PIR: The Race in Pictures

By R. A. Fariello | Photography by Gina Graham Fariello

For TMS the PIR Race was a contrast of very fast cars and very bad luck.  Although both the primary and backup cars suffered from RF tire and mechanical failure, both cars were clearly capable of victory.  This reality bodes well for the TMS program development and, for the 2011 season.

The drying Chili Peppers of Fall seem to suggest they are welcoming the TMS team! Go #61!

It is early Thursday morning, the track is still quiet, and a couple of the ‘girls of racing’ decide to climb Rattlesnake Hill. In warmer weather, the track does a ‘Snake Sweep’ of the area prior to opening the hillside for fan seating.

The Prospector has clearly been enjoying the desert views for too long now!

The primary car is unloaded and made ready for NASCAR Tech.  Surprisingly, the car was not the familiar Thompson Blue but a very dramatic black and white! While the car was good looking, it was much harder to “spot” than a color that is quite similar to “Boise State Blue.”

The primary car was nearly perfect all around the track. Here it is shown transitioning into Turn #4.

Approaching the end of practice, the car hit a piece of track debris. That created a 4” cut in the RF tire, and the car crashed hard into the Turn #4 wall.

With no practice time left, the backup car had to be unloaded, pass NASCAR Tech, and Qualify – all within 2 ½ hours.  By NASCAR rule, the #61 car would also have to start last!

The RV’s are parked awaiting the races to come {shown here between Turns #3 & #4}

Clearly, not ALL of the fans are fond of “The NASCAR Sound”.

Meanwhile, the backup car, painted in Thompson Motorsports Blue, is fueled.

Just in time! Darkness sets in as the backup car passes “Tech”.  The TMS Crew performed admirably in readying this car as, at this point in time, only 20 minutes remained before Qualifying begins.

It is Qualifying Time: Thursday at 6:40 PM.

Brett Thompson drove a quick but conservative lap in Qualifying.  Without any practice laps to test the behavior of the car, and with a required last place start in the race, professional restraint was the order of the day.  It should be noted that there was some “body roll” in evidence; due to “impound”, it would have to be corrected later during a pit stop.

Huge crowds begin to arrive at PIR and Motor Home parking can be measured in miles

It was reported that “up the hillside” is the low rent district. It was not possible to confirm the truth of this statement.  The view is certainly better from that location!

With Qualifying finished on Thursday and the K&N Pro race scheduled for Saturday Night, there was a question of where to park the GN Cars.  Some very clever NASCAR Officials decided to park the K&N cars for maximum Fan access.  On Friday, it was ‘Fan Access Day’ and people were able to view everything from the race cars, to the drivers, to the NASCAR Inspections.  It was an excellent idea and one very well enjoyed by the huge number of fans in attendance.

The K&N Event was held adjacent to the exit of Turn #2.

A very cute little fan is not bashful in asking Brett Thompson for an autograph.

There were, however, some racing adults who were slightly more problematical for the photographer!

NASCAR lines up the K&N Pro cars for track entry; it is now two hours prior to race time.

Brett Thompson at Driver Introductions

Michael Waltrip, Car #55, is introduced

The race begins and the #61 car is sensational.  In less than 30 laps of green flag racing, Brett Thompson went from 36th at the start to 6th position as pictured!!

An excellent pit stop … and then Disaster! Immediately after the stop, a RF suspension part broke and the car crashed into the Turn #1 wall.  It is an old, but true, cliché: THAT’S RACING!!

Sadly, we must report that one of NASCAR’s great men was lost to his family, friends and, colleagues.  At 71, Jim’s race to his own checkered flag came too soon. Jim will be missed by all.

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