I recently got back from track weekend at Buttonwillow Raceway with Speed Ventures and it was the best my car has performed on the track yet! Despite two days of pushing my car hard on a pretty technical yet quick track (we ran the 13CW configuration), I managed to not break anything (a big win for any Audi owner!), experience virtually no brake fade, and even minimal loss in tire grip thanks to my new track wheel/tire setup…all that in a car that weights nearly 4,000lbs!
The weekend started off a little questionable – after driving 4 hours from San Diego to Buttonwillow, it began to rain late in the evening Friday night and continue into the morning. Luckily the rain cleared about the same time the track went hot, so the track was somewhat slippery during the first session or two but by and large got completely dry pretty early on. My first session I took it easy as it was my first time on this track and also my first time on R-compounds, so I mostly aimed at learning the lines and understanding where my brake and shift points were – my lap times for this session were mostly in the 2:30 range.
As the track dried up and my confidence in both the car and myself grew, I began to see dramatic improvements in my track times, ending the day with a personal best of a 2:10:111 and a huge smile on my face. I had multiple people in my run group comment on how impressed they were that a my four door sedan was keeping up with their Lotus/Cayman/GT4/etc. I was too!
The next day I set my goal of breaking into the sub 2:10 lap times, and my friend Rodger of Bright Motorcars came out to coach me. He found some quick wins in the Esses and Sunset that speed me up considerably in the back half of the track, and had some good pointers in the Bus Stop to help me carry more speed in the mid-course too. Armed with those insights I went out on my last session and still hadn’t broken the 2:10 lap goal I was aiming for, so I drove hard and went four off the track – whoops.
A quick safety check in the hot pits and I was back out and had a clear path…virtually no one in front of me or behind me, so it’s go time baby! I then laid down several 2:10 laps followed by a 2:07:99 (video above) and a 2:08:83 as my two best laps according to Harry’s Lap Timer. My Audi was definitely capable of much, much better with a more skilled driver at the wheel…still, I’m proud of that performance.
As anyone who occasionally tracks their car knows, it’s not really about your times, or how fast you went, but about the camaraderie of hanging with like-minded enthusiasts as well as enjoyment you have with your car – and on that metric the weekend was an even bigger success. I hung out with a great group of guys and made friends with several of the cars in my run group that I was competitive with out there. Speed Ventures ran a great event that was both safe and well organized, and in general the caliber of people that attended the event was top notch.
At the end of the weekend I packed my car full of my gear, put back on my street tires and brake pads, and drove home in the comfort of my luxury sedan – while I’d love to have a dedicated race car, there is a specific joy that comes from knowing what your daily driver is capable of doing, then driving back after the track like it’s no big deal.
I believe this experience in a nutshell is what Audi calls “Truth in Engineering.”