Doing Hallett Raceway backwards in a Mini Cooper
Hallett has over 80 feet of elevation change and is considered Technically Difficult. It has wide, grassy run-off areas and zero concrete or Armco barriers. Hallett is unique in that it can be run in either clockwise or counter-clockwise directions making it two completely different race courses.
Counter-clockwise is considered the ‘normal’ direction and said by many to be their favorite as it is simply smoother transitions from turn to turn. The reality is that the short length of 1.8 miles when combined with 11 turns results in no ‘straight’ being long enough to need 4th gear in a Classic Mini Cooper.
The Mini Mania team of Don & Dennis Racine arrived at the track on Thursday afternoon for set-up, registration and tech. Friday was scheduled for a full day of finding out where the track went. Having never driven this track in the normal direction we had nothing to forget before we started the task of trying to remember the 3 blind turns and braking points for 4 turns that are at least 120 degrees.
When the green flag for the start of the session (or race) you are going uphill to the first 180° blind turn (what a way to start a race!). After a very short straight, very downhill (although you can get into 3rd gear) you make a 100° turn to the left. Now it is back uphill again to touch the left side of the track before cresting another small blind hill turn to the right. Now finally on level ground you can stretch your legs and run out 3rd gear on the straight. The next turn, while over 90° is only slightly uphill and has positive camber so carrying a good speed thru the turn is a lot of fun. At the top of the crest is another blind right hand turn followed almost immediately by a very long left had bend that drives you to the outside of the track looking for traction. Although a little on the short side, this section also often can see 3rd gear for a couple of seconds before the toughest turn on the track. The course first turns to the left slightly only to be followed by a 90° right hand turn up a steep hill; by far the most difficult on the track and the most costly when done wrong. Not only is the uphill turn followed by a straight where horsepower is king, but the end of the straight also has the fastest turn on it that leads back to the uphill front straight and back across the start finish line.
Top speed in the Mini Mania Mini Coopers on this track was about 95MPH with lap times in the 1 minute 33 second range.