SEMA eNews Vol. 14, No. 39, September 29, 2011

Racing News: Lewis Picks Up Sixth Runoffs Gold Medal in Dominating GT-1 Performance

 

  lewis
  Michael Lewis won his sixth gold medal in the GT-1 field at Road America.

Lewis Picks Up Sixth Runoffs Gold Medal in Dominating GT-1 Performance
Michael Lewis of Poway, California, had his way with the GT-1 field on a wet and rainy Sunday afternoon at Road America on his way to a sixth gold medal at the SCCA National Championship Runoffs. Simon Gregg of Ponte Vedra Beach, Florida, was second and Jim Bradley of Gaston, Indiana, finished third.

Lewis, the defending GT-1 national champion, started second and slotted in behind Gumout polesitter Cliff Ebben of Appleton, Wisconsin, on the opening lap. Ebben pulled out to a healthy lead over the first two laps before disaster struck on Lap 3 when he spun his No. 36 Lamers Motor Racing/McMahon Group/Stumpf Ford Mustang in the Hurry Downs section of the four-mile circuit, making hard contact with the barrier at the exit of turn seven. Ebben avoided injury, but his race was over.

From there it was all Lewis, who steadily pulled away from the field for the remainder of the 13-lap event. He crossed the stripe 2:15.002 ahead of Gregg, and posted the Hawk Hot Lap on the final lap of the race at 2:49.355 (85.028 mph). The victory was reminiscent of his first career Trans-Am Series victory, which came in a rain race at Road America in 2001.

Lewis now has 12 medals in SCCA National Championship Runoffs competition. It was his second consecutive GT-1 National Championship, and he also took a GT-1 title in 1995 and GT-3 National Championships in ’92, ’96 and ’97.

Despite a late-race spin, Gregg scored his best Runoffs result to date with a second-place run in the No. 59 Derhaag Motorsports Chevrolet Corvette. Gregg's previous best results were fourth-place runs in GT-1 in ’10 and ’07.

Taking the final spot on the podium was Bradley in the No. 01 Optical One Chevrolet Corvette for his first Runoffs medal. Bradley also earned the Sunoco Hard Charger Award for his improvement from eighth on the starting grid.

David Fershtand of Fort Worth, Texas, had a couple of great side-by-side battles with Bradley before settling for fourth in the No. 05 Fershtand Race Prepared Oldsmobile Cutlass. Denny Lamers of Appleton, Wisconsin, completed the top five in the No. 66 Lamers Motor Racing/McMahon Group Stumpf Ford Mustang.

  bell
  United Autosports’ Matt Bell has been selected as a British Racing Drivers’ Club (BRDC) “Rising Star.”

Rising British GT Star Bell Selected For Motor Racing Program Of The Future
United Autosports’ Matt Bell has been selected as a British Racing Drivers’ Club (BRDC) “Rising Star.” The 21-year-old Newcastle-upon-Tyne youngster has been chosen after impressing officials of the BRDC—arguably the most exclusive club in motor racing. 

The BRDC “Rising Stars” program is for drivers aged 24 or under and considered the future of the club.

Scouted from trackside, the BRDC “Rising Stars” is in effect the "Junior Members" of the Club who take motor racing seriously and are aiming for a professional career in all forms of four-wheel racing.



Ex-Formula One World Champion Lewis Hamilton graduated up the motor-racing ladder guided by the “Rising Star” scheme.

 Having been spotted by members of the “Rising Stars” panel, Richmond-based Bell was recently invited to Silverstone for an informal meeting and has now been subsequently invited to become a “Rising Star” member.

Providing his career continues with upward momentum, Bell has the ability to stay on the scheme for another three years.

The BRDC owns and operates Silverstone—the circuit on the Buckinghamshire/Northamptonshire borders that stages the final round of the British GT Championship next month (October 7). Bell and American co-driver Mike Guasch have scored a win plus second, third, fourth, fifth, sixth and 10th positions in the eight races to date and led the British GT Championship for almost four months. 


  mallinen
  Michael Mallinen captured his first-career Formula Atlantic National Championship, while also winning the Super Sweep at the 48th SCCA National Championship Runoffs at Road America.

Mallinen Wins First-Career Formula Atlantic Title and Super Sweep at SCCA National Runoffs
Michael Mallinen of Liberty Lake, Washington, persevered through the rain to capture his first-career Formula Atlantic National Championship, while also winning the Super Sweep at the 48th SCCA National Championship Runoffs at Road America. Jeff Kowalik of Cape Coral, Florida, and David Wilcox of Derby, Kansas, completed the podium.

Mallinen started from the Gumout pole position in the No. 71 Hoosier Tires/TRD Swift Toyota and quickly came under attack by second-starting David Grant, and his brother third-starting Keith Grant, both of Germantown, Tennessee. David and Keith both passed Mallinen on the first lap, respectively, and were running nose to tail for the first five laps.

During this time, the Grant brothers worked together to open up a more-than-20-second lead over Mallinen. On lap six, the brothers were side-by-side at the stripe with the slight edge to David to lead that lap. Heading into turn three, Keith, in the No. 40 Hoosier/Hasselgren/Polestar Swift 014a Toyota, got too deep into the turn and made contact with the back of David’s No. 12 Swift Toyota. The resultant contact spun both drivers, sending Keith into the gravel, while David stalled on track. Neither driver could get their respective machines going before Mallinen came down the hill to inherit the lead.

Though Mallinen was now the race leader, he was under fire by Kowalik in the No. 77 Northcentral/Mazda/Hoosier Swift 016a Mazda. On lap 10, Kowalik was less than a second behind Mallinen with three laps to go. Kowalik looked poised to catch the leader, but Mallinen had just enough to keep Kowalik at bay and won by 3.368 seconds.

Mallinen’s National Championship added to an already stellar season, in which he won the Southeast Division points title, the National points title and a key qualifying event in the regular season. The sum of his season’s work resulted in his first-career Formula Atlantic Super Sweep.

Kowalik started fourth and finished second, which was a career-best Runoffs finish for him.

Wilcox started eighth in the No. 10 Hoosier/TRD/Don Preston Racing Swift DB4 Toyota and pushed his way through some treacherous race conditions to be fourth by lap six. For the next seven laps, he was knocking on the door for third, but couldn’t quite get close enough to Bruce Hamilton of Monkton, Maryland, and his No. 36 K-Hill Motorsports Swift 016a Mazda. On the last lap, Hamilton spun in turn eight, which allowed Wilcox to inherit the final podium spot.

Fabio Castellani of Streamwood, Illinois, finished fourth in the No. 97 Toyota 014 Toyota. Castellani was also the Sunoco Hard Charger for advancing eight positions during the race.

Lewis Cooper of Grosse Pointe Woods, Michigan, finished fifth in the No. 68 Martini/Voss Water/St. Charles Wine Swift 014 Toyota.

Keith Grant turned the Hawk Fastest Race Lap with a 2:34.738 (93.061 mph).

  rockstar
  Rob MacCachren dominated the competition at Speedworld this past weekend and has moved into second place in season points with three races remaining.

ROCKSTAR Energy Drink’s Rob MacCachren Dominates At Speedworld
ROCKSTAR Energy Drink’s Rob MacCachren put on a driving clinic during the Lucas Oil Off Road Racing Series (LOORRS) first stop at Speedworld Off Road Park in Surprise, Arizona, earlier this year. Since that time, the reigning Pro2 Unlimited champion has experienced his share of ups and downs, and was looking to regain the dominance he is famous for with the return to Surprise last weekend. MacCachren qualified for third last Friday, which put him on the first row for Saturday’s main event.

When the green flag dropped for Saturday’s main event, MacCachren lost a drag race to Brian Deegan and slipped into the second place position. The No. 1 ROCKSTAR Energy / BFGoodrich Tires / MasterCraft Safety truck maintained that position for the entire race, fending off multiple pass attempts by Rodrigo Ampudia and Jeremy McGrath in the process. MacCachren was able to close the gap on fellow ROCKSTAR athlete Deegan in the turns, but a power steering issue kept MacCachren from ever being able to take the lead. Most racers would be satisfied with a second-place podium finish, but MacCachren’s team has been fine tuning in order to get back to the front of the pack.

On Sunday, MacCachren started on the second row in a battle that proved to be even more exciting than Saturday’s Pro2 Unlimited race. Trucks were bumper to bumper through the first several laps, with MacCachren in third place behind Greg Adler and Ampudia. After a remarkable crash involving multiple trucks brought out the red flag, Adler pulled into the hot pits and MacCachren moved up to second place. There was still a lot of racing left though and Ampudia opened up a sizeable lead while MacCachren fended off Robert Naughton on the slippery, wet track. MacCachren’s BFGoodrich tires held his lines perfectly, though, and stayed out of the ruts that caused other drivers to bicycle through the turns and lose track position. When Ampudia faltered late in the race, MacCachren pushed the No. 1 ROCKSTAR Energy/BFGoodrich Tires/MasterCraft Safety truck past him in turn 2 and never looked back, winning his fourth race of the season.

By once again dominating the competition at Speedworld, MacCachren has moved into second place in season points with three races remaining. A rare break in his schedule takes MacCachren to Pomona, October 7, where he is being inducted into the Off-Road Motorsports Hall of Fame prior to the Off Road Expo. Then on the weekend of October 8–9, MacCachren’s No. 20 Jimco SCORE Trophy Truck will be on display in the BFGoodrich booth at the Off Road Expo, and he will also be leading half-hour technical seminars on both days at 11:00 a.m. and 2:00 p.m. in the BFG booth, with autograph signings for half an hour after each seminar.

  pritchard
  Justin Pritchard earned his fourth overall National Championship.

Pritchard Scores Fourth Overall National Championship, First In E Production At SCCA Runoffs
Justin Pritchard of Granville, Ohio, earned his fourth overall National Championship and first in a tin top, capturing the E Production crown on Sunday at the 48th SCCA National Championship Runoffs. Greg Ira from Plantation, Florida, and Rob Coffey of Thunder Ray, Ontario, completed the podium on a rainy Road America circuit.

With rain pouring down throughout the race and the field on rain tires, Pritchard moved his No. 55 Carriage & Motor Works/Hoosier Mazda RX-7 from his sixth starting position to third by the first corner, and trailed only Ira’s No. 2 First Coast Auto Sales Datsun 240Z by the end of the opening lap.

On the third corner of the third lap, Pritchard moved around Ira and into the lead. While a number of cars spun off the track and struggled on the wet surface, Pritchard pulled away from the field to a 39.339-second win, averaging 76.939 mph. The four-time champion also turned the Hawk Fast Lap of the race in 3:04.618 (77.999 mph).

Pritchard’s championship was his fourth in E Production, following a Formula Continental win in 1996 and back-to-back Formula F wins in ’02 and ’03.

Ira drove alone for most of the race to earn his second-consecutive runner-up finish.

Coffey started 28th on the grid in the No. 02 David Hobbs Honda/CKPR Radio Honda Prelude after missing the final three days of qualifying with a blown motor. The former ice racer steadily moved up the field, advancing to 14th on the first lap and into fifth on lap seven.

After getting to the tail of a battle Sam Halkias’ No. 4 Catawba Island Marina Triumph TR6 and Kenneth Shreve’s No. 41 MBR LLC Mazda RX-7, Coffey moved past Shreve and was pressuring Halkias for third after nine laps. Halkias spun going into turn one on lap 10, moving Coffey into third position uncontested. Coffey captured the Sunoco Hard Charger after improving 25 positions.

Reentering the track, Halkias forced Shreve wide and into the grass, where he slide into the tire barrier and ended his race early. Halkias continued, finishing the race in fourth. Austin Snader, driving the No. 64 Snader Racing/Mazdaspeed/Rotary Inn Mazda RX-8, finished fifth.

  grand
  Marty Grand captured his second-consecutive Touring Two title at Road America.

Grand Survives Downpour for Second-Straight T2 SCCA Championship
Marty Grand of Manassas Park, Virginia, captured his second-consecutive Touring Two title at the 48th SCCA National Championship Runoffs at Road America. Chad Gilsinger of Marysville, Ohio, and Alan Kossof of Wheeling, Illinois, completed the podium after many of the competitors crashed on the final lap.

The course was damp but drying at the start of the Black Magic Touring 2 race scheduled for 13 laps around the four-mile circuit. Gumout polesitter Andrew Aquilante battled intensely with Grand in his No. 32 Phoenix/Hoosier/Hawk Ford Mustang GT in the opening laps. Grand’s No. 43 AMS Performance/TRE/Hoosier/Carbotech Mitsubishi Evo IX had the advantage of all-wheel drive, while Aquilante’s Mustang had the power down the straights.

On lap six, Aquilante had pulled out a gap, and Grand fell into the grips of second-starting Tony Rivera’s No. 11 Brass Monkey Racing/Nissan/Hoosier Nissan 370Z NISMO and Jay Patel’s fourth-starting No. 12 Fall-Line/Porsche Exchange/Weathertech Porsche 996. Grand started the race on wet tires, while the others at the front of the grid were dry.

By lap seven, rain began to fall. Mark Boden, who changed cars and started 25th in the No. 78 Fall-Line Motorsports Porsche 996 worked his way through the slippery conditions up to third, behind Aquilante and Rivera. The rain helped Grand’s resurgence, and as it began to pour and puddle, he and Boden worked past Rivera. On lap 10, Boden slid off course multiple times, and Aquilante, ahead by 12 seconds at one point, spun in turn 12 and brushed the wall.

Aquilante pitted with damage, promoting Grand to the lead and Rivera to second. Rivera skidded off, through the turn three gravel and into the tires, and was later joined by the cars of Jason Ott, Kris Von Sydow and David Muramoto. The mess brought out a full course caution and race control elected to checker the race three laps early due to the treacherous conditions.

Under caution, Grand won with a margin of victory of 1:35.754 over Gilsinger, averaging 79.614 mph.

Gilsinger, the 2010 Touring 3 National Champion, started 15th in his No. 07 BFG/HPD/H&R/Recaro/BRM Acura TX-SH AWD and survived the conditions to finish second.

Kossoff was running 10th in his No. 2 Kossof Motorsports BMW M3 when the rain came, and gained several positions each lap as cars slid off or pitted to score his first Runoffs podium finish. His previous best was an eighth in 2009.

Brian Kleeman of Baltimore, Maryland, started last in his No. 88 ICS Learning Group/DWW Motorsports Nissan 350Z and finished fourth to earn the Sunoco Hard Charger award. Bill Baten of Indianapolis completed the top five in his No. 98 Hoosier/Marks ADR/VanWinkle Chevrolet Camaro.

Aquilante earned the Hawk Fastest Race Lap with a best time of 2:38.015 (91.131 mph).

  novak
  Brian Novak won the Formula 1000 national title and his second SCCA National Championship Runoffs gold medal.

Novak Takes Second SCCA National Championship in Challenging Formula 1000 Race
In challenging conditions, Brian Novak of Dearborn, Michigan, took advantage of a late-race spin by Gumout polesitter Brandon Dixon of Tuscaloosa, Alabama, to win the Formula 1000 national title and his second SCCA National Championship Runoffs gold medal. Dixon wound up second, followed by Lucian Pancea of Bellevue, Washington, in third.

While it never really rained during the 13-lap event, wet track conditions from earlier rains proved challenging. For the first two-thirds of the race, Dixon—the defending Formula 1000 National Champion—seemed to have done the best job of managing the conditions in his No. 7 Citation Engineering/Hoosier Tire Citation F1000 Suzuki running on full wet weather tires.

Dixon built a lead of more than nine seconds at one point, but Novak's No. 70 Dude Vodka/Hoosier Tire/NovaRace Piper F1000 Suzuki began to grow larger in his mirrors as the laps clicked down. As they crossed the stripe to complete lap 10, Novak—who was also running on full wets—closed the gap to 1.6 seconds behind Dixon and it appeared a late-race battle was about to begin. Unfortunately for Dixon, treacherous conditions in turn three reared their ugly head and forced him to spin onto the grass to the inside on the exit of the turn.

That was all Novak needed to take the lead and he cruised for the remaining laps to win by 7.877-seconds over Dixon, who managed to continue after the spin. It was Novak's first SCCA National Championship since taking the Formula 500 title at Heartland Park Topeka in 2007.

Dixon came up one position shy of making it back-to-back Formula 1000 titles and settled for a silver medal. It was his seventh appearance at the SCCA National Championship Runoffs.

Driving the No. 6 Newport Hills Villa Stohr F1000 Suzuki, Pancea took the bronze medal after an extremely close battle with Glenn Cooper of Roswell, Georgia. Pancea and Cooper made wheel-to-wheel contact exiting turn one on lap nine, which forced Cooper to spin while Pancea continued without significant damage.

He went on to take his first medal in his third Runoffs appearance, topping a previous best run of sixth in Formula Mazda in 2008. Pancea won the Sunoco Hard Charger Award after starting sixth and also ran the Hawk Hot Lap at 2:38.508 (90.847 mph).

Despite the contact with Pancea and spin, Cooper managed to continue and came home fourth in the No. 43 Ralf Firman Racing/Hoosier Tire RFR F1000 Suzuki. Jeremy Hill of Toronto, Ontario, Canada, completed the top five in the No. 00 Hoosier Tire PHOTON VD07 Suzuki. Hill qualified on the outside of the front row, but was moved to the rear of the field after arriving late to the grid due to a last-minute switch to dry tires.

  gauper
  Greg Gauper used his local
knowledge to splash around a wet Road America circuit and win the H
Production National Championship at the 48th SCCA National Championship Runoffs.

Gauper Splashes To First SCCA National Championship in H Production
Local driver Greg Gauper of Hubertus, Wisconsin, used his local knowledge to splash around a wet Road America circuit and win the H Production National Championship at the 48th SCCA National Championship Runoffs on Sunday morning. Dick Gagliardi of Arlington Heights, Illinois, and Jason Isley of Coto De Caza, California, completed the podium.

Gauper’s No. 15 Rana Mort Racing Honda Civic started third on the grid, but was quickest during Monday’s qualifying session during a downpour. With overnight rains soaking the track, Gauper’s rain set-up would come in handy for the 13-lap race.

The eventual National Champion started the race behind Gumout polesitter Mike Moser of Milwaukee, in the No. 01 ETE Reman/Goodyear/Alchemy Honda CRX and Chris Albin of Maryland Heights, Missouri, in the No. 3 Hoosier/247-parts.com/AMT engines Volkswagen Golf GTI. Moser and Albin were joined by Ron Bartell’s No. 4 Hoosier Tires MG Midget up front in the early laps, before Albin fell out of the race with mechanical issues after the first lap. That left Moser and Bartell to battle for the lead.

Gauper and Gagliardi’s No. 0 Loop Racing/Tel Systems Volkswagen Scirocco both moved past Bartell on lap three, and Gauper moved into the lead past Moser in turn eight on the same lap. Moser and Bartell both spun off later in that lap, taking them out of contention.

With Gauper in the lead, he spent the remaining 10 laps holding off a charging Gagliardi, with Jason Isley’s No. 99 Racer.com/Goodyear/AST-USA/Toyota Toyota Yaris pulling to the rear of that battle on a handful of occasions.

Gauper, using strong runs through the Carousel on every lap, held off charges from Gagliardi to finish the 13-lap, 52-mile race exactly three seconds in the lead.

Being so close to home made the National Championship even more special.

Gagliardi, making his first Runoffs appearance, finished second and turned the Hawk Fastest Lap of the race in 3:11.959 (75.016 mph).

Isley, a four-time SCCA Solo National Champion, started 12th and used his car control to bring the Yaris—SportsCar Magazine’s project car for the past two seasons—through the field and into the lead battle. In his first time road racing in the rain, Isley lost touch with the leaders in the later laps and then fell back to James Rogerson’s No. 66 Hoosier/MSR Houston/Over 50 Racing Honda Civic. When Isley locked up the tires on the final lap going into turn five and ran wide, Rogerson moved into third place.

The Toyota got a run down the backstraight to Canada Corner, moving back into third and holding the gap to the checkered flag for his first Runoffs podium finish and the Sunoco Hard Charger Award for improving nine positions.

Rogerson, of Pearland, Texas, finished fourth, followed by Mat Brannon‘s No. 2 Midwest-Bayless Italian Auto Fiat X 1/9.

  mcdermid
  Andy McDermid successfully defended his
American Sedan title and captured his sixth overall A
Sedan National Championship at Road America.

McDermid Defends American Sedan Title at SCCA National Runoffs
Andy McDermid, of Williamston, Maryland, successfully defended his American Sedan title and, in the process, captured his sixth overall A Sedan National Championship at the 48th SCCA National Championship Runoffs at Road America. 11-time Runoffs Champion John Heinricy, of Holly, Michigan, finished second, while David Venhaus, of Milwaukee, was third.

At the race start, Heinricy, third on the grid in the No. 54 TAR/Hoosier/Hawk/Mobil 1 Pontiac Firebird, got a great start coming down the front straight and took the lead in Turn One. However, he could not make the lead stick because McDermid, the Gumout pole winner, passed Heinricy in turn two.

From there, McDermid was able to make his No. 24 WeatherTech/Felice Perf Eng Ford Mustang stick to track, while other drivers, including Heinricy, had significant slides or spins that cost them positions on the track. McDermid held the top spot for all 13 laps winning by 25.838-seconds over Heinricy.

Both McDermid and Heinricy started the race on slick tires, despite the wet conditions and subsequent rain that fell late in the race. Heinricy’s tire choice may have led to a major slide in the Carousel that cost him any shot at chasing down McDermid, who was more than seven seconds in front of Heinricy at the time.

After the race, Heinricy said that intermediate tires might have been the correct choice, but he said that was a tough choice to make before the race given the conditions and radar. Heinricy eventually recovered from the spin to finish second.

Venhaus started ninth in the No. 80 CSR Bobcat Illumination Optics/Axis Ford Mustang and knifed through traffic to be in the top five by lap three. Venhaus spent the first half of the race locked in a battle with Michael Lavigne, of Hooksett, New Hampshire, for third. On lap nine, Lavigne got a little too deep in Canada Corner and slid off track into the gravel. This allowed Venhaus to inherit third, which is where he finished.

Daniel Richardson, of Rockville, Maryland, finished fourth in the No. 15 Performance Auto Works/Goodyear Chevrolet Camaro. Richardson was also the Sunoco Hard Charger for advancing 11 positions.

Tom Ellis, of Sunrise, Florida, drove the No. 57 Palm Express/Steeda/Dawson/Hoosier Ford Mustang to a fifth-place finish.

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