SBRS: CHAMPCAR/CART: John McCaig laps Burke-Lakefront Airport

John McCaig Takes a Lap of Burke-Lakefront Airport Barber Dodge Pro Series driver John McCaig, who joined the 2000 Pro Series season at the last round at Detroit comes to the Cleveland-Burke Lakefront Airport, site of the Marconi Grand Prix of...

John McCaig Takes a Lap of Burke-Lakefront Airport

Barber Dodge Pro Series driver John McCaig, who joined the 2000 Pro Series season at the last round at Detroit comes to the Cleveland-Burke Lakefront Airport, site of the Marconi Grand Prix of Cleveland with much to hope for. McCaig enjoys this temporary circuit laid out on the airport's runways, and has gone well here in the previous two years that he has raced with the Barber Dodge Pro Series. 1998 and '99 saw McCaig score solid fifth-place finishes.

He claims to like the circuit due to it's lack of walls and wide run off areas were his comfort level for letting it all hang out runs exceedingly high. He believes that the circuit benefits those who are patient and credits his ability be so with his successes here.

A lap of Cleveland Burke-Lakefront Airport with McCaig follows:

It's a fun track. You begin with turn-1 where there is heavy braking. At the start you'll see the field coming in four or five wide. We arrive in fifth gear and go down through the gears to first. The apex through turn-1 seems to take forever because the track is so wide. You turn in and then you're waiting and waiting until you reach the apex. You could lose you're patience and get back on the throttle too early and then go too wide on the exit. If you're patient, you'll get down to the apex and get on the throttle early and get out of there on to the straight, if your not you're going to push wide. Because it leads on to a long straight you definitely want to get a good exit from 1.

Turn-2 is just a kink that we take wide-open and continue to build-up speed. By the time you get to turn-3 you're in fifth (of six) gear for a moment before you're right back down through the gears to third. Again it's another long turn in where you want to stay patient. There's a big bump there that can really unsettle the car and you want to give up a little bit in turn-3 where you don't want to go too wide at the exit because you have to make an immediate left-hander through turn-4. Ultimately, you compromise turn-3 in order to get a good shot out of turn-4. It's a tricky combination of corners because the car has a tendency to want to push since the concrete is tapered toward the outside of the corner and you can't really see where the exit is. If you have it set up nicely you can accelerate all the way to the exit of turn-4 which is important because it leads out onto a long straight where there is a passing opportunity into turn-5.

As you approach turn-5 you get up to fourth gear and hit the rev-limiter. You can go to fifth gear for about a second and a half or just ride it out in fourth. You begin turning in for turn-5 as your braking, and as in turn-3, you want to compromise this turn in order to get the exit speed from turn-6 that's a key corner.

Turn-6 is really interesting as you get onto the apex you're on full throttle and you can't see the exit where the track ends, so you have to have hope that you'll have enough room. There's a little bit of a crest coming out of that turn and so you can't see anything until you get over it. Again, since you're on full throttle you have to trust that the car is going to make it.

When you get all the way to the edge of the track out of turn-6, you immediately begin the turn in for turn-7. There's another bump in turn-7 that will upset the car, but you stay on the throttle all the way over it to get the rear of the car settled. Once you pass the pump you lift and feather the throttle through turn-7. Take it right to the edge of the track at the exit of turn-7 then go down to third gear for the quick right at turn-8.

The exit of turn-8 is the only place where there's a wall that you can hit. It's a fast and fun corner that leads onto another long straight. The only hard part about the corner is that you have to brake and downshift while the car is really loaded on the left side. Accelerate as well as you can right up to the concrete wall and all the way down the straight.

The chicane in turn-9 is next which is not your classic chicane. It is very fast, and leads onto another long straight toward the braking zone at turn-1, which is another big opportunity for passing. Unlike the classic chicane which is all about exit speed, you want to carry a lot of speed into the first part of the chicane (right turn), then feather through the second part for the left-hander by the time you hit that second apex you're back on full throttle. There's a lot of room at the exit, but again there's one of those bumps where you have to trust that you'll make it as the car unsettles momentarily.

And that's a lap at Cleveland.

-George Tamayo

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Series IndyCar , Other open wheel