An oasis in the desert

The Motoring Life: Racetrack Experience – Arroyo Seco Raceway

How would you react if I told you that there exists a place in which you can pay a small fee and drive you vehicle as fast as you want, without getting a ticket? What if I told you that this place allows you to do this at more than 1/4 mile at a time? What if I told you that at this same place, you can also drive around turns and corners as fast as you want — to both the left and the right?

Most say blasphemy — our local government would never allow such a place to exist. I’d have to say that you may be right, because to get to such a place you have to drive west on I-10, and Exit 102 — in the middle of nowhere, also called Akela, NM.

An oasis in the desert
An oasis in the desert

But this is a motorsports mecca for local gearheads that are interested in going fast for 1/4 mile at a time, and even further. This place is called Arroyo Seco Raceway and is an amazing resource for inexpensive automotive testing, tuning and even racing (for times, unless you get into the rubbing category) in a fun and safe environment

Arroyo Seco Raceway is a 1.4-mile 11-turn race course that was designed, built, owned and always operated by local motorsports enthusiasts (not a rich family or corporation that built a business).

It also features a massive pit area, drag strip, viewing stands, full PA system, classroom facilities and much more.

Local mecca for motorsports enthusiasts
Local mecca for motorsports enthusiasts

All this may sound like a sales pitch — but it truly isn’t. It is a call to action to get more local and regional enthusiasts and clubs to research the schedule and become active in driving their cars, in a safe way.

ASR was originally designed for motorcycles
ASR was originally designed for motorcycles

Some of you may be spouting off that you aren’t a part of the inferior automotive crowd, and that you are a racing God on two wheels only. If you are truly a racing God, then you would already know — that not only was the track originally designed for motorcycles — but has a large and very active motorcycle racing community.

There is really no excuse to be a terrible driver/rider, with such a resource so close by. Many clubs and organizations — even the track itself hosts events specifically designed for all experience levels, from know-nothings up to the Michael Schumacher wannabes.

Not a wannabe Schumacher. Image courtesy FoxSports
The actual World-Class F1 Racer Michael Schumacher with his $2.6 million F1 car. Image courtesy FoxSports

Being a fun and relatively safe track, there are no massive concrete barriers, blind corners or rock beds that you would end your insurance policy with. Instead, the runoff areas areas are as car-friendly as can be — so if you screw up and go off-course, you can safely run-off into a patchy desert area and return to the track (following in accordance with track rules/regulations) and not have to figure out how to tow your vehicle back home with only one tire attached, and a bumper missing, or worse.

In my personal automotive experiences at ASR, I have witnessed virtually everything practicing/racing/being educated out there: from Mustangs, Hondas and  open-wheel cars to the latest Lamborghinis, a Ferrari Enzo and a Porsche Carrera GT.

From supercars to econoboxes — ASR suits them all for an inexpensive practice facility that really isn’t too far away. One of the coolest things about ASR is that you can actually rent the entire facility out for your own private event. The track owner – Roger – lives on-site and is a very knowledgeable and easy person to work with. Having rented different tracks for private events on several occasions over the past ten years, I can easily say that ASR is the most pleasant, especially when a guy like Roger does everything he can to help your event go as planned.

Image courtesy
Image courtesy

Most tracks these days are money-hungry machines that aren’t interested in any car club’s needs, but rather how much of their pie they can take. I completely understand that tracks have to make money, but at the same time I ask that they understand local clubs like to stay in business and do fun things, like renting out an entire racetrack for absolute shenanigans including drag racing, drifting, automotive/motorcycle racing/testing tuning and full road course driving education (safely, and within track rules and regulations).

Bleeding a club dry the first time they come out isn’t going to make for a return visit, if the club can even sustain afterward. ASR likes loves repeat business, and has wonderful retention with many individuals and clubs alike.

ASR may not be a lavish country club, or a world-class F1-racetrack — but unless you are the type that eats steak, caviar and champagne for every meal while wearing your brand new nomex race-suit, save the country clubs for a special occasion. Practice with the rest of us at the grassroots level — where we grill outside and eat with dirty hands, and race in jeans and tee-shirts — this is where all local racers start and plenty of fun is had, without breaking the bank or spending an entire weekend out of town.

You can check out for schedules and rental information. If you have an event, invite me!

By the way, even world-class F1 racer Michael Schumacher races shifter karts during the off-season — not multi-million-dollar F1 cars.

Image courtesy Senna GP
Schumacher in his $18,000 super kart. Image courtesy Senna GP