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Chuckwalla Valley Raceway - Track Review

David Pratte
Sep 20, 2013

Specs & Details

Chuckwalla Valley Raceway
Location Desert Center, California
Track Configuration 2.68-mile, 17-turn road course
Elevation Change 36 feet
Other Facilities Large paddock area, on-site fueling, RV dry camping and dump station, 1,200-square-foot, air-conditioned classroom and event canopy, timing and scoring facilities

Halfway between Los Angeles and Phoenix, tucked away in a high desert valley between the Chuckwalla Mountains and Joshua Tree National Park, is a town called Desert Center, California. Sounds like the perfect hideout for Charles Manson’s groupies or some doomsday preppers, but it’s actually home to an old airfield and a freshly paved (in 2010) 2.68-mile road course called Chuckwalla Valley Raceway (CVR).

It may appear to be a barren desert landscape when looking at it on Google Earth, but when you’re standing in the paddock, there’s no mistaking racetrack designer Ed Bargy’s clever use of elevation change or his equally clever use of banking in many of the track’s 17 turns. It’s also worth noting that this is just the first of three planned road courses at CVR.

Although CVR uses a membership-based business model similar to Spring Mountain, Atlanta Motorsports Park, and Monticello Motor Club, at Chuckwalla there are many lapping days open to the public. In fact, NASA AZ hosted a race weekend at CVR back in January, where our longtime friend Travis Barnes finished Third in TT-U in his beautifully prepared Snail Performance/Forced Air Technologies Subaru. Here’s what Travis thinks of Chuckwalla.

“CVR is an awesome track that has many different attributes to test your skill as a driver, ranging from off-camber turns, elevation changes, some medium- to high-speed straights, and even a fish bowl. My first time at CVR I ran the course counterclockwise, which to me has a nice flow to it [and explains the descending order of the corners].

Chuckwalla valley raceway honda civic Photo 2/2   |   Chuckwalla Valley Raceway - Track Review

After exiting Turn 14 is when the track really comes to life, Turn 13 is a big fish bowl that you dive into and hold on for dear life. The bowl has a lot of banking [11 degrees to be exact), so if your car is set up and you have the guts, you can push your car pretty hard through it and exit under full power.

Shortly after exiting the bowl, you have to set yourself up for Turns 12 and 11. Turn 12 is an uphill righthand turn that dumps you off into Turn 11, which is a slight left turn onto the longest straight [1,330 feet] at CVR. Turn 10 is another slight left leading to an uphill righthander into Turn 9, where you drop into Turn 8 and put the pedal to the metal down the straight to Turn 7. I pretty much tie Turn 6 and 7 together, making it a nice lefthand turn to keep momentum into the short straight before Turn 5.

After that, the most important section is Turns 2 and 1, since if you set it up right, you can virtually straight-line it through them.”

CVR really does offer a great balance of speed and technically challenging corner complexes. There’s also a lot of run-off in case you get a little happy with your right foot. Chuckwalla Valley Raceway looks like it’s going to have a very bright future as a top-tier southwestern go-fast destination.

By David Pratte
216 Articles

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