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Thread: Willow Springs, LA's local track, updated Feb 2009

  1. #1

    Thumbs up Willow Springs, LA's local track, updated Feb 2009

    Willow Springs calls itself "The Fastest Road in the West", and entering turn 8 at around 120mph I'm inclined to agree.

    The Z8 laps Willow in 4th, with one dip to 3rd, and two stretches in 5th. It is a circuit that rewards horsepower, but like all tracks, rewards lightness more, and again the Z8's weight is it's biggest weakness here, allowing the usual gaggle of M3's to keep you close company.

    I've been out on the track several times now, both in summer and winter temperatures. It's always a fast and challenging circuit, even though it has a fairly simple layout. If you are a little nervous about taking your Z8 to the track this may not be the one to try it out on. Of the tracks I have been Willow's sheer speed, combined with the tricky turns 6 and 9 certainly make it the 'hairiest', but it is also very rewarding to learn.

    It is greatly loved by both race car drivers, and the LA based motor press. Whenever you see track photos in car mags you can be sure this is where they were done, which adds to it's mystique. With the tuition that BMW CCA and Driving Concepts provide it is great fun day or weekend out, but beware the high winds, and roasting desert sun.

    Here is a shot of me by the track photographer, who charged me $20 for this one. He'll put it on a teeshirt, mug or mousepad for a little extra too. There are many more images from Willow Springs in the Gallery section.
     
    Andrew Macpherson

    Expert Z8 Inspections, with full support for both Z8 sale and purchases.

  2. #2
    Z8 Ate My Homework! Norcal's Avatar
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    Thumbs up

    Sounds Hairy! I Can't wait. Thanks for the write-up. Should you post a track map? Thanks

  3. #3

    Thumbs up Here it is!

    Once you know the track it is very interesting to read the reviews of cars, tyres etc in the car mags, as they often mention the turns by name, making it is easy to understand exactly what they are talking about.

    The time to avoid Willow is Aug and Sept when it can be in the 100?s all day long, with 50mph dust storms coming up in the afternoon. Mar-Jun and Oct-Dec are the really nice months to be out there for a day.
     
    Andrew Macpherson

    Expert Z8 Inspections, with full support for both Z8 sale and purchases.

  4. #4
    Z8 Ate My Homework! Norcal's Avatar
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    Thanks for posting the map. Looks great. Do you ever have a problem getting in to the BMWCCA events? Do they use an on line lottery system? Not sure whats up for June yet, but I would love to get out on that track. PS: a client of mine is buying a couple new Porsche GT3 cup cars next month, and has said that I'll get "lots of seat time". That will be very cool if it works out.

  5. #5

    Thumbs up

    I've edited the old answers here because now the only way to go to any track with a Z8 is on a totally private day, no clubs, schools etc will allow open cars out anymore, hardtop or not.

    Since this thread started I've done over a hundred days at Big Willow, as the main track is called, but today I returned for the first time with my new Z8. I tracked my old EU spec Z8 with AC Schnitzer suspension there many times back in 03 & 04, and always thought it the circuit that best suited the Z8. I've also tracked my M3, 996-GT3 and two Lotus's there, so I know it really well now.

    Today my Alpina suspension/Dinan swaybar/20" Pirelli P-Zero kitted Z8 was an absolute delight! While this track really suits the Z8, don't expect to beat any lap records. Even in the hands of the our pros the Z8 is a good few seconds a lap slower than a well set up GT3 or Elise. However that doesn't take away from what a wonderful experience it is to take these cars out on a big wide open circuit to stretch their legs.

    Today's occasion was Jack's 60th birthday. Jack got into tracking a dozen or so years ago, and has been the organizer of literally hundreds of wonderful track days, many of which can be seen in the Gallery and video clips section, so today it was a huge turn out of all sorts of current and ex track junkies to celebrate the man who has given us so many wonderful days! Several of you have been to Jack's events with me over the years, so know just how excellent his track days are. If there is enough interest I'm sure we can plan a Z8 day out joining up with the 'Jack Pack', but remember it is always Mon-Thur only.

    Here are a few snaps of the day, and there are some more over in the Gallery. The very serious Exige S with race # 086 is my old car, it is now become a full club racer, and its spot in the garage is taken by my second Z8!
     
    Andrew Macpherson

    Expert Z8 Inspections, with full support for both Z8 sale and purchases.

  6. #6
    Administrator thegunguy's Avatar
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    Looks another great day on the track, and cheers to Jack's birthday. He's a good man.

    What's on the side of your old car?
    thegunguy

  7. #7
    Brent, who bought my car, is a serious racer, on two wheels and four. He is now in the Lotus Challenge Series with my old car, and he is winning races too!! Anyhow that is part of his self fabricated aero-package that maximizes the downforce for slicks without changing the stock wing. Check out the huge rear diffuser!
     
    Andrew Macpherson

    Expert Z8 Inspections, with full support for both Z8 sale and purchases.

  8. #8
    Administrator thegunguy's Avatar
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    I just love the highlights in the Storm Titanium. While it's interesting what he has done with your car, that level of modification starts to fall into the category of just buy a better car. With mine, I found front end downforce to be lacking, especially on high-speed sweepers where I would lift the inside wheel completely. However, this could also be due to the setup of my Nitrons. Willow Springs would be the perfect place to explore such things.

    Regardless, I miss mine! One day...

    BTW - what's the scuttlebutt on the third generation Elise/Exige? Seems like there was talk that the Evora used a refined chasis and that it would be used on the new models. I howled at the Exige S260. Lotus knows how to help the existing fleet depreciate like no other.
    thegunguy

  9. #9
    Since I've steeped out I haven't followed a thing Lotus, but I did meet some guys who do an arrive & drive thing in a track prepped Elise for $1000 a day all in. I kind of think that is almost a worthwhile deal for say three days a year to keep your hand in. Much cheaper that owning one, and you get to go to the track and back in comfort. One of the things that finished the Lotus for me was one too many drives home in the dark on the I-5 trying to keep away from the lunatic Explorers going 100mph in a go-kart without enough lights!
    Andrew Macpherson

    Expert Z8 Inspections, with full support for both Z8 sale and purchases.

  10. #10
    Administrator thegunguy's Avatar
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    No kidding. I cannot believe the Lotus lights pass the federal regs. I have flashlights that do a better job.
    thegunguy