After two intense days of competition at Tulsa Raceway Park and the Texas Motorplex, 2012 Hot Rod Drag Week competitors will be laying the lumber to the quarter mile at Thunder Road Raceway Park in Gilliam, Louisiana today. This track is the newest facility that we’ll race at and it is also the closest track to sea level, something that could play a role in how racers in the highest horsepower cars tune them up for competition as the morning air in Gilliam could be damned good for making horsepower.
Unlike the all-concrete Motorplex, the track in Gilliam is similar to Tulsa in the fact that it is an asphalt and concrete hybrid. The first half of the track is poured concrete and then transitions to asphalt for the second half of the run. When this facility was constructed in 1998, that was the preferred method of setting up new tracks. We can say that it is effective because this track has held several IHRA national events over the years before swapping to NHRA sanction. Those events always produced national records in the sportsman classes and they included 315+mph runs from top fuel cars during competition. While we’re not trying to compare an Unlimited Drag Week car to a top fueler, it does bear mentioning because it is an indication that the track has both the length and quality of racing surface to handle what the Drag Week heavy hitters are going to throw at it.
From 1998-2003, while the track was known as “Red River Raceway” the IHRA traveled to it as part of their then sprawling national event circuit. A couple of the racers were marred with heavy rains and flooding, but those that mother nature didn’t squash were great successes with respect to performance and racer opinion of the track.
We’re super excited to see how the next three days are going to play out. Tune into the live broadcast to see the action from Thunder Road and all of the tracks from here on out!