Driving Gateway Motorsports Park Infield Road Course
August 2013. Peter Zekert.
Gateway Motorsports Park is a Roval, a 1.65 mile, 9 turn road course using areas both on and inside of the banked oval track.
The road course turns have been named in a variety of ways, all similar but leading to some slight confusion. Turns are generally named: 1 (coming off of the oval), 2, 3 (left and right esses), 4 (left kink), 5 (right bend into the carousel), 6 (long decreasing radius carousel), 7 (180 degree), NASCAR 3, and NASCAR 4.
Gateway road course is a fast, technical course with a long front straight that begins, for most mid and low horsepower cars, all the way back through NASCAR 3. Approaching turn 1, stay to the outside of the main straight wall. You want to be close to the wall with the right side of your car, but not closer than 1 foot. (If too close your car can get sucked into the wall.)
Turn 1 has two pavement changes each with different banking: the oval main straightaway; the NASCAR oval pit lane; and the beginning of the road course. Pylons on driver’s left separate the road course pit-out from the racing surface. Aim for a path parallel to the pylons on the left side, staying to driver’s left during the transitions. The banking transitions are less severe on the left side of turn 1. Do your braking before turn 1 turn-in (up on the oval main straightaway) and do not apply additional braking until completely on the road course. Braking over transitions is likely to upset most race cars. Do NOT attempt to take T1 flat out until experienced at the facility.
[If you miss road course T1 completely and end up on the NASCAR oval, slow down, turn around, and when directed by T1 corner workers, proceed back on track at the point where you left the road course. DO NOT proceed around the oval to join the course at T3 or T7!]
T2 is a high speed entry, late apex turn. Do your braking in a straight line. At the track out the pavement will dip slightly to driver’s right as the crown of the road is more pronounced.
T3 is a left/right esses turn. At the entry to T3 is the crossover road to enter the paddock. Stiffly sprung race cars can feel the crossover road and can use that as a signal to start to turn in. Do not turn early for T3 lefthander, as that will lead to an earlier turn in for the T3 righthander. The track out to T3 has a pronounced dip and crown in the road.
T4 is a fast left kink. If good speed is carried through T3, you will not have time to transition to driver’s right to setup for T4. That is fine. At the exit of T3 you will find the car drifts to mid track. That is the turn in point for T4, aiming through T4 to the driver’s right side entry of T5. T4 is a compromise turn, used to get yourself a straight line into T5, (which is in turn used to setup T5 is a fast right hand kink that leads into the entry of T6 carousel. T5 has a progressive bump that gets more severe as you move to driver’s left. For T5 you want to be driver’s right, (but not in the grass – that will upset the car). Do everything you can to gently slow the car down at T5, then back on power, setting your sights on the entry to T6.
T6 is another late apex corner that, when viewed from above, is “squared off” by the driver.
Although the road course is a gentle radius, we have started on driver’s right at T5 and are making a “straighter” line for the braking zone of T6. The braking zone is actually pointing away from the apex, but your eyes are looking right, looking for the track out of T6. Although the entry toT6 looks like a good passing zone on driver’s right, a driver on the fast line will not be expecting a pass. This is a decreasing radius turn where inside passes at the apex will slow both cars down. Setup to pass as you exit T6.
There is a short straightaway between T6 and T7. As you exit T6 on driver’s left aim for position two thirds of the way to driver’s right entering T7. You will notice if you go all of the way driver’s right to enter T7 that the pavement slopes off camber. At the 2/3rds mark the pavement is relatively flat.
T7 is a 180 degree turn that is both a braking zone and a passing zone. You can pass on driver’s left and make a double apex out of the corner. If not passing or being passed, T7 is typically a single apex, late apex corner with a pavement change as you transition onto the NASCAR back straight. Taken late apex is it completely safe to track out all of the way to the back straight wall. You will be parallel with the wall. If T7 is apexed too early, you will be aiming at the back straight wall and will have to lift throttle.
NASCAR 3 and 4 are the last corners on Gateway’s infield road course and build speed toward T1. The oval track has plenty of grip and was built in 4 distinct lanes. Experiment with which line is the most comfortable and which line is the fastest for your particular car. For example, some low horsepower cars use the bottom lane through NASCAR 3/4, the shorter distance. Other cars enter NASCAR 3 in the third lane up from the bottom of the track and transition (“fall down the hill”) to a single, late apex at about the mid point of NASCAR 4. The key is to find the most comfortable path around NASCAR 3/4 and to judge the success by the speed or RPMs at the start finish line.
In the rain Gateway offers good grip level, but the apexes of T2, T3 (right and left esses); T4 will pool water. Modify your line to stay out of any puddles. The banking NASCAR 3 and 4 will be slippery only on the seams separating the four lanes of pavement. In the rain it’s best to pick one lane on the oval until you start to track out of NASCAR 4.
As the track dries, the seams separating lanes in NASCAR 3/4 can be slippery, especially compared to the good grip of the drying oval. Modify your line to stay off of the seams or to straddle them until the track out of NASCAR 4.
Videos of Drivers Racing at Gateway
SCCA EP St Louis Track Record Lap Jim Daniels Miata
Formula Mazda #18 Trey Range