Southern California's Buttonwillow 'Track 2' takes shape

Images by Phili

Southern California's Buttonwillow 'Track 2' takes shape

SCCA / SportsCar Magazine

Southern California's Buttonwillow 'Track 2' takes shape


Buttonwillow Raceway Park is a staple of road racing in Southern California. Opened in December 1995, the popular track is located roughly 10 miles north of the 1,500-resident town for which it is named and is visible from Interstate 5 if you know what to look for.

The facility boasts a multi-configuration road course that combines into an impressive 3.1-mile layout, in addition to a rather popular kart track. Built in conjunction with the Cal Club Region of the Sports Car Club of America, BRP hosts events pretty much every day of the year.

And therein lies the rub: Buttonwillow Raceway Park hit capacity.

When demand is high – which has been the case with racetracks for a while – a racing facility’s growth as a business is largely dictated by the number of days in a year. Consequently, BRP’s management began developing plans to construct a second racetrack.

“We first thought about a second track well over 10 years ago,” explained BRP President Les Phillips. “Last year [2020], we were busy 326 days and wanted to no longer disappoint so many enthusiasts who want to participate.

“Building racetracks in California is not easy, and we have worked intently for the past six years just to gain the right to build something that is good for both the sport and the local community,” Phillips added.

The new racetrack, temporarily dubbed “Track 2,” is located in a connecting lot just west of the existing Buttonwillow facility, and will feature a roughly 10-turn road course measuring approximately 2.5 miles in length.

“The track’s being built to FIA level 4 grade standards,” explained five-time SCCA National Champion Mike Miserendino, Buttonwillow’s business development manager, adding that the exceptions to those regulations will be the new track’s pits and garages. “The width of the racetrack is 40-feet all the way around; the front straightaway is 50-feet wide. And there’s lots of runoff. It’s being done right,” he continued.

Miserendino also noted that while Track 2’s facilities will include its own race tower, museum, food services and bathrooms, competitors might have to drive through the paddock to the original circuit for a race fuel and tire service station. “Those are up in the air at the moment as to whether we’re adding a second one or not,” Miserendino said.

Interestingly, the new course had to be laid out around a newly created habitat for the giant kangaroo rat, found on the premises during the initial development.

“The giant kangaroo rat ‘forever home’ is 9.7 acres,” Phillips said of the sizable untouchable section contained within Track 2. “That concession is what got us past the California Department of Fish and Wildlife requirements and allowed us to build. This is the first track ever with such significant design influence by a giant kangaroo rat.”

What’s also unique to Buttonwillow’s Track 2 is its construction: “Our road base is 100-percent recycled from an I-5 project 10 miles north (of us),” Phillips noted. “It is ground concrete, and when properly screened, applied, watered, compacted and final graded, it’s very strong.”

The rubberized asphalt, Phillips explained, will be made from a minimum of 25-percent recycled asphalt, with rubber pellets from shredded tires helping sustain consistency through hot weather track conditions.
The fact that all of the construction materials were locally sourced benefited the track’s bottom line.

“The recycled products, because they were close, produced significant cost savings due to reduced trucking costs and simply provide a great service to the environment by using very worthy products that can be superior to the time they were first used,” Phillips added.

Buttonwillow Raceway Park management is keeping a focused eye on the future. “Both tracks have been designed to be solar powered, with solar panels installed at the first track already operational,” Phillips pointed out. “A 200-foot shade structure is waiting for final paddock grading so the solar panels for the second track can be placed. We are also in final discussions with Tesla for 16 Supercharger stations as the EV enthusiast market is expanding so rapidly.”

When will you be able to hustle your own car around Buttonwillow’s Track 2? The goal is a June opening, said Miserendino who cautioned that delays already have pushed the opening back. For its part, SCCA’s Cal Club Region has tentatively scheduled its first road race at Track 2 for Sept. 11-12, 2021.

During a BRP visit in January 2021, Track 2’s grading had been completed and Miserendino took us for a tour:

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