Racers began piling into the Worldgate Resort as early as last Saturday, but Tuesday was the first time they would get to lay rubber onto carpet. With the ballroom pit areas now open for business, a frantic rush to assemble semi-permanent pit spaces was made more imperative by the need to practice as many times as possible in the allowable time slots. There were over 600 racers vying for track time, split right down the middle between on road and oval racers, with each class having specific practice times to ensure safe practice sessions for everyone. On road was up first from 5am to 3pm, followed by oval until 1am. This race used to run 24 hours per day for 6 days straight many years ago. However, with the advent of controlled practice times and the structure of “practicing in your qualifier” this event has truly become a civilized affair, where the average racer has time for basic sustenance like food and families can actually plan a vacation around the racing itself. By the end of Tuesday, a couple hundred thousand laps would work a phenomenal groove into the brand new carpet, providing the basis for five more days of action-packed racing.
BY GREGORY SHARPE; PHOTOS BY GREG ROJNA