April 8, 2020

By Trevor Yale Ryan

This isn’t the first time we’ve been out to Motovicity’s Speed Ring in Pontiac, Michigan.

With Paddy having a grand old time in America for last year’s event outside Detroit, I’d been scheming for a way that I could get sent to Michigan this time around instead. With Paddy busy fixing my typoes (or is it typos?) and explaining how he’ll murder me if I can’t learn to use proper punctuation, I had my way and hopped on a plane to see what Motovicity’s shootout-style hot lap battle is all about.

Spoiler alert: it was just as rad as I hoped it would be. Maybe even a bit more so, and this mostly comes down to how the event was organized. Rather than watching your friends go ’round shaving the tenths off their laps to see who ends up with the fastest lap, this portion of the event is handled on Saturday to slot all the drivers into a bracket.

Then, come Sunday, drivers go head-to-head through the bracket until one remains. As a competitor it’s a bit more like an uphill-downhill touge-style battle; you get a warm-up lap, a lead lap, a lap to swap positions, and finally a follow lap. That’s two no-passes-allowed hot laps, and if bested on both by the other car on the track you’re done for the event.

Talking with the competitors after their battles, nearly every single one mentioned how much pressure this puts on you as a driver. It’s a no-excuses match-up where, realistically, even if you’re the faster driver you can only afford to make one mistake. In the event that you lose one run and win the other, you’ll be afforded a ‘one more time’ battle which will continue until one driver wins outright. It’s a familiar layout, no doubt, but being a timed event rather than one that’s judged the main thing it’s missing is keyboard warriors having a whinge after their friends get knocked out.

This layout is no doubt more exciting for the drivers, and much, much more entertaining for the spectators. Held at Michigan’s newest road course, the M1 Concourse, it’s a technical, high-speed battle with little room for error as you’ll soon see. If this sounds like a good time, the whole of competition over the weekend was live-streamed and can now be viewed here at your convenience.

While it’s something I’m better off dedicating a post to in the future, the M1 Concourse is a community of private garage owners surrounded by a freshly paved circuit. It’s a roughly 1.5-mile-long course with a lap record inching closer and closer to the one-minute mark. With some mild elevation change and a healthy mix of tight corners and large radius-changing sweepers alike, horsepower also plays a big role in the dynamic course.