2020 Update: Check out the Pineview Run website. In the 2 years since this article was written, there have been a lot of changes at Pineview Run. While memberships are still a great deal, they have all sorts of programs for non-members, like half-price Fridays, Ladies Night, and Drifting.
Have you ever been to an executive or par 3 golf course? With typical distances 100-200 yards, there’s more swinging and less walking per minute. To me, that also means both more fun and more practice per minute. The strange thing is, there aren’t that many short courses. For some reason, people like full size courses. It can’t be because they like walking, as most people use golf carts. It can’t be because they like hitting their long clubs, because nobody says their favorite club is their #1 wood. It can’t be because they’re working on their game, because if they wanted to do that, they’d be on the driving range or putting green. I guess it’s because real golfers play on real golf courses. However, if you want to get better at golf, you’re better off working on your short game. And this is true in the car world too.
Pineview Run is the executive/par 3 of road courses. It’s short, twisty, and low speed. Perfect for working on your short game, if you will. You spend most of the time in 2nd gear, a little in 3rd, and none in 4th. It’s ridiculously fun to throw you car around this twisty ribbon of asphalt. Some people might describe it as a hilly autocross. Others might say it’s a kart track. There’s some truth to both these statements. It’s really tight and not that wide. But that doesn’t diminish its appeal to me or it’s utility as a training tool. Ultimately, it’s a driver’s track. It’s where you go to hone your muscle memory. The low speed makes it safer and less intimidating for the novice, and its technical nature makes it an ideal practice ground for more experienced drivers.
In order to get access to the track, you have to become a member, which means plunking down a sizable chunk of change (minimally $2500) for several years (minimally 5). After that, the track time is quite reasonable and works out to something like $100 per track day. I think that’s a smashing deal considering how much one could improve their driving there. I worry a little that the clientele Pineview is courting isn’t going to sign up. The kinds of people with the money for a country club membership drive Porsche 911s, not Miatas and 86s. The 911 crowd wants to let their dog hunt, and that just doesn’t happen on a 2nd gear track. People with cars capable of 150 mph don’t want to drive a track where their top speed is less than the highway they arrived on. I see this attitude all the time at my favorite track: Thunderhill West. People complain that it’s too twisty, too blind, too off camber… too much work. Most track organizations host events on the East (3 mile) track instead. I want to ask them, “do you even like driving?” Then I remind myself that apparently drag racing is a thing.
The problem is that Pineview is even slower and more twisty than Thunderhill West. Who wants to drive their sports car on a kart track? Well, besides me. Autocrossers, that’s who. Pineview is the middle ground between a parking lot with cones and Watkins Glen (a famous high speed track located about an hour away). However, the autocrossers spend even less money on track time than the HPDE crowd and are unlikely to purchase memberships.
So Pineview finds themselves in the difficult situation of having a business model that doesn’t fit with their track. How will this work out? Well, hopefully, people wake the hell up and realize that twisty driving is fun driving. I don’t see that happening. Hopefully Pineview opens up some public days and partners with some local autocross clubs.
Here’s what the track looks like from inside my brother’s Miata. Sorry about the sound. Even on low setting the wind noise sounds like someone ripping on a bong (not my phraseology). First 3 laps are me. Second 3 laps are Mario.
P.S. The APEX Pro is kind of fun to watch don’t you think?