Like Lime Rock Park, Laguna Seca and HPR, the Hallett Motor Racing Circuit near Tulsa, Oklahoma requires a lot of finesse and concentration….....so leave the big hammer/mallet at home! Unlike HPR, there are no significant straights to even catch a breath, read the gauges, or check lap times. It’s a busy place and constant attention throughout every lap during the entire race will be rewarded. (Editor’s note: the 1.8-mile, 10-turn track has over 80 feet of elevation changes and is usually run counter-clockwise for SCCA races)
Not sure I’m the best person to explain the circuit as my experience there has been limited. I drove a GT1 car there in the early 90’s once and then came back in an SSB Camaro in 2009. But since then, I’ve returned once a year in the Camaros, and then since 2012 in a front wheel drive Acura RSX Type S. As the T4 class record holder at Hallett, I suppose I am somewhat qualified even though I have been beat there three times (usually one of the two races on a weekend) over the aforementioned timeframe.
To start with, let’s talk briefly about shifting. In our small cars, I only catch fourth gear once or twice a lap, usually on the front straight and also the ‘Cimarron’ straight. The remainder of the lap is run in third gear, with two short second gear spurts. From the start, the front ‘Founder’s’ straight is downhill till a slight uphill rise at the end that is good for a touch of the brakes. Then downshift to third and give a serious application of throttle through Turn 1 (“Dead Horse”) and onto the ‘Cimarron’ straight. This straight goes over a crest and may require shifting up to fourth gear before you reach the downhill braking zone for Turn two (“Coyote”). Remember to protect your line while you are downshifting to second as this is also a prime passing zone!
Coming out of “Coyote”, you’ll encounter the “Snapping Turtle” chicane (which has no turn #), just as your car wants to be shifted up to third gear. A real short uphill straight (again, no name) that follows terminates in the high speed Turn four ( “Dam Turn”) that can be taken flat-out in third by most (or with a slight lift of the throttle and tap of brakes, if traffic demands). This effectively lengthens the straight until Turn five (“Bird Turn”) where you need a short application of brakes to set up, but no downshift.
You’re now headed downhill to Turns six & seven (“Everybody’s Favorite Turn”) where you need heavy braking, protection of your line by use of a double apex (go a little wider at first apex if no one is trying to outbrake you, and thus set up better, later line for the second apex). This is one of the two most important corners on the track, as it serves as preparation for serious acceleration uphill on the ‘Cannonball Baker Straight’ which flows into Turn eight, a no name chicane that is taken flat out (or almost so) in third gear as you enter the braking zone for the track’s signature turn, Turn nine (“the Bitch”). This is a blind uphill turn which is off camber, so be prepared to plow off to your left in front of a grandstand full of spectators if you get it wrong! Fortunately, this turn abuses the left front tire, which doesn’t see much action on the rest of the course. And this turn is only the second place you need second gear!
As you crest the hill after Turn nine you are on ‘Martin House Straight’ headed for Turns 10 and 11 (“Richard Calhoun Turn”) which I treat almost identically to Turns six & seven: hard braking, line protection as required, and a second late apex at full throttle in third to set up for the downhill front/main straight. The big difference is that you’ll need to upshift somewhere around the starter’s stand since you’re accelerating downhill instead of up.
Most of the apex’s are late, but you’ll need to test/practice at Hallett to see where your car wants to go. I’ve found subtle differences between my rear drive cars, and now the FWD Acura.
Lastly, enjoy the Hallett experience. Since there is not much nearby infrastructure, it is probably best enjoyed camping. The parties and food are always great, the camaraderie superb, and the viewing spots around the circuit numerous. Which is probably why this classic road racing track seems to attract lots of spectators.