CWIN Vol. 1, No. 4
Arena Watch
Hillclimb Dueltrack
North Bend, Oregon

Written by Michael Drennon

Web Posted June 01, 1998
Updated August 05, 2000

At the Hillclimb Dueltrack, racers not only compete against each other, but against the laws of gravity as well (to date Isaac Newton's friend has yet to lose). Where else have you seen a personal parachute part of the standard racing gear worn by competitors? Known for it's high speed straights and it's tight hairpins, racing at the Hillclimb adds another dimension to the limits of both racers and their vehicles. The infamous "Drop Zone" has claimed many an impatient racer trying to push the limits of his handling. Also, the hairpins become successively deadlier as the racers advance up the hill, with the final hairpin 135 feet from the floor of the arena! That's some serious hang time! Is it long enough for you to activate the ejection seat? Better do it before the vehicle over-rotates and you wind up hitting the arena wall when you eject! Anyone interested in readily-available spare parts?

Arena Notes

Normal events are run in a clockwise direction. After a rolling start over the S/F line, there is a tight bottleneck that comes up very quickly on the racers, as well as the exit to pit row which adds to the excitement of this corner later in the race when there are racers coming out of  the pits. The ground floor lane is a slalom lane, ending in the first of nine hairpins on the way up the hill. Oh, yeah . . . these hairpins have no outside walls, no guardrails. Each successive level alternates between a simple straight and a speed slalom until the final level, which begins as a simple straight, but quickly introduces the racer to the "Drop Zone".

The Drop Zone is a 135-foot long, 45-degree ramp that quickly takes racers back to the ground level. No, the ramp is not rounded to prevent flight . . . Now do you see why many racers install ejection seats for this circuit? At the bottom is the final turn, the entrance to pit row, and the last stretch to the S/F line . . . Now you just have to do it all over again!

Along the western edge of the map, if a vehicle was to leave the edge of a hairpin, it would fly 2" before striking the hillside wall, and then plummeting to the arena floor from the height at which it struck the wall. This area of the arena is kept deserted for obvious reasons. The track employs specially-designed Ambunaught 2031s with scads of top armor to check for survivors (the armor may just be wishful thinking at times, but it does help with identification afterward). For vehicles careening off the eastern hairpins, if one is going fast enough to bypass the track below, it will wind up smashing through a thin barrier (15 DP) and then out to tumble down the hillside outside the arena. If the vehicle drops more than 1" during the flight from the terraces to the wall, the vehicle will strike the wall and then fall onto the pit row roof or the track.

Pit Row. This is actually covered by a roof to protect pit crews from falling objects. The track-side wall has 75 DP, and the roof has 100 DP. Speed limit is 65 mph, and is strictly enforced. Don't even ask how, they won't tell you, and no one has tried it to date (Duelmasters . . . that means you get to be as nasty as you want to be . . . ATG emplacements along the drop zone?). Vehicles enter the pits and pull into their assigned stall. The pit crews wait beyond the outer wall shown on the map. There are only six stalls on pit row, so if there are more competitors than stalls, everyone shares . . . first come first serve to the assigned stalls. Any vehicle not there for fuel, tires or reloads, or in the pits for longer than 25 turns will be removed by track officials to the garage area (only if teams are sharing the stalls). Any vehicle staying longer is penalized. The garage area is actually built under the surrounding hillside, and subsequently is not shown on the map, but can be accessed through two gates (25 DP) near the end of pit row.

Drop Zone. Aside from the long 45-degree ramp, nothing very special aside from the reinforced area in the northeast corner of the arena. It houses one of many TV bunkers around the track, but this one is notable for it's up close action shots, and the long suspense-filled moments when the leaders are airborne, side by side in the drop zone . . . will they land in time to slow for the curve? Will one flub and take out the other? For gaming purposes, consider the corner to be 2" tall and practically indestructible. Several feet of reinforced concrete where placed here after the inaugural season. Too many vehicles were breaking through the wall after hurtling down the ramp and failing their control rolls. While spectacular and newsworthy, the track owners decided that keeping the sportscasters alive to come back again was more important, and easier from a financial standpoint.

Straights and Slaloms. These are built level, with a 15' difference in elevation. This gives a terraced effect to the racetrack. The hairpins are actually 15-degree ramps that turn back upon themselves (yes, check for flight here too). Vehicles may exchange fire between adjoining levels as long as they are within 1" of the edge of their terraces. Along the slalom terraces, yes, a vehicle may fit between the obstacles and the inner wall or edge of terrace. The question is do you want to do that at 150 mph? Each obstacle is to be considered 75 DP, and will create a good number of debris counters when destroyed (as will the offending vehicle most likely).

Tires and Collisions. Since racers are allowed to pit for tires, tire shots are allowed at the discretion of track officials in several events . . . This makes that tight squeeze a little more harrowing when there is another maniac howling along beside you at maximum rpms and chipping away at your wheelguards! The slightest deviation means contact with the wall. Some people may say, "No big deal! At worst maybe a little fishtail," . . . at 120 mph? . . . on a 30' ledge? . . . heading into a squeeze by the slalom gate? . . . coming up on the final hairpin 135' from the arena floor? . . . now were talking about racing! Many opt for the drift maneuvers to take them around the obstacles, unless trying to pass of course . . .

Special Events

Hang Time. Participants earn a bonus if their vehicle completes the furthest jump down the drop zone ramp during the race . . . successfully of course. Success means vehicle is able to cross S/F line under its own motive power and reasonably under control (not in a rolling ball o' flame). For example, if the engine is still intact but two wheels are gone, and the driver is grinding into pit row, that jump would count simply because it is assumed the driver would have the engine floored trying to keep up the momentum (provided there is enough momentum to cross the yellow line), and he/she  kept the rubber side down. A vehicle that loses control, strikes the TV bunker, and begins a series of rolls or spins across the finish line, would not have that jump counted for contention in the contest. Jump jets are considered extremely bad form, and are prohibited from the track anyway (except for practice sessions in order to save some money on vehicle and track repairs . . . not to mention on drivers). No temporary speed boosters allowed in this event either.

Gnicar Drawkcab. Simply put this is Backward Racing . . . No, the vehicles do not drive backward through the course, but the race is simply run in the opposite direction . . . counter-clockwise. Some things to consider, the Drop Zone is not as deadly, however racers will need mondo acceleration to remain competitive on this portion of the course. (Do not forget the top of the ramp! How fast were you going? Oops! Nose dive!) Also, the innocent little 15-degree dropping hairpins get a little tougher on the way down. Remember they are not rounded to prevent flight either. Ramming another vehicle to slow down for corners (and speed up the competition) is very common . . . Ramplates on IndyCars?  You bet, at least at this track.

Track Tactics

Since jump jets are not allowed, roll cages, safety seats and ejection seats are highly recommenced if a driver wishes to survive qualifying and compete in the main events. When tire shots are allowed, get wheel protection (duh!), a universal turret with a high capacity, high accuracy weapon. The twists, turns and drops on this course make tire shots almost irresistible at those times when you really need all four tires on the ground. If some racers want to discuss the morality of pot shots taken at tires, let them . . . It will give you an extra second or two to nail down the range and windage . . . Adios windbag!

Serious Note. If tire shots are allowed, referees should arrange for an "equipment budget" for their pit row crew. This budget will cover extra tires, ammunition, fuel for gas races, etc.

For pit times, roll 4d6. The result on the dice is the time in turns vehicle spends in pit row.

If this seems unreasonable, change it to suit your fancy. I am just taking these times from a few NASCAR races, and they are by no means mathematical in nature. Feel free to modify or throw out if you like.

With the exception of the optional tire shots rule, most races should conform to standard AADA/R rules and regulations. If you really don't like tire shots, don't use them. I realize this is a touchy subject for some people, and others still don't care. What I care about is having fun and making the night a challenge . . . So what are you waiting for? Go have fun already!