SCCA Runoffs® Notebook:|
The Racing Gods Provide Proper Sendoff
Lexington, Ohio, September 25, 2005 —
Rain Holds Off. The weather forecast didn't look good for Sunday. All over Ohio, the afternoon was supposed to be filled with showers and scattered thunderstorms with an 80% chance of rain. Hot on the heels of this front was Rita. However, with the exception of a slight drizzle at the start of the Formula Ford race and lots of clouds, the rain held off. The racing gods were not about to spoil the final day of the Runoffs at Mid-Ohio.
As I pulled out of the track, it started to rain.
Formula Fantastic. The Formula Vee group put on a race for the ages. Four drivers broke away from the pack to form the lead group -- Brad Stout, Jeff Loughead, Steven Davis, and Bob Neumeister. They then proceeded to put on a passing display that thrilled the crowd. They swapped positions amongst themselves multiple times per lap as did all the other packs behind the leaders. Even though the official lap chart registered 6 changes for the lead in the 20 laps, many were not included because the lead driver often changed 2-3 times per lap. There were more passes in this one race than in F1 all of this century. Stout finally came out on top with the order as listed above. This was Stout's fourth FV championship.
In the other non-winged formula race, Formula Ford, saw a ferocious battle for second place. This fight allowed the pole sitter John Robinson in a Swift DB6 to open a comfortable lead all 20 laps. Behind him John LaRue in a Citation FF held onto second place the entire race, but not without Clark Cambern and his Van Diemen RF-97 trying every trick in the book to get by. At times, LaRue came awfully close to outright blocking. Mark Jaremko, the DSR champion, jumped from 12th to fourth in six laps with a Stohr FF99-BPS, but eventually finished fifth behind Tom Schwietz in a Piper Piper.
On Their Best Behavior. Spec Racer Ford has always had a reputation for being a rough race group. That's why they were nicknamed Spec Rambo. However, lately they have gotten their act together. Today, they made it through the first lap in excellent shape. And, outside of some minor bumping and spinning, SRF was a very well behaved yet entertaining race. Perhaps the E Production drivers should be forced to watch the tape of this race to see how a race group can learn the proper behavior on a road circuit.
Joe Colasacco won his first national championship when he took the lead on the third lap and held on. The top three pulled away from the field as various packs formed up and fought for their respective positions. At the front it was tight until John Black and Richard Spicer starting fighting for second, allowing Colasacco to build a slight but comfortable lead. Black won the battle for second.
Baker's Dozen. While John Heinricy was winning two national championships and closing in on Duane Davis for second on the all-time win list, Davis decided to do something about it today. He won this 13th national championship, taking the GT2 race (his eighth), the final one on the weekend. His Toyota Celica was no match for the rest of the field as he slowly opened a large lead. David Finch finished second in a Porsche 944. The Sunbeam Tiger of Tom Patton was the crowd's favorite. He fell back at the start, but his charge up the front brought large cheers every time he made a pass. Patton got as high as third before being passed by Jim Goughary, and had to settle for fourth.
Mini Victory. The Mini Cooper survived a Japanese tag team of Hondas and Mazdas winning the Showroom Stock C race. The Mini took first and third driven by Pete Taylor and Joel Lipperini, respectively, sandwiched around a Honda Civic Si driven by Ryan Ciechanski who jumped from fifth to second in just one lap. The start of the race didn't go well for Chad Gilsinger who ended up on his roof at the end of the esses. He was okay, and after a brief full course yellow, the top three pulled away. Taylor was hounded by Lipperini with Ciechanski close by. Ciechanski had an off and even though he didn't lose a position, he lost touch with the leaders. Taylor eventually opened a small gap, maintaining it for the victory.
Race Of The Rising Sun. With the exception of lone Dodge Daytona, BMW 2002, and Ford Probe, the latter of which didn't start, the GT3 field was made up entirely of Japanese cars. Multiple models from each make competed. Nissan had the 240SX and 350Z, Mazda had the RX-7, RX-3, and MX3, while Toyota had the Paseo and Celica. Nissan took the win as John Saurino drove his 240SX to an 8-1/2 second victory. Wolfgang Maike took second in a Toyota Paseo. There nearly was one manufacturer each on the podium as Mike Henderson had his Mazda RX-7 comfortably in third. That was until he spun in the Carousel on lap 14 and then spun again three laps later damaging his rear end, handing third spot to Terry Watson in a Nissan 350Z. Saurino won last year in F Production driving an MG Midget.
Speaking of FP, the lone production class for the day, Saurino started from the pole in that MG Midget. He led the first lap, but his attempt to duplicate John Heinricy's feat of winning two titles this year was thwarted when he got forced off the track. He had to wait for the entire field to go by. After the second lap, he was in 39th place. Amazingly, he worked his way up to fourth by the end of the race. His misfortune was to Mark Hotchkis' benefit as he came from fourth starting spot to take the lead on the second lap. He never looked back guiding his Porsche 914-4 to his first FP championship. Even though Saurino had to immediately get ready for the next race, GT3, he was lucky that the lunch break gave him some time to rest before claiming that gold medal.
Saturday's Tech Shed Woes. The biggest stunner from Saturday's technical inspections was the disqualification of the Formula Mazda winner, David Donovan. This elevated Chris Schanzle to the top spot, his second FM title, having won in 2003. The only other race that received the wrath of the Chief Steward was E Production (gee, what a surprise), most likely for driving infractions. Buddy Norton received a one position penalty, but that hardly mattered as he crashed out and ruined other drivers' races. Bob Neal received a severe two-lap penalty, dropping him from 15th to 37th. The Showroom Stock B race from Friday morning finally became official, and after all that time, nothing changed. However, the F500 race from Saturday morning is still provisional, and from what I heard, it could be in that state for quite some time.
Quote of the Day. The display on the scoreboard after the final race, "Goodbye Runoffs!!!"
Copyright © 2005 by Russell Jaslow and Deep Throttle. All Rights Reserved.