Starting Friday, speed fanatics will be lining up to take a turn at the Texas Mile event.
More than 220 speed enthusiasts had signed up for the March 22-24 event within days. Those who did not get signed up before the list was full, gladly paid almost $300 just to get on the waiting list.
Drivers line up and wait close to an hour for a chance to make a run. They can race the timing clocks as many times as they can get up to the starting line.
Each driver gets a rolling start, stomping the gas to see how fast they can get their vehicles going when they cross the finish line a mile down Chase Field’s crosswind runway.
Speeds in excess of 200 mph are common, for motorcycles as well as cars.
In October 2012, Jennifer Robertson drove her Suzuki Hayabasu motorcycle 243.6 miles per hour to become the fastest female on a motorcycle.
Robertson will be at Chase Field again this weekend.
This year, the big challenge is for someone to beat the record set by Mark Heidaker’s Hennessey Ford GT a year ago. The driver pushed his vehicle to 263.3 mph. In October, Kelly Bise’s Late Model Racecraft Team from Houston almost did that, finishing with a speed of 263.2 mph in a twin-turbo Camaro.
Both drivers will be competing again this weekend.
This year, spectators can purchase a three-day pass to the event for $20. But children under the age of 12 get in free.
Spectators may bring all the lawn chairs, umbrellas and coolers they can carry. Covered areas are set up at different locations along the race route for spectators.
One of the biggest treats for car and motorcycle aficionados is the chance for spectators to roam freely among the vehicles waiting for their next chance up to the starting line.
More than 1,000 spectators from throughout the country are expected to be there this weekend.
Spectators can walk among the vehicles, get good look at the engines, the paint jobs and interiors and even chat with crew members and drivers.
Fans will see everything from Porsches and Corvettes to Audis, BMWs, Dodge Vipers, Dodge Challengers, Ford Mustangs, Harley-Davidsons, Kawasakis, Saabs and even Mini Coopers and Volkswagen Beetles.
The event will begin at 8 a.m. Friday and Saturday and continue until dusk. On Sunday, the final day of the event, the racing ends at 4 p.m.
This year’s Mile is also inspiring another generation of motor racing enthusiasts. Students from Coastal Bend College in Beeville will shadow the Mile’s technical and staging inspection crews to learn more about motor sport safety.
Also, students from Houston’s Chavez High School will be there to help their teacher, Greg Ditch, compete in the school’s engineering program’s race car.
Texas Mile co-founder Jay Matus became involved in motor sports while taking an auto technology course at Texas City High School in the 1980s.
This is the 10th season for the popular event.
Gary Kent is a reporter at the Bee-Picayune and can be reached at 358-2550, ext. 120, or at reporter@mySouTex.com.