Car Stories | Petersen Invitational Treated Fans to Private Track Time
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I went to the country club track at Thermal outside Palm Springs for this event. There are 4.8 miles of track, split for this event into 1.2 and 3.6 miles. The paving is fresh and smooth. There is only about 10 feet of elevation change added, but added brilliantly so there are some corners with camber and straights that are blind. There is a great assortment of corners. There are features recreated, like the esses from the old Riverside track.
The problems are that it is what I call a paperclip track. It bends back on itself, so all you see is guard rails. One of the joys of the great tracks is scenery. Also, because of the paperclip effect, the guard rails are close, with limited run off areas in places. I made that comment to a friend and 15 minutes later a mid '60s Corvette race car had a big smack into the guard rail near us, shutting the track for the last hour of Saturday.
There was an autocross with manufacturers providing cars. The BMW M3 and M4 were OK, but the power wasn't strong. I heard a couple of people saying "turbo lag", but I think it was just typical BMW low torque. There was a Porsche Cayman, which was fun. It was tied for quickest with me. There were Lexuses (Lexi?). The RCF Lexus was a delight. I tied my Cayman time with a coupe! The acceleration was good, the cornering and braking was good, just the electronic nannies came in a little early, but that is probably adjustable. What a nice car!. I went home and checked its stats. 467 HP, high 300s in torque, about $65K. It didn't feel like that much hp because of its lower torque and higher weight, but what a good car.
They let me drive a Lotus Evora on the track. What a nicely balanced car! Good everything. I don't know how it would be on the street, but it is a fine track car.
I got a ride in a Lamborghini Super Trofeo Gallardo. The driver was very consistent and fast, and the performance envelope was very strong. The brakes were the most impressive.
I street drove the latest Tesla. They let me launch a few times on the "Insane" setting. Strong launch for a heavy street car. It drove nicely, and the screen graphics were amazing. I asked if I could try self driving mode, but that doesn't go live for two more months.
Dinner was very good, outdoors, hosted by Danny Sullivan, and his nice Canadian wife.
The garages and clubhouses are beautifully done. Their gas station has 110 racing fuel, diesel and pretty much any other fuel you could want.
The parking lot for the event ended up as it's own car show.