Willow Springs Review

By: Arthur Trejo

If you haven?t been to a FCA track event, you?ve been missing out. Our first track event of the year was held at Willow Springs Raceway with the Alfa Romeo Owners of Southern California. Not only was there plenty of track time, but an exciting race to cap off what turned out to be a beautiful weekend.

It was typical Willow Springs weather; cold in the morning, hot by midday, and a slight breeze in the afternoon. The overall turnout was good with a wide variety of cars in attendance, including BMWs, Porsches, Corvettes. Lotuses, and a pair of Formula Fords in addition to the Alfas and Ferraris. In the Ferrari corral were 348s, 328s, 308s, an F355 that did not stay long enough, and a pair of vintage Ferraris.

The AROSC was in charge of the event and started the driver?s meeting promptly at 8:45am. The meeting was held at the start/finish line and was kept brief with the absence of the lengthy flag review that track regulars have grown accustomed to. That was saved for the novice/driving school. At 9:00am the race group was out on the track with the other 3 groups to follow in 25 minute sessions. The introductory group took to the track during the lunch hour doing several laps in a lead and follow session. While the other groups were on the track the novice/driving school as in the classroom.

Since this was my first time trial event I applied for a license and was put into the novice group. Maybe it was justified since this was my first time on the repaved track. I had heard that the track was some 3 to 4 seconds faster than before and I found out why. The track is a bit wider and smoother in places. I found I could go through turn 1 faster because the exit is much wider. Turn 2 is also wider, but not much. It really has no line and is basically a car turn, which means use the the line best suited for your car. The short chute between turn 2 and turn 3 seems miles wide. Turn 3,4,5, I found to be relatively unchanged, but from the exit of turn 5 through turn 9 the track has been widened a few feet. Basically I had to learn new lines since all the familiar reference marks are gone, especially the infamous canyon at the apex of turn 9. The day concluded with a qualifying race for the race group. I was unable to attend the Saturday night banquet but from what I heard it was quite an interesting affair, complete with a belly dancer.

Sunday was a carbon copy of the previous day with things getting off to an early start. We had the same rotation of groups with 20 minute practice sessions and the time trials held after lunch. Time trials may be new to some members so I?ll give a brief explanation. Cars are sent out on the track at intervals in groups of five. You are allowed one warm up lap and five timed laps with your best lap recorded as your time. I found the time trials to be a lot of fun. It felt different than during the practice runs -- that competitive feel, just you and the track. To be honest I felt nervous because this was my first time trial event and I was the first group to go out. I felt like I was qualifying for the Indy 500 with everybody watching me. That feeling was soon forgotten as I achieved my best lap at 1:43.

After the time trials the final race for the race group was held. You knew the race was going to be good as the field came through turn 1 three wide. I could not believe they made it through. An exciting battle for first developed between two leading cars. They traded places what seemed like every lap. If all the AROSC races are like this them I don?t want to miss one. The day was brought to a close with an informal awards presentation for the winners of the race and time trials. It was a great weekend and the AROSC did an excellent job of organizing the event.

The next time trial event will be held on April 8th and 9th at Laguna Seca Raceway in beautiful Monterey. If you have never been to Laguna then I e