Words by Matt Willis | Photos by Tim Wong & Melanie Kwok
Last Friday, KROPS held an open track day out at Streets of Willow. Originally, I had planned to pass on this event, simply because it would’ve been hard to get the time off and I knew I would have a lot to do the following week. I ended up moving some things around to make it work, the car was pretty much ready to go, so I changed my mind.
After making some needed repairs on the car a few nights before, I did my safety checks and loaded everything up. Following work on Thursday, I headed up to Temple City to stay at a friend’s place. It was much better staying up north and making the 1 1/2 hour climb than trying to drive 3 hours half-asleep from San Diego, so I’m thankful for that. I arrived at the track at around 7:30, a lot later than I had intended but I guess there was some sort of mis-communication and the facility gates didn’t open until later anyways. I thought it was great that they had a tech station set up where someone would sign off on your vehicle inspection. I take all of my checks seriously (be it self-tech or not), but I know there are things that can get overlooked. With a second set of eyes is watching, the chances of something crucial getting missed is far less. After the inspection and registration, it was onto a quick drivers meeting. Since it was my first time running the course in the clockwise fashion, I started out in the beginner group just to get used to everything. Later in the day, I felt like I could have gone to intermediate but cars started to leave and there was more gap space in the beginners’.
There were a few drivers that were a tad over-zealous, but they all got mentioned in the post-meetings and eventually got corrected or pulled altogether, because I didn’t see them anymore. I had one guy try to pass three-wide (in the #3 spot) in the bowl turn after giving the #2 spot the point-by…haha…man, I was really surprised that didn’t end in a wreck. I think there’s a difference between confident, respectful driving and driving beyond someone’s own means/experience. You really don’t learn anything by trying to smash it in three different driving lines and teasing up other cars. Start with one lane and focus on getting faster…pass when you need to and let others pass when you’re slower or off pace. You don’t learn to play guitar by covering Van Halen, and you don’t learn to run a marathon by sprinting for 5 miles. It’s a gradual process. And this is coming from someone who has only run a few tracks in a slower car; but I’ve seen my improvement and I’m honestly just going out there and doing the same thing every time. The only difference is I get more confident and I learn where I can push it a bit harder to save time. I don’t know, that’s just how I feel about it. As long as everyone is alive at the end of the day and everyone goes home with their car in one piece, it’s good enough for me.
My main worry was the heat, which I had a lot of trouble with at Fontana a few weeks prior. The ambient temp was in the low 90s, and there was some cloud cover, so I was hoping for cooler water temps; but the lack of a long NASCAR straightaway at Willow made it more difficult to keep good airflow. I found myself taking a few laps on the slower side just to be able to make one or two at full force without the temp climbing past 240 F. I definitely know my project for the off-season will be trying to improve the cooling efficiency of the car. Other than that, I had no issues and had a great time with everyone else out there. Streets of Willow is one of my favorite courses, and the entire KROPS team put on a great event and it was definitely well-staffed.
Anyways, enough rambling. It’s just a track day, right? On with the pics!
Tim arrived a bit later in the morning and started making his rounds with the camera.
Michael Koldus’, who runs SoCal Car Meets & Shows, was out running his Cobalt. A lot of people bag on Cobalts, but I’m not against them. I don’t think they look bad, have good potential and they make power…adds up to me. I think it has to do with the whole “not an import” deal which gets all the die-hards’ panties in a bunch…
That’s it! Thanks to the KROPS team for putting everything together. We had a great time and are definitely looking forward to another KROPS track day in the future! Thanks again!