Thompson 2014

THOMPSON IS BACK

The history of continuous operation of American road racing venues went through trying times a couple 3 decades ago. Road racing tracks seemed to be falling off the racer’s radar or operating on the edge of solvency with little new construction in process or on the horizon. Thompson was one of the challenged venues resorting to oval racing to maintain itself.

Well, things have indeed changed as evidenced by all the new circuits now up and running and viable in our now not so new millennium. Virginia International IS BACK, New Jersey Motorsports has been Created, Monticello, NY has a motorsports country club and this trend proliferates well beyond our eastern environs.

And do…Thompson is new 2 mile motorsports circuit with lots to offer area road racers. We are delighted and even more delighted to have been at the first vintage event at the rebuild and re-commissioned Thompson. While still in process, we can see that the basics are there and things are coming along nicely.

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5 Fast & Fine machines. READY: The restored Thompson features nicely paved paddocks and some good spectator viewing points. Note the rise behind the tent. This climb finds a summit from which almost all of the circuit is visible.

Thompson is back…no longer just a speedway it is now resurrected among golfing greens and nearby state park with kayaking and other activities. Thompson is now a Motorsports park in park like environs. Noting the various coned off avenues the new Thompson comes in quite a number of configurations.

The VRG-VSCCA 1st annual Thompson Motorsports Festival used the longest 1.7 mile configuration. Last time I’d been there prior to this event it was 1973! I remembered it as a “busy on wheel, brake-gas-brake then squirt experience and it’s character is still intact on the configuration we used. The “flavor” of the restored circuit while not exact is very much the same; all elbows and close racing with just a moment to wind down on the one blast of straightaway speed. Four 180 degree corners in 1.7 miles is bound to keep a driver hard at work as are several very tight and/or decreasing radius configurations. Hard challenging work to do a clean lap for the bigger cars and a treat for lighter nimble machines.

We racers are always pleased to see historic old venues revived. Having two race tracks in a small state like our home state of Connecticut puts us up a rung on the road racing calendar. The SCCA was founded and for years ran nearby in Westport, CT and what more fitting tribute to this lineage than now one, but two circuits in this locale? We say well done and thanks to all who’ve brought the Thompson circuit back and we look forward to the next event there.

Under the VRS tent and on track for the weekend at Thompson Motorsports Park we find:

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LEFT: Alex Heckert and his trusty and quick 1966 Corvette at speed and soon to lift the inside front wheel at turn in for the esses.

RIGHT: Dave Gussack in his quick and class winning #88 Porsche 914-6 just about to clip another apex perfectly on the charge to another solid finish. VRG provided plenty of track time to get to know the new Thompson, and Dave made great use of each and every lap.

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LEFT: Jim Montana and his Lola T-598 finds the right line yet again en route to his 2nd place finish in his Group 5 race on Saturday Afternoon. Good Job Jim who nicely picked up the pace session to session to figure this thing new track out without incident.

RIGHT: VRS’s very own Brain Rechtiene and GRD/Lotus F2 who tore up the track session after session here entering the esses en route to another Race Group 3 win leaving the field 28 seconds behind as the checker fell. WELL DONE BRIAN!!!

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UPPER LEFT: Alex Heckert takes to the track for a session in the Vintage Racing Services Swift after Corvette transmission failure sidelines the car for the rest of the weekend. Whenever truck space permits we always load a rental racer for such occurrences. Saves the day time and again.

UPPER RIGHT: : In the garages I find friend and long time racer Walter Donaghy with his trusty Ginetta G-4. We get caught up and got a photo of us for Tony Wilson Spratt who’s been waiting to include it with the story on the WSM (Wilson Spratt Motors) Walter and I ran together for years.

BELOW: : I had my 914-6 on track and never took my own picture. Racing “selfies” are hard! As fate would have it, Saturday’s race featured a huge, dusty green flag off track as Jim Hamblin in 2nd row Porsche 911 lost a brake caliper. Whew, we all made it through. I’m in number 20 braking hard from the 5th row doing all I can to see into the dust and avoid Dave’s orange 88 car!!

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