He’s the all-time Spears Southwest Tour leader in poles and wins and has won three series championships.
But when Bakersfield’s Derek Thorn rolls into Kern County Raceway Park on Saturday for the Bulwark FR 150 on the half-mile oval, he does so with a clean slate.
“My memory, my mind, is like a dry-erase board,” he said. “Every race we win, there’s a celebration. There’s a great feeling that comes with it. But at the end of the day you wipe that clear.
“You take what you can from each race, have good notes. Going into the next one you wipe that dry-erase board clean, because there’s not two races you go to that are going to be exactly the same.”
Thorn started his year off by driving to a dominating victory in the $30,000-to win SRL Winter Showdown at KRCP on Feb. 11, beating the likes of Kyle Busch, Erik Jones, Willie Allen and Bubba Pollard.
“That one felt good,” he said. “I was extremely satisfied with the outcome of that race. It was probably boring to watch and I apologize, but from a team aspect I think we were extremely satisfied, especially when you consider the guys who showed up.”
Thorn was the odds-on favorite when the Southwest Tour Series rolled into Irwindale for the first points race March 25. He set a track record in qualifying and led the most laps in the race but wound up second to Bobby Hodges.
“Hodges ran a really good race,” Thorn said. “He dogged me for a good bit of time. We had traded positions about three times, I believe, and on the fourth time he squeezed by and was able to check out enough for us to not even get anywhere near him again.”
Although he was dominant back in February, Thorn went back to the dry-erase board theory for Saturday night’s race.
“We may have had the perfect race car in February, but being the fact it’s going to be 23 degrees warmer it’s a different level of playing field,” he said. “You always get a certain amount of curveballs thrown at you that you wouldn’t think would happen and you have to adjust for it. No matter how good you think you are, you always have to try and make yourself better.”
The race will feature several other local drivers as well.
Buddy Shepherd, who won the Late Model championship at KCRP last year; Johnny White; Blaine Perkins; and Cole Kanke are all entered.
Also in action will be Spec Mods and Super Stocks, each in 30-lap features. Racing starts at 7.
ANRA at Famoso
Champions from last year will be honored as the American Nostalgia Racing Association kicks off its season this weekend with the aptly named Season Opener at Auto Club Famoso Raceway.
Qualifying and time trials take place from 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. Saturday, followed by the champions barbecue and awards presentations.
Eliminations in 16 different classes kick off at 9 a.m. Sunday.
Five local drivers drove to championships last year.
Bakersfield’s Jason Barta won two races and the Nostalgia Eliminator I title, and Tim Gorman of Bakersfield won a race and the D/Gas championship.
Josh Wagner of Wasco won a race en route to the E/Gas title, as did Steve Archuleta of Tehachapi in Hot Rod. Abbigail Rogers of Bakersfield won the Junior Dragster I championship, earning the title with a win in the final race.
Five divisions at Speedway
Brad Pounds will be looking to make it two straight wins when the IMCA Modifieds return to action Saturday night at Bakersfield Speedway.
The Mods headline a five-division show at the third-mile clay oval, with IMCA Stocks, Mod Lites, Californian Lightning Sprints and NMRA Three-Quarter Midgets also in action.
Pounds raced to victory April 8, becoming the third different winner though the first four races. Robby Sawyer, who has one win, leads the points followed by Cody Laney, Scott Pounds and two-time winner Ethan Dotson.
Chad Johnson and defending champion Steven Johnson have split the wins in IMCA Stock car at the track, but Devan Jones has the early points lead after a pair of runner-up finishes.
Zack Forster has returned to his 2015 form and leads the Mod Lites division with two wins in two races.
Racing starts at 6.
Fastrip All-Area Team
Fastrip has sponsored the Bako Motorsports All-Area team the past two seasons and will be doing so again this year. Sixty local drivers were honored last season in a special Dec. 17 print edition, which also had a story on 2016 Driver of the Year Buddy Shepherd and a recap of action at Auto Club Famoso Raceway, Bakersfield Speedway and Kern County Raceway Park.
This year’s edition will be published on a to-be-determined date in December.