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.
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.
Good news for racers! The new Toyo RR will now be allowed in SCCA regional events. Previously SCCA Regional SMT competitors were required to use the Hoosier SM6 or the Toyo Proxes RA-1.This change will now give drivers more options with speed and price in mind. The new Toyo RR features a high grip compound tread design that is meant to be affordable to both the amateur and professional racer. After much speculation about the competitiveness of the Toyo RR, Ron Cortez was quoted as saying ” The Toyo RR is overall a more competitive tire than the Hoosier SM6″. Driver Tyler Vance brought a set of used Toyo RR to race at Cal Speedway after using the same set two weekends prior at Buttonwillow, and qualified on the pole for the Saturday race. Tyler went on to win Saturday’s race, ahead of many competitors who were running on new Hoosiers.
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.
For info on garage rentals at Thunderhill