No. 313 Jim Hicks racked up two wins at the SoCal Region season opener at Willow Springs International Raceway. Charles Sharp scored two second-place finishes and Thomas Atteberry came in third both days.

NASA SoCal 944 Spec racer Charlie Sharp once described Willow Springs International Raceway as a “fickle track.” That was certainly true at the season opener, because it was either very fast or cold, blowing and spitting at us. We got some rain, but the wind was not too bad, and we enjoyed the best of what makes 944 Spec racing such a great group. We were showing our competition each other’s lines and speed secrets. We want everyone fast. Then we all can push to be faster.

Simon Peck got there early on Friday for practice. He was running 1:39s the first day at the fastest and maybe scariest track in the West.

For Saturday’s race, we had some light rain. Southern California does not get much rain, but it made racing a lot of fun with my Porsche friends. Our race had a couple of white-knuckle laps at the start, due to a moderate rain storm.

Thomas Atteberry must be using nitrous on the starts he is getting lately. He was quick. I remember trying to use “the force” to gauge him as we ran two and three wide in the first few turns. The rain that did fall just sat on the windshield because none of us had wipers. I was driving the track by memory and by looking out the side windows, which is nuts at 120 mph! I could barely see, and I was sliding around Willow Springs’ fast turns on slicks in the early part of the race.

Atteberry and Simon Peck battled like a schoolyard throw-down. Joseph Bajo brought up the chase pack, laying down 1:39s. That’s a really fast pack! Three years ago, I could not break 1:44. Charles Sharp was relentless and chased me up through the Miatas, nipping at my heels all the way to the finish.

Saturday evening I found out most of the guys did not get tickets for the sold-out season awards banquet, so I represented 944 Spec at the Willow Springs Turn 4 clubhouse. I took home the prizes, while our guys went to Coach’s, a local sports bar, for dinner and beverages. Sunday played out very similarly, with fewer racers because mechanicals sent some home early. Peck’s transmission locked up in pregrid.

Racing is always fun. It’s your fellow racers who make it fun. We hope to have some rookies moving up from HPDE in time to be ready to race at Buttonwillow next month!



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