View Full Version : Buttonwillow Raceway: October 27

09-26-2008, 01:16 PM
I'm signed up via Hooked On Driving. This is a Monday. Haven't done the Sunday night motel yet.

This will be my first day on this track, and I'm looking forward to a new challenge.


10-03-2008, 12:45 PM
i might be joining you! looks like fun. you will like buttonwilow. its a pretty safe track.

10-28-2008, 11:30 AM
Well yesterday was the day and it was a *blast*. When I first arrived and looked around, I was like... man... this sucks! Flat as a table all over the place. I'm used to changing elevations and I didn't much like the flat-as-a-pancake track as I stood there looking around at it.

Memo to me: Drive the track first and then form an opinion. Buttonwillow is a fast and fun track that I was able to quickly figure out (more on that later). While it is indeed flat as a pancake from the paddock, they have cut some gentle banking in it here and there so if you're worried about sliding off a sweeper, you'll have only yourself to blame if you do. There are two mild elevation changes on the track (labelled Lost Hill and Coton Corners in the map above), and while they aren't much they do add to the fun.

The key to the track: treat it all as a series of interconnected arcs. You are always flowing from one to another. There is very little that is abrupt here. Even "the buttonhook" (labelled The Onramp on the map above), which is a bit of a PITA to get right and requires some very heavy braking to enter properly, is one long unwinding arc when you get it right. Its figuring out the right arcs to follow that is the trick.

I have been spoiled at Laguna and Thunder Hill, which are both paved perfectly. Buttonwillow isn't . The pavement is a little rough in spots (especially Cotton Corners) and there's a really nasty bumpy repaved/patched spot right in your line between the Bus Stop and the Truck Stop, where you are at Warp 6, have just shifted up into third and are setting up for a bigass banked sweeper. But thats just part of the deal and its by no means any sort of deal breaker. Just stuff you have to work with.

Buttonwillow is, like Thunder Hill, a club track. No grandstands or bleachers and the paddock and facilities are right next to the track. No long walks or scooter rides to find a bathroom or hot dog. I was able to nab a neat paddock spot where I could drive straight in and straight out, just like at a pit stop.

Traffic was light, no doubt due to everyone being scared spitless over the economy. Only 11 cars in my run group so it was pretty easy to find open track... but still not too much trouble to find slower cars to say hello to in their rear view mirrors.

Weather was ... mild for the area but hot nonetheless. 87 degrees in the shade was the forecast and we saw every bit of that if not more. In between runs I tried relaxing in my lounge chair in my paddock spot but abandoned it for a picnic bench under a canopy.

Given the weather and the nature of the track, I flogged the living pi$$ out of it. Probably more so than ever before. We have five 30-minute sessions. And with the heat, I saw 250 degrees on the water temp for the first time... but tranny peaked at 190 and front brakes never got past 600, so the wear and tear was on the engine zooming around at very hi revs for very long periods of time. Clearly if you are going to be driving like an a$$hole on hot race tracks for extended periods (again I want to point out the 30-minute session length) you had better do something serious about fluid cooling; particularly water and oil. With my setup, pitting the car never crossed my mind.

I did well on this track. The Magnum got its usual share of raised eyebrows in the morning and questions in the afternoon. I had some nice comments from the track people who complimented me on my ability to negotiate passes safely and effectively in some hairy spots. This driving school won't let you advance solo without an instructor before you are signed off to do so, and then, not into B group until you have demopnstrated proficiency at getting around the track. My instructor remarked often how quickly I figured out the track and by the end of my first day here I was signed off both for solo and B group. Looking forward to doing this track again!

My favorite comment came at the very end of the day. Having to change my wheels and pack up my entire garage (hey if I can fit it in I should bring it) I was the next-to-last person to leave. The driving school honcho drove up beside me as I was packing and said "You know, I have to admit I was really worried when you drove up in this, but that thing *really* gets around."

"yeah, I get that a lot" :D

10-28-2008, 12:18 PM
LOL Awsome Matt, that looks like a lot of fun to run. How much was the track time? It looks like a solid deal.

I soooo need to get back on the track......


10-28-2008, 12:26 PM
Nice Matt. Glad you had a great time. Thanks for the scoop.

10-28-2008, 12:33 PM
"You know, I have to admit I was really worried when you drove up in this, but that thing *really* gets around."Doggon if that dont make it ALL worth it I dunno what would. Serious gratz to you and your build team Matt. Its to bad we dont have a "Hardest Core" database. You'd be far and away leading the pack.

10-28-2008, 12:34 PM
Hey as guys set LX track Record we can con Stell into makeing you guys footballs ;)



10-28-2008, 04:18 PM
...How much was the track time? It looks like a solid deal. This one was $345, which is on the high side of average. BUT since the typical track deal is 5 20-minute sessions, there was an 'extra' 50 minutes of track time made all the better because it was mixed in with existing sessions. The extra time was great for tries and retries to get this or that aspect of the track right. Too often in a 20-minute session you are working on a specific segment and if you just had a couple more laps right then you could get it together. But you have to lay off and wait another 90 minutes for your next run to get it right.

The flip side of that is on a more equipment-unfriendly track, 30 minutes is a bit much. Last time we got 30-minute sessions at Laguna, beforehand everybody was working thru their rosary beads, making out their will and calling their kids to say goodbye.

But for BuRP it was no sweat. A great experience.

Serious gratz to you and your build team Matt.

That is not to be left out. [email protected] builds motors that take a serious beating. Partly because thats what he does and partly because he knew thats what I would do. During that build he talked about leaving just a little power on the table so the thing wouldn't blow no matter what I did to it. We're not just talking about tuning fat here. Now, I still may blow it up... but I will have had one hell of a run up to that point if it does go. A good example: At one point yesterday I was alternating laps between taking the track in 2nd gear for the throttle control (keeping just off the rev limiter where necessary by working the go pedal) and 3rd gear for the potential to hold solid speed throughout ... being mindful not to crash from same. My 2nd gear runs were all *solid minimum* 5000 rpm's and at one point I was noticing I hadn't hit the limiter coming down Lost Hill to Drag Strip like I usually did. Looked down and saw I had feathered the throttle just right and it was staying at 6500 rpms. Probably from back when I was accelerating out of the Bus Stop. Thats a lotta revs for a little longer than you should go on one of these cars. But it took it.

BTW by the end of the day I was alternating 2nd and 3rd just fine and next time I will be trying out a lot more 3rd gear. With that track, when you are comfy doing it you can carry a buttload more speed thru certain parts by altering to a different line and hammering it. Specifically from Grapevine to Sweeper.

Steve Levin
10-28-2008, 09:09 PM
Buttonwillow is a VERY technical track, and easy to drive...hard to be seriously fast on. I would have come down except that I was at Thunderhill over the weekend.

The good news is that my plans have changed and there's an excellent chance I'll be coaching at Laguna December 4th.


10-29-2008, 12:18 AM
That is GREAT! Look forward to seeing you again!

10-29-2008, 01:04 AM
You know I cringe everytime you call with one of your track stories.
How may RPM for how long?What temps?Oh,and only how many 30min sessions?:panic:

Then I exhale when you tell me you drove it home:beerchug: