Rockingham gears up for Champ Cars

With 14 months to go until its first Champ Car race, Rockingham Motor Speedway is on target to turn 75 hectares of post-industrial Northamptonshire into a state-of-the-art, US-style racing facility

Rockingham gears up for Champ Cars

But the first target to aim for isn't the September 22nd, 2001 Champ Car date - instead, it's early spring , 2001, when the circuit hosts the first of a number of BARC-promoted club meetings, many of which will be held on the 2.6-mile road circuit that runs in the 1.5-mile oval's infield.

The earthworks for the track's banking and sound-deadening walls are now 95% complete, with the laying of asphalt set to commence in late summer and continue for 15 weeks. The track's infrastructure, including 36 pit garages, a press centre and the paddock buildings will be built over the winter, with the internals completed early in the new year. Permanent grandstand seats will reach 27,500 for Champ Car racing's debut.

As a US-style facility, it's only fitting that the facts and figures of the project are suitably massive. The earth-moving process has been described as the biggest in the UK since the construction of the Channel Tunnel, with 2 million tonnes of soil already bulldozed into position. More than 125,000 square metres of asphalt will be laid, along with 12.4 miles of fencing and barriers.

"We are competing with every major sporting event in the country," said marketing director Christopher Tate. "We have had to make a world class venue in order to host a CART race in the UK"

The oval itself is anything but symmetric, each corner of the 18m wide track having its own unique character - like a UK version of Darlington, NASCAR's famed egg-shaped track in South Carolina. The maximum angle of banking is 7.9 degrees, which is more akin to 'bullrings' like the Milwaukee Mile than the 20-plus degrees norm of 1.5-mile tracks such as Lowe's Motor Speedway in Charlotte. The minimum angle, on the straights, is 3.1 degrees. Precision is everything: with Champ Cars set to break 200mph at Rockingham, the asphalt must be level to within one millimetre in one square metre.

For more details on the Rockingham CART race click here.

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