Hallett Motor Racing Circuit is a popular club racing facility set in the rolling countryside to the west of Tulsa in Oklahoma. With a combination of tricky off-camber corners and blind crests, this is a technical track which rewards the patient driver and where brute horsepower is not the be-all-and-end-all of a quick lap time.
The facility was built by irrepressible gentleman sports car racer Anatoly Arutunoff in 1976, who was keen to preserve something of the old spirit of road racing, minus the modern bureaucracy. Having come from a wealthy background and enjoyed some business success, 'Toly had the means and the wherewithal to make a go of creating his own circuit. He bought a parcel of land slap bang in the middle of nowhere between Tulsa and Stillwater and built a 1.8-mile, 11-turn sports car course.
And what a course. Virtually no landscaping was carried out, meaning the asphalt was laid on the topography as it stood, creating a course that dives and swoops through 80 feet of elevation change. Better still, with wide open grass verges and not a section of Armco in sight, there's little here to damage an errant race car – just a trackside barrier of tyres welcomes those who manage to get seriously off course. That's not to say that you won't go off – there are few who manage to master Hallett without some sort of incident, particularly at "The Bitch", an infamous off-camber uphill turn (when run counter-clockwise) which has a habit of biting the unwary.
An unusual feature was that the course was designed from the outset to run in both directions and, perhaps more unusually, it has been run regularly both ways throughout its life – sometimes switching direction between races at the same meeting.
It has held the occasional pro race – indeed Hallett was the host of IMSA and Trans Am in the 1970s and the final ever Can Am race in 1986 – but its bread and butter has always been club racing. Facilities here are arranged fully with the amateur racer in mind but nevertheless offer good options for the spectator who, like the racers, is confined to the infield but is virtually free to enjoy any spot around the track, with great views of the action. There are also three grandstands, rest rooms, a gift shop and an on-site cafe.
After several years of running the facility, Arutunoff sold the track to pursue other projects and a there followed a variety of owners who struggled to make a success of the circuit. Local rumours say that the only thing that prevented the selling off of the land for housing was the cost of removing the many thousands of tyres that make up the crash barriers.
Finally the track ended up in the hands of Mike Stephens, who set about ensuring it became successful once more. The relaxed family atmosphere he brought in was probably key to its popularity; unlike some venues, the people at Hallett want to get you on track to enjoy as much track time as possible and see it as their mission to make sure that's what happens. A 'run-what-you-brung' philosophy pervades and, if you don't have a race car, the Hallett Racing School will fix you up with one. Best of all, you'll not break the bank doing it.
Mike passed away a few years ago but his wife and sons continue to run Hallett in the same way, keeping the track well-maintained and the punters happy. The circuit is well-used by the Midwest Region of the SCCA and hosts its own Competition Motor Sports Association (COMMA) events on a regular basis. The track is also a popular testing venue.