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AROSC TT & Race at Willow Springs

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  • AROSC TT & Race at Willow Springs

    When the clock radio beamed its soft and mellow K-WAVE sounds to me at 4:30am, I couldn’t believe what I was hearing outside. At first I questioned, are our sprinklers that loud? Then I got up and stumbled to the bathroom and looked outside. It was pouring! No weather report had prepared me for this. We’d had fine weather all week, and the reports only mentioned something about some clouds. But it was pouring! True, the Seven comes from a country where such weather is rather the norm, but this is California, so come on Mother Nature, how about some cooperation. Why do you always save your best spoils for the most inconvenient times?

    About 4:45am, I decided to see what the now suspect weather underground had to say about all this. It said scattered showers, dropping less than 1/10 inch through 8:00am, then clearing. The desert report for the Lancaster area showed a sunny weekend. So, on with the hood (top), eat some breakfast and head out for another Seven adventure.

    The rain stayed with me until about the Hwy. 2 turn from Hwy. 138. At that point, 138 began its drop into the valley below, and all I could see in the still dark sky was clear and stars. Hmmmm, maybe I’ll get lucky.

    Backing up a bit, I must tell you about the group driving (ahem!) a bunch of youth-oriented 'import compacts' and rotary 4-passenger-suicide door coupes that I picked up at the Hwy. 138 off-ramp Stop sign. Upon exiting the I-15 freeway, I thought, what’s with all this traffic. Who are these people and why are there so many of them. It didn’t take me long to figure out they were together from the games they were playing. Above the Seven’s decibels and with ear plugs even, I could here their engines rev. They weren’t going all that fast, kind of slow really. When we got to any of the passing lanes, they’d spread out into both lanes so there was no way to get away from them. So I just sat back and watched. Crazy stuff. Even the one guy driving a Chevy Suburban was a goof. At least after we got into Palmdale, I was able to get ahead and away. Once on the 14 freeway, it was clear sailing to Rosamond and a gas station to fill the Seven’s tank for the day's track work. Well, what do you know, here come all the ricers into the gas station; meeting up with a bunch of others just like them who were already there! I figured they must be going to something at the track, but thought it was unlikely they’d be entering the Alfa club event. But no, they all came into the Willow Springs pits. Maybe these guys were serious racers. But alas, they were lost and looking for the drifting skidpad. We heard them all weekend spinning their wheels, sliding about and smoking their tires! What’s this new generation coming to?

    The weekend at the track was a lot of fun. This was the first time in years I’ve had the only Seven though. I’m not sure what’s happening to our enthusiastic group, but it would have been fun to see some of the others. Not a problem, though. I pitted next to a Riverside Porsche 944 owner that I usually do technical inspections for. He was good company, along with some of the other guys I’ve met at recent events and my regular friends in the Alfa club. There’s kind of a core group that I always look forward to seeing; good people all.

    On track, it took a couple of sessions to get back in the groove, but by Saturday afternoon, my lap times had stabilized at a couple of seconds quicker than I’ve ever gone before! Maybe it was the cool temperatures or maybe just shear talent (oh, yeah). Who knows? Anyway, by the end of the weekend, my lap times were faster than even Will Sours had turned in 2002 driving a standard Zetec powered Caterham 7 Superlight on ACB 10's! The little car runs good! Okay, enough bragging.

    But this weekend was about more than lap times, it was about my first sports car "race" in years. It was about stepping in and getting both feet wet and not just lapping for the shear flogging hell of it. For Saturday's qualifying race, with the pace lap weaving and tire warming behind us, when the starter dropped the green flag we were racing! Honest to God racing! Go for the holes where you can find them or make them, and cover your backside. It's intense stuff. But I've got to say, it felt safe. The driving I saw was all good racing, all on the edge of adhesion, and all at full throttle. There's a lot of trust, there has to be. Sunday's race was even better. For twelve laps around the Willow Springs big track I diced with three other cars, and nobody was giving a quarter. After the checker, we were all grins and have some bench racing material for years. Good weekend; and not bad beer at Saturday night's banquet either. Overall, I learned there's a lot of work ahead to be competitive, as most cars racing in the AROSC "Open" class are race prepared. Wheels, tires and limited slip are definitely looming on the horizon.

    How about it guys? The AROSC events are good stuff. Not too crowded, and top notch competition. With a little extra time at the end of the day, we even had a "fun" race after the main event. I keep hearing it said: "the way racing is supposed to be!"

    See you at Buttonwillow,
    Last edited by Clark; October 16, 2007, 07:23 PM. Reason: detail correction