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Friday, March 06 2015 @ 08:22 PM PST

Thunder On The Hill #3

General News

A new year where much is the same and much has changed started a few weeks ago. Welcome to 2014. What do you have in mind for this year? If you are reading this I hope you are planning San Francisco Region/SCCA Regional, Majors or even Runoffs racing before the end of 2014.

A top subject on the social network highway these days is speculation about what the 51st running of the SCCA National Championships in our region at Laguna Seca will mean for the Club.  A great many local racers [about ten that I have sampled] who have never gone to the annual gathering of SCCA’s best, are targeting the Runoffs in their road racing schedule. Most veterans believe that Laguna Seca Raceway and the attraction of Monterey and Carmel will add to the number of entries.  Time will tell. 

One of the not so obvious attractions of the SCCA “Biggie” is the contingency programs in place. A racer can win significant money and other stuff at this event. There is also the historical value of running in an event with 50 years of history and a very impressive line-up of past winners. 

If you are planning your San Francisco road racing schedule around the Runoffs please do not forget the Clubs other regional races at Sears Point and Thunderhill Park. There are a lot of reasons to run these events including the chance to win a 2014 Regional class title along with a huge amount of glory, money and fun. With only one event at Sears Point the race there is a must on the real racers calendar. With Thunderhill offering track championship points and cash plus other incentives for those who attend all four events, there are even more reasons for racers to make the whole San Francisco Region schedule their race season. Add to this the grand opening of the only new road race track built in California since 1993 –Thunderhill West – and you have  to make the SFR/SCCA your race place in 2014!  It is simply a great plan. 

Thunderhill West is so beautiful. You have to see it. The birth of a race track is about on par with birthing a jumbo panda. It is almost impossible but when it becomes a reality, life gets better for everyone. When you see it take shape it is hard to describe. All I can say is that Thunderhill West will be nothing like anything that exists in our market today. It will be unique, fun, challenging, different, and just plain beautiful. So much so that everyone from Japan to Germany is going to be talking about it. As this is being written all the base rock is in place on the track, hot pits, and paddock and entry road. Yet to be accomplished is the building of the 3000 square foot club house, the five new garages and the paving. Paving remains a spring time event for lots of reasons even though we could start now.  The Club house, which contains the bathrooms and showers, has proven to be a bit of a challenge. We will be looking for good club house furniture, cabinets, and help with some landscaping. If you missed that great work day back in 1993 and feel you missed your chance to help, do not despair. Just call. We need your help and we will schedule a way to let you be a part of what we are doing here. If you want we could make it so the Club House bears your name of that of your company? It would take $350,000 to make the Club house emblazon your name as part of the history of motorsports for all time. Thunderhill West is on target to open in mid-May or June at the latest. The plan is for either the May or the June SFR/SCCA races to serve as the official grand opening. Now there’s a race weekend you really do not want to miss!!!! Check the Club racing schedule and mark both May and June at Thunderhill Park as MUST DO RACES on your 2014 road racing calendar.

As a fan of this sport that occupies so much of my time and has for the past 65 years, I think it is worth mentioning some of the great sports-moments coming our way this year.  If you are a Super Cross fan then at least two events are already in the books. The Monster Energy series is great entertainment with a host of young, brave and talented riders jumping into the history books. A rookie rider won the season opener and then champion, Ryan Villopotto showed the way in the tough two-wheel racing. Last weekend the famous Chili Bowl entertained thousands of circle dirt track fans with a five day program featuring close to 300 entries. Among the many things that make this event significant is that it is indoors, it has a list of who’s who winners including Tony Stewart twice and more wheel-to-wheel confrontation than you would see in a year of NASCAR racing and a life-time of Formula One racing. Good stuff to be sure. My hope was that young-local super-talent Kyle Larsen would add the event to his most impressive 21 year old resume. Speaking of NASCAR if our sport ever suffered from too much media exposure and hype NASCAR would be the cause. So many stories and so little time.  The return of Tony Stewart peaks my interest. Will he be on kill as he has been since he jumped from sprint cars to NASCAR, back to sprint cars and then in the hospital. Yes? No? We’ll see. It is not a slam dunk in part because he is wealthy, a bit older, has too much on his plate and does not really seem to be a NASCAR fan Last year while attending a sprint car race at Silver Dollar Speedway in Chico, I wished Tony “good luck” at the next day’s Sprint Cup event at California Speedway.  As he was getting into his sprinter he said, “I’d rather have good luck tonight”. Speaking of Silver Dollar Speedway, it is a 1/3 mile banked dirt track about 35 miles east of Thunderhill. If you wanted to expand your motorsports thrill factor when coming to race at Thunderhill gather up a few friends and jump over to the dirt track on Friday nights. Who knows, you may see Tony Stewart or Kyle Larsen or Steve Kinser, or Sammy Swindell or Donny Schatz – all legends of real motorsports.

Other exciting NASCAR stories for me include the Rookie of the Year contest between Kyle Larsen who made it to the top based on his incredible driving talent and Austin Dillon who made it to the black #3 because his grandfather is Richard Childress. Talk about David and Goliath. Larsen has Chip Ganassi as his car owner and Dillon has Childress who I think will do whatever it takes to get his grandson the rookie of the year honor up to and including bending the rules as is his tendency. If Larsen wins rookie of the year in the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series in 2014 it will be a story worth knowing and telling. There  are more NASCAR intriguing story lines including El Cajon California driver Jimmy Johnson’s attempt to match Richard Petty’s and Dale Earnhardt’s seven [7] NASCAR championships. My guess is that the Earnhardt and, to a lesser extent, the Petty diehards will take out a contract on the very talented J.J. If this story starts to unfold you will no longer be able to listen to NASCAR on Sirius radio. It could become unbearable as the psychographic profile of the NASCAR fan builds up steam.

Formula One with new engines, unlimited money and the incredible attraction of off-the-charts science and technology will be a story about cars, people, Bernie and whether or not reality will settle in at the Circuit of the Americas. Stay tuned. While all this is going on you and I will be racing in Northern California on one of the very best road tracks in the world plus two other road courses that have been around longer but pale by comparison.

Please check out www.thunderhill.com and also click on our Facebook Fan Page and Google+ Page links. There is a new motorcycle video.  If you have resources, want to help, sponsor, name something here after something important to you or you need a big tax write off, please call. We are here to accept your help!