This past weekend I had the incredible opportunity to attend a private track day at Inde Motorsports Ranch in Willcox, AZ. Inde has an incredible 2.7 mile, 21 turn racetrack complete with tons of elevation change, positive & negative camber turns, and even a long straight that is long enough to land your private plane on. They also have incredible, 5-star facilities including several casitas you can rent for the night, making it the perfect choice for me and my “track rat” friends to takeover for a weekend of high-octane fun. While the track may be in a remote location, that has some perks too including a firing range on-site, incredibly scenic desert views, a collection of vintage airplanes as lawn ornaments, and no neighbors to bother no matter how loud you (or your cars) are, making it well worth the drive from San Diego and certainly a no-brainer for anyone in Arizona.
This was my third time at the track, although it had been almost 3 years since my last visit – luckily I still remembered a lot of the turns and racing lines well, so the learning curve was less daunting. It’s an incredibly technical track that can be a little challenging for first timers, especially a few of the turns that are uphill and somewhat blind, but once you get a feel for it, it’s incredibly fun to start linking everything together. The last time I visited I still had my A4 that was FWD, so having my AWD S4 meant more power and more handling, allowing me to push the car harder and find new limits in terms of grip.
I had also made quite a few upgrades to my S4 since my last track day at Willow Springs last year, including a JHM LSD, 034 Motorsport Front Sway Bar End Links, Apikol Rear Diff Mount, 034 Rear Diff Carrier Inserts, and last but certainly not least new Hankook R-S3 tires. Please excuse the cliché, but the S4 handled like it was on rails with these upgrades. Each turn was incredibly consistent & predictable – the suspension settled quickly, there was little body roll, and the tires gripped on each turn. I experienced very little understeer (shocking, for those who know Audis well!), and even some oversteer at points, as the JHM LSD allowed me to power through turns and the tires & suspension kept the rubber on the road. My brakes held up pretty well with Carbotech XP10 and XP8 in the front and rear respectively, although I’m still trying to scrub off all of the race compound from the front rotors and might have been a little too hard on them the last session 🙂
The Hankook R-S3s deserve their own post, and will get one soon, but for now lets just say they’re very impressive and incredibly versatile, my favorite tires yet. I was worried when I ordered them that they were too aggressive for street/daily use, but was quite happy to find out they were quiet, rode reasonably well, and have been a great daily driver tire – which worried me that the catch would be that they’d disappoint at the track. Luckily, they’re even better at the track, and are probably the grippiest street tires I’ve ever driven on. They barely even made any noise or squealing until midway through the session even when pushing it at 10/10ths, and we were running 30 minute sessions most of the day and it was quite sunny out, so the track was very hot. I did go through a lot of rubber so I’m guessing these tires won’t last super long, but other than that I’m beyond thrilled with these.
But we all know that what really makes a track day fun is the camaraderie – many of my friends from Arizona joined as well as some new faces for Texas and elsewhere, making it an incredibly fun trip. My S4 actually lost a serp belt after the first session and there was no shortage of volunteers to help me replace the serp belt in about an hour, only missing one session. Inde has a lot of open space which allowed us to dominate the paddock and all help each other out, and they also catered some awesome meals for us and took great care of us the entire time. We had a nice group of cars dominated by Audis but including several Mustangs, an 800 HP Evo, a race prepped S2000, and even a few rental cars 😛
Driving the car hard on the track reminded me why I loved my car so much. One of my favorite things about the car is how well it can perform in a variety of functions, both street and track. Not only did she hang with cars with way more horsepower and less weight on the track, but she also did great on the ~1,200 mile road trip getting to and from Willcox (with stopovers in Phoenix) with my wife, my dog, and I all enjoying a nice, comfy, problem-free ride home, even after all of the track abuse. While I’ve been drawn to getting a 2 door Porsche, it’s hard to beat the performance and comfort of the B7 S4, especially given the huge price difference between my car and its cousins in Stuttgart. It’s a point of pride to be able to drive home my “race car” to and from the track – and especially impressive with such a long drive home.
Last but not least, the group was able to pull together and make a contribution to the Muscular Dystrophy Association for over $1,000, so our shredding tires and burning brake pads went to a good cause, too. A big thanks goes out to Mark, Misty, Craig, the team at Inde Motorsports Ranch especially Aubrey & John, and everyone else who made the track day possible!