Thunder On The Hill
It was fun writing the history of Thunderhill these many past issues of the Wheel. I hope that you enjoyed them. As I stated many times there was far more to the history of the track and a great many more people who did great things to make it what it is today than I could capture in my writings. Some people did respond to the stories reminding me of their contributions or some strange story that was most interesting but time and space were my limitations.
Thunderhill Park is a success story that the San Francisco Region of the SCCA can be proud of. The best part of all that is we are just beginning. Motorsports in whatever forms it takes moving forward will always need some kind of venue. Clearly road courses are high on that need list as witnessed by the many new road courses that have been built since Thunderhill was a twinkle in the eye of Tom McCarthy and his visionary Club board of directors back in 1987.
No doubt some of the success of Thunderhill Park is due to the ever-increasing demand for road-tracks and the development of street car and street motorcycle uses of such facilities. Some would say that we are challenged by having Sears Point Raceway and Laguna Seca Raceway in our market but I would say the opposite. We are blessed with a strong market for what we do which is why the SFR/SCCA has been the largest region in the nation throughout most of its history. This is also why the Northern California was the birth place of the NASA organization and why that organization remains the strongest region in the country for NASA. The more people that are aware of what we do and who will pursue activities on the race track, the bigger we all become. We benefit from more and bigger.
But our world is changing. We read and have read for decades, that the SCCA is ageing and becoming irrelevant. This is true in many organizations invented by and inhabited with baby boomers. But it is also not true. The strength of an organization is not determined by its age but by its vitality and its relevance to the wants and needs of those who would seek what it offers. Thunderhill Park is oriented to be new and different as often as it can be. Over the twenty years that we have existed we have always added something new. Occasionally these additions have been outside the box. Sometimes they have been very much what you would expect in the evolution of a road track. I like to think of our playground as unique. The power plugs everywhere are special. The canopies were designed to make customers more comfortable and the windmills and solar systems were designed to connect us with the new world of alternative energy and environmental awareness. Of course the wind generators suffered from a poor contractor and a series of mechanical maladies that have made them the only thing people who are jealous of our success can reference and point to our failures. Today the wind generators are still challenged. If our critics new how much we have done and how much we have overcome to continue their contribution to the Park, even they would be impressed.
Thunderhill West stands out as our biggest endeavor attempted so far to insure the longevity of Thunderhill Park. It is a big deal. It is costly and there is risk but to do nothing and stand on what we have today as the definition of our future would be far more risky. With the addition of Thunderhill West we will have 52 more weekends to rent. We will have 52 more Fridays and we will have 52 more Monday’s. I mention this because there are only 365 days in a year and not all of them are truly rentable to customers in our world. We have rented Thanksgiving day in the past and we would do so again but with Thunderhill West will make it so we do not have to. We currently rent about 325 days a year. If Thunderhill West allows us to rent 450 total days in a year counting both venues and simultaneous use, we have succeeded again. We will prosper and we will grow and we will remain debt free and we will have the funding to seek future opportunities to make Thunderhill Park the best recreational venue in the nation. We will!
So what can you do in the face of all this opportunity? Support Thunderhill. Really! For ten years from 1988 to 2008 the Club collected $50 for each and every entry that ran in an SCCA event to help fund the track. Ten years times ten races a year means that some drivers paid $5,000 in additional entry fees in order to make the dream of Thunderhill a reality. I recall that there were drivers back then who groused about all the new SCCA members who would come along and use the track and would never have given a dime to make it happen. We knew they were right but we also knew we would not stop the new-track surcharge program based on that prognostication. They were right. We are twenty years in and many of the users of today have never donated or otherwise given any support funding to the development of a “club-owned racetrack.” It’s true? Have you? Do you want to? You can. We will take support in any form; money, services, equipment, time, talent, and, of course, money. You can also support the new track project by supporting the Thunderhill Park on-site businesses. Fuel is our highest grossing activity at the track yet many people skip our pumps and bring gas in or drive to town. Want to help build Thunderhill West? Buy our gas and consider the difference in price your contribution to the success of this great new adventure. Buy a track-map tee shirt or a 20th Anniversary polo shirt. Plan ahead for gifts to your team of Thunderhill garb. Fill your Christmas list up with Thunderhill merchandise. It all helps. But, of course, you could donate time, equipment and money. We need another tow truck. We need fire-fighting equipment. We need small trucks. We need audio-visual equipment and a pull-behind broom. We need a well drilling company and plastic conduit pipe. We could use a forklift and a 25,000 gallon fresh water holding tank. We could use a small water truck, some sit-down mowers, small equipment and a chain link fencing contractor. We could use a trencher and a portable compactor. Containers would be nice as well as more 55 gallon trash cans from our friend Ken Epsman. We need a few more light poles, some big and some small, and we need solar panels that can run road lights at night long. The list goes on so if you have an idea, or anything else, please keep us in mind. This is the track built by racers for racers and you are a racer who can help. Help!
All of this reminds me that I need to encourage you to come to the 20th Anniversary celebration of Thunderhill Park on October 18, 19, 20. It really is a big deal with history and dreams and expectations and all that which makes an event meaningful. For heaven sakes race that event if you can. Be there to see the people who made Thunderhill Park legendary and be there because you can. Check your calendar. Cancel the conflicts and join us for an event that will live in history. There will only be one 20th Anniversary race and party. You will not get a second chance. I expect to see you at Thunderhill where we will all experience the official introduction of Thunderhill West and the unexplainable feeling that comes when you do something important in the world of motorsports.
The 20th Anniversary event tee shirts will be available and your name will be on the back if you enter this event. Wow!