Photography by ©CaliPhotography
Just over a month since my first time at Buttonwillow, I went back for another fun day at the track in my 86. I had a lot of time to think about and analyze where I needed to improve for my next track day. I got over a lot of my initial reservations from the time before and decided to just go for it.
The 86 has been lightly modified with Jackson Racing Radiator/Oil Cooler, TRD lowering springs, TRD sway bar, Magnaflow exhaust and 17×8 949 Racing 6UL Wheels wrapped in 225/45-17 Michelin Pilot Super Sport tires.
My car was again prepared by Jackson Racing, with Jackson Racing also providing trackside support and coaching during my sessions to help build my understanding of chassis setup with the 86. After riding passenger so many times and learning the track myself in my previous four sessions, my first session out this time I ran one second faster than my best time from the previous event. A lot of Buttonwillow is full throttle, especially in a car like mine. The braking zones are not very long and there are not that many. A lot of corners are a quick turn in, unwind the wheel and commit to throttle. Getting comfortable took just one session this time and now I expected to drop even more time.
Session two brought out my lowest time of the day with a 2:12, slashing 4 seconds off my first session and setting my personal best. I was very happy with that. My third session again seemed to be my weakest as I again got distracted, this time it was from a car catching fire in front of me causing a red flag. But even with the poor third session, I got my concentration back in my final session of the day, maintaining a 2:13 in traffic.
There were corners I felt much more comfortable coming out of and sections where I was full throttle that I wasn’t before which were huge parts to my time improvement. And really exploring the limits of the car was both rewarding and fun, but there’s much more to find. There were a few corners that I slid out of and really loved playing with grip limits. Especially when I would nail Phil Hill, my favorite corner at Buttonwillow. It’s one of the elevated portions of the track that’s a blind corner over crest. You flick the car over the top of the hill and “land” on the downside straight wheel and full throttle. When you get it right it’s an awesome feeling, but when you get it wrong you know right away.
The result of my second day at Buttonwillow left me not just learning more about my car but also my driving. I am learning how to utilize the tires and find the limits of grip, and how small changes to my driving change how the car reacts. I know what I need to improve on for the next time and what I want to continue doing. My next track day isn’t too far away and is again at Buttonwillow. I can’t wait!