Winning is priority No. 1 for Derek Thorn and the Campbell Motorsports team.
And championships, well, if you win enough, those will generally come as well.
A victory was not in the cards for Thorn and company last Saturday night in the Spears Southwest Tour season-finale at Las Vegas, but just starting the race where he finished third was enough for his second straight and fourth overall series championship.
“I’ve got to thank Byron and Carol Campbell for giving me the opportunity, Mike Keen for heading up the shop and building all the fast race cars and everyone on the team,” Thorn said. “It’s a team effort. We attempt to win every race and to get the championship is pretty cool for the team.”
Thorn, who started the season with a non-points victory in the Winter Showdown, won three of the nine Southwest Tour races.
“We really didn’t set out to contend for the championship,” Thorn said. “We got a flat tire at Madera (in July), went three laps down, so we just parked the car to save it.”
At that stage, the plan was to skip the Tucson race on Sept. 30 as that was right at the due date for Thorn’s wife, Erika, to give birth to their first child.
But the baby, Hudson James, was going to arrive later, thus opening the for a run at Tucson and the championship.
Thorn will not be running for a fifth Southwest Tour title next season as he’ll be back in a NASCAR K&N Pro Series West car looking for his second championship in that series.
Thorn won the West championship in 2013 while driving for Bob Bruncati. Bruncati’s drivers have not won a championship since then and he reached out to Thorn during the summer about a return to the team.
So Thorn, with the blessing of Campbell Motorsports team, will be running mostly open shows and a few SWT races for them, while competing full time on the West series.
“The (Bill) McAnally cars are really strong right now so we’ve got a little catching up to do in the off season,” said Thorn, who finished sixth in a Bruncati car in the West finale at Kern County Raceway on Nov. 4.
The 2018 West schedule has not been released, but Thorn will be back in the Super Late Model for Campbell Motorsports in the Winter Showdown on Feb. 3.
“The off season is pretty short now, which is good,” Thorn said. “The more you drive the better you are.”
ANRA season ends
The American Nostalgia Racing Association wrapped up its season last weekend at Auto Club Famoso Raceway with the Fuel and Gas Season Finals.
Jeff Kleeman of Bakersfield won the D/Gas series championship; Josh Wagner of Wasco is the E/Gas champ and Brandon Dixon of Frazier Park won the Open Wheel title.
Bakersfield’s Matt Fritts won the final race in Hot Rod, topping Tom Frisbee of Ridgecrest and it was an all Frazier Park final in Open Wheel with Dixon beating Joey Peterson.
Three Bakersfield drivers were runner-ups: Jason Small in B/Gas; Darold Sisemore in D/Gas and Paul Miller in E/Gas.
Necrology: Sid Payne
One of the best TT riders on the West Coast in the 1960s, Sid Payne died on Nov. 16. He was 84.
Payne won numerous West Coast championships and won two AMA Nationals from 1962-1967. He also competed in a couple of Daytona road races, his best finish being a fourth.
Payne’s grandson, Christian, won the AMA Supermoto Lites championship this season
Baja 1000 finishers
Rick and Chris Boyer of Bakersfield placed fourth in the 1-2/1600 class and 71st overall in the 50th SCORE Baja 100, which started in Ensenada and finished in La Paz
The Boyers traversed the 1,134-mile course in 30 hours, four minutes and 20 seconds.
The 50 and over motorcycle team of Scott Atchison, Greg Houser, Robert Kennedy, Harold Harris and Jimmy Somes placed fourth in their class and 82nd overall in 30:56:17. Justin Lambert and the UTV Forced Induction team of Michael Alsup, Christian Hall and Cliff Burgoni placed 16th in class and 160th overall at 39:59.50.
About half of of the starters — 205 — finished the gruelling test of man and machine.
The 77th USAC Turkey Night Grand Prix will be at Ventura Raceway Thursday night. Brady Bacon won the National race at Bakersfield Speedway last Saturday night and will be looking for his first Turkey Night win as will Spencer Bayston, who locked up the National championship with a second-place finish at Bakersfield.
The World of Outlaws traveling Sprint Car Series will return to Bakersfield Speedway on Mar. 24, 2018. The series last competed at Bakersfield Speedway in April, 2104, the first appearance in 11 years.