Wet weather made things interesting for the 10 Thunder Roadsters that appeared at the VIR long course for a weekend of racing. The weekend format was different from normal because it was the season-ending event for the Mid-Atlantic region, which was co-sanctioning the event with NASA Southeast. On Saturday, there was a combined (all racers) practice followed by qualifying and two sprint races. The Mid-Atlantic year end banquet was Saturday evening leaving a no-points “fun run” for the group on Sunday.
After qualifying, there was some confusion getting the cars gridded properly for the race and caused the Thunder Roadsters to be split, giving an advantage to those positioned in the first wave. Brandon Pantas in the Thunder Chicken went on to win that first race of the day followed by Randy Suddreth and Ralph Nolan. Brandon’s fast lap was 2:45.813 which is about 30 seconds slower than if he had run under normal (dry) track conditions. Just off the podium were Rob Summers, Aaron Rice, Darrel Hamilton, Lee Barnard, Ed Bell, and Sonny Tu. This was Ed Bell’s first run with the Thunder Roadster group in a car provided by Randy Suddreth.
The second race started with better track conditions and a brief lead for Ralph Nolan. Darrel Hamilton and Randy Suddreth quickly took the point followed closely by Brandon Pantas and Rob Summers. Aaron Rice, Sonny Tu, Ed Bell, Tim Sosebee, and Lee Barnard rounded out the field. One example of extraordinary sportsmanship occurred Saturday. Darrel Hamilton’s car had a mechanical issue and Randy Suddreth loaned Darrel his backup car — even with the lousy weather and slick track. Darrel not only won the second race, but his fast lap also bested the rest of the field by two seconds and he set a new course record for the Thunder Roadsters at 2:15.315. A tip of the hat to Randy for his sportsmanship and friendship, despite being in a close points race with Darrel for the championship.
It was raining during Sunday’s “fun” race, so a number of drivers decided to leave the cars in the pits. It was slippery, and most competitors had some sort of off-course excursion. In the end, Brandon Pantas prevailed followed by Aaron Rice and Rob Summers.