important thing is that we are confident that we can run the various equipment together safely," Kidd said. "Also, we were pleased to see that our transponder system worked flawlessly all day. I was also really surprised to see how close the 600s and 750s ran together, and how the 1000 actually improved with the addition of restrictors. We want to thank the various riders for their participation, cooperation and input. Having such knowledgeable teams was very important, and they were all very receptive to what we were attempting to accomplish at the test."
At the conclusion of the test, Kidd and Moran discussed procedural rules with the various teams, gathering input on such items as starting procedures, restarts and provisional starts.
"Some of the things that we talked about were things that I had a completely different opinion on coming in here," Moran said. "But they were able to convince us to take a different a approach in certain areas, which we feel will contribute to the overall success of the series."