Colorado National Speedway

I have consulted with some of the top racers at this NASCAR sanctioned track over the past 15 years and had always wanted to come out here. I love Denver, the Rocky Mountains, and snow. Although I wouldn't see much of the latter, I would spend about three weeks in the Fort Collins KOA, ride the mountain trails in my Jeep Wrangler, play some golf, and enjoy a bit of a break after our hectic Wisconsin run.

I made four trips out this way in the early '90s staying in Beaver Creek, Frisco, and Leadville with friends from Florida who had moved out here. I almost moved myself, but lost out in a family vote. But I never forgot the feeling of those tall mountains. It was good to be back.

From CNS, you can see past the front range and into the peaks of the Rockies. We were greeted by Jim Nordhougen, the track owner/manager/promoter. He proceeded to tell us all about his passion for this track and how he had made many improvements in the operation over the past few years.

What he came up with included two wide restarts (as opposed to the traditional single-file restart) where the leader chooses which side, a separate starting line before the finish line (so, there could be no jumping the start), special events not racing related such as a monster truck only show, qualifying three at a time to cut down on the length of the program (easily done using the transponders), separate fast dash races, one for the quickest half of the field and another for the other half, and a chain X race where three cars are chained together and race in a figure 8 layout.

He proceeded to tell us all about his passion for this track and how he had made many improvements in the operation over the past ...

In the dash races, the "less than fastest half" race provides a winner who normally does not run up front and or win feature races. And, after winning this dash, they are automatically included in the draw for pole of the feature event. So, this sub-winner gets cash plus a trophy plus could end up starting on the pole for the main event. How cool is that?

Jim also caters to local businesses by providing an exclusive area with a full bar, tables, food and comfortable seating. It gives companies a chance to entertain clients, provide fun for valuable employees, and added value for being a track sponsor.

The track was a 3/8-mile oval with medium banking. It has a couple of severe dips that pretty much exclude any bumpstop or coil bind setups. The transitions are just too much for that. So, conventional setups rule out here.

The ones who ruled the top two classes, at least on this night, were Bruce Yackey in his Late Model and a Grand American Modified prepared by David Gee. Coincidentally, or not, these two are partners in G.A.M. (Greely Automotive Machine) engines, builders of high performance motors for all types of competition.

On a tricky track like CNS, a lot of things must be taken into consideration. Experience in driving this track counts a lot, but chassis preparation is everything. Along with the difficulty of driving the correct line comes the necessity of keeping the car under you, or keeping the four tires attached to the asphalt.

The cars that did well here were the ones that had good shock packages, great balance, and were looked after as far as the basics of alignment. I saw more than one car fade quickly after a fast start, a sure sign of an unbalanced setup.

Jim doesn't crowd the show with too many classes. There are three stock car classes plus the chain race. This keeps the event to a comfortable length and allows families a chance to get home at a decent hour. Too many tracks crowd too much racing into a Friday or Saturday night and overrun the curfew. Kids have a shorter attention span than adults and if you expect to draw whole families, you've got to keep the program inside a certain time frame or risk losing the interest of the front gate people.

Experience in driving this track counts a lot, but chassis preparation is everything

Now that we have completed our stay in the Denver area, we head south down I-25 toward New Mexico where we will stop at the I-25 Speedway in Pueblo, Colorado. Thereafter, we will be staying for a spell in Raton, New Mexico before moving to our most southerly destination, Albuquerque and the NAPA Speedway. Both of these tracks have lots to offer and the extent of the various racing acativities at NAPA will amaze you.

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