Although the Kansas Speedway has been around for over a decade, the Grand-Am race this weekend (August 16-17) will be the first sanctioned event held on the new road course launched in 2012. The 2.37-mile road course features a tri-oval with banked turns up to 20-degrees connected by a six-turn winding road course through the infield. There are only a handful of passing zones and with speeds approaching 200 mph on the banking followed by tight turns that require drivers scrub over 100 mph, it's going to be interesting.
But that's not the only interesting part about this weekend, because the inaugural SFP Grand-Am Road Racing event this weekend is blending the Grand-Am Rolex Sports Car Series and the Continental Tire Sports Car Challenge into one weekend. Yes folks, that means drivers like Max Angelelli and Jordan Taylor will be racing on the same team and in the same car this weekend.
No, not at the same time, but rather one driver qualifies and starts the race while the second brings it home. The race isn't measured in laps, but rather in time, 2 hours and 30 minutes for the Continental series and 2 hours and 45 minutes for the Rolex race. Practice and qualifying for the weekend starts on Friday with the Continental Tires race starting at 3 pm Saturday followed by the Rolex series at 7 pm.
But wait, there's more: The Rolex race will not only feature the half-million dollar Daytona Prototype cars powered by different BMW, Porsche Chevrolet and Ford motors, but they'll be joined by the Grand Touring class that's chock full of production based racecars like Camaros, Bimmers, Porsches, Audis and Ferraris along with a GX class with even slower Porsche Caymans, Mazdas and Hondas. The same goes for the Continental Tire Challenge, which will host two classes and as many as 30-70 cars. This means insane racing for viewers because drivers will not only be competing against fellow racers in their class, but they'll be dealing with a packed track and cars of various speeds. Welcome to the new age of racing!
In addition to the challenging road course, the expansiveness of the facilities is nothing short of amazing. In fact, the track can seat over 72,000 fans and can accommodate up to 35,000 parked cars. If that's not impressive enough, both the Sport Park (the home of the MLS game) and the Arrowhead Stadium, the home of the Chiefs can fit inside the Kansas Speedway-chew on that for a second.
But the speedway isn't just big on numbers, it's also big on safety with Steel and Foam Energy Reduction System (SAFER) barriers throughout that absorb energy for the driver's sake and are steel and concrete reinforced for spectator safety as well.
The upcoming Grand-Am race is going to be intense, and with Continental recently releasing the news that the Daytona Prototype and The Grand-Am series will be combining forces into one series that will compete on a Conti spec tire with a mix of road course and oval tracks, things are about to get exciting.