Just off Interstate 5, take the Lerdo Highway exit and go west less than one mile to the entrance on the left. This is just a few miles north of the bottom of the famous Interstate 5 "Grapevine"
The Buttonwillow track is one of the most fun we've ever driven. Without quite as much elevation change, the Cal Club guys (SCCA in Southern Cal) that built the track went for some retro feel of the old Riverside course that was replaced by a shopping mall in 1987. The "Riverside" turn will have you thinking you're a NASCAR star with its banking, "Lost Hills" bend and bump is just a hoot, and the "Bus stop" is a quick flick that's a kick. And let us know if you can figure out how to do "Off ramp" right... we haven't figured it out yet! The variety of turns makes things fun, with a lot of medium speed, unique turns – Buttonwillow is not as technically difficult as a track like Infineon, but challenging enough to test your skill. Thankfully, like Thunderhill, it was built with amateur schools and competitions in mind and thus has great runoff in almost every direction. One very interesting feature is that Buttonwillow can and actually is driven in both directions frequently. In fact, check with HOD or the sanctioning body of the event you're attending, as there are many different configurations that can be run in each direction. For those who really fine-tune their cars, these nuances may have an impact on how you align your car, as clockwise and counter-clockwise will be quite different, and top speed can vary a lot based on the length of the configuration chosen. Go to www.buttonwillowraceway.com then click on "track maps" to study the layout you'll be driving. It's a lot of fun to have some variation – and HOD will switch around a bit. Our favorite – going either clockwise or counterclockwise, is Race 15 – one thing we'll probably always use is what they call the "Bus stop" which is a really fun kink that also reduces the speeds down the backstretch saving our brakes.
Overview of the Buttonwillow area
Unfortunately, Buttonwillow is in the California desert that's really not the world's greatest tourist attraction. But – heck – we're not looking for scenery, just apexes and there are plenty!! Also – there are hookups for motorhomes at the track if you're one of those really serious types. The track itself is off of the Highway 5 Lerdo Highway exit – just to the west. There are no services at this exit, but there is a mini-mart a couple of miles back over the freeway to the east. Fuel (race and unleaded premium) is available at the track. Unless you choose to drive over to Bakersfield, a 45-minute drive, the largest commercial area with motels and restaurants is centered on the Highway 5/58 interchange, which unfortunately for those from the north, is 13 miles south of the track. There is another, smaller commercial area 7 miles north of Lerdo at the Lost Hills exit. If you're trying to keep things simple and arriving late from the north, go ahead and stop at Lost Hills – we recommend the Motel 6 as it's back off the freeway and will be quieter. There is only fast food and a truck stop restaurant here. At the 58 interchange, you'll find a good restaurant that caters to our HOD meals called The Willow Ranch Restaurant – great BBQ and a bar with SpeedTV– all depends on your schedule. If you have 20 minutes each way to blow, it's worth the drive. There are also several other fast-food restaurants here, plus a couple more truck stop options.
Awesome travel tip for Buttonwillow!! Plan to leave the track and head over to the coast for a stay in Pismo Beach, or up to San Luis Obispo. Highway 58 up and over the coastal range is an AWESOME drive!! Of course, if you have a trailer and diesel truck or a motorhome, then take Highway 46 west through the range – much less grade and built for more traffic.
Highway 58/5 interchange – 13 miles south of Lerdo Highway
The Willow Inn and Suites
Motel 6 Central
Fairly new, we'd say this is the nicest motel near the track. Reasonably large and modern rooms with wireless internet access – they have a pool as well. If you're going to be at Buttonwillow for two nights, this might be worth doing.
Lost Hills/5 interchange – 7 miles north of Lerdo Highway
The Motel 6 is not listed on the Buttonwillow website – they probably don't pay for advertising. This is a very busy Motel 6 but is the only motel at this exit that is not smack dab on the freeway. And ask for a quiet side room – the side facing the truck stop will be fairly noisy anyway. But – bottom line is – if you're looking for simple, cheap, clean, and convenient, this is where we stay. There is room for trailers in the lot most of the time.
This would be the second choice if you're coming in late and need just to crash (manner of speech) – take earplugs cuz' it's right next to the exit at Lost Hills.