The Sue Rickman Benefit Races were run at Thunder Road in Gordonsville, VA, this past weekend. Attendance was disappointing, considering the charitable nature of the events; but the racers who showed were rewarded with some great racing and some great door prizes, courtesy of sponsors Team Associated, B-Main Motorsports, BMI, Darkside, EAMotorSports, Irrgang Racing Service, Integy, JACO, J&D Machine, McAllister, R/K Racing Products, SMC, Tekin, Trinity and Voodoo Cells. Not to mention a big pile of money; $250.00 in awards each day! Smaller items were used as door prizes (And there were a bunch of those; every one went home with a handful.) and larger items were auctioned. The generosity of the racers was evident, as plenty of extra raffle tickets were sold; and the bidding was spirited for the larger items. Anything left at the end of the day will be shipped to Tim Donley for his on line raffle.
The Road Course race was held on Saturday. All the Thunder Road regulars welcomed Raymond Darroch, the newest of the JACO/SMC team drivers, to Thunder Road. Ray promptly returned our hospitality by turning his 19-Turn Touring Car Class heat races into a procession. Ray had his Corally hooked from the first few laps; and no one could touch him. Jesse Bean and Scott Gregory took turns trying, but neither one had anything to offer Ray. Steve Simmons seemed to have an edge in the opposite heat races, while Charlie Johnson (CJ) and Harold Ruckle (in a borrowed car) took turns trying to get past. By the time the qualifier dust settled, Ray had TQ with a blistering 36/5:02.52.
CJ and his T2 bested Harold Ruckle in the B Main in a close finish. Harold’s excuse for his second place was that he was afraid of bending the track owner’s FT TC4; but we all know the owner is a pussy cat, despite persist rumors of bodies buried in the nearby woods.
Jesse Bean finally recovered the handle on his T2; and he was all over Ray Darroch at the start of the A Main. Scott Gregory and Steve Simmons lurked just behind, locked in their own battle and hoping Jesse and Ray would take each other out. Ray kept his cool; and as he started inching out a lead, Jesse smacked the wall. One mistake was all Ray needed. He ran a near record pace to the end. Jesse could match Ray’s pace for a few laps; then he would slip a few tenths worth and Ray slowly eased away. Less than a lap separated the two at the flag, as Ray ran a 36/5:05.16. Scott and Steve ran a good race; with Scott (in his new IRS chassis’ed TC3) besting Steve at the end; again, by less than a lap.
Ray Darroch showed what a class act he really is by donating most of his first place money to the Sue Rickman Benefit Fund. A good day of racing for a great cause.
Sunday was Oval; and the Thunder Road regulars turned out to support the cause. The racers were evenly divided between SPEC and Stock Classes. Qualifying in the SPEC Class featured a series of close races between Joel White and Steve Walker (Beach); with Harold Lam keeping them honest and Ernie Padgette trying to stay out of the way. Joel took TQ with 51/4:00.41.
The Stock Class featured some of the fastest and closest racing seen in a long time. Clayton Anderson (Big Clay) and Harold Ruckle were wheeling their Hyperdrives; with Jesse Bean in a Maverick and Steve Nelson (Seven) driving his KSG/RIP hybrid. They were locked in a struggle all night; with all four cars turning almost identical times, lap after lap. And those times were at, or near, a record pace. Any one of the four could, and in fact did, lead at any time. Jesse trailed most of the evening, but got the tweak right in the third heat; setting TQ with a 53/4:01.15.
The SPEC Main was more of the same; with Joel and Beach fighting it out for the lead and Ernie Padgette fighting an oddly slow chassis setup. Joel and Beach stayed within a second of each other right to the buzzer; with Joel leading by less than two tenths at the end.
The Stock Main featured a suddenly faster Jesse Bean; as he had tweaked his Mav right on the edge of loose and fast. He grabbed the lead at the start and ran like a thief; until he finally lost it between one and two. Seven, Harold and Big Clay all slipped past; leaving Jesse to fight his way back to the front. Jesse looked capable of doing it, but he got in too much of a hurry and bumped Harold trying to get past in turn four. That put Big Clay into a lead he held to the end, with Seven hanging on to his rear bumper and looking capable of going past at any time. Harold grabbed third and Jesse took fourth. Any one of the four could have taken this very close and competitive race.
The attendance could have been better; but the racing couldn’t have been much closer. Maybe the charitable nature of the day filtered over to the racing. Thanks; Ernie P.