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March 11 & 12

Thunder Hill Raceway Park

Willows, Calif.


Western States Challenge Race #1, Nor-Cal Race #1


The start of a new racing year is always exciting, and welcomed. This year is even more so, with so many new racers joining the series this year. When it became clear the weather wasnít going to help us ( it snowed on Friday !) it was unclear how many racers were going to show up. Although a lot of racers didnít come, almost all of the new participates did!

Some pictures of the freshly fallen snow courtesy of Dave Borden.


Saturday morning rolled around cold and windy, but dry. Of the cars that did show up the newcomerís out numbered the regulars. Whether a newcomer, or old regular all were excited to get going. Donny Edwards picked up where he left off last year, setting the pace all be it for a new team. Donny is now driving for the Lawson Brothers Racing Team. His car is the old number eleven now repainted pearl white, and with his #1 in red. Dan Lawson displayed the new #11, Bob Lawson while in attendance did not have his ride ready yet, but will by race #2. Regularís Rick Anderson, Mike Joyce, Dave Standridge got back to business fast, and were soon back up to speed. Newcomerís Karen Salvaggio, TC McNett, John Joyce, Barry and Robert Walker, Mike Beeler, and Rich Norgrove, all were feeling out the track and their new rides, and having a ball! Donny set fast time, Karen Salvaggio, Rick Anderson, Dan Lawson, Robert Walker, TC McNett, Mike Beeler, Mike Joyce, Rich Norgrove, and John Joyce rounding out the field. Dave Standridge hadnít shown up yet and would start at the back of the field.


The eleven Challenge Cars came down for the rolling start storming into the first turn tightly bunched. Karen Salvaggio got the jump on Donny at the green, along with Rick Anderson. Dave Standridge came from dead last to fourth right behind Donny! About the only person not getting a good start was Dan Lawson falling back to sixth!

Donny may not have got a good start, but it was short lived, as Donny worked his way to the front and took off! The battle for second, third, fourth was very tight wheel to wheel; nose to tail it was quite a site. Dave Standridge had to drop out with a blown head gasket. Leaving Robert Walker, Karen Salvaggio, and Rick Anderson battling hard, and before they knew it they were leading! Donny had to pull into the hot pit as the number one car had a brake problem, but the pit crew headed by Don Vaught got him back onto the track quickly and Donny set out and passed the field again taking the win. Rounding out the field was Robert Walker having a great first race, Rick Anderson with his best finish to date, Dan Lawson, TC McNett, John Joyce, Mike Joyce, Dave Standridge, Mike Beeler, Rich Norgrove, and Karen Salvaggio rounding out the field.

Karen driving the recently purchased Tim Sharp car experienced a broken gearbox, but was riding around in fourth gear until getting hit by a Honda cutting a tire putting her on the sideline. Dan Lawson and the crew where scratching their heads trying to figure out why the car was so slow down the straights. (Ended up an electrical problem that got fixed).


As is always the case, if you have been around the series for any length of time, fellow drivers came to the aid of Karen, and gave her their spare tranny. They stayed up late, and got it done ready to go in the morning.


Everyone got up Sunday morning surprised to see it still very cold, but still dry although the sky was extremely cloudy and dark. Bob Lawson going nuts watching the racing, jump into the new black number 11 in the first practice session to get his fix of adrenalin for the weekend. Right after the practice session was over it started to rain! Not real hard but hard enough for everyone to scramble to get there rain tires on. The Lawsonís brought two different sizes of tires and had them half mounted before noticing that two were for seventeen inch rims, and two were for 16Ē, the only other tires they had were street tires, so on they went! At that Dan only got in two laps in the whole session.


Donny set fast time with a 2:29:108, with cars spinning all over the place as the lighter rain really made the track really slick! The rain stopped right after qualifying! But would the track be dry in two hours! The time between the run sessions was short due to the enduro that was being run later in the day. Donnyís #1 while on the cool down lap lost third gear!! And they had given their spare to Karen the day before! Up steps Mike Beeler, offering his tranny right out of his car, as he didnít have rain tires. While one crew took the tranny out of the #1 car the other crewmembers took the tranny out of Mikeís car. In the mean time the track dried out enough to put the Kumho V-710ís (the new official tire of the Factory Five Challenge Series) although the skyís were still ominous, some betting on more rain leaving the rain tires on.


As the field got to grid, up came the white #1 ready to go. The crew had done a stellar job very quickly. Donny didnít get caught on this start and immediately took the lead, but couldnít shake the field! Dave Standridge was right on his tail. Finally the Lawson #11 was right with Dan getting a really good start from sixth in the field to third exiting turn one pressing on the front two. The front four were closely bunched for the first four laps with Dan Lawson diving down under Dave Standridge going into turn six, with Donny not far ahead. From this point on Donny and Dan were very close for the entire race with Donny not being able to make a mistake or give up the lead. What was a pleasant surprise was John Joyce who actually turned the fastest lap of the race, coming from last to press Dan very hard for a few laps until spinning and falling back, John will be a force in the future and welcomed competition. Dan although pressing hard couldnít quite do it finishing .268 seconds behind Donny! Team Lawson taking one-tow. The action all around the track drew comments from everyone watching, on what a great race the car and drivers put on! Several people asking how to get a car and into the series! The field rounding out the race was David Standridge, John Joyce, Robert Walker, TC McNett, Mike Joyce, Rich Norgrove, Karen Salvaggio, and Rick Anderson.


Although it would have been nice to have everyone at the first race, it is understandable that some didnít come; if you listened to the weathermen it was going to be a miserable weekend. The second race of the Western States Challenge, and the first of the So-Cal region will be in April 8th at Buttonwillow. This could be the biggest field at a regular season event with a total of twenty cars hopefully. But whether twenty or five you can be sure it will be the most exciting racing at the track, come out and play and see the best series in NASA.


Until them keep your wheels done and we will see you then.


- Dan Lawson


Page last updated: 07/02/2008

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