Tuesday, March 23, 2010

Pacific Raceways

John Marine | 3/23/2010 12:30:00 AM |
The Pacific Northwest is a beautiful place (not that I've ever been outside of Texas in my life). A place as beautiful as the Pacific Northwest is Kent, Washington's Pacific Raceways. Pacific Raceways is usually popular for the NHRA races that take place on the drag strip there for the NHRA Northwest Nationals. This is a nice club-level racing course with lots of lovely scenery. This track (no disrespect to it) almost seems like a scenic drive around country roads than a proper race track. Even if this isn't an FIA-spec racing facility, it's surely one of the loveliest in the United States.

The track was built in 1959 and first used in 1960. So as you would imaigne, this track is celebrating its 50th anniversary. It used to be known as Seattle International Raceways until its name was reverted to Pacific Raceways in 2002.

--- Pacific Raceways ---
Here is a look at the track map for this 2.25 mile road course:

^ map of Pacific Raceways; picture from:

Now let me try to describe a lap around this place.

Turn 1 is essentially a kink in the road that sets you up for a rather smooth Turn 2. The Turn 2 complex features two successive left corners that feel like a short oval. The beauty of Pacific Raceways comes your way after clearing the Turn 2 area. You see a nice forest to your right and grassy hills with lots of flowers on the left. Enjoy the beauty too long, and your car will be part of the scenery if you don't take Turns 3a and 3b seriously. Both of which, are hairpins. Turn 3a is a right-hand hairpin while 3b is a left-hand hairpin. A small straight connects the two hairpins. Next comes a beautiful wooded drive down the backstretch. It's not a perfectly straight backstretch, though. It's more like the wavy later sections of Sears Point (nowadays Infineon Raceway). There are no guardrails to save you should you go far off-course. That is, unless you consider the hillside on your left to be a guardrail. Turn 4 is a left-hand kink that can be tricky to navigate. A sweeping right-hand section leads to two very sharp corners, the sharp Turn 5a left and equally sharp right-hand 5b. Turn 6 is a sharp left. It is somewhat like an obtuse angled corner. Turns 7 and 8 make up a decreasing radius section. Both 7 and 8 come quickly and feel like an oval. Turn 9 is a moderately sharp right-hand corner that takes you to the Start/Finish line. Finally, Turn 10 is a moderate to high-speed chicane leading to the Start/Finish line. And that's a lap.

Here is a video lap of this course:

^ recorded on May 20, 2006; uploaded May 29, 2006.

This is a lovely racing facility. Maybe you think so too?
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