Motorsports fans and economic development personnel alike will celebrate this weekend, June 21-22, when Thunderhill Recreational Park, located just west of Willows, opens their latest edition to the popular tourist attraction. The five-million dollar project resulted in a two-mile extension to the twenty-year-old road course making it the longest facility of its kind in North America at 5-miles.
The official celebration will commence at 6pm on Saturday when dignitaries from the motorsports, political and local community arenas convene on the west side to congratulate Thunderhill Park and SCCA officials for their continued development of the track. Thunderhill Recreation Park opened in 1993 as a 1.9 mile road course. In the years that followed, Thunderhill increased in length and added various amenities making it one of the premier road race tracks in the nation. Thunderhill is the wholly owned subsidiary of the San Francisco Region Sports Car Club of America, a 501 C-4 California corporation established in 1953. The SCCA’s charter is to serve recreational motorsports. Track CEO David Vodden brought the track project to Willows in 1992.
The fun associated with the historic grand opening of Thunderhill West will begin at 9AM on Saturday when over 150 SCCA racers behind the wheel of their exotic race cars compete for $40,000 in Thunderhill Track Championship series awards. The racing will feature fourteen main events with seven on Saturday and seven on Sunday. The racing will conclude at 4PM on Sunday.
Admission for the weekend is FREE for all who travel the seven miles past Interstate 5 on highway 162 to the 530 acre park. “This is our way of saying thanks to all of the people of Willows and our neighborhood for letting us build and grow Thunderhill Park over these many years,” beamed track CEO David Vodden. Gates open at 8AM both Saturday and Sunday. Vodden will be among the drivers in action behind the wheel of his Super Touring Light Mazda Miata #1.
This latest addition to Thunderhill Park is expected to more than double the $16 million dollar annual economic impact from the raceway to Glenn County and the surrounding area as reported in a study by the Chico Economic Development Center at Chico State University. Over fifty new jobs are also forecast as a result of the expansion in addition to continued exposure for the area among a host of entrepreneurs who are expected to come forward to add infrastructure and other values to the region economy. “There is no doubt that Thunderhill Park is a major economic engine for the area,” noted long time Glenn County official Mike Murray. “The impact may not be obvious but it is real and it has consistently provided significant benefits to the area year after year,” he said. Hotel owner Roger Kumar says the same thing. “Without Thunderhill Park there there would not be seven motels in Willows.” “I would not have developed the Holiday Inn Express and I doubt that the other hotel owners would be successful,” Kumar said. “We may not feel or see the impacts but we would surely see and feel the impacts if Thunderhill were to go away,” he added.
Thunderhill Park provides racing and other forms of recreational and spectator entertainment year-round. There were more than 335 days of activity last year. The facility has hosted bicycle races, film commercial shoots, driver training, sporting clays, and will soon be the site of the very first outdoor event for Drones. The event is called, Quad Con – The Game of Drones – and is schedule to take place in October.
Information about Thunderhill Recreation Park including the Grand Opening and other scheduled activities can be obtained by accessing the track’s web page and other social media outlets at www.thunderhill.com
. The business office is open Monday through Friday from 8am to 5pm and can be reached by calling 530-934-5588, ext. 101.
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