PTC: Age-old challenges in 2.2 miles of modern racetrack

PTC: Age-old challenges in 2.2 miles of modern racetrack

Vintage Motorsport / Historic

PTC: Age-old challenges in 2.2 miles of modern racetrack


Hidden away in an especially lush and distinctly rural area of south-central Tennessee, tucked into farmland and rolling hills behind a silo and single main gate just a mile down the largely untraveled Polecat Road, is a bright gem of a 2.2-mile racetrack.

A “polecat” is a Eurasian mammal, but in rural Tennessee, the word is slang for “skunk” — appropriate as what Lockheed Martin’s “Skunk Works” is to modern aviation, the Polecat Training Center is to road racing. At once an ultra-modern training facility hosting both the PTC Driving Academy and Milspec defense training center, it is also a throwback to road racetracks pre the super-sanitary Alan Wilson era of track design.

Uniquely, PTC’s 19 corners are each purpose-designed to teach something, as if the late Piero Taruffi’s long-out-of-print hardcover reference “The Technique of Motor Racing” had somehow been translated from words to to asphalt. A few of its corners mimic some of North America’s more well-known bends such: Turn 5 at Road America, the Carousel at Mid-Ohio, and others.

Josef Newgarden’s handful of laps in one of the track’s Corvettes attracted a Team USA crowd, including (left to right) Bernie Rhee, Aaron Jeansonne, Jeremy Shaw, Keith Watts and Penske’s IndyCar ace.

The track swoops, rolls and flows with the landscape, with 120 feet of elevation change from Turn 1 to Bistro (Turn 16 — so named because a gourmet restaurant there at the top of the hill is in the plan for Phase 3 of PTC’s expansion.)

PTC, aka “Polecat”, is the multi-million-dollar dream of Tennessean Paul Arnold, real estate developer, experienced race car driver (both a former NASA Eastern States and Factory Five Challenge champion) and enthusiast, whose brainstorming dinner with friend and veteran Skip Barber Race School instructor Keith Watts plus a stack of cocktail napkins in 2015 morphed into a serious action plan.

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