Have you been bolting performance parts on to your vintage muscle car for years, only to hit the city streets and still wonder what the true capabilities of your ride really are? What you really need to do is attack – Time Attack.
The format is simple and a ton of fun. It’s a closed road racecourse that gives competitors one warm-up and three timed laps to see who can set the fastest lap of the session. There’s a staggered start, and since you are racing the clock, the chances of trading paint with other cars is greatly reduced. Don’t think for a minute that this format will diminish the competitive feel of road racing, each driver can push as hard as they want or just get some track time to enjoy their vehicles
Redline is the first sanctioned time attack series open to the public in the United States. There are even driving schools with pro instructors available for participants to further hone on-track driving skills. The race weekends generally start out with a test and tune on Saturday, giving the drivers plenty of track time to learn the layout and adjust their cars. Then on Sunday, a few more practice sessions are followed by the timed race sessions. The winner is announced at the end of each group.
One fine weekend last summer, a time attack was held at the California Speedway in Fontana, California, and made use of the 2.88-mile, 21-turn ROVAL sports car circuit, which includes an incredibly fast blast down the front straight, NASCAR turns one and two, and the full infield road course. I was able to run a few practice sessions during Saturday’s test and tune in a Pontiac GTO with a six-speed manual transmission. I honestly can’t think of anything more fun than wrestling American iron around a racetrack. There are definitely good times to be had behind the wheel of the smaller and more nimble point–and-shoot cars, but to truly maximize lap times in the blunt force weapons that are the muscle cars takes a combination of finesse and brute will to dive, slide and wiggle these behemoths around the track, and nothing else is more exciting to me.
After a few laps, my already immense respect for the NASCAR and sports car drivers grew deeper as I tried to push through the high banked turns one and two on the oval. In the car I was wheeling, it was easy to enter turn one somewhere between 130 and 140 MPH, but something in me forced my foot to lift and settle in around 120 through the turn, car squirming underneath me. Whether it was the fact that I was in a borrowed car or some subconscious self-preservation (read: chicken) reflex, it was very humbling to push fast around there. Even though the track is five lanes wide through this turn, the outside wall seems to pull at you any time you move the wheel. Everything is amplified, and though 120 MPH isn’t that fast for most of the racers, it’s still pretty fast. At that speed, the drivers’ perspective is greatly enhanced, and as you follow a seam in the pavement around the turn you notice even the smallest irregularities. All weekend, NASCAR turns one and two seemed to be where many competitors could out brave each other for a few tenths of a second off their lap times.
At any given event there will be an excellent mix of cars from fully prepped road racers with big sponsors backing them up to guys driving the family’s Honda Civic wagon and everything in between. If your car can pass the basic technical inspection, you can run it.
That’s where the guys from Spectre Performance (speedbyspectre.com) come into the picture. Spectre has been making performance parts for late-model and vintage muscle cars for 25 years now, and Speed by Spectre is the company’s new line of premium cold air intake systems and performance air filters with many applications designed specifically for vintage muscle cars. Spectre is teaming up with Redline to create a muscle car class in the time attack series. Any pre-1980 muscle car will qualify for the muscle class, but if they get enough entries, that class can be split into more specific setups such as street stock or modified cars.
It’s fantastic to watch the vintage iron making laps around the road course and the sound of the V-8 engines being wrung out is music to any car lover’s ears. Don’t miss the time attack series when it comes to a track near you.