The Streets of Willow Springs
Story: Jeff Hernandez
Photos: Jeff Hernandez
Mark Ware and I had been talking about doing some performance events/track days with the club for some time now, and here it is, Saturday, October 13, 2018!
Any time I have a fun day planned it’s hard to get sleep the night before. Tossing and turning all night, my brain racing, thinking … Do I have everything? Is my car ready? Am I ready? Going over in my head the checklist of things to bring, and not to bring!
I was awake at 3AM, an hour before the alarm was to go off! I was up, dressed, and out the door, ready for whatever the day may bring! But it was only 3:30, and it was raining, WTH, anyway! We were to meet at Denny’s at 5:15AM. I got there at 5AM, I saw Ron Nolan already sitting there, waiting! It was still raining, not looking too good. But we were determined. Shortly after that, Mark and Brian De Avila showed up. It was 6 o’clock, time to go. Steve Turkheimer pulled up just in time, and we were ‘off like a prom dress’!
A quick drive up Highway 14 to Rosamond and in no time we pulled into Willow Springs International Speedway! And no rain, the track is dry! We set up a base camp and about that time Steve Hilton showed up, the group was excited and ready to race!
On this day there was a lot of confusion at the track, it seemed that they had overbooked the track (in my opinion). There were 6 different ‘run groups’. Most of the time there are 3 run groups:
Beginner, Intermediate and Advanced. This day they added 3 special groups: muscle cars, hot rods, and some crazy track vehicles.
After check in they held a Drivers Meeting. It’s very important to pay attention at the Drivers Meeting! This is where you get the Do’s and Don’ts and learn what the racecourse flags mean! In other words they are telling you NO KNUCKLE-HEADS on the track!
Our group got on the track for the first time at about 9 AM for a Lead/ Follow session. This is mostly for beginner’s to show them the track up close and show the best way around the track (the Line). This is led by an experienced driver. This is fun. You go fast enough to get a feel for things, and learn what to look for, like the Apex of the turn and Landmarks (like traffic cones placed at the apex).
Willow Springs was experiencing technical difficulties with their lap timing (transponder) system, so that delayed things. Once they got that operational, they opened the track session and, sure enough, someone’s car dumped oil on the track! Shut down again. Clean up on aisle 3, please! Then the lap timing broke again. All of this made for a long delay. Sorry, but this is racing, you just make the best of it!
Okay, back on the track and it’s our turn! And OH, BABY! What a blast! Much faster pace, quicker turns, oh yeah! After our session, we were back to the pits, everybody was amped up. We talked about our track experiences with each another, how we raced through the turns, catching up with other cars, and passing them! Definitely worth the wait! This is what it is all about. Friends having the time of their lives!
If you get a chance, just ask the guy’s about their Track Day experience, and maybe someday you will join us for the wild ride of your life!
Thanks to Mark Ware, Ron Nolan, Steve Hilton, Brain De Avila and Steve Turkheimer for coming out to play!