This weekend, May 3rd and 4th, the V8 Supercars are in Perth, Western Australia, competing in the last races Down Under before they pack their bags (and two Jumbo Jets’ worth of cars and equipment) and head to the Austin, Texas, y’all.  In two short weeks from now, Circuit of The Americas will host the Thunder from Down Under in the Austin 400 on May 17th-19th.

The V8 Supercars organizers tailor the race format at every event to suit the venue and the anticipated crowd, and here in Austin they have decided on a couple of details to maximize the action for the American audience.

First, and most obvious, is the decision to run the short “National” circuit.  At 2.3 miles per lap, vs. the full “International” lap of 3.4, the organizers reckon the cars should be running around 90 seconds per lap, thus ensuring that everyone gets to see the cars more often.  This will be the first time the short track configuration has been run, so the V8’s will be breaking new ground when they turn left after Turn 5 and cut across – via  a tight left-right chicane – to rejoin the main track about ¾ of the way down the back straight, and turn left again towards Turn 12.

The other decision is in the format of the race weekend.  The Austin 400 will actually comprise four completely separate 100km races – which by my calculations will make them 27 laps each – and the cars will be required to pit for tires at least once per race.

Because of the way that the series numbers its races, these will be rounds 13 thru 16 of the 2013 Championship.  Each race will be scored separately, and each will have its own separate qualifying session, so we could very well see four completely different starting grids.  V8 qualifiers are a short, sharp, and intense 15 minutes each.

Friday will see the cars on track for four practice sessions for the drivers to find their way around the track and dial in the cars, but all the qualifying and race action will be evenly divided between Saturday and Sunday, with two qualifying sessions each morning and two races each afternoon.  Furthermore, there is very little down time between the sessions, so we may see some frantic pit action as teams rush to patch their cars back together between sessions.

And the action doesn’t end with the V8 Supercars!  Supporting the Aussies will be the Pirelli World Challenge, with three classes of cars ensuring there will something happening on track pretty much all day, every day.

It should be a fabulous weekend, so if you haven’t bought your tickets yet, head on over to www.circuitoftheamericas.com and get in the game!

Oh, and one final incentive – the V8 Supercars have an “open pit” policy similar to that of the Grand Am series, so the paying public – that’s you! – get to see the cars, drivers, and teams up close and personal.  They even have a rule that prevents them from closing the back doors of their pit garages, so if you’re a fan of automotive engineering, you can watch the crews working on the cars right in front of you.