New Track Part And Rain Or Shine For Road Atlanta

Paul Carruthers | August 25, 2008

The following is from Road Atlanta…

During the rider’s meeting at VIRginia International Raceway on Aug. 17 and a subsequent press release, AMA Pro Racing confirmed that the two new sections of Road Atlanta will be used during the Suzuki Superbike Showdown presented by Rockstar this weekend and that they intend to run the event rain or shine.

“The recent announcements to teams and riders at VIR by AMA Pro Racing confirming the use of the new Turns 12 and 4 as well as racing in the rain are very positive for our fans,” says Road Atlanta President Geoff Lee. “The two new sections of track in Turn 12 and Turn 4 were created this year specifically to benefit the pro motorcycle events and offer better sight lines from existing fan areas and altogether new viewing/camping areas. The new portions of track will offer new challenges and potential passing areas for the riders making things fresh, new and exciting this year.

“We’ve spent millions over the last two years to preserve and benefit the top levels of motorcycle racing at Road Atlanta and I am glad that our fans will get to see it in action.”

Fans – and competitors – arriving at Road Atlanta will immediately notice major visible changes to the final corner and the Esses area of the world famous road course. While the original Turn 12 remains unchanged for sports car events like the 11th Annual Petit Le Mans Powered by the Totally New Mazda6 on Oct. 1-4, the Auxiliary Turn 12 that will be used exclusively by motorcycle competitors will be strikingly different. Among the design features of Auxiliary Turn 12:

• Riders will come under the Suzuki Bridge, and stay to rider’s left to enter the new 40-foot wide portion of the track.

• Descending down the hill on new asphalt, riders will have a straight braking zone with an extended runoff area before making a sharper right-hand turn to enter the elongated front straightaway about 100 yards before the start/finish line.

• A runoff of more than 200 feet with gravel traps occupies an area all the way up to tower road.

The Turn 4 project includes a motorcycle specific option with a new section of track on rider’s right in the Esses will appreciably slow the bikes and move the racing line farther away from the walls.

These changes represent the biggest improvement project at Road Atlanta since the elimination of the Gravity Cavity and addition of the turn 10 complex shortly after Dr. Don Panoz purchased the 750-acre facility in 1996. Last year, the entire 2.54-mile road course was repaved, and the concrete barrier walls were moved back between 15-20 feet on both sides of the Esses.

“Additionally, AMA Pro’s commitment to run rain or shine is a great relief to our fans who now know that they will see racing even if there is a little inclement weather, thus removing any concerns about the day being spoiled by a few showers.”

This may be the last time fans can enjoy Superbike racing in its current format at Road Atlanta.

“The recent announcements about the potential dissolution of Superbike racing as we know it currently from AMA Pro Racing next year along with some of the top riders potentially moving to European racing suggest that this may be the last chance to see this show in its current form (these bikes and these stars under the AMA Pro banner),” Lee said.

“We expect to have exceptional racing in the future and are exploring our options but it seems certain that it will be different than what we know now. Many fans will come to this year’s race to both see what might be the end of an era and to celebrate our tenth year of the AMA Superbike events at Road Atlanta.

“Hence, we feel confident that this will be a year to remember for all of our fans. I wouldn’t want to miss it myself.”

The Suzuki Superbike Showdown presented by Rockstar is a three-day event over Labor Day weekend. Practice and provisional qualifying is set for Friday, Aug 29, with the final Superbike qualifying and the first Superbike race on Saturday along with the Formula Extreme race. Sunday’s schedule includes Supersport, Superstock, Superbike race 2 and the new AMA US Red Bull Rookies Cup, featuring riders ages 12-16.

In addition, fans will be treated to off-track entertainment including daily performances by 10-time AMA Trials champion Geoff Aaron, a large Vendor Village area, and the free Fan Party on Friday, Aug. 29.

The Fan Party can be accessed for free starting at 3 pm Friday. Stunt shows by Aaron will be staged in the Support Paddock before and after a free autograph session from 6-7 pm featuring many of the AMA riders, plus Kevin Schwantz, the 1993 500 cc World Champion, and Miss Road Atlanta Julie LaClair.

Paul Carruthers | Editor

Paul Carruthers took over as the editor of Cycle News in 1993 after serving as associate editor since starting his career at the publication in 1985. Carruthers has covered every facet of the sport in his near-28-year tenure at America's Daily Motorcycle News Source.