MBCA Driving Events
Eastern Region: Alabama Heimatfest 2017
Every Heimatfest is a different type of event, and this 2017 iteration brings new opportunities to MBCA members.
On Friday, 19 May we have joined with the North American Lotus Club (Lotus, Ltd.) to host an Autobahn experience on the 33-degree banking of Talladega Superspeedway. The track is 90 feet wide, so there is plenty of room. The pace car drives at “highway speed” and starts at a moderate pace to be sure everyone stays together. If everyone behaves, he gradually increases the pace to as much as 120-125 MPH (200 KPH). The width of the track and the fact that you are in single file (no passing is allowed) decreases the sensation of speed. Remember, your Mercedes-Benz was engineered for much more speed than this on the German Autobahn.
The 33-degree banked turns have such a wide radius that your car can be driven hands-off the wheel at 110 MPH without lane assist. If you want to move up (i.e. right), gently squeeze the throttle, to move down (left), just lift gently. The uncanny thing is that as you approach the banked turns, the track horizon climbs higher in your windshield until you can’t see it at all. It is a unique sensation, but it is very safe. Just be sure you have tire reserve 10 pounds over the number in the doors. In fact, I raise mine to the maximum pressure on the sidewalls: The centripetal force that lets you make a 180-degree turn without touching the steering wheel means your tires are supporting double the car’s weight. Their load capacity is based on the maximum inflation pressure.
While you are at Talladega, we will offer an autocross on the very wide apron on the back straight starting at 2 p.m.
The Barber Historic races will take place on Saturday and Sunday (20 & 21 May). I will be driving my 1966 Lotus 47 (Europa) against a gaggle of much larger and newer cars. You are welcome at my paddock area. I fly German, British, Alabama, and Mercedes-Benz flags.
The Barber Vintage Motorsports Museum is well worth a visit. They have a Lotus like mine as well as 60 more along with 1,700 motorcycles.
There will be a scenic drive to the U.S. Space & Rocket Center in Huntsville. This has a variety of NASA and military rockets and space ships. The outstanding exhibits center around the Apollo program to the moon and back in 1967-74. The tour guides are members of von Braun’s team.
On Monday, 22 May, we will have Performance Driving on the Barber Motorsports Road course that we racers—including Formula One were competing on for the last three days.
Again, your Mercedes-Benz was designed for this whether you want to drive as hard as you and the car are capable, or simply drive as you would like on your favorite roads without fear of oncoming or side road traffic or police. You will have an experienced instructor to help you learn the skills that will make you a smoother, safer driver.
To register for this event, go to motorsportsreg.com and scroll to MBCA/Alabama Section Heimatfest 2017.
MBCA Eastern Region Director