Saturday night drove at Texas Motor Speedway (TMS) for an "after dark" drivers session. Arrived at 4 pm for check, car prep and drivers meeting. This is the ROVAL course that has been used by the American Le Mans Series (ALMS) previously.
I have driven the oval in an Indy car at night, and if you have seen the IRL at night at TMS, then you have an idea.
At the driver's meeting, lead instructor (a Porsche Cup car professional racer) has wrecked coming off of Turn 2, when a Corvette took air off his front end. If you watch NASCAR, turn 2 is wicked, where you tend to wreck on the inside wall. After being scared straight, I thought I would take it easy and not push it.
Note that arriving the air temp was 102 Farenheit and during the night while driving under the lights, it stayed in the mid 90's. Besides wearing a helmet, we were required to wear long sleeve shirts. Thankfully, my wife had given me a cool shirt, which makes driving in 102 degree heat like a pleasant afternoon with the air conditioning running and the windows up.
Since I didn't push it, I was willing to let most cars pass me, but didn't have a lot passing me with AMG power. The SLK55 even with street tires remains a wonderful car, with great performance at high speeds.
Most interesting coming out of the road course, I gave the passing signal to a purple Porsche Cup car, but did not let up on the gas pedal. He didn't pass until right before the chicane at turn 10 (used to slow down cars and allow others to pit out safely). Similarly, a Z06 driven by a guy who admitted that his rear started to float at 120 on the 26 degree banks, had difficulty passing. I was aware of his issues and didn't pull in behind him to pull air off his bumper.
Again, he had trouble having a clean pass until just before the start/finish line.
Most interesting the SLK just ran great on the track, I never felt like I was going to get loose, but never pushed hard since this was my first time. Coming out of turn 9, I was usually between 120 - 130 mph (turn is a loose term with 26 degrees of banking). Kept that speed to apex the "D" on the front straight (see above graphic). Having done 140 mph (see RSB's video's) at Texas World Speedway (see graphic below this), felt like getting to or above 140 would not be difficult at TMS in the future.
Here a links to video's if you are interested. I did not get a camera in my car, but will probably work that next year.
From a Porsche last Saturday night: