Aspen Sports Car Club Post-Office Box 6788 Snowmass Village CO 81615 Tel: (970) 923-0713 Fax: (970) 923-0714 Racetrack: 550 Raceway Road Woody Creek CO 81656 Track Length: 1.1 miles Built in 1963The Aspen sportscar club is a private circuit and racing club located in Aspen, Colorado. Members of the club may leave a race car at the club, and use the track at their convenience. The club also offers corporate group outings and schools.
Aspen/Basalt KOA 2 mi. w of Basalt Box 880 Basalt, CO 81621 Tel: 303 927-3532Motels:-
Aspen Club Lodge 311 W.Main St Aspen CO 81611 Tel: 303 925-7650 Aspen Meadows 845 Meadows Road Aspen CO 81611 Tel: 303 925-4240 Hotel Aspen 110 W.Main St Aspen CO 81611 Tel: 303 925-3441 Ritz-Carlton Aspen Tel: (970) 920-3300 Hotel Jerome Aspen Tel: (970) 920-1000
For most drivers, car racing is strictly a spectator sport. But for members of the Aspen Sports Car Club, a private club and race track eight miles from Aspen one sage-covered mesa, car racing can become a weekend fling guaranteed to produce adrenaline and some white-knuckle thrills.
The asphalt track is a mile-long circuit with straightaways and hairpin turns where racers rev up not for from the Woody Creek Tavern, a hangout for tourists and locals alike. Nearby is Little Woody Creek, on enclave that is home to celebrities such as Don Johnson, Melanie Griffith and Don Henley. Raise your eyes from the asphalt track and you'll take in views of several world-class ski areas and the rugged backbone of the Elk Mountain Range.
Most racers, however, aren't half as interested in celebrities and scenery as they are in manoeuvring fight turns in a racy little car built to withstand the rigors of professional and amateur racers. Speed, safety, fun and the challenging sport of racecar driving are the components of this private club.
These aspiring racers find exhilaration strapped behind the wheel of a "Spec Racer" built by the French automobile maker, Renault. "These ore the mast popular race cars in the country," explained Arden Weatherford, a tanned, handsome man who is the club's owner and developer. "They are exactly specified to be the same for all racers, which is the concept behind Spec Car racing."
With a 1 CO-horsepower engine and a lightweight (1,500 pounds) but solidly built tubular chassis, the cars perform exceptionally well. They have atop speed of 130 miles per hour, but don't came close to that on the relatively short straightaway. The average speed is 60 mph.
"They'll go 130, but they're designed more for handling," according to Weatherford. "They're low, well balanced and kind of nimble. They're fun to drive, and that's the most important part. You can race one of these cars hard, and if you burn out the brakes, they can be replaced for a couple hundred dollars. If you do that to a Ferrari, it costs a couple thousand dollars.
"It's a gentleman's sport," cautioned Weatherford, so drivers are strongly discouraged from playing bumper cars unless they want to write a check for repairs and suffer the scorn of other drivers.
Occasional bang-ups occur, but, according to Weatherford, "In all the years I've been racing these cars I've never seen anyone seriously injured. However, you wreck it and you pay for it. But in the world of race cars they're almost like bumper cars because they're so safe. You're never really at risk."
Which is why car racing has become popular. Driving fast in identical cars under controlled conditions against other drivers makes far a level playing field and spurs a keen competitive spirit. The only advantage lies with the individual and his or her level of skill.
While most of the drivers racing an the club track are amateurs, occasionally a pro shows up to direct a clinic or perform for the television cameras. Last October, the club hosted a filming by American Adventure Productions, an Aspen-based production company that makes sports/action documentaries for ESPN's "Action Zone" series. Aspen's Danny Sullivan, on Indy Car Racer, took actor Jason Priestly of the show "Beverly Hills 90210" under his experienced wing, showing him the fine points of road racing. Former ski racer Andy Mill and musician John Oates, of Hall & Oates, joined them for some close racing.
Women have also taken to the track as former Indy Car racer Janet Guthrie hosted outings in August and October for eight women who learned that driving can be a lot of fun; ABC also filmed Guthrie at the track last September for a special about women in sports.
Some of the nation's top Spec Car racers earned their "wheels" driving go-karts, explained Weatherford, who spent the last decade as a car racer and travelling salesman for the popular Renault sports racer. Not only did Weatherford travel while he solo cars through his Chicago-based Elite Autosport Company, he took the showroom with him in a fleet of semi-trailer trucks.
Setting up shop at race tracks, Weatherford appealed to racer wannabes. "The average guy renting a car was about 45 and doing it for fun. A lot of them would want to own a car, and have their name on it, but beyond that they didn't want to touch it. We took care of it for them, doing mechanical work and moving the car from track to track."
Weatherford was successful in his race-car enterprise, but after a decade on the road he tired of traipsing around the country with a fleet of cars in tow and decided to settle down in Aspen. With the formation of the Aspen Sports Car Club, he now sells and rents his cars, provides mechanical expertise, offers racing lessons end holds special events. With seven charter members signed up, several Renault race cars are housed in the garage/clubhouse, and once the warm spring sun melts snow from the track, racing will begin.
Weatherford's club is a novelty, but car racing is nothing new to Aspen. Sportscar racing there dates to the early 1950s when street races were held, Le Mans-style, through town. "Back then," said Weatherford, "you just raced your car. No roll bars. You just bought a car and raced it."
Street racing was banned in Colorado in 1958 for obvious safety reasons, so a group of dedicated Aspen racers purchased land and built the Woody Creek track in the early '60s. Over the years, the facility has been used for everything from motorcycle endures to evasive driving practice for gun-toting bodyguards enrolled in an executive security program.
Weatherford bought the track in the spring of 1994 and secured the support of county commissioners, whose only requirement was that he muffle the cars. Today, with traffic noise from busy Highway 82, trucks from a nearby gravel pit, and jets flying to and from the Pitkin County Airport, Weatherford's race cars are the quietest-and raciest-things in the neighbourhood.