Organised by the California Sports Car Club, which forms part of the SCCA, the Solo 2 is a low speed handling event that is timed. Courses vary between 1/2 to one mile long. It is a fun event that will improve the driver’s skills. This contest will put the driver’s ability and the vehicle’s handling characteristics to the test.
Date: 10-11 December 2011
Venue: Auto Club Speedway
Country: United States of America
Located around seven miles west of Willows in California, Thunderhill Raceway Park is a popular racing venue for both cars and motorcycles and is used by the Sports Car Club of America (SCCA) for its events. The three mile track has a total of fifteen turns, but is designed to allow event organizers to reconfigure the course to suit their needs. Thunderhill hosts the longest race in the United States – the annual 25 Hours of Thunderhill – a National Auto Sport Association event supported by the US Air Force.
Fans play an important role in the sport of auto racing. Not only do they bump up the excitement level with their enthusiasm, entrance fees help towards the many expenses incurred in keeping a racing track in peak condition. Following a three week break from racing action, Thunderhill Raceway Park reopened on 23 April, and racing fans no doubt noticed the changes that have been introduced, specifically with them in mind. Improvements made to the facilities at Thunderhill include the expansion of the Midway area under the grandstands, with more kiosk options including a souvenir shop. Families will no doubt appreciate the new play area, complete with inflatable bouncers to keep the children occupied. “Meet the Drivers” sessions will become a regular feature of racing at Thunderhill, where fans will have the opportunity to chat with the drivers and obtain autographs, as well as to find out more about their favorite drivers through live interviews by the announcing team.
Thunderhill owner, Mary Ann Naumann, noted that keeping the fans entertained was a priority, and she wanted people to have a good time from the moment they arrived until it was time to leave. To this end Naumann has appointed Ryan Conine as the track’s production director. With years of experience in the entertainment business, including working on The Longhorn Sports Network; Texas Music Series (KVET 98.1 FM); and Texas Radio 2.0 (live365.com), Conine knows what it takes to keep a crowd happy, and visitors to Thunderhill can look forward to a memorable occasion at every racing event. Thunderhill Raceway Park is gearing up for months of summer entertainment and action, so be sure to keep an eye on their events calendar and enjoy the vibe at the track where fans rule.
Born in Summit, New Jersey, on 18 March 1937, Mark Neary Donohue Junior was a brilliant American racecar driver. Mark Donohue had a reputation for being able to set up his own car and drive it consistently. The bachelors degree in Mechanical Engineering that he received from Brown University in 1959 must have certainly helped him in this regard. He started racing casually at the relatively young age of 22 in a 1957 Corvette – the car which gave him his first win. He started networking with a number of different SCCA drivers and eventually met Walt Hansgen. Hansgen was an experienced race driver who recognised Donohue’s talent and became his mentor. He encouraged Donohue to make good use of both his natural driving talent and his great working knowledge of vehicle mechanics – something which always proved to be an advantage to Donohue.
In 1965, Hansgen invited Mark to co-drive a Ferrari 275 at the Sebring Endurance Race. The team finished eleventh in the race and Donohue was catapulted onto the international sports car racing scene. The following year Donohue was signed up to drive a GT-40 MK II racecar for the Ford Motor Company. His first year with the company was rather unsuccessful and he finished 51st. The following year, he again raced for Ford – this year with much more success. Despite constant disagreements with his co-driver Bruce McLaren, the team managed to finish 4th in the endurance classic. In 1967, Mark Donohue dominated the United States Road Racing Championship in a Lola T70 MkIII Chevy. He was driving for Roger Penske – one of the most influential figures in his racing career. During that year he won six of the eight races he competed in. The following year, Donohue continued to enjoy a superior season – dominating in most of the races despite mechanical problems with his McLaren M6A Chevrolet.
Things continued to go well for Mark Donohue and before long he started his Trans-Am career which was also highly successful. He raced his first Indianapolis in 1969, finishing seventh and taking the rookie of the year award. The following year he finished second and in 1972 he won the race. During all this time he continued to drive for Roger Panske. In 1973, Donohue took to NASCAR racing driving in the Winston Cup Series. During this time Penske had been working with Donohue to help develop the 917/10 Porsche. Donohue offered his extensive enginnering knowledge to help make the Porsche the best car on the track – though not all the choices he made where good ones. Before long the two started working on the 917-30 – the car which came to be known as the ‘Can-Am Killer’. The body was completely reworked to make it more aerodynamic, while the car features a 5.4 litre turbocharged Flat-12 engine which could reach an output of 1500 bhp. The car dominated every competition it entered, except one, and is still today seen as one of the most dominant racing cars to ever be created. Donohue went on to enjoy a short Formula One racing career before his untimely death in 1974 in a racing accident. He was eventually inducted into the International Motorsports Hall of Fame in 1990.
The Sports Car Club of America, or SCCA, decided to open a new racing class in 1972, known as the Showroom Stock. It was a class that was reserved for stock street automobiles and its popularity grew at such pace that by 1980 a twenty-four hour racing event was being held. By 1985, the series had expanded to six races and by 1996 the world challenge was divided into a touring class and sports class. In 2002, the title sponsor became Speedvision, which was bought by Fox, and the name became the SCCA Pro Racing SPEED World Challenge.
The SCCA Pro Racing SPEED World Challenge is raced in two divisions, namely the Speed World Challenge Speed GT and the Speed World Challenge Speed Touring Car. The aim of the Speed World Challenge is to provide a production based racing event to manufacturers and teams, in which they are able to display the power and quality of their products. Drivers and manufacturers are allocated championship points according to the finishing position of each class. In the Drivers Championship, a winning driver will be selection on their points in each class, whereas there is only one award for the Manufacturers Championship.
At present, Pierre Kleinubing leads the Speed Touring Car Driver Championships with 122 points, Kuno Wittmer is in second with 108 points, Peter Cunningham has 98 points, Charles Espenlaub has 85 points and Jeff Altenburg has 80 points. In the Speed GT, Randy Pobst has the lead with 220 points, Brandon Davis has 208 points, Andy Pilgrim is in third position so far with 198, Michael Galati with 182 and Jason Daskalos with 145.
In the Speed GT and the Speed Touring Car divisions, a Rookie of the Year award is given to a driver who has not had more than three starts and they have to be confirmed as Rookies by SCCA Pro Racing. Entrant drivers in the season are able to be awarded the Jim Cook Memorial Trophy, which is given to drivers who show sportsmanship, character and contribute positively to the sport. Crew Chiefs stand in line to be presented with the Zimmermann Cup, for dedication, passion and leadership shown during the racing season.
This year, the SCCA Pro Racing SPEED World Challenge started in Sebring on 12 to 14 March, moved to ACS Long Beach from the 18th to the 20th of April and continued at VIR Danvill from the 25th of April to the 27th. Miller Tooele takes place on 16 to 18 May, Lime Rock from 24 to 26 May, The Glen from 5 to 8 June, Mid Ohio from 17 to 20 July, Road America from 8 to 10 August, Mosport from 21 to 24 August, Detroit from 29 to 31 August, New Jersey from 26 to 28 September and Road Atlanta fromm the 1st to the 4th of October 2008.