The other day after the Keep Drifting Fun: The Series inaugural season finale, I hiked over the ridge to the west of Thunderhill to check out the progress of the new track, known as Thunderhill West. I thought you guys might get a kick out of seeing a cool race track under construction.
I brought my usual gear with me, so I could see the track they way I need to see tracks. Most people just hike to the crest of the ridge and look with their eyes. I walked nearly the whole perimeter, finding shooting spots. Hopefully they don’t put any flagger stations and porta potties in the way. I also took the liberty of Photoshopping race cars onto the track, so the photos are more exciting. This is the exit of Turn 6, heading for the first hairpin at Turn 7.
Turn 7 is really tight. I think it’s almost as tight as Turn 11 on the Long Beach street course.
Here’s an aerial view of Turn 7. It’s rumored to be a first gear turn. We’ll see.
Turn 6 and 7 together, with Turn 5 and the “Drifting Corners” in the upper left. Really, they’re calling them the Drifting Corners. I think “the Esses” would be just fine though.
Here’s another look at the Drifting Corners with some drifting going on. Maybe I should have used rally cars.
The Drifting Corners exit over a crest into Turn 6. Turn 7 is the furthest turn before the track comes back through Turn 8 and into the right hairpin at Turn 9. After Turn 10 is the front straight, heading off to the left.
The exit of Turn 7 seems like it will be pretty awesome during this year’s 25. This track has a totally different character from either half of the main track. The original frontside’s long flowing turns and crux Turn 5 compliment the backside’s abundance of straightaways nicely, but Thudnerhill West is a different animal altogether with its weird kinks and undulating elevation changes.
The chicane at Turn 3 (far left) is outrageously sharp. The outside of the chicane is tighter than the inside of Turn 5 on the main track at Thunderhill, which is almost a single point. The straight leading up to the Chicane is being named “Eau Rouge” after the famous turn at Spa-Francorchamps, though I couldn’t find any streams running under the track. Turn 4 is a nice decreasing radius turn that gets sharp at the end before quickly switching back to the right and up to the Drifting Corners.
Here’s a lower view of the chicane.
And the opposite view. This should look pretty nice at sunset!
Thunderhill West can be accessed either by the road to its paddock, or by connectors from the main track. The connector from the main track jumps over the ridge just before Turn 9 the return connector rejoins the track a little before Turn 10. The tracks can be combined into a single five-mile course that may or may not be known as Thunderschleife.
The connector joins the new track at the exit of its Turn 2, an 11° banked half circle carved into the hillside and known at “Daytona.” Turn 1 is a multi-apex series of kinks off the end of the front straight. Daytona is bypassed in Thunderschleife configuration, and the connector makes its way back over the ridge.
Thunderhill West will be available for testing starting in May, and the grand opening of the full five-mile course is June 20-22 with testing on Friday and an SCCA race over the weekend.
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