Willow Springs International Raceway brands itself as the “Fastest Road in the West.” No argument there. 944 Spec racing March 12 and 13 certainly confirmed it. When one competitor expressed surprise at how much fuel he was using, I told him it’s because we spent most of the time with the pedal mashed to the floor. Then he proceeded to go out and win the next race. Whether it was the insanely high speed at which you can enter Turn 1, the full throttle around 180 degrees of banking in Turn 2, the excitement of driving straight uphill then pitching the car and going straight downhill like a roller coaster in Turn 4, the full throttle while going downhill through Turn 8, or the “oh #@%!” moments around Turn 9, Willow Springs International Raceway did not disappoint.
The weather threatened to provide a different track when I showed up Friday afternoon, with some big bursts of rain throughout the afternoon and evening. But those entering the endurance race that night handled it well. And the next morning, the track was dry and fast. 944 Spec racers were in fine form as they took to the track Saturday morning, with some competitive lap times in practice and qualifying. And when the checkered flag dropped at the end of Saturday’s race, Tom Atteberry took first place, John Niedernhofer took second and Charles Sharp took third. They had a tight battle throughout the race, with lap times only .02 seconds apart among the three of them. And Sunday’s race was likewise highly competitive. Sharp took first in that event, with Rafi Gogus taking second and Atteberry in third.
But the fun certainly wasn’t limited to the fast racing. As a group, 944 Spec in Southern California has a great level of fellowship and that was on full display all weekend. The group created its own 944 Spec compound in the paddock, where help with repairs, advice on the best line, the fine art of bench racing, as well as the occasional consumption of fine spirits — after the racing, of course —were all thoroughly enjoyed. Several people, including one of the timing and scoring officials in the tower, commented on the closeness of our group of racers.