NOTE: The American Le Mans Series will make its first-ever appearance in the American Midwest when it holds an event at Mid-Ohio Sports Car Course in Lexington, Ohio, on Saturday, August 25. Corvette Racing driver Johnny O'Connell of ...
NOTE: The American Le Mans Series will make its first-ever appearance in the American Midwest when it holds an event at Mid-Ohio Sports Car Course in Lexington, Ohio, on Saturday, August 25. Corvette Racing driver Johnny O'Connell of Flowery Branch, Ga., has competed in many races on the 2.258-mile circuit and has also worked as a driving school instructor at the track. In this narrative, he describes how he drives and races at Mid-Ohio.
"Mid-Ohio is one of those race tracks that all drivers look forward to going to. Many challenging fast corners, long straights, and lots of elevation changes make it a very fun lap. You start by going by start/finish and are in fifth gear going into turn one. A fast corner, only light braking is needed and a gear change down to fourth.
"Maintaining momentum is critical as the straightaway going up to turn two (the Keyhole) is long enough to make a pass on someone. Very hard braking and a change down to second gear is needed going into the Keyhole, a long downhill constant radius corner. Most people tend to avoid using a classic racing line here, and tend to get to the curbing early....hold it...and then try and get a fast exit. Without a doubt this is one of those corners a guy has to have his car right, as the Keyhole leads onto the longest straight.
"The backstraight itself is a lot of fun in that it is downhill, and you gain speed very quickly.... and stopping at the end of the straight is very difficult. This is definitely one of the best places for over taking. The next combination of corners, turns five through nine, are very enjoyable to drive. There is a lot of elevation change going on, with hard acceleration and braking in second and third gear. Most spectators seem to gravitate to this area because there is a lot of action, and you get a great view of the cars close up.
"Turns 10 through the Carousel are critical to getting a good lap time in that they are quicker corners, and very tricky. Again, lots of elevation changes ...but also the banking (camber) of several of the corners is working against you. The road is always turning so you never get a chance to relax. Finally, you get to the Carousel, which most guys approach similar to what they do in the Keyhole: get into an early apex...hold it....until you can commit to the gas and accelerate to start/finish.
"Without a doubt, Mid-Ohio is a challenge. It is a circuit where generally there is not a lot of passing that takes place, as it is so difficult. That's the beauty of the ALMS, in that with the combined classes all racing together like we do in Le Mans, there will be passing at virtually every corner on the circuit. Mid-Ohio is definitely a circuit that will lend itself well to our type of racing, and its guaranteed the fans will see racing like they've never seen before.