Desert Thunder Raceway’s 2022 IMCA racing season opened Friday, April 8, with warm weather and sunny skies. By Saturday, winds picked up and temperatures dropped to 42 degrees Fahrenheit. That didn’t stop excited fans who supported and cheered on drivers. Pressed together and cuddled under blankets, the crowd radiated enthusiasm during the first races of the 2022 season.
The track roared back to life with 100 drivers from nine states competing for a total weekend purse of over $20,000. The season began for most teams this weekend after spending the winter upgrading their cars and improving their skills.
Excitement was high in the pits as some teams prepared to race for the first time while others wondered how their work from the off-season would pay off. Teams and fans were excited for their local track to be open again.
After missing the first-place mark by just three feet in the IMCA Modified race on Friday, Ty Clemens from Belgrade, Montana was better prepared and won on Saturday. Clemens has been racing since 2005 and began racing IMCA Modified class in 2017 for the opportunity to race at more locations. “It’s a nice track down there,” he said of Desert Thunder, adding that he tries to visit the track a few times each year.
Coming in third place on Friday in Northern Sport Modified was Camron Spangler from Dove Creek, Colorado. “I knew we needed to get a little faster, so my dad and I came up with a plan and made changes to the car,” he said. Spangler pulled of a first-place finish on Saturday after he made it through to the front and avoided cautions. “I knew I had to hit my marks and not make any mistakes. I was able to pull it off and get my first win of the year.”
“It takes a whole team to put the car in the winner’s circle,” said Larry Thomas Jr. of Price, Utah. Thomas won the 305 Modified race on both Friday and Saturday. “The car ran like it was on rails. The high side of the track was perfect and it was great to have multiple racing lanes,” he said.
“I was excited and nervous,” said Mylee JoAnn Goldwich-Rhames, who took first in the Sport Compact race. Goldwich-Rhames ranks first in Junior Nationals and Second in Lady Eagles. “There are a few really good drivers in my class.”
Owners Shane and Erin Weybright purchased Desert Thunder Raceway in 2020 and started renovating the track and facilities. Fans and drivers raved about the upgrades that made the track safer for drivers and created a more comfortable experience for the crowd. While no season opener is perfect, co-owner Erin Weybright was pleased with the experience.
“The car count was good, there were no injuries and the team worked very well together. Overall, it was a very good weekend,” she said.
Races are held every other weekend into September. On May 20 and 21, ASCS 360 Sprint Cars will race against POWRi 360 Sprint Cars, an uncommon event between two different sanctioning bodies.