Day At The Races 2024 Overview

Celebrating 38 years of engineering excellence!

Civiltec Engineering recently turned 38 years old! It is crazy how time flies. If you want to learn more about our journey, please go to our history tab under the “Who We Are” section.

The Santa Anita Park that we know today was opened in 1934, finding success even in the middle of the Great Depression. Throughout the years it has seen many exciting events such as the filming of Seabiscuit, the Tokyo City Cup, and for many years now Civiltec’s Day at the Races. The event began back in 1990 when Rick Shroads hired a member of a family (a Cal Poly Civil Engineering graduate) whose father was part owner and member of the board of directors for the park. At the time, the Civiltec group was small, fitting in the owner’s clubhouse in the grandstands, having food and drink all while experiencing the races from a prominent point. They had such a good time, that the decision was made to make it an annual tradition. It was something about, “a beautiful setting with the attached thrill of watching some of the best horse races in the Country. The excitement of betting on horses, cheering your picks on, and having ample time to chat to fellow workers and clients is a perfect way to spend the day,” according to founder Rick Shroads.

Over the past 30 years, the Civiltec annual event has grown. Our group moved out of the grandstands and into the Infield Pavilions where we host the event now. Attendance at this event increased from a dozen people in the beginning years to about 250 people made up of employees and clients as well as their close family and friends. Just like our Civiltec team (photos below) the event continues to grow and change with each anniversary date. Hosting it allows us to spend it amongst friends and families of Civiltecians and clients alike. “I look forward to celebrating Civiltec’s birthday in one of the most picturesque racing facilities in the Country. Most of all, I look forward to seeing members of our team and clients and their families, catching up on what is new in their lives, meeting new people and smiling a lot,” says Rick. David Byrum says “it has been a privilege to be involved in the planning and execution of the Day at the Races ever since I became part of Civiltec in 1992. With only three exceptions – in 2019, 2020, and 2021 – we have consistently held this event, showcasing the dedication of our team. Behind the scenes, an entire event planning committee tirelessly orchestrates the intricate details. Since 1993, Diana Occhipinti has been a cornerstone of this effort, infusing limitless energy into each year’s event. Her unwavering commitment is integral to our success, and we are profoundly grateful for her contributions. I extend a heartfelt thank you to Diana, as well as to Christy, Taylor, Andrea, and Alec, whose invaluable contributions have greatly enriched the event in recent years.”

This year we held the day at the Santa Anita’s Derby Day! This year’s Day at the Races started bright and early for a few Civiltecians (feature 5k group photo) as they ran in the Derby Day annual 5k race. The course begins over by the Arcadia Mall and travels through the botanical garden area and then all the way onto the actual horse track. Alec Escamilla, PE, who also oversees our spartan racers gathered several of our employees who were willing to race in this event as well. “The Derby Day 5k was a good way to get back to running for me. The course was relatively flat and fast with great views through the Botanical Gardens. The material on the racetrack was a bit strange, but it was a fun way to finish being on the actual racetrack,” said Alec. Shem Hawes, PE, Principal, Principal Engineer has attended Civiltec’s Day at the Races repeatedly and been a part of every Spartan Race to date, so it is of no surprise he jumped to this race. Shem has this to say of the race, “It was splendid, with the verdant San Gabriel mountains as a backdrop and meticulously manicured running paths in the Los Angeles Arboretum one need only show up to at starting line to be rewarded with this 5k run. It was pretty cool to get to race with everyone.”

The track for Derby Day was very lively with 40,000 people in attendance and enjoyable events including 12 live races, a carnival, beer festival and food trucks, and live music. David, “I look forward to the Civiltec Day at the Races each year.” This event provides a splendid chance to gather Civiltecians, along with their families, friends, and esteemed long-time clients. This year, we were delighted to welcome several retired clients, who expressed heartfelt gratitude for the opportunity to reunite with old acquaintances all in one place. The event serves as a joyful reunion for the extended Civiltec family, and we cherish their presence year after year. With 12 races on the agenda, excitement filled the air. The theme of horse touting resonated from the podium, adding an extra layer of fun to the proceedings. Gratitude is owed to the generous individuals who lent their voices and expertise to the podium this year. Special thanks to Sherry Shaw, Tony Zampiello, Bob Brkich, and Brian Bowcock for stepping up as guest speakers, enriching the event with their insights into horses and facilitating the raffles. This novel addition proved to be a resounding success, enhancing the overall experience for everyone involved. Let’s do this again in 2025!