Clear Skies Over Thunderhill at Western Conference Majors Round 7

by Jeff Zurschmeide, for

Willows, Calif. (April 11, 2015) – Round 7 of the Western Conference Majors Tour was run under clear skies and moderate temperatures at Thunderhill Raceway in Willows, Calif. A field of 130 drivers in seven race groups ran 30-minute sprint races today, seeking precious points towards Conference class titles and Runoffs qualifications.

High wispy clouds covered the morning sky, keeping temperatures in the 60s for the morning. The cool air delivered a little extra horsepower during the 20-minute qualifying sessions.

“I had a lot of air, but I was running out of gears on the front straight,” said F Production competitor Jess Heitman of Portland, Oregon (No. 47 Maz-Toy Auto Recycling/Jesse Prather Motorsports Mazda Miata).

Racing got underway as the clouds finally burned off shortly past noon. Race Group 3 drew the first green flag, featuring GT-1, GT-2, GT-3, Touring 1, and American Sedan. Veteran GT-1 pilot Frank Emmett of Penngrove, Calif. (No. 45 Red Line Oil Chevrolet Corvette) eased into the lead from pole position and never relinquished the advantage. In GT-2, Erich Joiner of Torrance, Calif. (No. 3 Tool of North America Porsche 997) claimed the win.

Three-time SCCA National Championship Runoffs winner Collin Jackson of Langley, British Columbia (No. 53 BM&M Screening Solutions Nissan 240SX) claimed the GT3 win over Guy Laidig of Woodside, Calif. (No. 52 Mazda/Hoosier Tire/Fuzzball Racing Mazda RX-7). Marc Hoover of Shingle Springs, Calif. (No. 98 Hooverspeed/NRA/Necksgen/Red Line Oil Mazda Miata) set a new track record during the race, while winning the Touring 1 class. Allison Palitz of San Leandro, Calif. (No. 82 Maximum Motorsports Ford Mustang) ran unopposed in AS.

Group 4 was Spec Miata, and the Mazda drivers provided their usual close racing action, with Tommy McCarthy of Mountain View, Calif. (No. 23 Du-All Safety Mazda Miata) leading from the pole position. But McCarthy’s lead was short-lived as a pack of leaders including Steven Powers of Mesa, Ariz. (No. 145 Amerifirst Financial/ Street Racing Mazda Miata), Mason Filippi of Alamo, Calif. (No. 40 Cuttings Edge Drapery Mazda Miata), and Marco Gallaher of Santa Rosa, Calif. (No. 8 First Community Bank/PFR/Rossini Racing Products Mazda Miata) traded the lead several times in the first half of the race. Gallaher eventually found the lead in Lap six, and opened a nine-second gap by the checkered flag. Filippi finished in second position, and McCarthy had to settle for third.

“This is my third year in Spec Miata. I’m coming up through the ranks and this is my best year yet. I’ll definitely be at Daytona,” Gallaher remarked in Victory Circle.

Race Group 5 provided excitement in the form of a close race between Joe Huffaker of Petaluma, Calif. (No. 77 Huffaker Horsepower MG Midget) and Jess Heitman in his Mazda Miata. Representing two different generations of F Production car development, the pair ran a close race until Huffaker suffered a spin while leading. Heitman went on to claim the class win and overall first position in the race group. Troy Ermish of Tracy, Calif. (No. 38 Datsun 510 Parts Outlet/REBELLO Racing Engines Datsun 510) took GT-Lite honors, while Anthony Jimerson of Benicia, Calif. (No. 28 A.T. Mechanical/Jesse Prather Motorsports/Hoosier Mazda RX-7) claimed the win in E Production. Tom Wickersham of Piedmont, Calif. (No. 01 Maine Straight Racing/Competition Autowerks/BFGoodrich Mazda MX-5) earned the top spot in Touring 4, and Jason Isley of Coto de Caza, Calif. (No. 99 TRD/Hoosier/OS Giken/ Toyota Yaris) took the win in H Production.

Group 6 included both the new third generation SRF3 and the existing SRF cars in roughly equal numbers. Past national champion Mike Miserendino of Bakersfield, Calif. (No. 11 MBI Racing Spec Racer Ford 3) held the pole position, but next to him on the front row was past national champion John Black of Olympic Valley, Calif. (No. 17 CSR Performance Spec Racer Ford 3). Miserendino took the lead at the green flag but Black followed just a few feet behind, and they were both tailed by Todd Harris of Portland, Oregon (No. 24 Pro Drive Racing/Flat Out Racing Spec Racer Ford 3) and Umberto Milletti of Hillsborough, Calif. (No. 34 Bulldog Motorsports/InsideView Spec Racer Ford 3). After a first-turn mishap behind the lead pack, Black and Miserendino traded the lead a few times before Miserendino closed the deal, winning with a 2.637-second margin of victory. Black finished second, with Harris in third place.

Paul Raby of Las Vegas, Nevada (No. 7 Flat Out Racing Spec Racer Ford) took the second-generation SRF win, followed by Paul Goudy of Portland, Oregon (No. 27 Pro Drive Racing/Flat Out Racing Spec Racer Ford) and Stephen Controulis of Orinda, Calif. (No. 55 Spec Racer Ford).

In the Group 7 race, Formula F delivered one of the best shows of the day, with Denny Renfrow of Santa Clara, Calif. (No. 11 Wheely Open Racing Piper/Honda) and Alex Kirby of Long Beach, Calif. (No. 81 Fast Forward Racing Components Piper/Honda) trading the lead almost every lap. Scott Huffaker of Menlo Park, Calif. (No. 99 Van Diemen) gave good chase for a time, but his car stuck in gear near the halfway point and he slipped down the field to finish sixth in class. The race came down to the last few yards, where Kirby got a good run off the final corner and caught Renfrow at the line, taking the win.

“We’d been going back and forth for a few laps, and I was planning on making my move on the last straightaway. We’re going to keep the same strategy tomorrow – just try to get a good start and pull ahead,” Kirby said.

In the Formula Vee class, Dennis Andrade of Buckeye, Arizona (No. 87 D&D Racing Vortech) and Skip Streets of San Clemente, Calif. (No. 51 Hoosier/Ron Chuck Engineering /My Bride Traci Mysterian) were all but tied together throughout the race. Andrade grabbed the lead, and Streets spent his time looking for a way around but never could find an opening. At the checker, it was Andrade, Streets, and Don Manthe of Santa Rosa, Calif. (No. 40 Volkswagen) in order across the line.

Group 1 raced later in the afternoon. Temperatures were warm, but the day remained breezy and mild. Scotty B. White (No. 0 BFGoodrich Tires/GOT CDL?/Knight Transport LLC Ford Mustang) earned the top step in the Touring 3 class while setting a new lap record. Tom Wickersham (No. 01 Maine Straight Racing, Competiton Autowerks, BF Goodrich Ford Mustang) also made his second appearance of the day in Touring 3. Wickersham took the lead at the flag but spun in Turn 1, yielding the lead and ultimately the race to White. Don Van Nortwick of San Jose, Calif. (No. 51 Tobar Industries Ford Mustang) took honors in Touring 2. Bob Bradfield of Aptos, Calif. (No. 60 Cary's Redding Tire Ford Mustang) claimed the win in STL with a new lap record, while Carl Young of Salinas, Calif. (No. 49 Driving Ambition Honda S2000) took the STU class victory. B-Spec belonged to Eric Boucher of Auburn, Calif. (No. 35 The Wife Mazda2) with a new lap record.

Group 2 was the final race of the day, combining all winged formula and sports racing cars. Jim Devenport of Modesto, Calif. (No. 23 Cranbrook Group, Inc. Norma M20) took the Prototype 1 class and overall group win, with Chris Farrell of Salt Lake City, Utah (No. 58 C&M mfg./GDRE/Hoosier/Geartronics Stohr WF1) claimed the Prototype 2 victory.

Among the open wheel cars, John LaBrie of Draper, Utah (No. 33 Bug and Weed Mart Phoenix Race Works F1K12) finished first after a close race in Formula B, while Tom Hope of Downey, Calif. (No. 10 H&M Racing Data Van Diemen) set a new lap record on the way to the win in Formula Continental. Formula Enterprises honors went to Matthew Hauff of Rohnert Park Calif. (No. 38 Goebel Construction SCCA Enterprises). Tazio Ottis of Portland, Ore. (No. 72 Patrick Ottis Company Formula Mazda) took the top step in Formula Mazda.

Round 8 of the Western Conference Majors Tour will be held tomorrow, April 12, 2015 at Thunderhill Raceway in Willows, Calif. The next rounds 9 & 10 will be held May 1-3, 2015 at Buttonwillow Raceway Park in Buttonwillow, Calif.

Complete race results and further information available at

Willows, Calif. - Provisional race winners for Saturday’s Western Conference Majors Tour Round 7 at Thunderhill Raceway. Drivers are listed by Class: name, hometown, and car.

American Sedan: Allison Palitz, San Leandro, Calif., Ford Mustang B-Spec: Eric Boucher, Auburn, Calif., Mazda2 E Production: Anthony Jimerson, Benicia, Calif., Mazda RX-7 F Production: Jess Heitman, Portland, Ore., Mazda Miata H Production: Jason Isley, Coto de Caza, Calif., Toyota Yaris Formula B: John LaBrie, Draper, Utah, Phoenix Formula Continental: Tom Hope, Downey, Calif., Van Diemen Formula Enterprises: Steve Baumhoff, Atherton, Calif., Formula Enterprises Formula F: Alex Kirby, Long Beach, Calif., Piper Honda Formula Mazda: Tazio Ottis, Portland, Ore., Formula Mazda Formula Vee: Dennis Andrade, Buckeye, Ariz., Vortech GT-1: Frank Emmett, Penngrove, Calif., Chevrolet Corvette GT-2: Erich W Joiner, Torrance, Calif., Porsche 997 GT-3: Collin Jackson, Langley, B.C., Nissan 240SX GT-Lite: Troy Ermish, Tracy, Calif., Datsun 510 Prototype 1: Jim Devenport, Modesto, Calif., Norma M20 Prototype 2: Chris Farrell, Salt Lake City, Utah, Stohr WF1 Super Touring Lite: Bob Bradfield, Aptos, Calif., Mazda RX-7 Super Touring Under: Carl Young, Salinas, Calif., Honda S2000 Spec Miata: Marco Gallaher, Santa Rosa, Calif., Mazda Miata Spec Racer Ford 3: Mike Miserendino, Bakersfield, Calif., Spec Racer Ford 3 Spec Racer Ford: Paul Raby, Las Vegas, Nev., Spec Racer Ford Touring 1: Marc Hoover, Shingle Springs, Calif., Mazda Miata Touring 2: Don Van Nortwick, San Jose, Calif., Ford Mustang Touring 3: Scotty B. White, Auburn, Wash., Ford Mustang Touring 4: Tom Wickersham, Piedmont, Calif., Mazda MX-5  

Thunderhill Majors