Turn by turn guide to the Buttonwillow Raceway Park track

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Track Map


Before you read, have a look at this brief guide for practice sessions in buttonwillow.

An additional track guide by Porsche. That guide includes visual illustrations of each stage of every corner around the track, use it to visualize the following instructions.

Turn 1

Sunrise: Medium speed, 90 degrees long, in between straights. On the front leading the to the Sunrise corner , use the access road and the rumble lines on the right as a braking reference point. Once the majority of the braking is done and the downshifts completed, turn-in smoothly while trailing off the brakes as you approach the apex. Being preceded by a straight and leading into another, a great deal of speed can be maintained through the corner. If you are being introduced to racing in Buttonwillow, it might feel slow, but as you gain experience and caution regarding corner entry speeds, this corner, like many medium-speed corners, could actually be driven faster than what it might feel to begin with. However, because another straight follows, the exit speed still takes precedence: Turn-in decisively (how decisively depends or car handling and setup, prefer a smooth application over an abrupt one) to get down to a slightly later apex, which it turn would help you in picking up the throttle about half-way through, exiting on full throttle.

The most common mistake is to be too "clean" with the corner entry: Entering at a slow speed while trying to maintain throttle throughout and clip the APEX sooner.

Turn 2

Off-ramp: A short, fast curve directly followed by a moderate, opposite hairpin (Buttonhooks), preceded and followed by straights. The straight following Buttonhooks is longer than the straight leading into it from Sunrise. This only makes it even more advantageous to maximize exit speed coming out of the Buttonhooks hairpin, rather than coming into the Off-ramp curve. This is rendered even more acute to the presence of a crest before the hairpin and an off-camber banking around the second APEX.

Coming up to Off-ramp, turn-in late for the left kink once you can see daylight between the apex of the left kink and right hairpin. This, in turn, will help you clip the APEX at the hairpin later and apply power faster. While this corner allows to brake ever so lightly up to the middle of the hairpin, one must take consideration of the banking of the corner around the second APEX and the slow entry speed nessecary to negotiate the hairpin to begin with. It should be downright slow!

Turning into off-ramp you will need a steering input of roughly 30-40 degrees, followed by an input of 130 degrees to the other way and into the hairpin. So keep your hands planted on the wheel, and coming into the hairpin straighten and relocate the pulling hand to about 11 O'Clock on the wheel to pull it just enough (130 degrees) from under the opposite hand, and return to the 9:15 position while going through the hairpin. Turning out, the other hand is relocated in 1 O'Clock on the wheel (130 degrees to the right) so it could pull the wheel 130 degrees back to the left and again return to the 9 and 3 position.

In lower power cars, you want to turn into the right hand hairpin from the middle of the road, and let the car track out and run the ‘outside line’ onto the straight. The more positive is the grip to-power ratio of the car, the bigger the radius you can make the corner and still put the power down.

For higher power cars, keeping a tighter line is faster. Wait to a late stage, shortly after the crest mid-corner, than turn-in decisively so that the car will be straighter sooner (than the outside line), and power can be aggressively applied for a good exit.

A very common mistake for beginners is to adopt a faster entry line, which allows to take the fast curve at a straight line, than followed by a wide radius for the hairpin, making the driver unable to put the power down until a very late stage.

Turn 3

Turn 3 is a moderate speed corner, directly followed by an immediate change in direction (turn 4) and another, relatively fast curve (turn 5) with a short straight leading to another fast curve (turn 6) which can generally be taken flat out. You can see a short demonstration of this line here.

Because of the nature of this corner set, one may carry a great deal of speed into it again. Use the curbing on the left as a braking reference point and trail the brakes down to the apex. In spite of this, do not turn-in early, but rather take a late APEX, turn-in decisively while trailing off of the brakes into the corner, or trailing completely off just as you turn-in. This will help you setup to the next corner.

Settle the car at the far end of the track or slightly closer to center of it while sensitively applying the throttle while quickly taking off the steering lock, which in turn helps to apply the footbrake shortly and lightly before diving into the following corner.

the car in the middle of the track, setting up for the next left hander. A brief throttle application then tap of the brakes to set the nose will help keep the speeds up between the two corners. You should carry enough speed into the left hander to be able to go through it with trailing throttle. Like the preceding corner, be in the middle of the track to set up for turn 5 (the crest of the hill). Use the curb with caution, as some cars can jump due to boarding it. This corner is blind coming in, but opens up rapidly coming out, making it even more important to clip a later-APEX.

Turn 4

Having settled the car at the far end of the track or slightly closer to center of it, sensitively apply the throttle while quickly taking off the steering lock, which will help to apply the footbrake shortly and lightly before diving into this corner. Cornering here should be conducted in similarity to turn 3, by turning in late and decisively, while trail braking or possibly trailing-off of the brakes just as you turn-in, and actually coasting ever so slightly as you approach the very late APEX.

Turn 5

Having again settled to the edge of the track or it's middle, you may begin to accelerate coming up to turn 5. Since this corner is slightly blind and over-crest, you might turn-in a bit late, but keep throttle maintenance and smooth turn-in to enable the car to gain a great deal of speed to carry out through the next turn.

Turn 6

Being a very fast curve, it can usually be taken flat out, in which case one may enter it without braking and drive through it in a smooth, geometic line. Use further throttle maintenance or, better yet, an earlier turn-in, to maximize speed as you clip the APEX mid-corner. This whole corner is driven with the peripheral vision, with the eyes looking past it.

Turn 7

Club corner: A quick and open moderate-speed bend. Due to speeds involved, the driver needs to make smooth inputs, but in this particular corner, not working the wheel around quickly and accurately can decrease speed. Amongst other things, a more decisive input would enable the car to use a greater radius around the (geometric) APEX, enabling to load the car a bit more on the inside curb, which is very bumpy.

Turn 8

A fast curve followed by Turn 9 (the "Bus stop"), which is another fast curve. Do not fear the concrete patching over the APEX, it actually grips well and should not upset the car balance. APEX slightly late to enable a swift return to the gas in order to pitch the car forward in order to APEX the Bus-Stop.

Turn 9

Brake in a straight line. If find out that this does not require a downshift you should clearly use the left foot over the brake. Maintain throttle through the turn (how much depends on car setup). Do not be afraid of cutting the corner and loading your inside tires ever so slightly on the dirt. Once the car has clipped the APEX and settled, you can regain maximal acceleration at once (a fast curve).

Turn 10

Truckstop is a very fast and flat curve, which is taken from the center of the track and normally flat out. Other with a more sensitive application, "breathing the throttle" to turn the car. If the car understeers to a level where power lift-off is required, one must accomplish this very gently and quickly get on the gas again (without making steering corrections if it's beginning to oversteer). One past the APEX, you can return the full throttle almost at once.

Turn 11

A very fast and long curve, with a slightly decreasing radius and an on-camber. It is the fastest on the track. The driver positions himself at the far end of the track, driving towards the center of the track, and from there turning in a bit late, just where you can see the APEX rumble lines. Do a bit of braking beforehand (if you do not need to downshift, than use your left foot to brake), to reach a suitable speed, as it is possible to overdo with access speeds at the corner entry.

Keep throttle maintenance while steering around smoothly, and do not excite the car with the steering or by lifting-off of the throttle, which will prove catastrophic. If you do lift-off, make sure it is done very gently and smoothly, and with a slight reduction of steering angle, and followed by a quick reset of the throttle application. If the car feels loose, kick the accelerator to the floor (in a powerful RWD apply a bit less power, but similar idea). This would result in a rearward weight transfer, without any wheelspin (due to the speeds involved) and would straighten the car without any steering corrections. Eyes always focused past the curve, driving with your peripheral vision.

Another means of avoiding transmitting shocks to the car is not to use the whole track width at the APEX by not cutting the rumble lines.

While you normally can't enter the corner flat, you should try and pin the throttle as early as possible, as said, slow down towards the mid-track point, and in the turn-in point, maintain throttle and quickly open the throttle fully.

Turn 12

Kink is a fast curve. The problem with it is the small bump which directly follows the APEX. One may choose to avoid it, but by managing your acceleration through the curve, you will be able to get the car leveled over the little crest. As you are about to turn-in, trail off of the throttle (if you need to brake, use the left foot) and than breath the throttle through the curve.

Turn 12

"Lost Hill" is a fast curve, albeit somewhat blind going in towards the APEX. You should enter it from the far end of the track, turn in early (the geometric line), but in a steady line that would hit a slightly later APEX (or stay on the inside longer). When about to go over-crest, apply the power to stabilize the car over the jump.

This corner is dangerous and might be slightly scary. By turning earlier while still emphasizing a later APEX, it may seem like the driver is about to go off-road at the exit, which you will if you are apexing early. In which case, try to avoid forcing the car into the corner, but straighten out while braking to safely go off road and back on it, rather than splitting the grip and generating wild spinning. If the car does go off road or skids in the given conditions, both feet in, straight steering, eyes focused on the direction of intended travel. If the car tends to oversteer while still on the track, use throttle to shift weight backwards.

Turn 13

Turn 13 is a highly fast curve which is simply taken flat out.

Turn 15

"The sweeper" -- a moderate speed bend, which requires accurate, smooth work, and above all: speed of engagement. You can attack it at a very respectable or even high speed, but exaggerate and you will get terminal understeer. Brake briefly in a straight line on the left side of the road and turn-in trailing the brakes to an early apex. Hug the inside of the road until roughly half way through the corner. By this point you may go back to maintenance throttle to keep the mid-corner speeds up while tracking out to the left side (outside) of the corner. Hug the outer edge of the road until you can see the apex. Once you can see the apex, be patient and turn-in later for a late apex as the sweeper (like Riverside) is also a decreasing-radius corner. As you approach the apex, squeeze the power to full throttle. Track out up and over the entire curbing on the left into the esses.

Turns 16-20: The Esses

A series of small, very fast curves, which are driven in a straight line. This is achieved by late-apexing each portion of the esses, which is done by hitting the back side of each twist of the road. You should maintain throttle throughout.

In the esses, it is possible that less experienced drivers be found in a situation of split-grip, with two tires going off-road due to early apexing combined with high entry speeds. In this case, do not panic, as this is not dangerous when done right: The usual problem is panic or an attempt to resurface too quickly. The result of the opposite steering input at speed, together with the differences in grip and height, will result in violent spinning across the road, which will be nearly impossible to control.

Instead, the driver needs to straighten and balance the car along the edge of the roadway, than straighten the steering and lightly apply the footbrake to drive along the edge of the roadway while slowing down gradually. At a convenient point for recovery, turn the wheel slightly and gently (foot still on the footbrake) and let the car board the road on it's own. Having recovered, countersteer slightly and briefly (turn the wheel for a fraction of a second back towards the edge of the road) and than straighten and power out smoothly.

If a need to stop arouses anyhow, try and brake without locking up the tyres. If this does not seem to help, lockup everything (the "both feet in" rule), and let the car stop.

Turn 21

Sunrise is a relatively sharp corner, and is followed by the last and quite long straight. The key is to brake early before it, (with the curbing on the right as a brake reference point) apex it relatively late (usually not too late, though depends on car setup and driving conditions) and power out through the APEX.