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SCCA Valvoline Runoffs® Diary:
Day Three

Lexington, OH, September 23, 2001 "...Except For Mr. Luyendyk." The quote of the weekend has to go to Dave Weitzenhof from the Formula Continental race. Mike Andersen from Green Pond, NJ was on the pole, and had the perfect race setup as he put his Valvoline/Pi Research Van Diemen RF00 into a commanding lead en route to victory. Meanwhile, behind him second starter Arie Luyendyk, Jr. was desperately trying to hold off wily old veteran Weitzenhof. Too desperately, as the young driver was weaving back and forth blocking the track. One time, Weitzenhof went one way, Luyendyk blocked, Weitzenhof went the other way, and Luyendyk swerved over to block again. This time, Luyendyk clipped the left front wing of Weitzenhof, spoiling Weitzenhof's handling, and the battle for second was over. Weitzenhof did hang on to third, but was not too happy after the race. While Luyendyk attempted the lame excuse of "That's racing," Weitzenhof started thanking a bunch of folks. Then he said, "There are so many people to thank, I'd just like to thank everybody ... except Mr. Luyendyk." The Chief Steward agreed with Weitzenhof, assessing a one position penalty to Luyendyk, giving Weitzenhof second spot and dropping Luyendyk to third. Maybe Weitzenhof can thank Mr. Luyendyk after all.

A Wild One. GT1 may be the class with the largest cars, but that didn't prevent them from racing like they were Formula Vees -- going for spaces that barely existed. In the best race of the day, GT1 was a rock 'em, sock 'em affair. It was won by Jeff Ervin from Chesaning, MI, but not before the pole sitter went to last place on the first lap after taking an off course excursion. Ervin was helped by a full course yellow as a result of perhaps the most serious crash of the weekend. Robert Kasik appeared to have a stuck throttle, and he slammed into the tire wall head on at turn 7 extremely hard. Luckily, he escaped injury. Meanwhile, shortly after that, Ray Irwin and Bill Gray got together in the next turn spraying bodywork all over the track. The pace car came out, so all the cars and debris could be cleaned up. Ervin himself got into the action when his Mel Ervin Ford/Hoosier Tires Ford Mustang spun Jack Busch out of the way. Busch would go on to finish third with John Baucom taking second. In the other large bore class, Pratt Cole from Salt Lake City won E Production in his Western Metals Transport Mazda Miata besting a 39 car field.

The Mini Is Still In Style. And we're not talking about the mini-skirt -- though that is always in style, as far as we care -- but rather the Mini car which is still going strong in SCCA club racing, or in this case, the Huffaker Mini. Joe Huffaker won his second straight GT5 title, and his second of the weekend, having won F Production yesterday. This makes seven Runoffs wins for Huffaker from Petaluma, CA. The Mini has won seven of the 19 years GT5 has been a class, as well as numerous other titles in different classes. Huffaker took the lead when pole sitter Jimmy Burke ran into problems on the 8th lap. Burke was able to finish third while Doug Peterson took second, in another Mini.

British Invasion. H Production has always been about British sports cars, and this year was no exception. Out of 22 starters, only one car was not some form of a Midget or Sprite. That lone ugly duckling was a VW Scirocco run by Johannes Krauss. It had no chance against the British Invasion. Ron Bartell from Madbury, NH took the win in a Valvoline/Hoosier MG Midget, leading from start to finish. However, Dan Collishaw kept him honest, moving up from his sixth starting spot to hound Bartell, but Collishaw would fall a half second short. The drive of the race went to third place Phil Chiles who moved up from 15th starting spot.

Samurai Warriors. While HP is all about British cars, GT3 is all about Japanese machinery. Everybody in the 26 car field either had a Toyota, Nissan, Acura, or Mazda, except for one guy running a Ford Probe. Wolfgang Maike spun the lead away on the 12th lap and had to settle for second. John Saurino then took the lead, but with two laps to go, Pete Peterson got into him trying a pass. Saurino went hard into the wall, and Peterson from Lumberton, NC went on to win in his Toyota/Valvoline/Goodyear/AirC Toyota Celica.

Last Man Standing. They were dropping like flies in D Sports Racer. The pole sitter, Michael Reupert, dropped out on lap 3. On lap 8, Al Beasley, Jr. pulled into the pits with a broken CV joint. Lap 11 saw the final top three qualifier, Jason Miller, pull off course. He led the first 10 laps. With two laps to go, Al Beasley, Sr. was forced to call it a day. Through it all, fourth starter Marc Hoover from Cameron Park, CA held together to win the race in his Hoover Motorsport/National Rifle Association Mazda Cheetah as only 11 of the 24 starters saw the checkered flag. In the other Sports Racer class for the day, John Fergus from Powell, OH won Sports 2000 for the second time in his career in a Hoosier Tires/The Fergus Cos. Carbir CS2.

You're Outta Here. Remember that Touring 2 race we talked about yesterday? First they gave the winner a one minute penalty due to driving infractions that dropped him to 12th place. Then, after a very lengthy impound, the stewards disqualified the new third place finisher, Bill Baten. The American Sedan 6th place finisher, Carey Grant, was also disqualified after impound.

Get Your Bids In. The current Runoffs contract runs out after 2002. Various tracks are putting in bids for the new contract which will run for 3 years. Mid-Ohio is going to be very aggressive in trying to keep the event. Heartland Park in Topeka is also going to go after the bid very hard, and now that the SCCA will be moving their headquarters to Topeka, they may be given serious consideration. Also rumored to be submitting bids are Portland International Raceway, Road Atlanta, and perhaps Virginia International Raceway. This prognosticator's prediction? Mid-Ohio gets it for another three years.

Copyright © 2001 by Russell Jaslow and Deep Throttle. All Rights Reserved.

 
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