- Christopher Little & Scott Villeneuve
Most car enthusiasts have, at least once in their lifetime, thought that it might be nice if they lived closer to a racetrack. Not only are racetracks the only true place where you can enjoy a car at its limits, but tracks are places for true enthusiasts to gather as gear-heads. Whether you’re out on the track, working in the pits, or spectating the activities, a track day is never a bad day. So proximity to a track is always a plus. One man was so passionate about racing, and so fed up with the trailer times and track restrictions, that he decided to do something about it.
Alan Wilzig brought together just about everything that a motorsport enthusiast could dream of needing. From his collection of track ready vehicles and carts to his race shop ready to perform any track-related service, its all stored in the clubhouse. Just up the hill is the entrance onto the 1.1 mile, 9-turn, perfectly paved circuit. It’s a highly technical track featuring 80 feet of elevation change, a 20 degree banked turn, and a heart-stopping hairpin with a blind entry and very deep apex. The result is the world’s only privately-owned, personal-use, professional grade grand-prix style circuit in the world. Alan also points out that it was designed to be bi-directional, “so you can change it all up after lunch…” adding a completely new dimension to the track. All together its enough to make any true enthusiast weak in the knees. But that isn’t the best part of this complex. By far the best part of the entire experience is the fact that Alan built all this in his back yard. That’s right, at the end of the day when the fuel tank is empty, the tires are threadbare, and Alan is tired, he can quite literally walk (though he prefers an ATV) home. Alan calls his 275 acre estate nestled among the Taghkanic mountains Wilzig Racing Manor, and when we heard about it, we knew we had to see it for ourselves. Thanks to the overwhelming generosity of Alan, we were invited out to spend an afternoon at the track. So we charged the GoPro, brimmed the tank on the closest thing we had to a track car (an E90 M3), and set out for Wilzig Racing Manor.
Alan has collected some of the finest motorcycles and track cars ever. For the bike fans, the combination of racing bikes and zero-mile factory bikes are a sight to behold. For the automotive enthusiasts (like us), we were left speechless. Alan has classics such a stunning Lamborghini Jalpa and Ferrari Mondial parked next to specialty track cars like an Ariel Atom and a Radical Pro-Sport. He even has real race cars, like a 2002 Toyota Lola Indy Car and a Grand-Am Series Subaru Legacy. Of course, like any real racetrack, Alan has a pace car, a lightened and modified Nissan 370Z complete with WRM track logo and strobe lights.
Once the tour was over, it was time to see the track. The 40′ wide track is almost completely visible from the top floor of the “treehouse”, a multi-tiered play-space for his children and the perfect vantage point to admire Alan’s vision. The track sports Wilzig Racing colored curbing and Start/Finish line. To add a sense of security, he had gravel arrestor beds put in to catch any stray cars. This mitigates the need for any solid barriers, sparing an overconfident driver from any body damage. He’s even planning to install remote control LED track indicators so drivers can be informed about track conditions as if it were a real race. After grabbing some guest helmets, it was time for some sighting laps to learn the track. Luckily, a fellow enthusiast was on hand with a BMW E36 track car to show us the ropes. Check out the video to get an idea of what its like:
Out on the track, the fun began. Once the initial nervousness of tracking your own car (something neither of us had done), it became evident that Alan’s track really is a special place. Scenic mountain views wiz in and out of view for the passenger in between moments of bracing for corners and watching the speedometer climb to nearly 100 mph on the front straight. Of course the M3, a track ready street car, was no comparison to a lightweight E36 race car, complete with downforce add-ons and racing tires. In all, we ran three sets of 5-7 laps, letting the car cool down while the E36 worked out some pre-season bugs.
By late afternoon, it was time to wrap up our day. The GoPro was out of batteries, the E36 had encountered some day-ending problems and the M3 was running low on fuel. Alan’s hospitality extended further as we were treated to a late lunch. As the gates swung shut behind us, it was clear that Alan was really onto something. Despite being within driving distance to a fairly large number of high-end racetracks, there is always something special about calling one your own. That’s really the best way to summarize the whole experience. While many of us continue to meet up around race tracks with our trailers, spare tires, and tools, we all know that it could somehow be a little bit better. It just took a man named Alan Wilzig to figure out how. All we can really do is thank him for sharing.