Kentucky brings to mind a few things. Corvettes are one, because they’re built in Bowling Green. Bourbon is another because Kentucky is the only state that makes it. Racing also comes to mind, but until the National Corvette Museum Motorsports Park was built in 2014, the racing usually involved Kentucky thoroughbred horses, not horsepower.
Now in its second year, “The Bourbon Barrel” is a combined event at NCM Motorsports Park put on by NASA Great Lakes, NASA Mid South and NASA Central. The track isn’t far from Kentucky’s “Bourbon Trail,” so the theme of the event makes perfect sense. And because the track is so convenient to so many major metropolitan areas, racers from all over often come to Bowling Green to join in the fun.
“Last year there were 10 regions represented here,” said NASA Great Lakes Regional Director Jay Andrew. “We usually have between eight and 10 regions represented. Supposedly Nashville is the center of the country of in terms of population densities of all the major cities. So, it’s kind of in the center.”
Racers who want to make a long weekend out of it can take in the National Corvette Museum just across Interstate 65. It’s open till 5 every day (see sidebar). If you want to tour the Corvette assembly plant, stay an extra day or come in early because it’s not open weekends.
Of course, the draw is the racing, and the track itself. NCM Motorsports Park is new, so the racing surface is billiard-table smooth and the facilities are first rate. Many of the track’s 23 turns have names like “Deception” and “Sinkhole,” and the variety of turns on this track is why the track is quickly becoming a favorite for drivers in the region. NASA Great Lakes now hosts events at NCM Motorsports Park twice a year.
“There’s such a diversity of corners,” Andrew said. “There are huge high-speed sweepers, there are low-speed, second-gear, almost 180-degree turns, some off-camber stuff, some high-camber stuff, a lot of blind corners.”
When NASA Great Lakes visits this track, it brings with it the best Camaro-Mustang Challenge racing in the country. If you haven’t seen these guys go at it, you’re missing out. They’ve been racing together for decades, and it shows. The 944 Spec racing also among the most exciting you’ll find, with a big field and some fast drivers, including two-time National Champion Dan Piña.
So, if you live within towing distance of NCM Motorsports Park, you might want to think about racing there in October when NASA Great Lakes returns.
“There’s just a little bit of everything,” Andrew said. “There are 23 turns, so it takes a weekend or two to get to know the track, but once it comes to you, it is fun to drive.”