Streets of Willow Recap: May, 2017
After approximately five months of owning my 2012 Audi TTRS, I was chomping at the bit to get her on the track and see how she did. While my B7 S4 was setup to squeeze every millimeter of performance out of a platform that was never really a “true” sports car, the TTRS was designed from the factory to be a sports car first. I was excited to compare how a fully dialed-in S4 and a barely modified TTRS would compare…but with 409 HP and 438 TQ (APR Stage 1 figures) and about 600 lbs less curb weight (~3900 lbs for S4, 3300 lbs for TTRS), I had a feeling the TTRS would be faster – it was just a matter of by how much. I had driven my S4 at this track in the past, but with fewer straights and lots of challenging turns, I struggled with confidence in my B7 and my best lap was a 1:38. How would the TTRS fair in comparison?
I met up with a few friends at Streets of Willow in Rosamond, CA (about 1 hour Northeast of Los Angeles) to find out. Since buying my TTRS I had also picked up a set of track wheels – 18×9 Fifteen52 Turbomacs with Toyo R888s, along with some MSS Kits lowering springs. Other than those light handling modifications and an APR tune, my TTRS is bone stock so I was excited to see the “baseline” for this car. I packed up all of my gear Saturday AM and surprisingly everything fits in this small but versatile hatchback quite well, although there wasn’t room for much else other than the driver and his gear:
Upon arriving at the track I took a few ridealongs, studied YouTube instructional videos for the track, and got ready for the next day. I was also given the chance to drive a 997 GT3 on some access roads near the track, which was quite a delight…in the words of Ferris, it was quite choice. By Sunday morning, I woke up with the sunrise pumping with adrenaline and ready to go. A few long hours elapsed before the first session of the day for my run group and it was finally my turn.
In one word: wow. I was able to consistently record 1:31 lap times and there was tons of potential left to improve had I been a smoother driver…but with so much power and so much grip, it was nearly impossible to resist the urge to just mash the crap out of the car in every turn. The car never really understeered, and sometimes even broke a little loose in the rear, but mostly just went where it was supposed to and really dug out of the turns. I was able to get on the pedal early and recover from a lot of driver mistakes like missing the apex or over braking. I said it throughout the day, but it felt like I was cheating. I got pointbys by GT3s, GTRs, and other cars that had no business pointing me by, as this car made me look like a fast driver, even though I’m pretty far from actually being one. I took my friend Arnold out for a ride and he couldn’t refrain from laughing hysterically at how much power the car had and how well it could take my spirited (to put it nicely) driving.
Because the car is so forgiving of driver error, I worry it actually might make me a worse driver in the long run – I struggled with driving smooth between the adrenaline rush of having so much power and the somewhat overwhelming feeling of having such a beast of a car to tame. I was shifting too hard, braking too hard, using too much steering input, and generally fighting the car too much. On my next track day, I might do a few sessions on street tires just to make my mistakes a little more obvious and work on a lighter touch on the gas & brake pedals as well as driving a smoother line…but this is about my only complaint with the car, and that’s a pretty good problem to have.
Best of all, the car had none of the typical VW/Audi side-effects of a track day – no check engine lights, little brake fade, and no burnt oil. After completing four 20 minute sessions, I was able to drive 3 hours home no problem. While there were a ton of cars faster than mine at the track, few of them were then able to drive home on the freeway getting 28+ MPG with heated seats on and streaming bluetooth music over Bose speakers 🙂
My videos didn’t turn out great, but the course photographer CaliPhotography got some great shots I’m sharing here. I’ll have a few additional blog posts coming soon on Harry’s Lap Timer, my Toyo R888s, MSS Track Springs Rear Upgrade, and a few others – so stay tuned for that (pun intended).
Most importantly I had a blast, learned a lot about the car, and know that my car doesn’t really need any more power or additional performance modifications to be track ready, but I’ll probably try to make some small upgrades to the brakes (higher temp fluid, better pads, maybe 2 piece rotors) down the road. Largely though, I think my next modifications can be aesthetic knowing that the “driver mod” is what is really needed to improve track performance. I’ve been itching for a set of cooler street wheels, which I might prioritize higher now that I feel power, handling & brakes are more than adequate for even the most extreme conditions.
Thanks for checking out my first TTRS track day recap, and look forward to more of these to come in 2017!
Nice post Nick! Gratz on the track day!
Damn, I really wish I could get a decent track day…
Shame the video didn’t work out….but there lies an excuse for the next track day.