SCCA Majors - Thunderhill 3 & 5 Mile

The early forecast for the weekend was rain races on Saturday and Sunday. Group 6 consisted of 13 Spec Racer Ford Gen 3s and 8 Spec Racer Fords from the Western Conference. The Majors are a great race as some unique cars come out to qualify for National Championship event known as the SCCA Runoffs. It is good to mix it up with different racers from the west including CA, OR, WA and NV. For myself I find the increased level of competition helps to push myself and discover  a little more speed.

Race 1

A dry session on the Thunderhill 3-mile track allowed me to qualify 4th in class, 17th overall thanks to the new Hoosier tyres where I improved my times from last year by ~3 seconds. Overcast with a light mist, the start resulted in some mixing of the SRFs and Gen3s. I was able to stay in 4th for a few laps keeping up with the lead 3 until they started to get away. After building up a gap, a few mistakes resulted in myself being passed, dropping back to 5th. I spent the rest of the race chasing down Mike Boyle in 4th place and setting my new personnel best of 2:02.931 only 1.5 seconds behind the new track record, 2:01:493 set by Jack Pipal. An error by the leader placed me into 4th at the checkered flag. Overall a fun and exciting race.

Race 2

The second race would be on the Thunderhill 5-mile track with a bypass bringing it to just over 4.1 miles. Saturday afternoon brought out the rain with a wet track for practice. This was my first time driving the Spec Racer Ford in the wet and it was a lot of fun. It is a lot different and requires greater finesse to be smooth and fast. Sunday morning was also wet but with drying conditions it was a toss up on whether to go out on dry or wet tyres with about 40/60 split for the field. I went out on wets, after about 3-4 laps an obvious dry line started to form. At the end of qualifying the field was shuffled between the Gen3s and Spec Racer Fords resulting in an interesting race start with lots of shuffling going into the turn 2, 3 & 4 complex. I qualified 6th out of 8 in class, 17th overall. The start saw a few minor offs from other cars including a spin in the fast turn 8 requiring me to take some quick evasive action. Under the safety car for the second lap we quickly returned to racing on lap 3. I was only able to keep up with the lead pack for a few laps before losing ground, but I kept them insight for the remainder of the race. After a great race with lots of back and forth in the lead group, Jake Pipal suffered a failed wheel bearing leaving me 5th in class, 15th overall at the checkered flag.

An interesting weekend of changing conditions include hot test day, cooler qualifying, overcast races and even a wet practice session. I had a great time and enjoyed my first run in the rain. Perhaps the best part was improving my overall best time by 3 seconds and being only 1.5 seconds behind the new track record. Looking forward to the next race in May and hopefully finding a little more speed to run at the pointy end of the field.

Other Race Reports

James Chartres

San Jose, CA