Last week I was "burdened" with the task of scoping out the brand new racetrack that has surfaced in Desert Station, California. (CVR) has been a long-time dream of owner and company president Micky Grana, and as of April of this year, it's now as real as sand in a desert with 2.68 miles of flawless asphalt and newly painted black and yellow concrete roll curbing accenting the track's 17 technical turns.
Not that we don't have any good tracks around here already, but the surfaces of some of the existing local tracks in Southern California are beginning to show their age. Bumps and crack sealant present new challenges when they appear mid corner, and if you're running on two wheels (as in motorcycles), it makes things even hairier.
CVR's desert location within the Chuckwalla Valley offers plenty of safe runoff area, not to mention available real estate (1,100 acres I'm told) with which to expand. Future facility plans include 2 additional racetracks (tracks 1 and 2 will be a linkable to form a 4.3-mile course), hot pit and storage garages as well as an 18,000 sq.-ft. clubhouse with observation deck. If you hadn't guessed it, CVR is also offering track memberships akin to what we experienced during our nationwide Audi R8 Odyssey.
As of right now, there's little more than a front office building, a few port-o-potties in the paddock area and the nearest gas station is roughly 25 miles away (though there is some fuel available on site with an on-site fueling station in the works), but I suspect those things are small sacrifices to make for any track junkie that shares my excitement for this sort of stuff.
The majority of my 8-hour visit was spent squealing tires in a Subaru WRX STI Special Edition around the track's only configuration (though it's designed to run in both directions) and I instantly became a fan. The track spans 40 feet with an imperceptible 1 degree of banking at 10 of the 17 turns. The slight elevation changes throughout make many of the turns blind and the track seem narrower than it is.
To be quite honest, a car that is less prone to understeer would've been a better choice for this track, though the STI's all-wheel drive stability did offer some advantages in the sections that soon became my favorites. Turn 9 (in the clockwise direction) is an off camber (by -2 degrees) uphill left turn that crowns in the middle. It's the 2nd turn in a series of 3 that follows the 3rd longest straight of the track. If you're not careful, it's one of the easier places to spin (as a Nissan 300ZX demonstrated right in front of me), and if you apex it too early, there's a good chance you'll drive off the track at turn 10. The Subaru actually benefited from the off camber slant of this turn, as it helped me rotate the car over the crest and set up for the entry to turn 10.
Turns 11 and 12 were where I had the most fun in the Subie. Both turns are banked at 3.5 degrees with a total elevation drop of 18 feet. Here, I could just throw the STI sideways "rally style" and let the camber of the road slow my slide down with plenty of run out to spare.
I could go on and on about CVR's specific track elements, but I fear I'll lose the rest of you who've actually made it this far through the blog. I'm also thinking that you'd rather drive it for yourself than to hear me babble on about how fun it is, so go to find more information on available track dates.
For those of you who actually want more, I just happened to bring a video camera with me that day. You can watch my in-car lap right here.
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