NASCAR & Auto Racing

Local motor sports: Bill McAnally’s hunch pays off with K&N Pro Series West series championship

Bill McAnally had never heard of Chris Eggleston before he signed him to a one-race deal in 2014 at Eggleston’s home track, Colorado National Speedway. The Roseville-based racing team owner provided Eggleston the race car and Eggleston provided the talent.

“Then he went out and won the dang race,” McAnally said.

McAnally was so impressed by the 26-year-old driver from Erie, Colo., that he signed him to race the entire 2015 K&N Pro Series West season and Eggleston brought home the series championship. It was the sixth title for Bill McAnally Racing and comes on the 25th anniversary of the BMR and Napa Auto Parts sponsorship deal. The last time a BMR driver won the K&N Pro Series West title was in 2010 when Eric Holmes took the title. That was the 20th anniversary of the NAPA deal.

“It was our intention to have two drivers who weren’t rookies (Eggleston and Brandon McReynolds) and go after the championship,” McAnally said. “We wanted to do it for NAPA in honor our long partnership. It was a big win for NAPA as well as our other major sponsor – Toyota – which won the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series (Kyle Busch) and the NASCAR Camping World Truck Series (Eric Jones) as well as the K&N West.”

Eggleston has already been signed by BMR to defend his title in 2016.

“Chris grew up building his own race cars so he really understands what he needs from his car for the entire race,” McAnally said. “He and crew chief Roger Bracken worked very well together and three-time K&N champ Eric Holmes was his spotter.”

The team also signed Todd Gilliand, the 15-year-old son of NASCAR Sprint Cup driver David Gilliland, and grandson of Buth Gilliland, who won the 1997 Winston West title, which is now sponsored by K&N Pro Filters. Also signed for 2016 is Riley Herbst, 16, who grew up watching his family’s successful off-road racing team but decided his competitive driving future was on asphalt. McReynolds has not been signed for 2016, as of yet, McAnally said, but BMR plans to sign more drivers to race the K&N Pro Series West and East schedules next season.

“We’re not done signing drivers yet,” McAnally said. “But we’re going to enjoy this title.”

Endurance racing

Two-time Indianapolis 500 winner Al Unser Jr., is one of the headline drivers entered in next weekend’s 25 Hours of Thunderhill endurance road race in Willows Dec. 5-6.

Also competing will be two Mazda Miatas of the A+ Racing team, led by Auburn resident Al Angulo. Angulo is an auto shop teacher at Placer High and for years has brought many of his shop students to the track to help prepare the car and work pit stops. Both cars will compete in the E3 class.

“I think this grid will be the strongest we have seen in the 13 years of running the the NASA 25 Hours of Thunderhill,” National Auto Sports Association President Jerry Kunzman said in a release. “We have the defending champions Davidson Racing coming back. The Flying Lizard team members have a lot of experience running the 25 and there are great cars and teams in in each of the six classes.”

The NASA 25 Hours of Thunderhill presented by Hawk Performance will see a field of 63 cars racing in six classes (ES, ESR, E0, E1, E2, E3) going twice around the clock plus an hour over the 2.86-mile, 15-turn track located 90-minutes north of Sacramento in Willows.

Laguna Seca is economic driver

The five-race major event season in 2015 at Mazda Raceway Laguna Seca contributed $62.1 million to the Monterey County economy through direct trip spending of non-county visitors and produced $5.2 million in state and local taxes, according to a study commissioned by the Sports Car Racing Association of the Monterey Peninsula (SCRAMP) and completed by California State University Monterey Bay.

Local sports car racers mostly belong to the San Francisco Region of the Sports Car Club of America and often race at Laguna Seca, thereby spending money on lodging and food during weekend events.

The events included in the study were the Continental Tire Monterey Grand Prix (May 1-3), FIM Superbike World Championship (July 17-19), Rolex Monterey Motorsports Reunion (Aug. 13-16), Pirelli World Challenge (Sept. 11-13), and Porsche Rennsport Reunion V (Sept. 25-27).

The total direct economic spending was split over six categories and included $13.8 million in lodging, incorporating 53,558 room nights in Monterey County. Also, $18.6 million was spent on food and dining, $12.3 million on retail, $5.7 on transportation, $8.9 million on entertainment (including $3.2 million in race ticket sales), and $2.8 million on other expenses. All financial numbers reported are spending from non-county attendees only, a release stated.

Thunderhill Raceway in Willows and Sonoma Raceway are the two closest tracks for area sports car racers. Just think of the economic impact having a track close to the Sacramento area could have on the local economy.

Mark Billingsley is covers local motor sports for The Bee. Reach him at editorwriter@att.net or @editorwriter001.

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