NorCal 86DRIVE Challenge - Rounds 3 and 4 at Thunderhill West - April 6, 2019 - April 7, 2019

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The NorCal 86DRIVE Challenge showed up to play with the SpeedSF Track Events family as they hosted a double-header weekend for Rounds 3 and 4 at Thunderhill Raceway in Willows, CA. With a full field of 86s, FR-Ss and BRZs out in full force, a lot of it came down to driver skill and setup vs. straight up mods.

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Saturday’s Round 3 of the Challenge featured 20 eager drivers who were looking to get their share of the championship points in their respective classes while showing Thunderhill West who’s boss. With that, let’s go to the classes!

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GTRadial Stock’s top 3 drivers were within tenths and even hundredths of each other, showing that the smallest of nuances in driving skill can be the difference between 1st, 2nd, and 3rd place. Starting in 3rd place, Tor Anderson took home 5 points with this 1:30.776 lap time, while 2nd place driver, “Track Dad” Matt Belter, took home 7 points with his 1:30.665 lap time. 1st place winner Ben Luu, barely beating out Matt by a mere .057 seconds, took home 10 points with a 1:30.608 lap time. Excellent driving by this group – a class to surely pay attention to! 

GTRadial Street featured very fast drivers here as well, with the top 2 drivers separated by .093 seconds! Scott Malloy took home 3rd place with his 1:30.885 lap time, while Felipe Burga took 2nd place home with a 1:29.968 lap time. 1st place, however, was Daniel Harada, who had eeked out a 1:29.875 lap time. Very nice driving from all 3 drivers in this class!

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Ah yes, Touring class, where tire choice now plays a role! This class featured a fast group of drivers and fast they were! 3rd place winner on RC-1s was Neal Wiebmer who put down a 1:26.665 lap time. Joe McGuigan chose to put on a set of RE-71Rs for his time out and managed to put down a 1:25.287 lap time, while Kevin Schweigert laced up with a set of Michellin PS4S and threw down a 1:24.565 lap time to settle the score. Driver skill, car mods, tire choice… who knows what the X-factor was here!

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Unlimited class featured 1 driver and of course, 1 winner: Brandon Yun who had a 1:26.450 lap time for his efforts. Where was Jeff Nucum this round? We definitely need more drivers in the Unlimited class to see who the best is here!

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With Saturday done and dusted, the NorCal 86DRIVE Challenge was back at it again for Sunday’s festivities at Thunderhill West for Round 4 and the results were very different from Round 3’s. Perhaps it was the weather, or maybe drivers finally mastered Thunderhill West and were able to shine on a splendid Sunday.

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GTRadial Stock featured 6 skilled drivers, but of course, only 3 can get on the podium. Haven Latimore put it all on the line, pushing the limit to getting 3rd place for the first time this season. Great driving, Haven! 2nd place’s Ben Luu, who was Round 3’s GTRadial Stock class winner, found himself faster than his previous winning lap time with a 1:30.241, but Matt “Track Dad” Belter improved upon his Saturday result significantly, walking away with 1st place and a 1:30.65 lap time, which was exactly .600 seconds faster! Regardless of the results, that is some great overnight improvement from both drivers!

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The podium for GTRadial Street featured another placement switch between the top 2 drivers while the 3rd place winner snuck in for his second 3rd place win of the season. Max Paolozzi put down a 1:30.765 lap time to earn his 5 points for the day, while Daniel Harada, who had previously won this class in Round 3, took home 2nd place instead with a 1:29.935 lap time. Felipe Burga improved his lap time from Round 3 by placing a 1:29.741 lap time on the tarmac and improved himself into a 1st place win!

Touring once again featured the same 3 podium winners from Saturday Round 3’s results in the same order. Neal Wiebmer improved upon his Saturday time with a 1:26.429 lap time and 3rd place win, while Joe McGuigan took home 2nd place despite a slower 1:25.855 lap time. Kevin Schweigert was able to keep his 1st place win for Round 4 despite a slightly slower-than-Saturday lap time of a 1:24.689.

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Overall, this was a great double-header weekend and many people were excited to be a part of this great event. A huge thank you to GTRadial, WedsSport, The Racers Line, Salasko Racing, Verus Engineering, Elite Performance, Winmax, Bluemoon Performance, Raceeng, MPH Fabrication, Footwork Autosport, Spnywoosh, Norcal 86DRIVE, and Scott Grasso Photography for being great supporters of the NorCal 86DRIVE Challenge, which allows them to grow and keep these cars where they’re meant to be: on the track!

Ryan Bula