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Jane Thurmond Holds Her Own in the GTV Class at Optima's PPIR Mid-Way Event for 2016

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Road Trip Selfie with son and partner in this adventure, Weston Thurmond. Scheduling conflicts prevented Jane's regular crew chief, husband Greg, from attending the event.

Road Trip Selfie with son and partner in this adventure, Weston Thurmond. Scheduling conflicts prevented Jane's regular crew chief, husband Greg, from attending the event.

What is a mother to do? That seemed to be a pivotal question for K&N Driver, Jane Thurmond, just three short years ago. Her three children were becoming adults and for the past 24 years she spent her days raising capable humans and handling the house and family life.

K&N Driver Jane Thurmond and her C2 Corvette affectionately named "Scarlett" taking the scenic route to PPIR, Optima's 5th Event in the 2016 season.

K&N Driver Jane Thurmond and her C2 Corvette affectionately named "Scarlett" taking the scenic route to PPIR, Optima's 5th Event in the 2016 season.

Jane and her husband, Spectre Performance driver, Greg Thurmond, have owned a Corvette custom shop for almost thirty years. So when their chassis builder suggest they come try out an autocross event, well what did they have to lose. Little did Jane know at the time how this sport would change her life in so many ways. If you asked her then she never would have said she was competitive. But that has all changed. As evidenced by her performance throughout 2016, garnering multiple podium finishes in multiple racing series. And she is only halfway through the season.

Thurmond lays down a 17.32 in the Powerstop Brakes Speed Stop Challenge to secure her a top five finish in the GTV Class.

Thurmond lays down a 17.32 in the Powerstop Brakes Speed Stop Challenge to secure her a top five finish in the GTV Class.

For the first couple years she and her husband shared "Scarlett". That was until an opportunity came up two years ago that allowed them to add to their paddock. Specifically, a 1965 Corvette that had spent most of its life in a California desert that had been its resting place after competing as a "gasser". Now that '65 is a purpose built Pro-Touring ride that made its debut at SEMA in the Spectre Performance booth in 2015. This now allowed Jane the opportunity to be the sole driver of her red beauty, Scarlett, and the transition has been one both car and driver have made the most of.

Jane Thurmond taking a moment to focus on the autocross course that lies ahead.

Jane Thurmond taking a moment to focus on the autocross course that lies ahead.

As Jane continued to prove how competitive and capable a driver she was, it seemed only natural that in 2016, K&N would want to have this powerful and confident lady as a team driver to represent their brand. It has been a decision that has paid off in spades. Thurmond has consistently placed on the podium in the NMCA West Division, USCA, and Goodguys in the past two years. She has, with the exception of Pike's Peak, driven her pro-touring ride, Scarlett, to all the events that she has competed in for the 2016 season, logging more than 4,500 miles in travel distance alone. A crowd favorite, she has volunteered rides to raise money for the Austin Hatcher Foundation for Pediatric Cancer at Goodguys Events on the West Coast, and created a blog, Riding Shotgun, that focuses on empowering women her age that may need some encouragement to find life after kids, saying that, "Raising children happens fast - like 0-50 in nothing flat!"

Thurmond getting at it on the Falken Tires Hot Lap Challenge Road Course segment.

Thurmond getting at it on the Falken Tires Hot Lap Challenge Road Course segment.

Earlier this year Jane spoke to us about OUSCI, Optima's Ultimate Street Car Invitational, and what her strategy was for the invite. In years past she has been invited as a K&N Spirit of the Event Award Recipient and a K&N title sponsor driver. But this year she wants to be invited based on merit. She gave quite a bit of thought to what events would make the most sense since her mid-season class change from GTL to GTV. Unfortunately, the points she earned in GTL class at Thunderhill don't go with her to the GTV class. Pike's Peak was the best logistically for her to gain some ground and much needed points.

Jane Thurmond, ranked 4th in points in GTV Class, being interviewed by Katie Osborne for Lucas Oil and MAV TV before the award ceremony.

Jane Thurmond, ranked 4th in points in GTV Class, being interviewed by Katie Osborne for Lucas Oil and MAV TV before the award ceremony.

This past weekend, as a result of scheduling conflicts, Greg wasn't able to participate at the Optima event at Pike's Peak. Instead, the couple's youngest son, Weston, filled in as crew chief and rode shotgun in the RV. It worked out to be an incredible choice since Weston will be turning 18 in mere days.

Scarlett was ready, the RV was prepped and loaded and they were off. First stop, Phoenix, where they would meet up with friend and fellow competitor, Matt Alcala and John Lindstrom, one of the Lingenfelter Design and Engineering judges. With day one under their belts they felt good. The next day, Jane and Weston would make a quick detour and head to the Grand Canyon in the RV, towing the '64. From there they would head up the Navajo Trail into Cortez, Colorado to visit with more racing friends, taking in some beautiful scenery. Just what a mom wants from a road trip with her son. Friday rolled in and they were feeling the effects of the change in elevation and driving. Each of them feeling the need for a second cup of coffee and they were on the road again. This time heading toward PPIR, the scene of the fifth OSUSC 2016 event. With over 350 miles left on the first part of their adventure, they endured lightning, rain, Wolf Creek Pass, and roads with plenty of construction. The six-hour trek turned into eight hours, but they were still in one piece upon arrival!

Pike's Peak International Raceway, located in Fountain, Colorado, just south of Colorado Springs, has been host to several racing series including the Indy Racing League and 2 NASCAR series, Busch & Truck. PPIR is ideal for testing and features a design that is similar to Las Vegas Motor Speedway and Auto Club Speedway in Fontana, CA. The biggest issue that participants encounter when racing at PPIR is the temperature and elevation differences, so car prep in essential to do well in competition. Elevation can also affect the competitor, both physically and mentally. Thurmond knew going in to this event that she would need to be sensitive to these nuances and that in doing so she might have a leg up on her competition. It seemed that Colorado's hottest days of the year were Saturday and Sunday the weekend of the Optima Event. Fortunately, Jane didn't suffer from the elevation differences physically or with her car. Tech went quickly and she felt relaxed and ready to do her best.

Speed-Stop Challenge was her first segment of the competition. The start line had the competitors head backwards on the oval with a hairpin, right turn, into a quick slalom, terminating on pit lane in a 20 by 40-foot box. Jane earned a podium finish at her last OSUSC event in Las Vegas and was hoping for a repeat or better. Unfortunately, that podium for Speed-Stop would elude her at this event. But she has always contended this segment of the event has always been a little tough for her. Later in the afternoon our K&N driver would head over to autocross. The day warmed up beyond what weather reports had initially predicted. The temps were well over 100 degrees with clear and sunny skies making for a gorgeous Colorado day, but a slippery autocross track to say the least. Fortunately, the course was a good mix of tight, technical turns with some speed in between. Scarlett's modified LS1 with Lingenfelter built AFR ceads and K&N cold air intake setup produced the perfect amount of power. And her Wilwood disc brake setup was on point. The GTS Customs cantilever design with single adjustable RideTech shocks worked flawlessly with this course design. A simple air adjustment to her Falken Azenis RT615K gave her the additional grip she needed when the track started to go away. Even with the higher temperatures she maneuvered her car telling us the push she had battled earlier this season was gone and was able to drive off the rear wheels more comfortably. After a hot day on the track the group headed out on the Lucas Oil Road Rally where virtually all the participants wound up lost thanks to Jimi Day and Google. But there wasn't a cross word said as everyone reveled in the beauty that surrounded them in Colorado Springs and Garden of the Gods. Upon the participant’s safe return, they enjoyed the Optima welcome party and feasted on BBQ telling stories of the day.

Day two was all about the Falken Tires Hot Lap Challenge on the Road Course. Bob Boileau, owner of PPIR, took some time to personally coach Jane, pointing out the "line" on the 1-mile oval and just where to position her car on the infield during orientation laps. The drivers were separated into run groups based upon experience; Novice, Intermediate, and Expert. What differentiates the groups? Passing and how you do it. There is no passing in the Novice run group. The USCA encourages all novice drivers to simply learn the basics first. Then when they promote to Intermediate, the driver can "pass" a slower car with a "point by". All passing in Intermediate run group is done in the straightaways to promote safety on course. With the Expert run group, the driver may pass on a straightaway without a point by. The Hot Lap Challenge afforded the drivers (5) 20-minute race sessions. Jane recalls that this was definitely the most road course seat time at any event she's participated in.

All-in-all our team driver said she had a great time and did what she set out to do. She received a podium finish for the Lingenfelter Design & Engineering segment and returns to California with a 4th Place Finish in the GTV Class for Optima's PPIR Event. Jane is currently ranked 4th in points in the GTV Class behind points leader, and K&N Driver, Jake Rozelle, Larry Woo - 2nd, and Chad Ryker - 3rd. She is pleased to see that her efforts were not in vain and hopes to have enough points for the invite.


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