Photography by Danh T. Phan
With the advent of the internet and its recent integration to social communications, internationally participated activities are at an all-time high. Time attack competitions are no different. There are a handful of international time attack events hosted around the world, and the choice depends upon what region in which one is looking to compete. America’s newest foray into the creation of a time attack platform with international competition is the Super Lap Battle USA (SLB) event, held at the famed Circuit of the Americas racetrack in Austin, Texas.
The United States’ premier time attack authority, Global Time Attack (GTA), organized the event with the help of the new North American Time Attack Council. But Super Lap Battle already existed at Buttonwillow Raceway Park as the finale of the GTA schedule, so why make it a separate event altogether?
“I felt that it deserved its own entity. It’s own brand,” says Jason Dienhart, CEO of GTA.
“Super Lap Battle USA was created to eventually become an international time attack competition where the best from around the globe come to battle it out with the best that North American time attack has to offer.”
To lure in the top competitors from around the world is certainly a tall order for a brand new event, so the facility hosting it needed to match the elite level. The track used should represent an Everest-like triumph, while still maintaining relativity to the public. There was no other choice than Austin, Texas’ mammoth 3.427-mile Circuit of the Americas (COTA).
“Ever since COTA opened up, it has been on my radar,” says Dienhart.
“It is the only full-time year-round FIA-certified course in North America. The track and overall facility is spectacular. Each and every year, I get drivers asking about running on COTA. ‘Is it possible? Will it ever happen?’ All in all, I felt it was the one track that would get drivers to take notice from around the globe.”
The track has built quite a premier name for itself, and for good reason, as COTA usually hosts the likes of Formula 1, MotoGP, IndyCar, and IMSA. By offering every level of competition from professional to enthusiast, time attackers now have the chance to record their own laps on the renowned circuit. SLB USA has plans to become a massive sensation as it gains steam over time. However, one of the biggest obstacles with the new event for this year was that there just wasn’t enough time to coordinate it properly.
“We only have 24 hours a day, and that simply was not enough for me,” says Dienhart.
“We sprung the date on the community at SEMA, so we did not give ourselves much time to prepare. It was a scramble leading up to it. I look forward to 2020 because we have the experiences to learn from 2019, plus a whole year to plan and improve.”
However, any gathering of elite time attack drivers is sure to produce a solid event, and the inaugural SLB USA at COTA exceeded expectations! Lyfe Motorsport and the company’s R35-chassis Nissan GT-R turned in the overall winning performance. The street-car-turned-purpose-built-racecar clocked an impressive 2:07.181 lap, which is only six-tenths of a second off the pace of IMSA’s GTD class pole position qualifying lap from 2017. That’s a pretty notable feat considering the budget differences between those two programs.
Along with time attack competition, the event also stuffed various other forms of motorsport within its walls for the weekend. This included testing for World Challenge and TC America cars, a demo from Rally Ready and Lone Star Drift, and even a car show with free-entry!
In the future, this combination of track layout, competitor involvement, and sanctioning body has the makings of a top-tier experience for all involved. If the event can attract the crowds from other nations to compete on a global scale here on American soil, it’s sure to be a favorite for years to come.
“The plan is to build this into our version of World Time Attack Challenge,” says Dienhart. “Where the best of the best domestically and internationally come to COTA once a year to compete for fastest lap times—the Super Bowl of Time Attacks. Super Lap Battle USA 2020 is coming!”