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Buttonwillow compared to Thunderhill

 
Old 05-19-2009, 12:22 PM
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sundog
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Default Buttonwillow compared to Thunderhill

Ok, so I'm out for my 4th DE this weekend at Buttonwillow. All the other 3 have been at Thunderhill.

So I'm wondering if there is anything I can do to prepare myself in advance for the new track? Is it similar in a technical sense to Thunderhill? I've checked out a couple of videos on YouTube and the GGR-PCA track summary. Anything else? Do people set up the cars the same for the 2 tracks?

TIA
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Old 05-19-2009, 12:27 PM
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Buttonwillow has many different configurations and can be run in either direction. It can be a very high speed track or very technical. Do you know the config # and direction you will be running?
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Old 05-19-2009, 12:32 PM
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Originally Posted by SundayDriver View Post
Buttonwillow has many different configurations and can be run in either direction. It can be a very high speed track or very technical. Do you know the config # and direction you will be running?
It will be the Race#1 configuration on their website, Clockwise. So most corners and longest length.
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Old 05-19-2009, 12:34 PM
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Great high speed track. Lots of character. You need to setup for all the various combos of turns. Over the hill at high speed down to Star Mazda then up through the esses is my favorite...
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Old 05-19-2009, 12:38 PM
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It is pretty similar from a technical sense. Star Mazda will be an increasing radius leading into the esses - the most technical part. If you mess of the first apex, you will just get further and further behind the car and be in a real mess by the time you get to the last of the esses - get some good coaching there. Buttonhook will be a decreasing radius. Magic Mountain is challenging - much faster than most people think but you are dealing with a pretty severe crest.

Good mix of high speed turns and technical stuff. I have not been there in years so I have no idea of bumps, surface or curbs.
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Old 05-19-2009, 12:42 PM
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I found the write-up by Henry Watts to be very helpful. I would read it and then sit back with my eyes closed and try to envision the track turn by turn. After several days of this I was reasonable prepared for the track. Of course nothing is like getting out there and doing the first run session. My biggest worry is the inevitable off track in front of me that stirs up a great cloud of dust and for a few seconds I don't have the slightest idea where I am or where the other car is. Just back off and hope for the best. See you there.
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Old 05-19-2009, 12:49 PM
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We will be running Config #1 with Star Mazda (not the sweeper) in the clockwise direction for the weekend. In terms of car set-up for your 4th DE, you need do nothing different. Read/memorize Hank Watts description of the track and how to drive it (it's written for this configuration) and you'll be as ready as you can be.

It's been 2 years since I've been to BW but I don't think they've repaved it since. It's a much more bumpy track than TH (I hate the bumps all along the main straight) but not very different technically. Your instructor should be able to help you learn the line fairly quickly and warn you where to be careful (like the line you use going over "lost hill"). Technically, I think it's very similar to TH, the main difference being the esses at BW are real esses and not the wimpy things at T11/12/13 at TH. The BW esses are high speed and there is a wall off to the left side that can punish a mistake.

I'll be there all 3 days. Stop by if you'd like a ride or to simply say hello.
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Old 05-19-2009, 03:08 PM
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totally different, but set up should be the same. there are still some fast parts, but not as many.
Your main straight ends up with a little slower and more narrow left hand exit, then you come to a near stopping 2nd gear fish hook turn. a mini straight, into a thunderhill "hill" type turn without the extreme hill, an infield like the "S's" of the back side of t-hill, a sweeper like turn 2 of thunderhill, and into another wannabe thunderhill "hill". the star mazda is a tight right hander, similar to the final turn sequences of T-hill, and then the final streatch are some fast S's that done require anything special, into a hard braking, fast 2nd gear exit to the main straight.

I cant remember if #1 has the bus stop or not. If not, that is a real fun track. If it does, be prepared to trash your car and body because the bus stop tosses you and your car around and it feels like you never get a break. so, in a sence, its more like Sears without the fast stuff, than Thunderhill!.

Its fun, but I like the smoother and faster layed out tracks like the others in california. Buttonwillow is a brutal track. Its the reason why little lightcars really have an advantage there.

mk
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Old 05-19-2009, 04:12 PM
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It's a rough track - it tends to eat numerous cars every time I've been there (not mine, fortunately). There is not good run-off room and it's a really tight track so it gets crowded quickly in races, especially after the last turn before the straight - so many cars hit the inside wall when blowing the last turn. I've witnessed the turn over the hill eating many a car's bumper, including causing cars to roll over if they go off-track. And the dust there is like no other - it just hangs, impeding all vision!
My advice - be careful!!
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Old 05-19-2009, 05:39 PM
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I was considering this same event...NCRC right? But of course the track car is still in rehab :>(

I do plan on making the next NCRC weekend at Thunderhill though....june 20-21
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Old 05-19-2009, 07:24 PM
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Originally Posted by IcemanG17 View Post
I was considering this same event...NCRC right? But of course the track car is still in rehab :>(

I do plan on making the next NCRC weekend at Thunderhill though....june 20-21
Nope, this weekend is the PCA Golden Gate Region race. Central coast has the track for Friday.
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Old 05-19-2009, 08:41 PM
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If you watch video, read Hank Watts' book and go out with an instructor, you will be fine. It is technically similar to Thunderhill though it has more in the way of high-speed corners that you have to build up to slowly. Combine this with the relative lack of reference points (compared to Thunderhill being very clearly marked) and some of the poorly maintained off-track areas (and all the dirt and the walls on the front straight) and I understand why some people don't like it. It just isn't as good a track as Thunderhill, and isn't as well maintained.

Key things to remember are (i) build up slowly as the lack of reference points makes it tricky the first time you are there, and (ii) if you are going to off, do your best to go off straight and don't try to keep it on the track. Going off straight will help avoid rolling the car in the dirt or swinging the car back onto the track and into the wall on the front straight--unfortunately two type of accidents that can really destroy a car. In other words, don't worry about the front bumper/splitter...if you are going to go off, just keep it going straight off the track if you can. As for the reference points, I had a headache the first day I went there, I think from trying to figure out where I was on the track, but by Sunday it was a lot better. Therefore, concentrate on just learning the track on Saturday and on Sunday it will feel a lot better.

Like Tom W, I'll be there this coming weekend doing the club race. Feel free to drop by.

Harry
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Old 05-19-2009, 08:54 PM
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Like others said. I had trouble the first time calibrating the braking into Star Mazda. Pretty bumpy. My ABS went bonkers here late braking, but you might be fine. Wish I was going...
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Old 05-22-2009, 09:50 PM
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OK, one more question. Is there enough canopy space for most of the cars, or do I need to go out and buy one of those 6 foot standalone canopies?

It's 100 out right now, and I don't want to get massive radiation burns this weekend.
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Old 05-22-2009, 11:40 PM
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Canopy space? What's that?
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