customers and making sure all
who came to the track left happy
was the corporate mantra.
When the track opened in
1993, Thunderhill was made
up of a 1.9-mile, nine-turn
road course, a 50-foot wide
paved paddock, no power, no
restrooms, no water, and no
But not to be deterred, the
new track effort moved forward.
Formula Vee driver Steven
Crawford designed tracks at
various potential sites. GT1
driver Art Siri designed the
cross-sections and asphalt mixes.
His cousin Richard Siri joined
the team when it was time to
move dirt. In fact, many SCCA
members stepped up to help. It
was a wonderful adventure – one
that resulted in a win.
Five years after the project
began, in October 1993,
Thunderhill Park in Willows,
Calif., sprouted into action with
a huge San Francisco Regional
road racing event that had,
among its 200-plus entries,
then-SCCA President Nicholas
Craw along with actor Craig T.
Nelson. It was a great moment
for the Club and for Northern
California road racing.
From its early beginnings
in Glenn County, Calif., the
530-acre property has been
a work in progress. The vision
of Thunderhill was always to
be bigger and better year
after year so that we would
be sure of its survival. Building
revenue streams, creating new
“ Tom McCarthy
suggested that the
Region’s board build
its own track, one the
Region would own”
ON THE MOVE
(CLOCKWISE FROM FAR LEFT)
Actor-turned-racer Craig T. Nelson
was a guest of honor at Thunderhill’s
opening weekend; here he can be
seen surveying the layout from the
Eagles Nest, which takes its name
from Nelson’s race team. Upon his
departure from the facility, Nelson’s
pilot took the opportunity to buzz the
track. Today, Thunderhill offers a wide
range of configurations and activities.
buildings – but there was a
lot of room for expansion.
Today, Thunderhill Park offers a
three-mile, 15-turn course; a two-
mile, 10-turn course; a five-mile,
22-turn course; and a number
of variations using bypasses and
alternate routes. Thunderhill has
two skid pads, one of which has
proven ideal for SCCA Autocross
events. Thunderhill has two
clubhouses, 40 garages, ample
bathrooms and showers, a full-
service food business, fuel station,
plus 324 solar panels and an off-
road area for playing in the dirt.
Thunderhill is eco-friendly and
brags about its role in alternative
fuel and autonomous vehicle
technology development via
Stanford University and others.
The property recorded a
record-high 585 “rental days” in
2016 and had another 190 skid
pad events that year. Revenues
hover around $6,000,000
annually with a net income in
the 15-percent range. The track
has no debt and enjoys a good
reputation in the industry. All
new development has been
funded using company reserves,
nine full-time employees run
the day-to-day business of the
property under myself, and
another 35 staffers perform the
tasks needed to execute events.
Sadly, long-time SCCA member
Tom McCarthy, the inspiration for
the mission of Thunderhill, passed
away this year, 25 years after the
track he inspired became a reality.
McCarthy was profoundly proud
of what his suggestion became
and of those who made it happen.
From the start, 25 years ago this
October, Thunderhill has never
stopped growing, and McCarthy
would be proud to know that
fact remains true to this day.