US 20080268968 A1
A racing facility is arranged to accommodate various types of automotive racing, including Indy, CART, Formula 1 cars etc., and is disclosed to include a super oval or complex oval arrangement of racing surface in at least two loops of racing surface each looping about a common central area, and connecting to one another at an overpass feature. The racing facility of the present invention is a continuous closed circuit speedway with at least two loops which loop about a common center area and with speedway passing over itself at least once at a crossing which is not of a common grade level, such as an overpass, underpass or bridge, and so that the speedway does not have a crossing at a common or the same level, to thus allow a vehicle making an entire circuit of the speedway the option of only making turns in one direction and not passing over any portion of the racing surface more than once is a single complete circuit or lap of the racing surface.
This application is a Continuation-in-Part of my earlier application Ser. No. 10/190,047, filed 3 Jul. 2002, now U.S. Pat. No. ______ issued ______ 2008, and the disclosure of which is incorporated herein by reference to the extend necessary for a full, complete, and enabling disclosure of the present invention.
The present invention relates to a large scale, super oval automotive venue. Alternatively, the super oval configuration of this automotive venue may be considered a complex oval, as the racing surface is disposed in plural loops with at least two of the loops looping about a respective common central area. At least two circuits about the common central area are required to complete a lap of the complex oval, however, which is in contrast to a conventional oval configuration for an automotive venue. More particularly, the present invention relates to a racing facility for automotive vehicles such as automobiles and motorcycles, which provides a unique combination of a long lap length in a relatively small land area, good access for spectators to view the action on the speedway, convenient location of pits for the competing vehicles, and run-off or vehicle catch features located at the ends of the significant straight sections of the speedway surface so that vehicles which cannot negotiate the turns at the ends of these straights can be safely stopped and contained without significant injury to the racing vehicle or driver. Importantly, each of the plural competitors on the racing surface at a particular time has an equal opportunity to complete a lap of the venue in the shortest possible distance. An automotive competitor or automotive racing vehicle on the super oval or complex oval racing surface makes two complete circuits about the common central area in making a single lap of the racing surface, so spectators may have more than one opportunity to see a particular vehicle as well as that vehicle's close competitors, in each lap of the venue.
At the present time, the singular large scale automotive venue in the world which uses an overpass is the Suzuka Circuit in Japan. However, the Suzuka Circuit is a very land-intensive automotive venue, occupying a great number of acres of land. In fact, the Suzuka Circuit is treated by the Japanese as a city unto itself, and is referred to as the Suzuka Village. This city or village includes many facilities in addition to the main racing surface, and is a large amusement park including plural attractions and plural automotive operations surfaces. In further fact, the main automotive venue comprises but a fraction (about ¼) of the total land used for the Suzuka Circuit or Village, which is a facility on a scale equivalent to Disney World and Epcot Center combined in Florida, USA. Because of the extremely large amount of land used by the Suzuka Circuit, the land use by the automotive venue is not critical to the overall design of the venue. But, such is not the case in general throughout the world. That is, land use considerations are very important for large scale automotive venues. Most US speedways have no opportunity to grow their land us outside of presently existing confines, because of developments immediately outside the existing property lines.
Over the years auto racing has fragmented worldwide into several different forms, which in many respects are or may become mutually exclusive. A number of the major variations are Formula 1 (F-1) (A privately owned, Europe based, international series running formula autos on road circuits), Championship Auto Racing Teams (CART, a publicly traded U.S. based corporation that sponsors an international series running formula autos on road, street, oval and mixed circuits.) and National Association of Stock Car Auto Racers (NASCAR), (Privately owned, U.S. based, National Series Running “stock” cars on 99% oval mix and 2% road circuits).
One of the more recent fractures in auto racing occurred in the mid-1990's when the Indianapolis Motor Speedway (IMS) and CART parted ways, leading to the creation of the Indy Racing League (IRL), (A privately owned, U.S. based, National series running formula cars on a variety of oval mix circuits). Given the fact that sponsors, fans and contracts with broadcast outlets are limited the more fractured the sport becomes the less it will be able to accumulate and sustain the concentration of money and fans necessary for the sport to survive and thrive.
As noted the IRL Series confines their racing to oval type venues or speedways on which the car moves around the oval in one direction and makes each turn in only one direction. Racing on oval speedways began on horse tracks and since horses' raced in a counter clockwise direction with only left turns modern auto racing continues this tradition. The cars in this type of racing are thus designed to turn only to the left during the race and consequently a number of mechanical, structural and aerodynamic design features of this form of racing machine are intended to optimize the operation of the car and the safety of the driver under the conditions for racing on an oval circuit in one direction.
CART (Championship Auto Racing Teams) incorporates a more flexibly designed car suitable for racing on oval, street or road circuits and where there are turns to both the left and right. The fissure between CART and IMS resulted in part from IMS mandated requirements regarding engine power and design, and chassis rules for the INDY 500 (An IMS Corp., Race) in order to slow the cars down. At the time of this fissure CART had 20 other races in its series and was locked into engine contracts that specified engines which did not meet the engines design mandated by IMS's. CART'S powerful engines were too fast for IMS thus CART and IMS parted ways. EMS started its own series, the IRL, with a more restrictive engine formula in order to slow the speeds down on ovals. CART went on its way without the INDY 500 as its showcase event while IMS with the establishment of IRL continued developed its own series of events.
Since CART cars do not have the design limitations mandated by IRL they can achieve higher speeds than IRL cars. However, this fact in itself causes problems in that on some speedways, in particular oval ones. CART cars can reach speeds of over 240 miles per hour. Since the turns of the typical high performance oval speedway are steeply banked the cars can enter the curves at speeds of 240 miles per hour or more. At these speeds the driver experiences forces equivalent to two to three G's, similar to that experienced by jet fighter pilots, only in a different direction, i.e. laterally. Thus in a race on an oval speedway in which a car completes one circuit of the speedway in a half a minute or less the driver may experience these forces two or three times over the course of half a minute. From experience it has been determined that an individual undergoing periodic G forces more frequently than every 40 to 50 seconds will have a tendency to black out. Additionally, G-suits used by fighter pilots are useless in a racing car since a pilot only experiences an up and down force while that experienced by a racing car driver also to the side, lateral.
The situation become so bad that on Apr. 29, 2001 the President of the CART had to cancel a race, the Firestone Fire hawk 600, scheduled at the Texas Motor Speedway. During trials the drivers were experiencing excessive G forces in the turns and there was a fear that in the drivers attempts to perform at maximum possible speeds some of the drivers might black out with catastrophic consequences. Texas Motor Speedway like many other oval speedways have high-banked corner's that allow the cars to maintain their maximum speeds in the turns. Additionally the Texas Motor Speedway had no straights of significant length to give the drivers a break. Drivers were thus experiencing G forces a majority of the time in each lap. On the other hand although IMS has long straights it has tow-banked 90-degree corners with no runoff but the drivers are still able to maintain speed without lifting off the throttle.
Although street courses can be set up to inhibit the speed at which CART autos run at they usually provide a spectator only a limited view of the race unlike an oval speedway which usually allows a spectator a view of substantially most of the race. Additionally, street courses lack the efficiency and crowd control features of an oval speedway. Because one of the purposes of racing automotive vehicles is to make money for its promoters and participants, oval or enclosed speedways that allow for optimal crowd placement and control are much more desirable than open road courses. Typically, several different types of racecourses can be placed inside the confines of an oval speedway including a street type of course for Formula 1 racing. However, one of the limitations of an oval speedway are the limited design options for IRL and NASCAR racing autos which are designed to turn in one direction during a race, to the left.
Given present design techniques available for oval auto racecourses and the need to limit turns to one direction around the entire course the options available for IRL type of speedways are severely limited. Most oval courses are limited in total acreage and if made too big in area Lose the advantage associated with an oval speedway. Only so many turns can be introduced into an oval course and then it simply becomes a circular course.
Thus, what is needed is a large scale automotive venue which can reverse the effects of fragmentation within auto racing and allow each of the different racing series to compete at the same facility. Such an automotive venue would have the advantage of limiting all turns to the left for certain types of races while increasing the distance and number of corners of the speedway, much like a road course.
Further to the above, such a large scale automotive venue would desirably have provision for safety of the drivers and spectators in view of the high speeds achieved by current racing vehicles. Provisions for safe pits, and for spectator access to the activities on the racing surface also must be carefully considered.
It is an object of the present invention to provide a large scale automotive venue, which I term a “super oval”, which allows most if not all forms of automotive racing vehicles to compete on the provided racing surface.
It is an additional object to provide such a “super oval” large scale automotive venue on which the speed of the racing vehicles can be controlled to avoid having the drivers exposed to excessive and prolonged G-forces.
It is still another object of the present invention to provide a large scale automotive venue arrangement that can be easily retrofitted on to existing speedways within the land use constraints already existing for those speedways.
The present invention accomplishes these and other objectives by providing a “super oval” or “complex oval” large scale automotive venue which includes one exterior complete oval (or loop of racing surface) and at least one interior loop of racing surface, the at least one interior loop of racing surface connecting to the exterior loop of racing surface at two locations, the exterior loop of racing surface and at least one interior loop or racing surface being configured such that an automotive racing vehicle can make a continuous movement (or lap of the venue) starting from and returning to the same point by moving around substantially all of the exterior loop of racing surface and all of the interior loop of racing surface while making turns in only one direction and the venue includes at least one overpass so that the one continuous movement (or lap) by the racing vehicle can be made without touching any portion of the racing surface more than once before passing the starting point again.
The invention wilt be better understood by an examination of the following description, together with the accompanying drawings, in which:
The present invention provides a design for a racing facility, which may be termed a “super oval,” or a “complex oval.” Each of these terms is descriptive because the racing surface is composed of loops about a common central area, and the loops are connected to one another at overpasses. This racing facility incorporates unique design elements that allow for the realization of the best features of both IRL course requirements (but with a flexibility that allows for the racing of CART type of cars in a controlled speed environment). The present invention does this by adding at least one feature, which may be any of an overpass, underpass or bridge on the racing facility to allow the racing surface to turn back or loop back on itself. The use of a bridge, overpass or underpass, i.e. a non-grade or non-level crossing, thus avoids a crossing at a common grade (i.e., as in demolition derby racing) giving the racing vehicles the ability to move over the entire course without stopping.
One of the advantages of this disclosed arrangement of a super oval or complex oval racing facility with a racing surface according to the principles of the present invention is that a variety of straight-aways of varying lengths and turns at various positions can be incorporated into the design of the speedway. This arrangement of the racing surface allows for the control of the speed of the cars. The arrangement of racing surface depicted in
A racing facility with a racing surface constructed according to the present invention can be made with a concrete racing surface or roadway surface, although the invention is not so limited. The racing surface or roadway surface will be banked at a number of the important turns while some of the sharper turns will not be banked much at all to provide for control the speed of the cars during the race. The present description, other than describing the set of the racecourse, does not include a detailed discuss of the construction of a speedway since those skilled in the art, once they read and understand the principles of the present invention, will be able to construct a racing facility with a racing surface according to the present invention based on generally known speedway construction principles.
One of the key features of the present invention is that the ovals 23 and 25 of the speedway progressively turn in towards or loop about a common center as depicted in
Since the racing facility of the present invention can be constructed within the parameters of a typical oval racing facility with an oval racing surface the operators of a facility embodying the present invention will be able to exercise good crowd control and be able to tightly control access to races conducted on the racecourse. In fact there would not have to be any modification of existing systems of crowd control or control of access.
This meandering course together with the super oval or complex oval configuration as depicted and described could form the basis of a Formula One course. Inner oval 93 of racing surface and outer oval 91 or racing surface could form IRL and CART racing surfaces. Additionally, the outer oval 91 or racing surface could form a NASCAR racecourse. Racing facility 90 has the standard grandstands 107 located around the outside periphery of outer oval plus the standard pit areas 109.
While the invention has been particularly shown and described with reference to a preferred embodiment thereof, it will be understood by those skilled in the art that various changes in form and detail may be made to it without departing from the spirit and scope of the invention.