This weekend was a roller coaster of a weekend. It a was a four-day event starting on Thursday and concluding on Sunday. This was a new track for and I had five sessions in one day to learn it. The benefit we had was that we had a great group of other drivers around us to help with the learning curve. The track we raced at was Thunder Hill in Willows, California.
The event had a big turnout of 55 cars in our class. The biggest field I have ever drove in. The biggest challenge of the weekend was that the event raced on two different tracks the test day and first two race days were on the three-mile track, and the third race day on the five-mile track.
Thursday Test Day
The test started off like any other first day of the weekend. The first session is used to warm up and make sure the car is in order and safe to push to the limits. And throughout the day the main goal was to get our pace as close as we could to the known fast drivers. Since we could look at their times and data, we had a visual goal for the day. Each session we moved closer and closer to the target time. This track is very aggressive on tires and we pushed the car to the limit in all the sessions leaving us with corded, worn out tires in the last session. We were able to end the day within a second of the leaders even with dead tires. So, we were very confident with the car and our pace going into the races with new tires on it.
Friday Race Day
On the test day I made an error while shifting one session. I accidently pulled second gear when I meant to pull fourth. And during qualifying the valved dropped on the head. we only made half the session but still able to secure grid position 13 of 55 to start the race. Between qualifying and the race, we were able to change the head on the motor in a swift two hours. We had some fellow racers loan us a head and help us install it and we are still grateful for their help. Moving onto the race I planned to have a calm start having not had a start on this track, I wanted to go easy the first lap to avoid crashes and stay clean. That was not the case as a massive crash happened right in front of me and pushed me off track into the infield. I fell back to 32nd but had an amazing drive back through the field. I didn’t let the incident cloud my mind, I put my heads down and pushed with full effort through the field. I was making one or two passes each lap and got back up to 21st position to finish the race. We had the pace to run in the top ten. We didn’t let the race break our spirits and prepped the car for the next day of racing.
Saturday Race Day
The grid position for race two was supposed to be set from the fastest time of qualifying and race one. There was a mix up in the grid layout and we got put in the 31st position on the grid. Nonetheless we pushed on and had a good opening lap through the first three corners and in turn four the driver behind had a moment and drove straight into us pushing us off track going uphill. Resulting in a big loss of position. Like always when stuff doesn’t go our way, we put our head down drive hard. I was able to make it up to 23rd by the checkered flag and happy with the overall result of the race. It’s always difficult racing with a new group of people on their home turf. We didn’t achieve the finish position we would have hoped for but we were able learn a massive amount about the track and driving with new people. This is a big win in our books moving forward as we progress through the weekend.
Sunday Race Day
The first session on track was a warm up and the first time being on the 5-mile track. We were able to make 3 full laps in the time allotted. Enough to give us hope for a good position in Qualifying. We made it to the top half of the field starting in 23rd against people who have driven this new track many times before. For the first time of the weekend my opening lap was clean and clear, advancing to position 19. Starting lap two I went into the first corner which was a high-speed minimal braking corner, good. On exit of the corner the car snapped on me and I went for a spin in the infield. We weren’t touched and not sure what happened. Coming back on track the car drove straight, and was fast we had good pace to run in the top ten. Had a big drive from 50th to finish 26th. The day wasn’t perfect nor a great finish but we ran strong and did what were able to do with what happened. Huge learning experience to say the least and ready to return to racing 2021!