Live Trackside Report – 1979 Alfetta GT at Sears Point for 2013 Alfa Romeo Owners’ Convention

Ordinarily, the single-marque clubs no longer hold as much appeal as they used to, especially since repair resources are now available to anyone with internet access. However, when given the opportunity to ogle loads of old Alfas and spend some time on the track and in the field with them, it’s hard to resist. And that’s how the RustyButTrusty Alfetta GT ended up attending the 2013 Alfa Romeo Owners’ Convention. Tuesday’s offering (okay, so it’s not exactly live reporting, but cut me some slack, I was drooling on other people’s cars today as well) was a Hooked On Driving course at Sears Point, or Sonoma Raceway as they insist on calling it.

1979 Alfa Romeo Alfetta GT on the track

Leading with the best picture (professionally taken, I can’t take credit for this!) – you can see more shots of the day on the photographer’s site. This was the Alfetta’s first time on the track with me, and I have to say, while the reworked suspension did its job beautifully, and the car itself is really balanced, the flat cornering at road speeds turned into a lot of lean and understeer when pushing hard on the track, and I know I wasn’t even close to 10/10ths.

1979 Alfa Romeo Alfetta GT in the pits

Ready, steady, go! What fun it is to get your car out on the track – regardless of how pedestrian/slow/crappy you might think your car is, unless it’s dangerously unsafe, you owe it to yourself to take a track driving course. You get to learn where your car’s limits are, and some of the skills (look far ahead) translate well to normal street driving. It might seem scary, but there are safe run-off areas, and with an instructor in the car, they can give you exact guidance on when to brake, turn, and accelerate. You also get several in-class theory sessions, and if you can get a ride with your instructor in their own car, that’s quite an eye-opener as well (especially if it’s a brutally fast 911 Turbo!).

1979 Alfa Romeo Alfetta GT in the paddock

Exhibiting better RustyButTrusty than I presently can, another attendee had purchased a low-buck 1979 spider, did some light repairs, and ran it for all the competitive events. I spoke with the owner and the car performed admirably, and is being auctioned off for charity Thursday.

You can see a number 3 sticker on the windshield – having last been out on Sears Point when it was called Sears Point, I started off in beginner group 1. However, as I familiarized myself with the track and the car, some of what I learned in the past came back to me, and I kept catching up to traffic. The instructor suggested moving up to intermediate group 3 (yay!). In that group I was the slowest – not so slow I was a hazard to everyone else, but slow enough to never see traffic. It’ll take better hands than mine to keep up with Ferraris, Mustangs, six-cylinder Alfas, and a well-driven Miata!

1979 Alfa Romeo Alfetta GT cooling off

Resting after a hard day’s work. The car handled the day’s stress pretty well, although the heavy cornering somehow messed up the fuel level sensor, and the gauge now sits at less than empty if the tank is not full! Well, if that’s the worst of it, we’re doing pretty well.


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3 Responses to “Live Trackside Report – 1979 Alfetta GT at Sears Point for 2013 Alfa Romeo Owners’ Convention”

  1. Mike P Says:

    Sounds like a hoot!

  2. Leslie Wong Says:

    Right side tires almost off the ground!

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