Last week I had the opportunity to join a few friends at a private Test & Tune day at the Thunderhill West track along with a few folks from Elite Performance and The Racers Line. Since I had the week off from work I packed the BRZ, grabbed my helmet and set off for the track at an ungodly 5AM. It’s about a 2.5 hour drive up to Willows, CA and with stops for food and gas, I arrived at the gates a little after 8:00 AM. It was a chilly 36F outside when I pulled up next to our host. Eventually 7 cars rolled in and after a comically brief drivers’ meeting (essentially “2 cars out at a time, don’t crash, have fun”) we started taking turns going out on the 2-mile West course. The track staff essentially left us alone with a wide open course and minimal supervision. With only 7 of us there and an open track available until 4:30PM, we knew we were going to have loads of track time.
Here’s Neal’s best lap video:
As for myself, I had a blast going out on track and the total lack of traffic and ability to just focus on the course as well as the luxury of staying out as long as you wanted to, was fantastic. I continued to build up confidence in myself and my car, and managed to cut about 2 seconds off my previous best time to a 1:33.9 by the end of the day. I was probably the slowest one out there at the track that day, but everyone was super supportive and complimented me on showing considerable improvement through the day.
My best lap:
We commented to one another that with so much track time and so little traffic, we might have spoiled ourselves for any regular track day. Going out for 4 or 5 short sessions and sharing the course with 30 other people at a time just won’t sound that appealing anymore. But the pricing to rent the track for a private day is normally much higher and until we win the lottery and become filthy rich we can only enjoy this kind of discounted pricing during the unpopular winter months when the track is under booked. We did luck out though as the weather was cooperating and we had near perfect conditions: sunny and cool with a dry track.
At the end of our lunch break we even paused the action for a little while and lined up the cars for some group photos. It’s an awesome feeling being able to get out of your car and walk around on the race track, as well as have access to areas you wouldn’t normally get to be in order to take photos.
Anyways we all had a great time and it was a rare opportunity to get loads of driving time for a reasonable cost. Most of us were able to get a lot more familiar with the challenging West course and improve on our previous best lap times. And if the chance ever comes up for you to take part in such a day, jump on it! Highly recommended experience for any driving enthusiast.
More photos in the gallery below.