Battery Tender Presents: TLP TALKS – Portland
 August 30, 2018| 
  • Series News

A river ran through it: Portland International Raceway (PIR) has to have one of the most unique origin stories of all race tracks in the U.S. 

To support the country’s efforts during World War II, the city of Vanport, Oregon was created as a public housing area for the men and their families working at the Kaiser Shipyards. The city was home to almost 40,000 people which at the time made Vanport the second largest city in Oregon. Four years following the conclusion of WWII, on May 30, 1948 a section of railroad berm acting as a dike that had held back the Columbia river collapsed, and the town was completely washed away in the ensuing flood. The city was submerged and 39 lives were lost. 

The only thing that wasn’t washed away from the receding waters of the Columbia river in the following days were the city’s roads. As time went on, the roads attracted racers and the racers attracted construction. The track was constructed during the early sixties and has been a fixture in North American sports car racing ever since. 

Flat Fast

The 2018 version of the Battery Tender Global Mazda MX-5 Cup Presented by BF-Goodrich has had its share of ups and downs… literally. 

Here’s a breakdown of the tracks that the series has raced at in 2018 and its respective elevation changes throughout a lap:

133 feet at Circuit of the Americas in Austin

80 feet at Barber

170 feet at Road America

136 feet at Mid-Ohio

PIR is almost completely flat.

Existing inside the metropolitan area of downtown Portland, there is very little natural topography, and seeing as how the track was build inside the city, the track features no artificial rises or falls. 

What does this mean for the setup of the Global Mazda MX-5 Cup teams? The track should be slightly more forgiving seeing as how there are no uphill corner exits where lack of momentum would kill that corner and inevitably the entire lap. The BFGoodrich racing tires will certainly be put to the test as with a nearly flat race surface you know that every MX-5 Cup car on track will be pushing as hard as it can, and that means sliding. And a lot of it.

Downtime in the PNW

As we all know, there is not much downtime during the course of a Global Mazda MX-5 Cup race weekend. But should drivers and teams, or fans find themselves with any spare time during, before or after the weekend (that they aren’t spending watching Mazda Road to 24 or Mazda Road to Indy racing) the city of Portland and surrounding area offer plenty to do. For the racer in all of us, I recommend visiting Pats Acres Racing Complex in Canby, Oregon 30 minutes south of Portland.

The historic karting track has been the training grounds for some of the country’s most successful kart racers, some of whom have graduated to professional driving. The 7/10 of a mile kart track offers rental karts and a truly authentic Oregon feel on track. You whiz through oak trees and along a river during a lap around Pats. It is easily one of the most beloved kart tracks in the country, and any real racer will tell you it’s one of the most fun tracks you can drive a rental kart around.


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