Country Corner by: C.W. Armbrust

Have you ever thought about renting a curve? No, I don’t mean the corner lot, I mean renting the curve itself. There is something about cars and curves. If you have ever taken the long way home on purpose just for the drive, you know what I mean. Touring country roads is one of my favorite pastimes, especially when I have the car in good running order.

The world was a bit different when I was growing up. Living in the southwest desert, sports cars were only a rumor; and mother was afraid of mountain roads. Of course, in the days of old, guardrail was in limited supply and rarely in use, so open drops were not unusual in the mountains of summer vacations. Mother became the speed governor on trips involving anything other than straight roads.

With the lack of lovely country roads in the wide desert spaces, drag racing was the scene. Considering the condition of our cars and tires, top speed distance driving was a bit risky. A quarter mile was more than enough to display the bravado of competition. All of us “younger” generation began to feel the sense of automotive competition developing among the school crowd. There were two significant drawbacks to getting fully involved in drag racing. One was the prep time and expense to develop a fast car, and the lack of formal organized and managed facilities. We had to make do with straight sections of desert highway and the local airstrip. Little did it register that all this effort was focused on driving a straight line for a very short distance. If it wasn’t in a straight line, it meant something went very wrong with you or the car.

In those years, I subscribed to every known car magazine published in the western hemisphere. In an editorial in one of those publications somewhere in that era of drag racing, the Editor made a comment to the effect “What the world needs is a drag strip with a hairpin turn.” I took that to heart and the little gears forming in my young head began to produce thoughts of actually steering a car during a race.

Years later I learned of a thing called autocross: a single car drag race with hairpin turns, sweeping loops, and a stop gate. A click was probably audible to the outside world. Little did I realize, the next leap in logic was that the same race was possible on a closed road circuit. Then the next light went on, that is what sports cars are for!

As age presented opportunity, I lived in some beautiful places with magnificent mountains and country roads. Touring became a passion and love of life and opportunity. Work kept getting in the way of really enjoying auto sports to the fullest, but you never completely lose touch with your first love.

Discovery of a Road Racing Course, not far from my new home a quarter of a century ago, lead to an entirely new opportunity of involvement with cars and curves. Summit Point Raceway was within reach and offered the experience of a lifetime. Sports car racing! Here a beautiful country road continuously winds around two miles of countryside giving many corners to choose from to select as a favorite or dreaded corner.

As for me, I found my place, my retreat. A place to go forth and surrender myself to unleash the race driver in all of us wanting to know what it is to drive a country road to the limit of the car and myself. Here, I found another dynamic I never expected. I love racing in the rain.

Come join me.