Turn 9 at Big Willow claims another victim

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Re: Turn 9 at Big Willow claims another victim

Postby jhwalker » Sat Mar 28, 2015 6:58 am

Driving at Big Willow was always two things for me. I was hooked on the whole concept the first time I ran it, and Big W was the first track that I ran, and it was simply that I could drive as fast as I could with no fear of a ticket, limited only by my car, my skill, and those pesky other cars.
The second was the sense of having survived, that you mentioned. I guess as the times dropped there was the sense of growing mastery. And the quest for a perfect lap -- something I never felt that I achieved. I guess that was 4 things, and I should add to them the fun of competing.

I have loved speed since the first time Mom and dad let me drive the new '57 Ford with the big (at the time) engine and stick shift to the store to get milk and bread. I don't remember the month that it was purchased, and the models came out early then so I am pretty sure I was 13. We lived in the country and the store was at the edge of town, so I could milk 15-20 minutes (and a 1/4 tank of gas) out of the ride to the store. No one cared about the gas because dad's office had a pump for the trucks, and anyway it was 23 cents a gallon.

It was wonderful, and I soon started taking a little detour to a small pond near the house which would grow and shrink depending on the season and when shrunken had a reasonably smooth little circle of drivable area around it which looked a lot like a circle track. I lost my driving privileges for a while when one morning mom popped out from behind a tree and red-flagged me in the middle of me hanging the tail of the car out while charging around the circle track as fast as I could. Turns out they had been tipped off by a neighbor who could hear the engine, and they also HAD been tracking the incredible amount of gas that was being used on those store trips.

I skipped most of the car fun while raising Brendan, Adam and Ryan, and was in a state of joy when I went to Willow Springs. At age 59, with the 2003 Mustang Cobra. I had no idea how much fun the next years would bring.
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Re: Turn 9 at Big Willow claims another victim

Postby Tetge » Sat Mar 28, 2015 10:47 am

My sister has been fighting a serious battle with cancer, and she is currently in the Stanford Hospital, so, I scanned some old family photos to cheer her up. Since there are not many people frequenting this forum I shall share a photo of my first car, and this is the actual truth. I suppose that I was standing to get more weight on the pedals to enhance the rear wheel torque, and my eyes were definitely focused on the course with both hands on the steering wheel, so I was already a pro. But, in any case, I learned to drive at a very young age (in 1946, or so).
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Re: Turn 9 at Big Willow claims another victim

Postby jhwalker » Sat Mar 28, 2015 3:03 pm

Hmm... I was sort of thinking vehicles with motors... :-D
When I was nine years old we moved from in town (4,000 people) out to the country. We had a good driveway and after dad would come home from work, my parents did not mind if I drove the car back and forth in the driveway. It kept me from getting into other trouble. Back the car to the road, drive forward and try to get 1st, 2nd and 3rd before braking. Then back into reverse, and practice backing to the road again. Many times. Many days. The trill did wear off after a while, but I kept in practice. So when it came time to start going to pick up the bread and milk at age 13, all I had to worry about was turning corners and sitting tall in case I passed a cop. In the summer I would work clearing dead orange trees, and when lucky would get to drive the tractor. The tractor was a lot of fun too, but too slow.
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Re: Turn 9 at Big Willow claims another victim

Postby jhwalker » Sat Mar 28, 2015 4:02 pm

It is a dangerous sport, for both the drivers and the viewers... http://blackflag.jalopnik.com/nissan-gt ... 1694239772
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Re: Turn 9 at Big Willow claims another victim

Postby Tetge » Sat Mar 28, 2015 6:54 pm

I was driving regular vehicles as soon as I could reach the pedals. And, my dad build us a home made go kart before that. So, I have been driving almost since birth. And, until I moved to Northern California, and worked in San Francisco, I always thought that driving was a California birth right. It was a big shock to discover that the natives of San Francisco considered driving some sort of sin. Tree hugging commies that they are, some do not even own an automobile. I still drove to work, but, I had to pay fees to cross over a bridge and parking also cost an arm and a leg. They really do hate cars.
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Re: Turn 9 at Big Willow claims another victim

Postby jhwalker » Sat Mar 28, 2015 8:06 pm

Tetge wrote:I was driving regular vehicles as soon as I could reach the pedals. And, my dad build us a home made go kart before that. So, I have been driving almost since birth. And, until I moved to Northern California, and worked in San Francisco, I always thought that driving was a California birth right. It was a big shock to discover that the natives of San Francisco considered driving some sort of sin. Tree hugging commies that they are, some do not even own an automobile. I still drove to work, but, I had to pay fees to cross over a bridge and parking also cost an arm and a leg. They really do hate cars.



I forgot. 8-) You grew up in a life of privilege and I grew up poor. :whistle:
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Re: Turn 9 at Big Willow claims another victim

Postby Tetge » Sun Mar 29, 2015 10:03 am

jhwalker wrote:
Tetge wrote:I was driving regular vehicles as soon as I could reach the pedals. And, my dad build us a home made go kart before that. So, I have been driving almost since birth. And, until I moved to Northern California, and worked in San Francisco, I always thought that driving was a California birth right. It was a big shock to discover that the natives of San Francisco considered driving some sort of sin. Tree hugging commies that they are, some do not even own an automobile. I still drove to work, but, I had to pay fees to cross over a bridge and parking also cost an arm and a leg. They really do hate cars.



I forgot. 8-) You grew up in a life of privilege and I grew up poor. :whistle:


I also learned to drive a full sized car practicing up and down a 150' driveway in a flat white, flat head six, 1951 Ford, two door business coupe. I guess that is why I still buy white Ford coupes as I was imprinted at an early age with Ford loyalty. Although my parents always bought new Fords, starting with that same 1951 Ford, they never bought fancy models, and, in fact, back in the day, a business coupe did not even come standard with a back seat, and even heaters were optional. So, they had to have a factory back seat installed, for extra, in the 1951, but it had a factory heater, as who ever ordered it no doubt felt that in 1951 a car without a heater was a joke. It was, however, a striped, base model, but it ran forever, all over the USA and deep into Mexico. It had three on the tree, naturally, and I became an expert at all aspects of clutch work and steering in tight quarters driving back and forth in the driveway. I suppose this is why I have always felt that better driver education should be required to get a license, as it seems to help, even if a person beomes a reckless teen driver with no sense at all, since skills could save the day. when they do something stupid, which they generally will. Sometimes I marvel that I made it, I did so many stupid things behind the wheel, but, the cars that I drove were relatively slow and there was a lot less traffic and luck was on my side a few times. And, unlike some people, I learned from those pucker inducing close calls.

Another walk down memory lane. It seems that this goes hand in hand with getting senile, but, as with most things, the younger members of this board, will have to discover this themselves down the line.
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Re: Turn 9 at Big Willow claims another victim

Postby jhwalker » Sun Mar 29, 2015 10:22 am

"I also learned to drive a full sized car practicing up and down a 150' driveway" -- :lol: -- I should have known... Ours was more like 75'... :evil:
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Re: Turn 9 at Big Willow claims another victim

Postby Brakelate » Mon Mar 30, 2015 1:05 am

I HAVE to finally get off my ass and follow through with getting my old "Big" VHS type in car videos transferred to a modern, more durable and easy to share format. IF I can find them after this last move.

Fun stuff, from shagging flame throwing Subi Sti's in my SVTFocus on "The Streets" to my first trips to "Big Willow" in my '01 Cobra harassing (and watching) my then buddy spin his '02 Camaro SS right in front of me - with his wife in the passenger seat. :lol: Likely one of the reasons they now no longer allow just anyone to take passengers (especially girlfriends, wives or other impressionable women) on track. :doh:

As a courtesy, I had buried it away and never released it at the time (this was likely going to be a "phantom dog" collision report somewhere OTHER than in Kern County) as it resulted in an absolutely TOTALLED brand spanking new Rotary RX-8 just when they first came out. But;

While in the main pits, with the wife and infant kids watching, they became bored at the Big Track. I told them to go up on "the hill" by the Budweiser Balcony section to stretch their legs, run around, make noise away from traffic, speeding cars, etc. Somewhere safe, with a nice view. Up in the big grandstands.

Well, sure as hell, that session this fool "kid" decides to take his brand new car (first time at ANY track on top of it all) out with his girlfriend to show her a 'hot' lap.
My wife was filming right next to the fence, when this dipshit fishtails up the hill from the water tower, somehow manages to squeeze right between the concrete wall and dirt embankment, through the chain link fence, launching all the way up in between the two bleacher sections, coming to rest mere yards from my kids, and sits there for a good 15 seconds with his foot on the floor W-F-O, wheels spinning away, with said 'driver' doing the thousand yard stare as his girlfriend empties her bladder right there in the passenger seat.

Got it all on amazing quality video, real sharp, clear, nicely panned motion footage. Absolutely incredible stunt, video and fact that no one, primarily my kids, were not hurt at all. Though the wife did decide to call it a day at that point. :shock:

I later took about a minute of additional footage of it sitting on the flat bed, all crumpled, oozing fluids from every driveline component, all with the shiny brand new paper plates and frame from Alhambra Mazda where it had just been purchased only a few days earlier.

So, talk about track safety. Yeah. For participants, passengers and even the most remote spectators alike! And that was over 12 years ago... :snooty:
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Re: Turn 9 at Big Willow claims another victim

Postby Brakelate » Mon Mar 30, 2015 1:21 am

OH, and then there was the time (again, one of my first "Streets" events with SVTOA, and my first intro to Crazy Carlos and his then 'RaceBronco').

Sitting in the first, far East grandstand, watching the supposed "fast" advanced run groups lapping, when in the first lap out, the bright Red fully Vinyl-wrapped Mothers Car Wax Mini Cooper S rounded the skidpad course (running clockwise). Just about as he entered the apex on to the front straight , putting the car pointing directly at the grandstands and pit area, his left front tire separates from the car, and at full speed rolls, takes a couple of good bounces and I swear this thing is going to hop that silly little 3' tall green retaining wall and chain link fence and just absolutely sack someone in the grandstands - or continue through the whole thing and torpedo a unsuspecting car parked beyond. :pray: The thing takes a miracle hop, touching down right at the base of that little green wall, impacting it with tremendous force, and bouncing back out into the harmless zone between the hot pit and front straight, coming to rest. The Cooper, grinding to a halt, with all sorts of body damage from when the wheel assembly hit the rear of the front fender opening, causing it to launch forward so violently - in addition to it's already incredible centrifugal force, energy and weight.

Turns out dumb ass only "finger tightened" that one wheel, while swapping on track tires there in the pits. He got distracted talking while performing the wheel swap and only tightened / torqued three of the four wheels! :o

So, shit happens. And NO where is safe around fast moving machinery. :naughty:
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