A weekend at Buttonwillow Raceway

Track day at Buttonwillow Raceway is the most frightening yet exciting experience I have ever had in my life so far. This is a must for all car fanatics, and the experience is equally as good if you plan to sit in with a friend which is what I did.

Day 1
Me and a friend were both up at 6am ready to set off to the track about 11 miles away. We had to be there at 7am to register, so there was no time for breakfast.

When we arrived, we picked a spot to park up, and every minute that went by, more and more cars turned up, some driven in, and others on trailers. Track time began at 8am, that’s when you would see the first group on track. As one group of drivers went out, another group assembled on the grid. You can always tell when the next group is ready to take to the track, the noisy roars of turbocharged engines like the sound of thunder, the smell of burning petrol in the air, and the crowds gathered at the spectator building.

I didn’t get a chance to my friend’s co-driver since he was taking a few sessions with an instructor, so I ended up spectating on Saturday. There was still plenty to do and see.

Saturday was all about the Nissan GT-Rs, there were about ten of them on the day, and most of them were modded giving those drivers extra horsepower.

Aside from the GT-Rs, other popular cars were the Porsche 911, Honda S2000, Mitsubishi Evo, Mazda Miata, and there were a few Ferraris and Lotuses amongst them.

There were BMW M3s mainly driven by a group of Asians who all seem to know each other, but they ended up being the worst drivers of the day. Whenever you saw a cloud of dust on track, it was always an M3 going off the track. One of their friends had a brand new Aston Martin Vantage, either a very brave person or just an idiot. He looked no older than 20 years old and came off a couple of corners every time he went out on track.

Day 2
Another 6am start for us, only this time the clocks had gone forward. There were fewer amateurs on the day and fewer cars in general, so going out on track wasn’t as crowded as Saturday.

This is where the fun began for me. We had four sessions for the day with the last one starting around 4:15pm. I had rented a helmet and was ready to go in the first session when they called out our group. Each session lasted around 25 minutes on track.

Surprisingly, we were the only one in a GT-R today, but there were about 6 Lotus Elises.
Each session, I could feel the G-Force ripping my face off at every corner, and the acceleration down the straights was simply mind-blowing as we hit 117mph. I can only imagine how fit you must be to deal with the G-Forces in Formula 1. Hard on the brakes would throw me forward like a ragdoll, so I had to hold the door handle tight, but even that would not stop me from being thrown about.

The experience was astonishing! I hope I get a chance to come out here again, and perhaps next time, I’ll have a decent car.


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