Home » The Legendary Willow Springs Racetrack Is Up For Sale And It Might Never Be The Same Again

The Legendary Willow Springs Racetrack Is Up For Sale And It Might Never Be The Same Again

Willow Springs For Sale Ts
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In some ways, racetracks often feel like utopias, where the anecdotes pour like water and the only big limits are set by marshals and physics. Unchained from the nine-to-five, you can find nirvana as the tach sweeps past five while the cosmos seems to vibrate at your feet. However, stories aren’t infinite. Chapters need to close, heroic eras need to end, and leaps into the great unknown need to be taken. For the first time since 1962, Willow Springs International Motorsports Park in Rosamond, Calif. is up for sale, and however this arc ends, it’ll change motorsports in America forever.

While Willow Springs was purchased by the Huth family back in 1962, it all started with Big Willow a decade prior. Ken Miles helped plan the layout of this track, which quickly earned the name of “the fastest road in the West.” It was featured in “The Love Bug,” and “Ford v Ferrari,” and “Furious 7,” along with more commercials than you can count. However, it’s more than just a filming location with famous roots — it’s a part of motorsports history.

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The Can-Am Challenge Cup raced here, the Trans-Am series raced here, the Atlantic Championship Series raced here. To beat Mario Andretti’s overall lap record, you’d need to average 136.26 mph around the entire 2.5-mile Big Willow course. Talk about a heroic number. The track’s a California Point of Historical Interest, and yet despite all the fanfare and reverence for the track, it’s been grassroots as fuck for a long time.

Out And About 2011 2012 Photo 348

Part of the joy of Willow Springs is its relative affordability. An 8:00 a.m. to 5:00 p.m. test-and-tune session at Big Willow costs $225 once you pay a $300 annual membership that includes the fee for your first event, and that’s a damn good price for a full day of lapping if you own a racecar. If you don’t own a fully prepared racecar, several organizations hold reasonably priced trackdays at Willow Springs, such as Open Track Racing’s Big Willow events, which have a $215 entry fee. Not only is that cheaper than a super speeder ticket, trackdays are great places to make new friends.

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Horse Thief 2011 2012 Photo 177

At the same time, there’s so much more to Willow Springs than Big Willow. From the winding Streets of Willow club circuit to the elevation-intensive Horse Thief Mile to the karting track to the skidpad to a choice of paved or dirt ovals, the complex offers something for fans of just about every discipline. Willow was even one of the first tracks in America to host drifting, with Option throwing an event there in the VHS days.

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However, as racing complexes change hands, business plans change. Keeping a racetrack open is expensive, and other track operators across the country have adopted a variety of strategies. Some use country club models like we’ve seen at M1 Concourse, the Thermal Club, and Atlanta Motorsports Park, where the entry point to membership might not be affordable for the bulk of trackday enthusiasts. Some tracks have raised pricing significantly on events, catering to a higher-end crowd while making it harder for people on a budget to get on track. Some tracks have simply closed down.

Willow Springs

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As of now, it’s not known who will buy Willow Springs or what direction they might take the track in, but don’t be surprised if accessibility changes in the future. It’s expensive to keep a racetrack going, especially a motorsports complex of this size. On the bright side, it seems like the Huth family is looking for a buyer who will actually keep the track going. Having to scrape up some extra cash to hit the track would be a bummer, but it’s still better than not having any track at all.

(Photo credits: Willow Springs International Motorsports Park/Team Scarborough)

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LostinTransit
LostinTransit
9 days ago

Finally, we’ve been given a chance to put our 2020 Connect on a race track. For as little as $100.00 for a 10min drive around the track with a speed limit of 60mph. You can follow along with this adventure here: https://www.fiestastforum.com/threads/new-event-in-the-works-for-next-year.32440/

Last edited 9 days ago by LostinTransit
Hugh Crawford
Hugh Crawford
13 days ago

The autopian shold buy it.
Obviously.
How many MB Tex memberships would it take?
The Whale Foreskin memberships could include RV hookups and discount burritos!

Cryptoenologist
Cryptoenologist
15 days ago

Sounds like Beau and Galpin need to step in.

Querty
Querty
15 days ago

I can already see signs with “The Autopian Circuit, by Galpin”
Tag Beau

JaredTheGeek
JaredTheGeek
15 days ago

Time to play Powerball.

Evo_CS
Evo_CS
16 days ago

The “big” track at Willow Springs is the scariest track I’ve ever driven on, It’s an absolute test of your nerve more than anything. When we moved from Michigan to California, it was the first place we did a track day on. Our previous experience was at Waterford Hills, so the contrast in speed was huge. I actually enjoy Streets more as it’s more technical and there’s less places to really have a bad off. But the big track is the only place where I, somehow, got the Evo into a textbook 4 wheel drift through turn 9 on one glorious lap, so I’ll always think of it fondly.

JaredTheGeek
JaredTheGeek
15 days ago
Reply to  Evo_CS

Have you driven Laguna Seca? That was my local track but I haven’t done much track driving.

Last edited 15 days ago by JaredTheGeek
Evo_CS
Evo_CS
15 days ago
Reply to  JaredTheGeek

I desperately want to drive Laguna Seca. It’s on my shortlist of tracks to get to, hopefully in the Evo providing it’s in shape to do it. Or not. If it goes out in a blaze of glory at that track, it would be it’s Viking funeral.

Nsane In The MembraNe
Nsane In The MembraNe
15 days ago
Reply to  Evo_CS

No better way to go out than on a legendary circuit. I feel like that’s Evo Valhalla.

Outofstep
Outofstep
16 days ago

Autopian test track? Autopian test track!

Parsko
Parsko
15 days ago
Reply to  Outofstep

How many members would it take??

Outofstep
Outofstep
15 days ago
Reply to  Parsko

I’d say a lot more than we currently have. But hey if we can convince some people to sell a spare kidney we might be in business. Maybe call it the BMW tier or something

Phuzz
Phuzz
13 days ago
Reply to  Outofstep

Unfortunately the Autopian readership has less spare kidneys than you might expect, due to selling them to buy multiple Holy Grails.

Outofstep
Outofstep
13 days ago
Reply to  Phuzz

Damn. Well we never said whose spare kidney they needed to sell… So lets all pretend that everything is on the up and up and get this project started.

Stef Schrader
Stef Schrader
13 days ago
Reply to  Outofstep

YES ha ha YES

Matt Sexton
Matt Sexton
16 days ago

About a decade ago my home track Road America started thinking outside the box on revenue streams they could derive out of the 500-acre facility. Today they have biking trails, Frisbee golf, offer sledding on their hills in the winter, host motorcycle training schools, they do drive-in movies in the summer, run/walk events, Halloween hayrides and at one point they even had a zipline there. More than just revenue streams, these things have let Road America be more than just a race track to the neighbors.

The key is to get the locals involved, in particular the non-enthusiast ones, and let them see the place as an asset to their area. Now, Elkhart Lake certainly isn’t the most suburbanized place on earth, but if you asked around I’ll bet there are WAY more people happy that the track is there as opposed to not.

Central Wisconsin is a unique place but I feel like these efforts could help stave off NIMBY almost anywhere.

Widgetsltd
Widgetsltd
16 days ago
Reply to  Matt Sexton

Are the food stands still run by local church groups? They had some of the best track food I’ve ever experienced. I haven’t raced there since 2003, but I had run in the June Sprints, Neon Challenge, and other events when I lived in Minnesota.

Matt Sexton
Matt Sexton
15 days ago
Reply to  Widgetsltd

They are run by various local groups, rotaries and whatnot. Which is kind of awesome, because each stand has a different menu and everything tastes amazing!

Nsane In The MembraNe
Nsane In The MembraNe
16 days ago

Let’s all chip in and create Autopia 🙂

Mechjaz
Mechjaz
16 days ago

I’d so much rather this than the gaudy baseballer’s house. As it is, I’m trying to figure out what to get rid of before we all move into DT’s Aztek.

Nsane In The MembraNe
Nsane In The MembraNe
16 days ago
Reply to  Mechjaz

I can’t wait for the Changli racing series

Harvey Firebirdman
Harvey Firebirdman
16 days ago

Can we do a Yugo vs Changli? Wait let’s do all the slowest most unreliable cars we can think of. Who ever doesn’t break down wins….wait that means no winners. Kind of like a 24hrs lemons but no weird spending limit just unreliable hoopties as close to stock as they could be.

Evo_CS
Evo_CS
15 days ago

A coworker of mine years ago proposed a time attack class that was basically an old Lincoln Town Car or similar land barges with three bowling balls in the trunk as moving ballast. There might need to be some fortification done to keep them in the car, but it sounded hilarious.

Hugh Crawford
Hugh Crawford
13 days ago
Reply to  Evo_CS

Road&Track once proposed a racing series with VW type 2 busses with a driver and four passengers. The passengers would be free to move about and lean one way or the other in corners. Sort of a cross between sailboat racing and sidecar racing..

Mechjaz
Mechjaz
16 days ago

Changli Race Series: Let’s Go! Rulebook

  1. Non-driving competitors are prohibited from wearing purpose-made athletic or running shoes, as this constitutes an unfair advantage against the spec car.
  2. Heating, ventilation, and air conditioning (HVAC) are to be controlled by the gauge of wire installed for the battery array.
  3. Lack of delight when operating the vehicle is strictly prohibited.
Ecsta C3PO
Ecsta C3PO
13 days ago

We could pool resources with other Automotive websites and reviewers…create an automotive co-op.
Introducing Willow Springs by Autopian, R&T, The Drive, Throttle House, SavageGeese, Doug DeMuro, Etc.

Nsane In The MembraNe
Nsane In The MembraNe
13 days ago
Reply to  Ecsta C3PO

I love Savagegeese so much. I think Mark and Jack are the pinnacle of what car YouTube has to offer.

MaximillianMeen
MaximillianMeen
16 days ago

OK, Beau, hear me out.

“Galpin’s Willow Springs Motorsports Park”

Sounds amazing, doesn’t it!

Offer track days/HPDC for buyers of Porsches, Mustangs, and any other high performance cars you sell. Autopian Rich Corinthian Leather members get invited, too.

Bonus, when the inevitable US Civil War, Part II, happens, declare independence from CA and the US and form the free state of Autopia!

Lardo
Lardo
14 days ago

Beau’s Dad could have done it. Beau not so much…

LTDScott
LTDScott
16 days ago

Guess I need to drive this track sometime soon. It’s the only major track in Southern California that I haven’t actually driven, I’ve only ridden shotgun.

Icouldntfindaclevername
Icouldntfindaclevername
16 days ago

Some developer will buy it and turn it into track homes (no pun intended). The track already is fighting the locals that want it shutdown. They forced sound ordinances on the track. Who knew buying a house close to a race track would be loud?

LTDScott
LTDScott
16 days ago

Wait, you’re saying locals in Rosamond oppose the track? Who actually lives close enough to it to complain?

https://maps.app.goo.gl/bcr9zWjjqitQ4Ncb9

Rabob Rabob
Rabob Rabob
16 days ago
Reply to  LTDScott

Haven’t been there for a few years but I used to regularly ride my motorcycle out there and walk around on random days. But track homes are constantly creeping closer and closer.

But absolutely go if you have a chance. It’s straight out of the 1970’s in the best possible way. Just a dreamland for anyone into grassroots style motorsports.

LTDScott
LTDScott
16 days ago
Reply to  Rabob Rabob

Its been years for me too but I didn’t think Rosamond was a hotbed of development.

Rabob Rabob
Rabob Rabob
16 days ago
Reply to  LTDScott

Last time I went out there there was a ton of new construction all over the AV. Used to take all the back roads through Antelope Acres

Man With A Reliable Jeep
Man With A Reliable Jeep
16 days ago

There may be a lot of us here, but enthusiasts are an endangered species. The average American (there’s a lot of ’em) just doesn’t like cars very much.

Mikey
Mikey
13 days ago

A lot of them are writing for Japlonik

Man With A Reliable Jeep
Man With A Reliable Jeep
13 days ago
Reply to  Mikey

burn.gif

Stoney got got (potentially)
Stoney got got (potentially)
15 days ago

Did you mean tract home?

MrLM002
MrLM002
16 days ago

I did my teen driving course there. It was the only time I’ve ever gotten my 91 Audi 90 Quattro 20V sideways.

TXJeepGuy
TXJeepGuy
16 days ago

How much? Autopian group buy?

Bob Rolke
Bob Rolke
16 days ago
Reply to  TXJeepGuy

track days as an Autopian member benefit

TXJeepGuy
TXJeepGuy
16 days ago
Reply to  Bob Rolke

At the “pavement” level

Harvey Firebirdman
Harvey Firebirdman
16 days ago
Reply to  TXJeepGuy

I am in. Put me in for 100 bucks and what ever value I can get for parts I have pulled off vehicles because of upgrades over the years. Maybe I can sell some Legos or guns haha

Brian Ash
Brian Ash
16 days ago
Reply to  TXJeepGuy

Yeah if it’s for sale, what’s the price? Like seriously, if no price then it’s not for sale. Do people just purposely leave out half the details on an article or just lazy pump out as many articles as we can and who cares about the specifics.

Icouldntfindaclevername
Icouldntfindaclevername
16 days ago
Reply to  Brian Ash

They don’t have a listing price! So it’s not lazy writing.
However, if you think you have enough money, feel free to make an offer

https://willowsprings.teamscarborough.com/offering-memorandum/

RootWyrm
RootWyrm
16 days ago

They don’t list the price because you actually can’t make an offer. It’s some of the most valuable real estate in the country whether or not there’s a racetrack on it, AND it’s with or without the corresponding business(es.) Also there’s some very very very serious Hazmat and EPA concerns – including asbestos – which a buyer could be on the hook to clean up.

So it’s only open to industry professionals acting on behalf of a buyer, and who agree to mutual confidentiality before they will even show you the exact acreage on offer, much less the buildings and businesses.

Icouldntfindaclevername
Icouldntfindaclevername
16 days ago
Reply to  RootWyrm

It’s for sale. You just have to register as a buyer and sign the NDAs before moving forward in the process.

RootWyrm
RootWyrm
16 days ago

No, you really can’t. I actually read the form and the terms. The only people they’ll provide details to are licensed real estate professionals (principal or broker,) the bank (lender,) or an attorney or assessor type (service provider.)
They very much don’t want to deal with every lottery winner and delusional on the Internet, and I don’t blame them.

600+ acres in Kern County, California with senior water rights deeded and existing proven wells? That’s easily $10M+ before any improvements. Add in the improvements, business, zoning, history (reputation,) California Point of Historical Interest (insulation from NIMBYs,) etc. and I could easily see them asking $50M+.

Icouldntfindaclevername
Icouldntfindaclevername
16 days ago
Reply to  RootWyrm

Oh, I bet they’re wanting more than $50mil. However, the form does list Principle, so that could be anyone with the right amount of money.
Yes, it’s a long shot for a single individual to buy it, but it is possible.

Icouldntfindaclevername
Icouldntfindaclevername
16 days ago
Reply to  RootWyrm

Oh, and welcome back, I haven’t seen your posts in awhile

Nsane In The MembraNe
Nsane In The MembraNe
15 days ago
Reply to  RootWyrm

Nice to see you, hope all is well

Lardo
Lardo
14 days ago
Reply to  RootWyrm

most valuable real estate in the country”. no it’s not

Ecsta C3PO
Ecsta C3PO
13 days ago
Reply to  Brian Ash

If you have to ask….

Jb996
Jb996
11 days ago
Reply to  Brian Ash

Do people just lazily comment without thinking? It’s like they just pump out as many comments as possible without caring about specifics.

Seriously, many sales like this don’t list a price. They probably have a lawyer handling it; who communicates privately with interested parties.

Brian Ash
Brian Ash
7 days ago
Reply to  Jb996

If there is no price available, then say that. Still lazy writing.

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