Willow Springs International Motorsports Park

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Willow Springs International Motorsports Park
Willow Springs
LocationKern County, near Rosamond, California, United States
Time zoneUTC-8 (UTC-7 DST)
Coordinates34°52′30″N 118°15′52″W / 34.87500°N 118.26444°W / 34.87500; -118.26444Coordinates: 34°52′30″N 118°15′52″W / 34.87500°N 118.26444°W / 34.87500; -118.26444

Willow Springs International Motorsports Park (commonly referred to as Willow Springs) is located in Willow Springs near Rosamond, California, about an hour north of Los Angeles. It is the oldest permanent road course in the United States.[1] Construction began in 1952, with the inaugural race held on November 23, 1953;[2] the main track is a 2.5-mile (4.0 km) long road course that is unchanged from its original 1953 configuration. The elevation changes and high average speeds make it a favorite of many road racing drivers. Willow Springs hosted two NASCAR Grand National races in 1956 and 1957 on the original road course (then known simply as Willow Springs Speedway), won by Chuck Stevenson and Marvin Panch respectively.[3]

There are a total of seven tracks at Willow Springs; the largest and most well known track is Willow Springs International Raceway (commonly referred to as Big Willow). There are other racing facilities such as The Streets of Willow (1.8 mile road course), The Horsethief Mile (road course), The Speedway at Willow Springs (1/4 mile paved oval), Willow Springs Kart Track (a .625-mile, 9-turn paved sprint track), The Playpen (a 1/4-mile paved training track), and the Walt James Stadium (Clay Oval and Paved Oval).

Efforts by fans resulted in the State of California declaring Willow Springs International Raceway as a California Point of Historical Interest in 1996.[4]


Willow Springs Raceway[edit]

Turn 3/4/5, or "The Omega", can be seen on the hillside above Pit Lane.

Willow Springs Raceway (commonly called Big Willow or sometimes The Big Track) is a 2.5 mile paved road course consisting of 9 turns.[5]

  • Turn 1: "Castrol corner" is a 90-degree high-speed left-handed turn.
  • Turn 2: "The Rabbits Ear" is a double apex sweeping turn
  • Turn 3/4: "The Omega" is an uphill and downhill section with a camber change.
  • Turn 5: A quick left-handed turn that sets up for the fastest sections of the track.
  • Turn 6: Monroe Ridge
  • Turn 7: Repass Pass
  • Turn 8: Sometimes called, "The Sweeper," turn 8 is a high speed right hand corner. The lead-in to this turn is the fastest section of the racetrack.
  • Turn 9: A right-handed turn with a big dip before the apex. This is the final turn before the front straightway to the finish line.

The Streets of Willow Springs[edit]

The Streets of Willow Springs (commonly called The Streets of Willow or sometimes Streets) is a 1.6 mile paved roadcourse.[6]

Horse Thief Mile[edit]

Opened in 2003[7], the Horse Thief Mile (sometimes called The Mile) is a 1.0 mile paved roadcourse featuring 11 turns as well as numerous elevation changes[8]. It was designed to simulate a winding mountain road.


Willow was used by George Lucas in 1:42:08 A Man and His Car (1966)

It appeared in the 1969 Disney film The Love Bug, under the guise of "Jackrabbit Springs".

The track was featured in the Japanese Best Motoring International "American Touge" video special.

The track is in the 1985 Christopher Cross music video "Every Turn of the World"[9]

The movie Fast Girl (2008) was filmed and based at Willow Springs Raceway.

On 3 February 2013 the track featured on the British BBC program Top Gear, while Jeremy Clarkson, Richard Hammond, and James May were being chased by aeroplanes.

Willow Springs International Motorsports Park was the venue of a photoshoot session by Playboy for its Playmate pictorial and centerfold featuring Alyssa Arcè as Miss July 2013; the photographs were featured in the magazine's July-August 2013 issue.[10]

Willow Springs tracks have been featured in video games including Need for Speed: ProStreet, Need for Speed: Shift, Gran Turismo 6, Gran Turismo Sport and Project CARS

The track has been used in several episodes of Wheeler Dealers since they started U.S. production in Season 12, and featured The Horsethief Mile in Season 13, Episode 13, featuring a 1976 Porsche 912E.

The music video for It's the Things You Do by Five was filmed at Willow Springs Raceway.

An episode of Bones involving a plot line of motorcycle racing was filmed at the circuit.

Several segments of Jay Leno's Garage have been filmed at Willow Springs, mostly Jay doing hot laps in his cars. Jay has also driven other peoples cars and other drivers have done timed laps for the show.[11]

The Streets of Willow Springs track was also used in an episode of Street Outlaws in April of 2019 on the Discovery Channel

Track records[edit]

The overall track record is held by Michael Andretti in a 1987 CART Indycar. Andretti completed a lap of the 2.5 mile main track in 1 minute 6.050 seconds, for an average speed of 136 miles per hour (219 km/h).[12]

Other motorsport[edit]

Option hosted an early exhibition drift event in 1996.

During the early 1980s, the factory backed Renault Formula One team often used Willow Springs to test their cars before the early season United States Grand Prix West held at Long Beach in Los Angeles.


A downhill section of the big track.
All the tracks, from the air.
Willow Springs - Big Track - Turn 4

See also[edit]


  1. ^ Berk, Brett (May 2013). "Will Ellis Drive?". Road & Track. 64 (8): 80.
  2. ^ "1tail Resource Database - Willow Springs International Motorsports Park". Retrieved 2009-09-28.
  3. ^ "Willow Springs Speedway in Lancaster CA Road Course". NASCAR Fantasy Racing Cheat Sheet. Retrieved 2019-04-22.
  4. ^ "WILLOW SPRINGS INTERNATIONAL RACEWAY". Office of Historic Preservation. State of California. Retrieved 26 August 2012.
  5. ^ "2.5 Mile Road Course - Willow Springs International Raceway - Since 1953". willowspringsraceway.info.
  6. ^ "Streets of Willow Springs - Willow Springs International Raceway - Since 1953". willowspringsraceway.info.
  7. ^ "Horse Thief Mile Opens At Willow Springs International Raceway". www.roadracingworld.com.
  8. ^ "Horse Thief Mile - Willow Springs International Raceway - Since 1953". www.willowspringsraceway.com.
  9. ^ Warner Bros. Records (26 October 2009). "Christopher Cross - Every Turn Of The World (Video)" – via YouTube.
  10. ^ Student, Joe. "Alyssa Arce – Playboy's Miss July 2013 – Plays F, Marry, Kill With Soccer Players". Busted Coverage. Retrieved October 26, 2016.
  11. ^ "Jay Leno's Garage". CNBC.
  12. ^ "Track Records". Willow Springs International Raceway. Retrieved 26 August 2012.

External links[edit]