Certainly, 2020 will go down in the history books as one of the strangest years in recent memory — and that applies to racing, too. Empty grandstands. Last-minute scheduling. Temperature checks and required masks at some venues. The one constant, however, has been Derek Thorn. Thorn continues to visit victory lane in the Spears SRL Southwest Tour Series, winning the last four races. His streak dates back to the last SRL event of 2019, held at The Bullring at Las Vegas Motor Speedway.
However, his trips to victory lane haven’t come without a touch of strangeness, too. In January, he won a trophy made of tubing, with a plexiglass case filled with $10,000, in $20 bills, at Irwindale Speedway. Last weekend he sat tall on a barstool trophy made from racing wheels at The New Stockton 99 Speedway (pictured). He celebrated the victory in front of an empty grandstand.
“The passionate reaction of the fans would normally be a big part of a win,” said Thorn, 34, of Bakersfield, California. “I wish they were there to see [us in] victory lane.”
Thorn races for veteran car owner Byron Campbell and seasoned crew chief Mike Keen. He credits his team for much of his success.
“It takes a lot of hours to make things the way they need to be,” Thorn said. “We’re fortunate that everything came together for us. Mike puts the hours in. Byron makes sure we have the resources we need. A team has to have a platform, resources, and patience to become a winning team.”
Derek Thorn said he won’t let the notion of a winning streak enter his mind as he prepares for the next SRL race at Irwindale on July 18.
“I know winning four in a row on a tour doesn’t happen that often,” said Thorn. “I don’t see it as pressure. It actually takes pressure away. I strive to be the best I can, as does our team, but we realize that you still need a considerable amount of luck to win.”
This year marks the Outside Groove Director of Photography’s 50th year of covering auto racing. Adaskaveg got his start working for track photographer Lloyd Burnham at Connecticut’s Stafford Motor Speedway in 1970. Since then, he’s been a columnist, writer, and photographer, in racing and in mainstream media, for several outlets, including the Journal Inquirer, Boston Herald, Stock Car Racing, and Speedway Illustrated. Among Adaskaveg’s many awards are the 1992 Eastern Motorsport Press Association (EMPA) Ace Lane Photographer of the Year and the 2019 National Motorsports Press Association (NMPA) George Cunningham Writer of the Year.