Playing at Willow Springs during KW Shakedown

Playing at Willow Springs during KW Shakedown

Written By: Louis Yio

May 13, 2019

Procrastination is one of my biggest flaws. I hate myself for it and I try my best to be on top of it as much as possible. One thing I’ve been procrastinating on over the past year is taking my personal project car, a 1998 Subaru Impreza 2.5RS out on drives. I mean, I picked the car up for that specific reason: to drive. But after Vin and Brandon convinced me to head out to Global Time Attack in Buttonwillow back in March 2018, I’ve been pretty eager to get my car out as many times as possible for a nice drive, whether it’s a simple Sunday morning cruise through the canyons or a track day at Willow Springs.

Speaking of Willow Springs and my love to procrastinate, I missed out on the previous year's KW Shakedown because I was never able to get my car prepped in time for it. For 2018, however, I was ready. Directly after GTA Buttonwillow, I had my car corner balanced and aligned at a local suspension tuning shop. I also replaced my front right wheel bearing since it was near the end of its life and I was a big fan of wheels not falling off my car and being alive. With that, I was ready to tear it up.

So what is KW Shakedown? It started last year as a simple shakedown track day event at Willow Springs’s Streets of Willow track, hosted by KW Suspensions, hence the name. Since missing out last year, I’ve been preparing myself and my car for this year’s running. The guys over at KW have plans of making the shakedown an annual event.

As I also enjoy shooting as much as I enjoy driving, I brought out all my camera gear to capture people driving their cars on track.

All sorts of cars were present. Everything from Porsche 911s to Honda Civics were all there for some spirited driving on track.

When I arrived, I parked my little Subaru next to my friend, Steve’s, EG6 Civic, for obvious reasons that don’t need any explaining.

The shakedown took place one week after Formula Drift Atlanta. For many people who follow the FD series for work, it was a nice break as many of us have been working non-stop since FD Long Beach. That’s about 6 weeks of non-stop work.

So in many ways, the event was kind of like a small vacation for us.

For KW athlete, Dai Yoshihara, it was his first time driving his recently purchased AE86. It didn't look the part, but that thing was flying throughout the day.

Michael Essa was also out driving a Cayman S GT2 race car around Big Willow as well as Streets. It’s hard to describe how amazing this car sounded in person.

Heading to the shooting side of things, it’s been quite some time since I was last at Willow to shoot cars. The last time was for Boostfest back in February 2017.

Because of that, I was looking forward to shooting at Willow again, even though the track itself isn’t the most appealing-looking race track, being in the middle of the desert and all.

From a photography standpoint, access around the track is pretty simple as you can shoot almost anywhere surrounding the track, aside from the outside of T8, which no one really shoots since it’s a banked turn. Most people just shoot from the outside of T7. The rest of the outside can be accessed just by driving around.

Access to the inside, while easy, is also quite dangerous. Shooting on the inside by start/finish is really common but also dangerous if anyone goes off at 10. I enjoy shooting from the inside of 4 but you’re kind of locked in there.

I spent a lot of my time working around turns 2-6 and 9.

This was my first time driving at Willow Springs as well. I’ve been coming here for so many years now, it’s kind of weird that I’m only now driving the track.

The GC8 currently sits on KW’s sister company, ST Suspension’s, XTA Coilovers. It’s the perfect balance for my street-oriented build. I have plans on going full track-spec but for now, I like it as the little weekend car that it is.

Kanan and I were at FD Atlanta and I told him about the KW Shakedown. Perfect for him since he also just picked up a set of XTA’s. After install with help from Dan, he showed up with his twin brother, Houston, in his Focus ST.

He and I were comparing times for the first half of the day. I was running a 1:38 but kind of plateaued there, whereas Kanan started off running a 1:42 but eventually pulled a 1:34 out of nowhere in his ST. I was only extremely jealous with his time.

After the track activities ended, I took some of the cars out for some on-track rolling shots. I’ve never shot Emotion Engineering’s Project Nasty so I took the opportunity to get rollers of it. He was running times close to the 1:20 mark so he definitely has that car dialed in.

We ended the day by taking the most Initial D-themed photo we could think of. Just pretend the Evo 8 is an Evo 5.

I can’t wait for next year’s shakedown. I'm currently STI-swapping the car but because of my great procrastinating skills, I'm not even sure if I'll be able to drive it then.

I have a ton of extra images below so check those out as well

Instagram: Lusciousy