Derek Thorn’s 2100-Mile Trip to the 44th Annual Snowball Derby
BAKERSFIELD, CALIFORNIA (December 9, 2011) – Overcoming incredible odds, Bakersfield’s Derek Thorn nearly pulled off a top-ten in the 44th annual Snowball Derby at Five Flags Speedway in Pensacola, FL over the weekend, driving from his 30th starting position up near the top-ten before a disastrous crash ended his day with just 5 laps remaining in the 300 lap contest.
Thorn made the race behind the wheel of the #26 Sigma Engineering Solutions / JRC Toyota Camry with significant fan and sponsor support from throughout the racing industry. Thorn and his JRC team made a 2100 mile trip to race at the premier short track event in the nation. The long tow along with using three engines and a wild crash earned Thorn the Five Star Bodies Tough Guy Award for the week.
The Junior Joiner led crew successfully managed the “Room of Doom” technical inspection process on Wednesday with only minor changes needing to be made to the car. With tech out of the way, all focus shifted towards Thursday practice.
Thursday practice hit a bump in the road as the primary motor blew in the first few laps. The crew scrambled to install a back-up engine with Thorn eager to get some experience on the tough half-mile oval. But Thorn’s day was ended when the back-up engine suffered a valve train failure early in his final practice.
The JRC team was faced with the prospect of packing up before the week had even really began, but additional sponsor support stepped forward to buy a Hamner Racing Engines bullet to install in the car. A late night rally by the JRC team, going to nearly 3:30 a.m., resulted in the successful installation of the new Hamner Racing Engine. With a new power plant, Thorn was ready to attack the track at first practice on Friday.
Friday practice was much more successful for Thorn as the team hunted for more speed. Qualifications that evening proved difficult with dropping temperatures and a slippery race track. Only the top 30 qualifiers would make the 300 lap event on times and Thorn narrowly made the field qualifying 30th out of 52 entries.
After utilizing Saturday practice to further tune-up the #26 ride, it was time for the JRC Gen-1 Truck Arm car to strut its stuff before a crowd of nearly 12,000 for the Snowball Derby. Starting 30th out of the 37 car field, Thorn conserved his car while fighting a loose condition early in the race. Moving up to 26th place, Thorn was put a lap down before the team was able to get him to the pits to discover a flat right rear tire.
With fresh rubber on the car Thorn went to work, first cracking the top-20 and then getting up to 16th position to earn a “Lucky Dog” and get back on the lead lap. Thorn continued digging and avoiding accidents, finding himself knocking on the door for a top-ten finish. After taking his last pit stop with less than 50 laps to go Thorn was ready for a run to the front of the pack.
Unfortunately, Thorn spun with a little bit of help and was forced to restart in the thick of traffic in the closing stages of the race. With damage to the rear end of his car, Thorn hung on before being gathered in a violent crash on lap 294 that sent Thorn’s JRC chassis flipping down the banking in turn one.
Thorn emerged from his battered race car uninjured and team owner Joe Farré later revealed that the car suffered no significant chassis damage whatsoever. His day was done but Thorn was gracious enough to talk to Speed51.com for their live radio broadcast which earned him kudos throughout the internet world for his composure after a rough week.
Getting just a small taste of Snowball Derby success has Farre, Thorn, and Junior Joiner all eager to return to the 45th running of the event next season. Thorn’s attention will now turn towards a busy 2012 season that will see him compete in the NASCAR K&N Pro Series, West for Bob Bruncati and Sunrise Ford, while also mixing in races in the SRL SPEARS Southwest Tour.
Companies sponsoring Derek Thorn in the Snowball Derby include: Sigma Engineering Solutions, JRC, Lake County, Racehard.com, Approved Memory, PepperJack Kennels, Blakesley Sports Media, Victory Circle, Century Boatland, McClintock & Turk, Lakeport Speedway, AP Brakes, AR Bodies, Joe’s Racing Products, JRI Shocks, Eibach Springs, NEO, AG Source Magazine, and Imagine This.
Derek Thorn and JRC would also like to thank everyone for there generous support of this special event, including Joe Farré, Junior Joiner, Scott Franchimone, Jim Kennedy, Marty and Misty Melo, Stanley Fisher, Rick and Carol Thorn, Travis Thorn, Dave Reed, John Gomez, Don Williams, Mark Lundgren, The Keep Family, Dave Furia, Mark Reed, Mike Rose, Rod and Deanne Padel, Dave Sullivan, Grandma Kelly, Justin Dutcher, Kyle Tellestrom, Erika Johnson, Cheryl Archer, The Hensen Family, Phillip Gambrell, Grandma Shirlee and Grandpa Ray, Melissa Kelleey, Kyle and Kolby Medina, Kevin and Traci Medina, Rebecca Chouinard, Myles Anderson, Jeanne Broussal, Valerie Sullivan, Ken Benhamou, Kevin Disney, Randy and Jason Gilbert, Steven Meyer, Jack and Becky Gasper, Christine Smith, Dan Baril, Kristen Raney, Wanda Lopez, Judy Lanfranco, Jamie Ceridono, William & Alberta Knoll, John & Toni Candido, Travis, Tony, Tracy, Clay, & Miranda Wanzer, Grandma June, The Russell Family, The Reyonolds, Steve Meyer, Kim Olsen and Family.
For additional information about JRC look them up online at www.joinerracecars.com Seats are still available for the 2012 season in the SRL SPEARS Southwest Tour and interested parties can contact Marty Melo at (530) 941-5642.