Road Atlanta's Gravity Cavity


Road Atlanta's Gravity Cavity

A description of Gravity cavity at Road Atlanta

This story was written for the 1994 G.N.F.

Before the changes to Road Atlanta.


With the 1994 motorcycle roadracing season winding down, most eyes turn toward the infamous Grand National Finals (G.N.F.) at Road Atlanta Raceway.  Many racers look forward to the event with great anticipation and hopes for glory.  Just the thrill of racing on such an outstanding facility as Road A is worth looking forward to.  From a racer's viewpoint, racing at the Road "A" facility is an exciting experience.  I still remember the first time I personally raced at Road "A".  It was 1981. 


So there I was, our team was campaigning on an 1100cc fuel injected superbike monster (for its day).  Riding this overpowered, overweigh, under-braked and under-suspended beast at this challenging road course provided the highest adrenalin rush up to that point in my racing career.  None of the other tracks on the east coast would stretch the limits of a bike chassis like the Road A.


On the other hand, the following year I returned riding an old clapped-out RD350 production bike.  This under-powered machine at Road A provided the most boring race day of my life.  I quickly came to this conclusion: the bigger the bike, the more exciting Road A is!


The most exciting part of the track with the big bike is at the end of the interminable back straight, a straight long enough for any motorcycle of the time to easily obtain terminal velocity.  Now the fun starts.  Running flat out, red-lined in top gear, you bend slightly to the right as you pass safety station #10.  At that instant you start down into the "Gravity Cavity."  This section of the race track is a deep paved gully which has a vertical drop and rise of at least 50 ft. over a distance of less than 1/8 mile.  A roller coaster comes to mind here.  The pavement falls away so fast that the engine, already at red line, picks up another 1000 rpm.  During this burst of acceleration you find you now need to change direction for a left-hand bend at the bottom of the gully.  If this is not enough sensory input, as you input the calculated amount of steering force to turn the bike, you realize the front wheel is in the air.  Because, just as you needed to change directions, the downhill grade got steeper and literally falls out from under your front wheel.  This sensation is short-lived because as soon as the wheel touches down you hit the bottom of the gully.  The bike starts up the other side, but your body and helmet are still going down.  Don't worry; the gas tank will stop your helmet and chin.  Remember that you're still trying to turn the bike to the left while this is happening.  If you are still in control at that point there's more to come.


 

On your way out of the gully you can now focus again on what is in front of you.  At this point all you can see is the ominous bridge and a big dirt bank.  You know the track turns to the right, but you can't see the pavement because it disappears over the hill.  As you approach the bridge, you frantically try to slow down for the dreaded turn #11.  You drop the appropriate number of gears and begin to lean the bike to the right.  You still can't see where the track goes but you start your turn anyway.  Even as you hit your apex point of the turn, you still can't see the exit of the turn.  Finally you emerge from under the bridge.  If you judged your turn correctly, your bike is still pointed at pavement and not the red Georgia Clay.  Now that you can see the track, you grab a handful of throttle.  You slam the next gear.  Surprise!  You’re going down another steep hill.  The pavement falls away so fast; your front wheel is in the air again.  This would be okay except in less than 3 seconds you need to turn hard to the right for turn #12.  Good Luck.