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Thunderhills Event Report

I am behind on my digest, so I apologize if some of this 
is redundant.

This past weekend, January 18 and 19 was the first norcal track
event, and it was a very good first event.  Congrats on putting
on such a fine event go to Andrew Bennet, Karen Chadwich,
the local track officials and workder, and all the instructors.

Thunderhills Park is the new norcal SCCA track 85 miles north
of Sacremento.  You go 6 miles west of Willows on the 162 and
you find it in the rolling hills and green pastures.  The two
miles loop has been expanded with an additional 1 mile back
loop.  Both include serious elevation change.  The front side
is seven corners and the back adds about 5 more.  With the back
loop, it's big enough and hilly enough that you have that great 
road course feeling of being way out there, over then hill.  We
were only the third groupe to be let out on this new section.
The tarmac was gorgeous, and the turns very challenging. 

We ran the short course the first day, and eased into the full
course on the second day.  We ran a chicane at the end of the
front straight, and two more on the back side the next day.
This kept the speeds safe for everyone, and provided some great
"lane change" practice for everyone.

Speaking of exercises, we did exercises on saturday, and lapping
only on sunday.  As is typical, we ran a bit late the first morning
shorting some drivers lane change time, but they were given the
exercise time back later.  We had three groups, with the third
group being almost all instructors.

We had a range of cars from early Q's up to a whole gaggle of S4's
and A4's.  I brought my 323 GTX rally car on bald street tires
(locally called TJ slicks).  That later came back to haunt me.

We had a really nice banquet on saturday night at the Santa Fe
Grill (sic?) in the Golden Pheasant Best Western (really nice!)
Gary Allison of Ronal collected $450 for a set of A8 wheels
that were raffled off.  This money went to norcal QCUSA for
event promotion.

People came in from all over the west coast, with A whole gang of 
instructors from the NW region coming down, including Scott Monkry, 
Alex Necius, Marney Ritchie, and about four others who's name 
escape me.  Must have been the Gordon Biersh martzen beer, yum!

>From the extreme south we had Sargent Schutt, Dwain "Chicane" Hale,
and Mike Norman, all coming up from San Diego.  The real heart of 
the event was the DROVES of norcal quattro nuts who came out.  
Very impressive.  I think we had about 35 cars, for a first time event...

All of the run groupes were behaving themselves and everything
was running just fine the first day. But are own Dwain "Chicane" 
Hale was the first to attempt spring planting.  He was marginally 
succesful out in the back fourty.  I rode with Dwain in his 4KTQ, 
where he demonstrated what great prowess these cars have in the 
corners, earning the "Chicane" monicker as he lined me up perfect
with the rapidly approaching standard every time, then zigged just
in time for it too wiz by my astonished eyes, just missing the 
passenger mirror. 
Alas with El Ninio in full effect, on day two, it became clear that 
it was far too early for planting.  By the time the third run group 
went out is was a downpour.  I was waiting all weekend for this.  A 
chance to show off some pro rally skills on pavement.  Sargent and
Dwain both got an eyefull of opposite lock through the tricky 4,5,6 
section that involved the big hump and some fast transitions.  I was 
also able to run the whole chicane sideways during the heaviest downpour.Cool!  

Having witnessed this display, Dwain thought he too would give it a try,
but his second trip to the infield loaded up the 17 inchers with loads
of mud.  This made the wheels shake terribly on the way to lunch in 
town.  After lunch  I had time for one more round before heading back 
south.  I jumped out a little  early with group two as they had enough 
instructors without me.

Being the last time out, I thought I would try to run the last
corner (12?) out onto the main straight flat in third, knowing
that the rear end would kick out.  This would be spectacular,
as it leads right past the start finnish line, and are soaked,
but spirited crowd of spectators.  Well the rear end came out
as predicted, WAY OUT!  Far enough that the car, while not traveling
toward it, was pointed at the pointy end of the pit entrance wall.
So I dropped throttled, corrected massively (both a mistake) and 
sent myself into a waggling spin off into the infield.  This I did
infront of that said same spectator group!  I was able to drive out 
of the mud with the diffs locked (already) and the rear LSD diff, 
but the whole group got an appropriate tougue lashing about not 
blowing it on the last afternoon.  

After rinsing off my soil samples and changing clothes I headed home.
The eight hours of driving in the rain was enervating. I was hydro-
plaining through standing water from Sacremento to Stockton. Finnaly 
I tucked in behind a big dually 4x4 and used him like a snow plow.  
I always knew these things were good for something!  

Home safe and sound, I can say I learned alot, had a great time,
met some fine people, had some very good food and grog, and 
had some great moments.  

Hearing snow geese at 6:30 am Sunday morning with them flying low, 
due to the overcast conditions was really nice.  I haven't heard 
that since I was a pup.  If you are looking for an alternative 
activity for the SO next year, I suggest a trip to the wildlife refuge.
Those who sent said it was lousey with water foul.

Thanks to all those involved.  I hope I can come close to the quality
of this event in my upcoming, yet tbd event in socal.

Paul Timmerman