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Road Atlanta is a 2.54-mile (4.088 km) road course located in Braselton, Georgia, USA, (Across the road from Lanier Raceway). The track has 12 turns, including the famous "esses" between turns three and five, and Turn 12, a downhill, diving turn. The track is owned by Panoz Motorsports, and is the home to Petit Le Mans, as well as AMA motorcycle racing and smaller events throughout the year.

HistoryEdit

In 1969, David Sloyer, Earl Walker, and Arthur Montgomery purchased a 750-acre (303 ha) plot of farmland in Hall County, Georgia, with the intent to build a world-class road racing facility. When a Can-Am race had to be canceled due to flood damage, the series organizers chose Road Atlanta to replace it. The track then began to take form quickly, taking only six months to excavate, grade, and pave the road course.

File:Road atlanta esses.JPG

The first race was held on September 13, 1970. Vic Elford, in a Chaparral 2J, won pole and Tony Dean, in a Porsche 908/02, won the 300 km Can-Am event, with Stirling Moss as the Grand Marshal. Throughout the 1970s, more top-level series came to Road Atlanta, including Can-Am, Formula 5000, IMSA Camel GT, and Trans-Am.[1] The Sports Car Club of America (SCCA) held their annual national championship, the SCCA Runoffs, at Road Atlanta from 1970 to 1993.[2] The first road race in NASCAR Busch Grand National Series history took place at Road Atlanta in 1986.[3]

The track was sold in 1978, and was passed from one owner to the next, resulting in bankruptcy in 1993. Over the next three years, the new owners would renovate and construct new buildings, widen and resurface the track, and landscape the grounds. In November 1996, the track was purchased by Don Panoz, who would make Braselton the base of operations for his motorsports-related ventures.

Panoz introduced the first major changes to the track, removing the Dip and creating a chicane at the end of the long back straight. These changes brought the track up to FIA standards, so that international events could be held. A new pit and paddock area was also constructed on the infield side of the track, allowing for larger events, and a 10,000-seat terrace area was constructed around the new Turn 10 complex.

In 1998, major racing resumed at Road Atlanta with the first edition of the Petit Le Mans endurance race. The race attracted worldwide attention, and included entries from the Le Mans-winning Porsche factory team. The race would be the first race of the American Le Mans Series and included a spectacular accident where a Porsche 911 GT1 backflipped and flew into the side barriers. Petit has continued to be an annual event at Road Atlanta, and a marquee event in the ALMS.

Prior to the 2007 Petit Le Mans, the entire track surface was repaved. The works also included moving the walls in the esses away from the track, with the intention of improved driver safety and better sight lines for spectators.[4]

Road Atlanta in Gaming Edit

Road Atlanta has been featured as one of the main drivable courses in the Xbox video game Forza Motorsport and its sequel, and in the 1999 PC racing simulator Sports Car GT. The track was also digitally created for Electronic Arts' F1 series (´01 - ´02), then "modded" to be compatible with mutiple PC games. A scratch-made beta version of the track has also been created for rFactor.

Current major eventsEdit

The facility is also home to the Panoz Driving School, Audi Driving Experience, and the Kevin Schwantz Suzuki School. Road Atlanta also hosts several Sports Car Club of America (SCCA) Regional and National competition events throughout the year.

See alsoEdit

ReferencesEdit

  1. History of Road Atlanta
  2. http://www.scca.com/News/News.asp?Ref=06Runoffs
  3. Busch Series champions and milestones - NASCAR - Yahoo! Sports
  4. Road Atlanta News

External linksEdit

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