Posted on January 26 2017
About 35 miles west of Tulsa, Oklahoma, in the rolling, hilly, golden countryside of Osage Hills, sits a small, technical and incredibly rewarding road racing course called Hallett.
Hallett Motor Racing Circuit was built in 1976 by local businessman and racing enthusiast Anatoly Arutunoff. Arutunoff was fond of an idealized, pure, ‘old spirit’ of road racing which was just about the speed and competition, and left the bureaucracy behind. So, he used his own considerable wealth to purchase a remote plot of land, and set to work building his very own course.
The result was a swooping, diving, 1.8-mile, 11-turn wonder. Hallett was built onto natural features in a way that few other courses are. Almost zero landscaping occurred before laying the asphalt, so the road follows the topography through its natural ups and downs. Indeed, the course features 80 feet of elevation change. And where the asphalt ends, the grass begins – extending as far as the eye can see. If a car gets off course, it won’t find any barriers other than stacks of tires to mark the course’s edge.
Arutunoff made his dream a reality, but after several years of running the facility, he decided to move on to other pursuits. He sold the track, and his successors struggled to make the course profitable. Local legend has it that the only thing that stopped the land being sold for housing development was the potential cost of removing the thousands of tires which made up the crash barrier along the outskirts of the track.
The string of owners ended up with Mike Stephens, who brought Hallett back to profitability. He changed the culture around the track, making it Hallett’s mission to maximize the track time of those who visit the facility. He also made it a family-friendly atmosphere, and instituted a ‘run-what-you-brung’ policy, letting people run whatever car they bring with them, or borrow a race car from the Hallett Racing School.
From the outset, Hallet was designed to run both clockwise and counter-clockwise, adding challenge and variety to the layout. While many road courses can be run both ways, few actually are. Hallet on the other hand, is commonly used in both directions – sometimes even between races in the same event.
Hallett is considered a ‘technically difficult’ course, and for good reason. One of the most unique features is an uphill, off-camber turn which is infamous for sending unsuspecting drivers off-course. So much so, that its official nickname is, ‘The Bitch.’
Hallett has hosted a handful of pro races through its existence, including IMSA, Trans Am and Can Am races in the 70s and 80s. Spectators can view the race from basically anywhere around the infield. There are also three grandstands, a gift shop and a café on-site. Mostly though, the facilities are set up for and primarily used by club racers. It is a popular site for the Midwest region of the SCCA, as well as the Competition Motor Sports Association (COMMA), and is commonly used as a testing facility.