Story By: BOB MILLER / THUNDER ON THE HILL – BECHTELSVILLE, PA – The 33rd season of the NAPA Auto Parts Thunder on the Hill Series presented by Levan Machine & Truck Equipment at the Grandview Speedway will kickoff on Sunday night, May 29 just as planned.
The only difference, is a tweak to the modified portion of the event.
With the pending concern of tire availability a decision was made to shift the popular Triple Roaring 20’s format to the August 2nd date and move forward, the Balls to the Wall 50 to the May 29 date. Although the outlook is improving on tire availability, we’re not confident that the issue will completely resolved by May 29. The Roaring Triple 20’s would have a total of 60 feature laps and allow tire changes between the features. There was discussion with several drivers to mandate one tire for all three features but the challenge is enforcement and how to handle a variety of one off special situations. The option was served up just to move the Triple 20s to August and advance the Balls to the Wall 50 to the May date. This event reduces the total feature laps to 50 and there would be no advantage to change to fresh tires during the course of the main event.
As we look to Sunday, May 29, the Thunder Series opener will showcase the 358 Modifieds in the first time running of the Balls to the Wall 50, a very unique format and thanks to Pioneer Pole Buildings, there is a possible $13,000 payout to the winner. For the 358 Modifieds, this will also be the first of two Tri-Track events in a six race series joined by Big Diamond and BAPS Speedway. Joining the Sunday, May 29 event will be the SpeedSTR’s in their first appearance with Thunder on the Hill. After a series of qualifying, their feature will go 25 laps and pay $2,500 to win. The Pit Gates opens at 2:30 and the front gate will open at 5 PM. Race time is set for 7:30 PM.
The PPB Balls to the Wall 50 is a unique and first time presentation of an invert race like you’ve never seen before. “This sounds great and the unique format and should be interesting for the drivers and fans. It’s going to involve some strategy from the drivers that will play out during the race”, said former Grandview Speedway Champion Jeff Strunk.
After a series of qualifying events, the top twelve drivers will take part in a revenge redraw to determine the starting line-up. This invert race will offer a bonus to the top ten drivers on lap 30 and lap 40 earning an additional payoff of $1,500 to the leader, $400 for second, $200 for third, $100 for fourth with $50 going to fifth through tenth.
So that sounds pretty simple, but wait, there is a twist. The yellow flag will slow the field on lap 30 and lap 40 and the top four cars after earning their added payoff will invert. The leader drops back to fourth and the fourth place car advances to the pole. All other drivers hold their positions. The event will go with double-file restarts up to lap 48. This will certainly mix things up and challenge all drivers to their own strategy for the second half of the 50 lap feature.
With the base purse being $5,000 to win the 50 lap Balls to the Wall, leading laps 30 and 40 would earn an extra $3,000 making it an eye catching $8,000 to win. But wait, it gets better. If a driver does the sweep of leading lap 30, 40 and 50, with thanks to Pioneer Pole Buildings, an additional $5,000 will go to the winner making it a $13,000 payday. This will be a “Balls to the Wall” event that will guarantee $1,000 for tenth and $500 just to start the feature event.
What is the theory around the invert race? This format will add another level of excitement for race fans, especially in the closing laps of the 50 lap feature. There is also the added payoff that can be earned by running in the top ten on lap thirty and forty.
The idea of this event is really to spice up a special modified event. History has been, special events are usually driven by extended distances and increased payoff. This offers the same, plus the twist of an invert. This is not an event you would do weekly, just something different that will bring drivers up on their wheel and fans to edge of their seat. Some drivers that made positive comments on the format include Brett Kressley, Doug Manmiller, Craig VonDohren, Duane Howard and Jeff Strunk.
The Thunder Series continues on Tuesday, June 14 with the Jesse Hockett Classic USAC Non-Wing Sprint National Tour joined by the 358 Modifieds in a 30 lap Tri-Track Series event.
Tuesday, June 28 will showcase the Red Robin PA 410 Sprint Speed Week Greg Hodnett Cup paying $10,000 to win. The 358 Modifieds will be part of this event running qualifying events and a 30 lap feature. This event pays tribute to remembering Greg Hodnett, one of the respected sprint car drivers of all times and a former Thunder on the Hill Sprint Champion.
Then on Tuesday night, August 2nd, the Triple Roaring 20’s for Big Block/358 Modifieds sharing the program with the Sportsman. Once again, Bob Greene and Pioneer Pole Buildings will post a $5,000 bonus to any driver that sweeps the triple 20’s and a $1,000 bonus to a driver who wins two of the triple 20’s. Each feature will pay $2,000 to win so pocketing $11,000 for the sweep is possible. Race times is set for 7:30 PM.
We greatly appreciate the support from our sponsors who work by our side to make our events exciting for the fans and competitors.
NAPA Auto Parts has been part of the Thunder Series since the early 1990’s and has been a great partner in the growth of the Series. Participating NAPA Auto Parts Store locations include Birdsboro Auto Parts, Pottstown Auto Parts, Bud Friend Auto Parts in Emmaus, PA, Conshohocken Auto Parts, Horsham Auto Parts, Pennsburg Auto Parts, Pottstown Auto Parts, Quakertown Auto Parts, Walnutport Auto Parts and Weldon Auto Parts.
Pioneer Pole Buildings is the premier builder of post frame buildings in PA, NJ, DE, MD, WV, VA and NY. Founded in 1998, Pioneer Pole Buildings has established a solid reputation for providing customers with top-quality buildings at very affordable prices. They also place a high priority on creating a superior building experience for their customers, before …during … and after construction. Thunder on the Hill welcomes the long time support from Bob Greene and PPB.
Back on board is Levan Machine & Truck Equipment, now in their sixth year of Thunder on the Hill support. Levan Machine & Truck Equipment is a full-service machine and truck shop located in Fleetwood, PA. Check out their full line of truck and trailer equipment, including snowplows, and salt spreaders.
We proudly welcome the return of Thunder on the Hill friends George and Harry Turner at GT Radiators in Ambler, PA where they specialize in the repair of car, truck and heavy equipment radiators.
In addition, we are thrilled to see the return of Clever Girl Winery of Bangor, PA, adding some money and wine to our events in 2022.