Eight hours and 550 miles from Denver. And worth every mountain pass, every penny spent on gas to run a Radical at UMC. This was my 2nd year at UMC, and it proved to be a trip of adventurous track experiences and several new friends and contacts...And applying a layer of Radical awesomeness down at one of the coolest tracks out there.
UMC (previously Miller Motorsports Park) is a huge, world-class race track with a stunning amount of amenities. To give you an idea, check out these metrics:
290 various types of garages and bays, on-site medical, multi-million dollar clubhouse, a car museum, a karting course, and a helicopter pad. It is amazing.
Unfortunately, UMC continues to deal with legal issues with ownership and its existence in the future is still up in the air. Part of the reason for the focus on this blog is to bring more awareness to UMC and help keep their numbers on the rise.
The track is comprised of a 4.4-mile counter-clockwise full course with 23 turns, making it one of the longest courses in the US. It boasts several configurations with different technical aspects and features on each configuration. East and West track can be run as individual tracks, while combining them offers the full and outer configurations. I ran West course in both 2016 and 2017. West is 2.2 miles long and has 10 turns. In contrast to High Plains (2.55 miles, 15 turns), UMC West has a lower ratio of turns per mile. This is due primarily to several high-radius sweeping turns on West track--coincidentally, the straights at High Plains are significantly longer than those on West. This means that the first half of the track is relatively high speed with several high-radius turns, and then things slow down a bit for the second half. There are few aspects about West that I really enjoyed this year:
1. West has 2 turns in particular that appear as 2 or 3 separate apexes, but are in fact treated as a single apex, particularly the middle section of turns on the left side of the picture. These are ultra interesting turns because the "best" line is more blurry than a standard turn; so you carve out your very own circle on track while feathering throttle for several seconds to maintain correct speeds. Its a challenge until you get it, and provides a more creative experience than the ordinary, "Brake, turn in here, apex here, exit over there".
2. The first 5 turns in a Radical on West track are a breath-taking experience (See pic above. Turn 1 begins on the lower right. Moving counter-clockwise, turn 5 is at top left). Once you have the proper size cojones, heres what you do:
I arrived in Utah Thursday evening after getting the Radical buttoned back up (following a GDU refresh) Thursday morning before loading and taking off--way too close for comfort. The Radical ran Friday morning for NASA-sanctioned open lapping. Friday was spent getting used to the track again, freshening up the racing line, and making sure the Radical was up and running properly. An old college friend, Jake Nelson, came out to the track Saturday and aided with tweaks on the Radical--with a Masters in Motorsports Engineering from CSU, he was a fabulous person to have out helping with track tech. Lap times were in the low 1:40s range with significant traffic. Between sessions, I spent a good deal of time chatting with people about Radicals, helping a couple of guys with car trouble, and trying to make myself document the weekend in pictures, view-able in the gallery below. Wandering around between sessions, I took photos of various areas of the track with the majestic mountains in background, the huge fleet of Mustangs used at the Ford Racing School on-site, and the single most unfortunate event to have taken place at the event...
During the Spec-Z event, there was a crash involving 3 Zs on track. The Z in the photos below T-boned another Z on the passenger side and was towed off track. The car was totaled and I imagine it took a few days for the owner to get over the shock of the accident and the somber fact that his car will likely never see the track again. Fortunately, nobody was hurt.
The third day began fantastically--tire pressures were dialed in, we had adjusted the front splitter slightly, and I was comfortable with starting to push the car a bit more. Posting some mid-high 1:30s lap times by lunch, I was hoping to cut a couple more seconds off in the afternoon. As I headed back to the car to warm the engine for the afternoon sessions, I noticed the front right tire was low on air. Upon inspection, it appeared a slit had appeared in the tire that ran deep enough to create a very slow leak. Needless to say, the weekend ended a bit early. The good news for whoever purchases chassis 547 is that they will have a nearly new set of slicks sitting on the car, ready to go!
Jake Nelson also let me borrow his GoPro, which I mounted up on the Radical. I didnt get nearly as much footage as I would have liked, but Ive posted a good clip below with the pic gallery. I may get more up in the future.
XNR is already in the midst of planning a full season of races in 2018 and we will have spots available for endurance races in Utah, among other locations. Utah has me excited about playing on different tracks with different people. I got to trounce C4 and C6 Corvettes, and flat-out lap Porsche GT3s and Boxsters, 350Zs, too many Miatas to count, and an eclectic variety of Japanese and German manufacture. UMC is the perfect place to take a Radical out and just utterly decimate whatever is in your path. A few more people are probably saying, "Well...Maybe a Radical is the way to go." And they would be right. Because Radicals kick ass. And UMC is such a wonderful stomping ground for the Radical to do its thing.
Pontificate that while you watch the video and view the pics below. Then contact us when youre ready to trounce everyone in your path...
UMC 2018: Its going down. *Mic drop*