Global Time Attack/Super Lap Battle Buttonwillow Finale
Why on Earth you would be excited to wake up at a less-than-luxury (much less?) motel in the middle of the desert at 5 am on a Thursday? Odds are, if you're a regular reader of MotoIQ, you've driven yourself out to the boonies to either watch fast cars, drive fast cars, or fix fast cars when their drivers weren't driving their fast cars. Buttonwillow's “four-star” Motel 6 had a drastically changed clientele this fateful Thursday with the usual guests, aka nobody, being replaced by countless automotive enthusiasts. These enthusiasts gathered from all over North America and, in one team's case, England, to compete in the Global Time Attack/Super Lap Battle finale.
Buttonwillow has been regarded as the birthplace of American time attack and has been used as the proving grounds for some of the fastest cars in the world. As with every running of the Global Time Attack/Super Lap Battle finale, drivers took aim at the standing lap records and sought to put their own name next to the newest and fastest lap, but what differentiates this year is how drastically lap times have fallen. When an Enthusiast class car is capable of demolishing an Unlimited class record from just a few years back, it's easy to see that Time Attack is taking hold in America, much to the chagrin of oval track lovers and mullet owners everywhere.
This year's event had the highest entry numbers of any prior Global Time Attack/Super Lap Battle event, with 59 competitors looking to convert horsepower into lap times by way of melted rubber. Global Time Attack regulations allow for a high degree of freedom with class restrictions being much lower than those used by other sanctioning bodies. This freedom has led to some truly impressive cars lining up on the grid, ranging from surprisingly mild daily-driven cars to fire-belching machines with more body modifications than some of Beverly Hill's finest inhabitants. Looking at the class restrictions, you would think it would be easy to pick which class would set the fastest lap of the day, with history favoring the machines with the “Unlimited All Wheel Drive” tech sticker on their windshield, but what's a good event without a good old-fashioned upset? This year's surprise champion would not only come from a lower class, but would also be sending power to half the wheels – definitely unexpected, but it goes to show how some creative builds and strategy can yield impressive results.
In a surprise absence, FX Motorsports Development and their record-holding NSX were nowhere to be found, leaving an open opportunity for other teams to step in and take the crown. However, after a full day of lapping, the record remained; this isn't to say that there weren't other impressive times set at this year's event. If you read our Global Time Attack/Super Lap Battle Preview article then you would remember that just eight years ago, a 1 minute and 54 second lap time was enough for a dedicated Nissan Skyline R34 GT-R time attack car with racing tires to claim victory. This year, the little brother to the Skyline, the 240SX, set a 1 minute 54 second lap. Using just two wheels to put power down. On street tires. Times certainly have changed, and it looks like teams keep finding faster methods of dispatching tarmac.
The fastest time of the day would go to the team at Platte Forme a.g., with their gilded BMW M3 making a trip around the Buttonwillow CW13 configuration in just 1:48.038, thanks in no small part to the skillful piloting of regular Time Attack star and all-around good guy, Tyler McQuarrie. Sadly, a driveline malfunction prevented Tyler from setting any faster laps, and then a mishap during the tow back to the pits resulted further damage to the Platte Forme a.g. M3; I was told that some choice words were exchanged following the botched extraction, but as MotoIQ is a family-friendly enterprise, such language cannot be repeated.