The strange tale of Mrs. Orcutt’s driveway near Newberry Springs

It sounds like the stuff of fiction: The federal government relented and built a more than 4-mile-long driveway to the home of a resolute widow who lived near Newberry Springs, California, and insisted her home have access to old Route 66.

The driveway then became an illegal test track for Car and Driver magazine.

The stories are real.

Car and Driver published stories — some of them hair-raising — in the 1980s as sports cars reached 200 mph on Bonnie Orcutt’s driveway. Other cars’ engines melted down from the strain of blasting down that straightaway at redlining speeds. I read several stories about it at the time.

This well-researched video recently posted by Sidetrack Adventures tells the tale:

Alas, Mrs. Orcutt died in 1987, and the once-pristine road fell into disrepair. The road still is there, but drivers are not advised to do any high-speed tests out on it.

Orcutt’s house is still there, but it’s deserted and has been falling in for years. Strangely, the reports she may have installed gun portholes in her home actually are supported by the evidence there.

You can find the driveway on the north side of Interstate 40 in this Google Maps image. The road often is listed as Memorial Drive.

(Excerpted Google Streetview Image from 2012 of Mrs. Orcutt’s driveway near Newberry Springs, California)

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