For some, a first-time experience at a racetrack is likely to bring joy and excitement, followed by a potential lifelong addiction to the sport.
Auto racing has had its share of historic moments, from the pageantry of legendary drivers and cars, to perilous near misses and even the occasional accident.
It’s the smells, sounds, and action of motorsports that often sucks people in. It could also be the gallery of hundreds of cars, most of them different in subtle ways, but all with the same mission; to drive hard and secure a win.
Arriving early at ButtonWillow Raceway Park, located just off Interstate 5 near Lost Hills, California, one is greeted by the bright, hot and sticky track conditions ideal for fast lap records. Crews and spectators are sprawled across the RV parking right in front of Sunset, a fast, medium corner that dips inward and back up. Sunset provides for some challenges amongst beginner drivers, and when fluid or debris enters the equation, the corner turns perilous.
ButtonWillow Raceway has 41 configurations utilized by racers. USTCC chose the 2.92 mile 13CW configuration, which has long straightaways for passes, and a variety of turns and fast elevation changes that make it challenging. Twenty-seven garages with air compressors and workbenches benefit the drivers and their team.
The US Touring Car Championship runs a large variety of heavily modified road going cars with lesser use of aerodynamics. Vehicles are based upon family cars like hatchbacks, sedans and estates, while GT cars are on a purpose-built tube frame racing chassis under a cosmetic body shell. Hankook F200 Slicks are required for this championship, and there is a thorough tech inspection, showing the rigidity of rules and regulations.
Eight races took place across the U.S. this 2021 season, with Beau Borders of Borders’ Racing Motorsports winning round eight, and the GT Class final, with a total of 200 points. While a variety of drivers held the lead in each race, Edgar Lau was successful in rounds five through seven, winning three top podium spots.
Drivers who place on the top three podiums have a chance to win tires from Hankook, as well as brand endorsements for certain makes like Mazda and Honda. All events in the West are televised on NBC Sports Network, which affords drivers sponsor opportunities with brands and/or teams.
The US Touring Car Championship provides race teams relatively affordable racing at a range of challenging racetracks, bringing out the top three drivers to battle it out. Registration fees range from $500-$1300, making it possible for drivers to compete without needing thousands of dollars, and years of experience, like the professionals.
It also gives young drivers 16 and older a chance to advance into other touring classes. The US Touring Car Championship ended in a varied grid, and drivers either continue on to future events or go home and work until the next event.