No. 4 Mike Brooks dominated the weekend, with two first-place finishes and two fast laps of the race over No. 61 Darrel Hamilton, who finished second both days.

Driving the Liberty Tire Recycling Thunder Roadster, Mike Brooks took the pole position both days and then led both races flag to flag to sweep the honors. Saturday’s weather started out overcast in the 60s with predictions of scattered showers in the afternoon. While the showers held off, it still was 10 degrees cooler than normal in Georgia.

The sun broke through for the qualifying session, with Mike Brooks setting fast time at 1:40.678 at the 2.5-mile track. Darrel Hamilton in the DHI Motorsports Thunder Roadster was next, a half second behind. Positions three through six were all in the 1:43s and included Kevin Mewborn, Sonny Tu, James Long and Will Miller. Scott Lanford, Lee Barnard, and Jim Brannon rounded out the field. After Scott had motor problems early in the day, Randy Suddreth of Thunder Roadster Ventures generously loaned Scott his car for the weekend.

The Thunder Roadster group lined up in the second of three waves in the Lightning race behind the Spec Miata wave. Because the Thunder Roadsters are about four seconds quicker per lap at Road Atlanta than Spec Miatas, traffic management became important in this race. From pole, Mike Brooks took the lead in the first turn and up the short hill followed closely by Darrel Hamilton. At the end of the second lap, Brooks began to stretch his lead over Hamilton, who had about 20 car lengths in front of the trio of Tu in the P.O.S. Motorsports Thunder Roadster, Kevin Mewborn and Will Miller. Scott Lanford was a few car lengths back in the borrowed roadster with Lee Barnard and Jim Brannon having their own battle. A double yellow bunched up the field on lap eight. Because there were several other class cars between the leaders, Hamilton was never able to get close to Brooks and ended up finishing second. Tu held off Mewborn by half a second to finish third. Miller dropped out of the race after eight laps and Barnard got by Lanford for a fifth-place finish. Brooks set the fast time of the race at 1:40.824, which was two seconds faster than any other Thunder Roadster.

Sunday’s qualifying was a repeat of Saturday for the first two positions. Brooks qualified at 1:40.657, with Hamilton 1 second slower. Miller, in the Full Throttle Racing Thunder Roadster, jumped three spots from Saturday to third place on the grid improving the previous day’s time by 1.5 seconds. Fourth through eighth were Mewborn, Tu, Lanford, Barnard and Brannon in the Free Wheeling Honda Thunder Roadster.

The Thunder Roadsters were sent off in the first wave on Sunday with Brooks duplicating the Saturday start by taking the lead in the first turn again followed by Hamilton, who this time stayed with Brooks throughout most of the race, until he began to lose his front brakes and had to slow. Mewborn, Miller, Tu and Lanford ran together in the next group while Barnard and Brannon again had their own battle. Mewborn eventually took command of third place and pulled away from the others. At the finish, Mewborn was two seconds ahead of Tu, who was followed over the finish line by Lanford. Barnard got by Brannon and pulled away in their battle for sixth and seventh positions respectively. Miller again had problems and did not finish on the lead lap. Like Saturday, Brooks had fast time of the race but only .1 second quicker than Hamilton. Brooks also was the overall winner of the Lightning race.

Nine Thunder Roadsters took the green at Road Atlanta in August.
Nine Thunder Roadsters took the green at Road Atlanta in August.

Also, congratulations to Mike Rea, who raced his Thunder Roadster in the ST3 class and won that class both days. He also was the overall Lightning race winner on Saturday.


Image courtesy of Vickie Eckert

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