Over the last 20 years I have had the pleasure to meet many people who have contributed in one way or another to the success of Thunderhill Park.
On the top of the people list of Thunderhill Park is Tom McCarthy. Born in Fort Dodge Iowa, Tom came to the South Bay in California to attend college and earn a degree in computer science. In San Jose Tom found racing with the SCCA along with Lucy and Du All Machine. Through many tasks, road races and hard work it was Tom who suggested the solution to the woes that troubled the San Francisco Region of the SCCA in the mid-80s, “Let’s build our own track,” he said. Wow! I still find that inspiring. A solution that was impossible - in California - in the 80’s. Tom led the way with fellow club members, a new track committee and anyone else that wanted to come along. He also dealt with the naysayers to see it through. His reward was to retire from the track board in later years, become “Chairman Emeritus” of the company for life and be put into the SFR/SCCA Hall of Fame. He is a good man who stands at the top when it comes to the people of Thunderhill Park. We reward his effort every day at Thunderhill.
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Photo Credit: Andrew Bohan
Story Below By David Ray Of Hooked On Driving
After the excitement and drama of the grand opening of Thunderhill on that Halloween weekend in October of 1993 the next task was to build the business and to put Thunderhill on a solid foundation for the years ahead. Sears Point and Laguna Seca were popular tracks with long legacies and lots of business. We were the new kid on the block. Could we compete? Could we rent enough days to pay the bills and keep the property open? These were all fair questions and the answers depended, to a large extent, on how we approached the task.
When last we met, Thunderhill Park was about to open its doors, participating in the birth of a race track and joining the harsh reality in motorsports venue operations. Like most new parents of a neonate, we weren’t exactly sure what we were doing. The track was done as far as we could go. We had a trailer for timing and scoring and another trailer which was basically a place for the stewards and for Pauline Laskin and her race central crew at the grand opening. The track had no curbs and remarkably few walls. The chosen weekend was Halloween and the San Francisco Region of the SCCA was ready. Since 1988 the Club had, in varying degrees, anticipated this event. The buzz within the road racing world and the local community was at an all-time high.
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If you have been reading the story of Thunderhill you know we are up to the part where we start construction. We had just gotten permission to build the track and the period of notification to the local area had passed with nary a single complaint. The next step before construction was to announce the successful status of the track effort. We did this through a video and a site visit plus Wheel press. The video was made using a helicopter to fly over a track carved into the landscape that sort of replicated the design created by Steve Crawford. We shot the video by hanging off the runner of the helicopter as it followed the path of the track plowed into the earth by our new neighbor Thor Oden. We still have that video. We showed the video at the SCCA banquet in 1992 and we issued press in the Wheel. I think Club members were pleased with what they saw and heard but there were still those folks who thought that Willows was too far away and that this would be the death knell of the project. The original parameter for location was one hour from the intersection of 580 and 680 in Pleasanton. It had to do with travel time.
For info on garage rentals at Thunderhill