Lakeport’s Thorn ready for Southwest opener Saturday

Lakeport’s Thorn ready for Southwest opener Saturday

March 12, 2014 12:34 am  •  JEANNIE BROUSSAL  From the NAPA VALLEY REGISTER

Lakeport native Derek Thorn is excited about the season-opening race at Madera Speedway on Saturday night.

Thorn, who drives the Campbell Motorsports, Four Star Fruit, Hronis Racing, Double Eagle Transportation, Surface Pumps, Inc. No. 43 Ford, is more than ready to get back on the track.

The defending 2013 NASCAR K&N Pro Series West champion, the 2012 SPEARS SRL Southwest Tour Series champion, and the 2012 Joe Gibbs Driven Challenge winner is taking a “break” this year by racing in just one series.

Thorn, who now resides in Bakersfield and works as a fabricator, has raced in the NASCAR K&N Pro East and West Series, the SPEARS SRL Southwest Tour Series, ASA Late Models, Super Late Models, Modifieds, Street Stocks and Winged Outlaw Dirt Cars over his 19-year racing career.

He grew up in Lakeport but never raced at Sonoma Raceway until he drove in the K&N West Series. He learned quickly how to race the 2.52-mile road course by winning at Sonoma in 2013, in just his second start at the track.

Thorn is a smart driver who has a lot of patience. He is a thinker. He doesn’t go out on a track and immediately try to win. He bides his time until the time is right to make his moves. He just deals with the lap he is racing on at the moment, and doesn’t look too far ahead.

He has raced for Campbell Motorsports in the Southwest Tour Series for four years, and thinks of Byron and Carol Campbell and the whole team as family.

Thorn feels it is critical to like the people you work with.

“Campbell Motorsports is made up of smart, savvy, people,” Thorn said. “They are there for me in racing and outside of racing as well.”

Thorn and the team have spent a lot of time and energy working on this year’s new design for his car. They tried a different engine package, and wrapped their hauler and cars.

He has also taken the initiative to work alongside his team on his racer. He can do almost anything, but specializes in body mounting, sheet metal fabrication, interiors, seat mounting and frame repair.

“It’s always a team effort at the shop,” he said.

Thorn said that racing can take a toll on your family life and on your body.

“Don’t take it too seriously that you forget about everyone and everything else in your life. Have fun with it,” he said.

Thorn is preparing for a life-changing event early next year, as he will marry his girlfriend Erika Johnson.

The season-opening SPEARS SRL Southwest Tour race is at Madera Speedway, Saturday, March 15. The series will race at Kern County Raceway Park in Bakersfield Saturday, April 5; at the Bullring at Las Vegas Motor Speedway on Saturday, May 26; at Rocky Mountain Raceways on Monday, May 26; again at Madera Speedway on Saturday, June 28; at Stockton 99 Speedway on Saturday, July 26; at Irwindale Speedway on Saturday, Aug. 16; at Pikes Peak International Raceway Sunday, Sept. 28; back to Kern County Raceway Park in Bakersfield Saturday, Nov. 1; and the final race at the Bullring at Las Vegas Motor Speedway on Saturday, Nov. 22.

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