CHARLOTTE, N.C., (March 21, 2000) - Most people who strap themselves into a roller coaster live for the rush of adrenaline the ride brings them. The three minutes that the roller coaster twists and turns them on its tracks usually isn't enough,...
CHARLOTTE, N.C., (March 21, 2000) - Most people who strap themselves into a roller coaster live for the rush of adrenaline the ride brings them. The three minutes that the roller coaster twists and turns them on its tracks usually isn't enough, so they ride again and again.
The NASCAR Winston Cup Series has its own version of a roller coaster. It's called Bristol (Tenn.) Motor Speedway. The .533-mile oval with corners banked 36 degrees whips it riders around and around 500 times at 120 mph for almost three hours.
As Joe Nemechek, driver of the No. 33 Oakwood Homes Chevrolet, explains it, "It's like going to a football stadium and watching a roller coaster run around on the bottom. Except I'm not watching the roller coaster, I'm in it."
The Lakeland, Fla., native is set to ride the world's fastest roller coaster again, as the NASCAR Winston Cup Series invades Bristol for the Food City 500.
"You want your car to just zip right around the bottom of that place," said Nemechek. "You're on the throttle quite a bit, and when you go into the corners, you don't use very much brake because the banking is so steep. You're not out of the gas very long before you're back on the gas hard - and I mean hard.
"We'll set-up the Oakwood Homes Chevy to be just a tick on the free side. You have to be in order to go fast. If you're tight, you're not going to be able to turn in the middle. And if you're too loose, you won't be able to get off the corners. The car's got to have good balance."
In addition to the proper chassis setup, a driver has to have patience, as passing comes at a premium at Bristol.
"It's extremely hard to pass," said Nemechek. "Normally, it's one of those deals where you've got to put the bumper to them and move 'em a little bit to get underneath 'em. The high groove just hasn't been as good in past years as what it used to be. So, you want your car handling perfect. Because when your tires start going away, and they will in a hurry, you want to be handling better than the guy in front of you. If his tires are worse off than yours, than normally you can get 'em."