This can't be the right road. I haven't seen another car in over an hour and these "Panther Crossing" signs are really starting to freak me out. What happens if you hit a panther? Would you have to get out and fight it to the death or something? Either way, I didn't want to find out. It was dark, it was 4 a.m. and it was way too eerie outside to get lost. As I drove on into the night, I began to wonder what it must have felt like the first time someone bombed down the salt flats for over a mile. I wondered what type of loon would be attracted to building a one-mile certified death machine, something capable of hitting well over 200 miles an hour in under 5,280 feet. Wait, what did that sign say? It was so small, that couldn't have been my turn; I didn't see an abandoned airport. Keep on driving. As if the salt flats weren't enough, I began to wonder what type of person thought about renting a private runway for a day, inviting all of his friends to the middle of nowhere and seeing who could go the fastest. Then I realized, that type of person was me, and it may very well be you. If you have never been to a standing mile event, read on.
The first thing you need to know if you plan on going mile racing is that it isn't drag racing. All of those "small" issues your car has in traffic, the ones you get away with at the dragstrip-they aren't going to fly out here. Racing at this level means being wide open through every gear, which means everything on your car has plenty of time to break. So, before you even think of heading out to a local mile event, you need to check all of the common but oft-neglected wear items that we normally take for granted.
Did we mention top-speed mile...
Did we mention top-speed mile racing starts early? This is what 4:30 a.m. outside the gates of the Dade-Collier airport looks like, for those who haven't seen it.
I'm not saying that we are generally a little cheap, but when was the last time you bought tires based on top-speed performance and not price? Well, now is the time to check out all of your tires for wear and, just as importantly, make sure they are rated to handle your intended top speed. For the average car, this means having a tire that is both Z and 88W rated, which would clear you for up to 168 mph. If you plan on running faster than that, you need tires that are 99Y rated, or capable of over 186 mph.
Belts and Fluids
Turning 6,000 rpm for a mile means your accessories are going to be working overtime. You need to check, and probably replace, all of your belts before heading out to the mile, as we saw several cars sling belts around half-track. With new (or checked) belts installed, you should also take the time to check all of your car's fluids, especially the clutch and brake hydraulics. The last thing you want is a brake failure, especially at well over 150 mph.
If you plan on running a mile event, you will need roughly the same equipment as you would need at a dragstrip. Obviously, you need a helmet that meets the SNELL Foundation 2000 rules and is still up to date. OEM seatbelts are fine, but five- or six-point harnesses would be better, if you have them, mounted to a weld-in rollbar (not a harness bar that attaches with two bolts to the A-pillar). You don't need a fire jacket to run the mile but we recommend wearing non-synthetic clothing (long sleeves and pants with closed-toe shoes) and some driving gloves while on the course.
Interestingly, the Dade-Collier...
Interestingly, the Dade-Collier airport was built in the Everglades to be the largest supersonic airport in the world. Unfortunately, construction was halted after just one runway was built, which is over 10,000-feet long.
As the sun rose on the tarmac,...
As the sun rose on the tarmac, we got in line and prepared Greg Lovell's 2010 Camaro SS for some track time.
After tech, all the drivers...
After tech, all the drivers were invited to run a test lap on the track, to get a feel for the length and the shutdown area.
All racers will need an up-to-date...
All racers will need an up-to-date helmet, which is SNELL 2000 approved. This LS1 Camaro sounded great making its first run.
If you thought mile events...
If you thought mile events were just for exotics, we've got news for you.