BlackTrax Test & Tune #7 – Thunderhill (West) Raceway Park

1st Time at ThunderHill (West) Raceway Park aka Miata Heaven. Let’s Put Our MSM to the Test.

First time tracking at the brand new T-Hill West with worn out Toyo Proxes R1R tires on our MSM is a bad mistake. The sharp gravels on the track surface that are brought in by cars going offroad excursion are notorious for boosting tire companies’ sales figures. The old and bald R1R met its final destiny when a gravel found its way through the cords. Passenger front tire was punctured. MSM crawled 150 miles on a spare donut. Although track time were cut short but that didn’t stop us from being frightened initially to fully in love with this Miata Heaven after a couple of track sessions.

Impressions of T-Hill West in Brief:

  • Track cuts between small rolling hills and the low speed sharp turns reminds us the local tracks in Japan often featured on Best Motoring.
  • Quite a few corners without designated straight line brake zone.
  • A lot of drivers are still exploring different race lines. There is no defined race line where the original tracks have the darkened path from all the tires over the years that we can use to cheat.
  • T-Hill West seems slower in feel than original T-Hill. However, our math indicated speed differential isn’t that much.
  • Original T-Hill with Turn 5 By-Pass is about 2.86 miles in length. Our MSM’s typical lap time is 2 minutes and 18 seconds. The average speed is 74.6 mph. Observed speed range from 40  to 110 mph. For sake of comparison, a S2000 by another experienced driver carries a average speed of 76.3 mph.
  • T-Hill West is 1.9 miles in length. Our green lap time is about 1 minute and 36 seconds. The average speed is 71.2 mph (S2K 72 mph). Observed speed range from 35 to 90 mph
  • The differences are 3 to 4 seconds between both drivers in two different cars. Considering once we have more track time on T-Hill West our average speed should pick up. If speed differential is not by much, strange though, T-Hill West is much easier on the brakes than the original. The minimal amount of brake dust on the rims agrees.
  • Run-off are full of rocky ruts and dips. These sharp rocks can easily puncture a tire, particularly bad when someone went offroading and kicked them all over the track surface. Don’t ask how we know.
  • Have to look far ahead by really have to turn your head. Due to topography, the corners are hard to see, and come up quicker than you think. Look ahead and visually search for that corner is the main key.

Enough Reading? A T-Hill West track walkthrough turn-by-turn in detail can be viewed HERE. Let’s check out the action pack below:

Video 1: Lead and Follow

Video 2: Best Lap Time of the First Time

Video 3: Tester Driver Fully Utilizing Worn Out Tires

T-Hill West is extremely fun. Our MSM in its current setup seems to enjoy it a lot. A true Miata Heaven. LZG