SEMA eNews Vol. 15, No. 18, May 3, 2012

Racing News: Mickey Thompson Sponsors the 20th Annual Top Truck Challenge

  mickey thompson
  Mickey Thompson Performance Tires & Wheels will be a 2012 Top Truck Challenge event sponsor.

Mickey Thompson Performance Tires & Wheels Sponsors the 20th Annual Top Truck Challenge
Mickey Thompson Performance Tires & Wheels will be a 2012 Top Truck Challenge (TTC) event sponsor. This year marks the 20th year for this annual event held in June in Hollister, California.

Produced by Four Wheeler magazine, as part of the platinum anniversary event celebration, Four Wheeler has invited all of the former TTC champions to return for a special weeklong competition called the Top Truck Champions’ Challenge reuniting some of the best off-road drivers in the world.

Top Truck Challenge competitors participate in the legendary Tow Test, Frame Twister, Mud Pit, Obstacle Course, Hill Climb, Mini Rubicon and the ultimate challenge—the Tank Trap.

chp nationals  
The inaugural Chevy High Performance magazine Nationals is open to all Chevy/GM-powered vehicles.  

CHP Nationals Features X275 Radial Shootout at Atlanta Dragway
The inaugural Chevy High Performance magazine Nationals will kick off June 1–3, 2012, and it will feature the X275 category at the Atlanta Dragway (Commerce, Georgia). The event is open to all Chevy/GM-powered vehicles, including Mustangs and other non-Chevy 275 drag radial cars. The racers will be competing for $2,000-to-win along with a contingency payout that offers $300-per-sticker to the winner and $100-per-sticker to the runner-up—42 leading performance companies are posting contingency awards for more than 90 products.

The X275 category will be contested as an 1/8-mile eliminator, following the official X275 rules and regulations set forth by its founder, John Sears. The rules can be found at www.X275.net while payout and a full contingency listing is available on the NMCA website.

For those who are not familiar with the X275 brand of drag racing, the cars feature 275/60-15 drag radials and are limited to certain small-block and big-block engine sizes with limits on the turbocharger, supercharging, and nitrous oxide pumped into the engines. The events are contested on the 1/8-mile and times are in the high-4 second zone approaching 150 mph. The combination of more than 1,500 hp, small tires and no wheelie bars makes it an exciting category for the racers and tuners as well as the spectators.

swim  
Larry Swim wins his third straight Checkered Flag Championship. Photo: Karen Davis.  

Larry Swim Snags Third CFP Racing Championship in BIGFOOT Bad Boy
The Checkered Flag Productions Winter Nationals indoor racing tour wrapped up this past weekend in Pocatello, Idaho, at the Idaho State University Holt Arena. And, for the third time in four seasons, Team BIGFOOT driver Larry Swim and the BIGFOOT "Bad Boy" walked away as the Winter Nationals Monster Truck Racing champion.

Over the course of the 2012 season, more than 20 different teams, trucks and drivers battled for the right to qualify for the annual Winter Grand Nationals in Pocatello. Part of the field in Pocatello is traditionally reserved for teams that have run the bulk of the more than 12-week tour, while the other part of the field is an "invitation only" arrangement, in which trucks that competed well on the tour earlier in the season but did not compete the entire tour are invited to compete for the event win, but not the title itself.

The evening's race track, featuring a tight 180-degree U-turn, favored the smaller-wheelbase trucks in attendance and the bulk of the trucks in the field were considered to be long-wheelbase machines, including Swim's BIGFOOT #16. Although Swim did not capture a win in the final round of eliminations, his string of victories in each event leading up to the Grand Nationals all but secured his place as season champion. Swim would wrap up the night with a stellar freestyle despite the fact that most of the freestyle obstacles had already been smashed. Swim drove #16 off the track under its own power without any significant damage.

By winning his third career championship in Pocatello, Swim helped raise Team BIGFOOT's championship count to 32. This title also marks the first time a driver other than Dan Runte has piloted the team's BIGFOOT #16 truck to a championship, as Swim (in his first year driving #16) is the only other driver on the team to have piloted the truck for a complete racing season. 



Irwindale Dragstrip Reopens
The show started early out on Speedway Drive in Irwindale last Sunday. By gate opening time (7:00 a.m.) hundreds of fans were lined up on Live Oak Avenue ready to welcome drag racing back to Irwindale after the closure of the eighth-mile dragstrip in early February.

The facility owners, NuWay Industries partners Jim Mnoian and Jay Garrett, along with event operator Race Training USA, were cheered at the driver's meeting for working out an arrangement that allowed the event to go on as planned.

Set to take place at the Irwindale facility July 15 and October 28 is hotVWs Drag Days. On the Oval end of the property, LA Racing Experience had more than 60 students driving stock cars on the Irwindale Speedway half-mile over the course of the day on Sunday.

  pirelli
  Tristan Herbert took an overall and Touring
Car class win last Sunday at Miller Motorsports Park at the Privacy Star
Utah Grand Prix Presented by Bondurant.

Herbert, Marie Win Pirelli World Challenge Touring Car/Touring Car-B From Miller
Redeeming a hard-luck weekend with a run from the rear of the field to the checkered flag, Tristan Herbert of Reston, Virginia, took an overall and Touring Car class win last Sunday at Miller Motorsports Park at the Privacy Star Utah Grand Prix Presented by Bondurant. Sage Marie of Huntington Beach, California, grabbed the third Touring Car-B race of the weekend.

Herbert blew a motor in his No. 33 Brimtek/GermanAutoParts.com Volkswagen Jetta GLI earlier in the weekend, relegating him to last-place finishes in both races of Saturday’s doubleheader and forcing him to start Sunday’s 40-minute race from the back of the field.

The team pulled the engine out of a Volkswagen Beetle Turbo street car, swapped it out on Saturday, and got the No. 33 machine into what they hoped was race condition. Herbert took the checkered flag by 4.360 seconds, averaging 78.338 mph over the 24-lap, 52.8-mile race on the track’s 2.2-mile West Course configuration.

It’s the second Pirelli World Challenge Touring Car win for Herbert and first since the season opener at St. Petersburg in 2011. The race was also a near sweep of the special awards for Herbert, who was the Sunoco Hard Charger for improving 10 positions, the Optima Batteries Best Standing Start for his opening lap, the Cadillac CTS-V Move of the Race for his pass for the lead over Michael Cooper on Lap 22, and the Kia Turing Point of the Race for his climb through the field.

Herbert also turned the fastest lap of the race, running a 1:39.246 (79.801 mph) once he was on a clear track at the end of the race.

The early stages of the race saw Championship leader Michael Cooper pace the field in the No. 03 Atlanta Motorsports Group MAZDASPEED3, getting a jump from his second starting position and leading the opening 21 laps of the race. By lap 19, Herbert had caught up to the tail of the Mazda and the two ran side-by-side until Herbert got the lead for good.

With Cooper fading, Compass360 Racing teammates Todd Lamb and Ryan Winchester followed Herbert around Cooper to podium finishes. Lamb completed a podium cycle during the weekend with a runner-up finish, following a win and a third-place on Saturday in the No. 71 National Karting News/HPD Honda Civic Si. Winchester, whose weekend at St. Petersburg was marred by a crash in the opening round, earned third place in the No. 72 Ligon Industries/HPD Honda Civic Si. The polesitter earned his third podium finish of the weekend following a pair of runner-ups during Saturday’s races.

Cooper held on to fourth position and the Championship lead, followed across the stripe by Shea Holbrook’s No. 67 TrueCar.com/Lucas Oil/K&N Filters Honda Civic Si, the third Compass360 car in the top-five. Holbrook started third but bogged down on the standing start, falling as low as 11th in the opening corners before working back through the field.

The Touring Car-B battle was a four-car scrum for much of the early part of the race, with Marie’s No. 45 Honda Racing/HPD Honda Fit trading the lead with Craig Capaldi’s No. 86 CapaldiRacing.com Ford Fiesta every other lap for the first four.

With the battle joined by Jonathan Start’s No. 00 Fiat USA/SRT/Carbotech Fiat 500 and Dan McKeever’s No. 09 MMP/Ford Racing High Performance Driving School Ford Fiesta, the four cars began battling for second, allowing Marie to steadily pull away, driving off to a 3.354-second margin of victory and Honda’s first Touring Car-B win.

Conner Ford joined the back-and-forth battle for second in the No. 93 Honda Performance Development Honda Fit, eventually taking the top spot to give Honda a second podium finish.

Capaldi finished third, followed by Start, who took the two wins on Saturday. Jeff Lepper finished fifth in the No. 92 Xtreme Indoor Karting/Gunther Kia Rio.

With three wins in five races on the season, Cooper holds the Touring Car Drivers’ Championship lead with 671 points over Lamb’s 609. Winchester (457 points) sits third, followed by Gustavo Michelsen (396), who finished seventh. Herbert is up to fifth with 368 points. Honda leads the Touring Car Manufacturers’ Championship, 39-34 over Mazda. Volkswagen has closed the gap with Sunday’s win, up to 17 points.

In Touring Car-B, Start holds the Drivers’ Championship lead after the three weekend races with a 389 to 335 advantage over Marie. Capaldi (327) sits third in the Drivers’ Championship. Fiat holds the Manufacturers’ Championship lead with 22 points, followed by a tie between Mazda and Ford with 16. Honda has 15 points, while Kia has scored 3.

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  Mike Miserendino leads T.J. Acker in Spec Racer Ford.

BFGoodrich Tire Super Tour Wraps in California
Twenty-five drivers took home class wins in the 2012 Southern Pacific edition of the BFGoodrich Tires SCCA Super Tour last Sunday, completing the first step of a potential Super Sweep award and earning SafeRacer SCCA National Racing Series points.

Mike Miserendino of Bakersfield, California, led flag-to-flag to win the opening race of the day for Spec Racer Fords, with T.J. Acker never more than a car-length behind. Miserendino took the 0.421-second win, reversing the finishing order from the 2011 event. Acker set a new class track record with a 2:05.313 (89.057 mph).

The Group Two race for GT and Super Touring U and L started with a missing man formation, honoring the memory of 55-year SCCA member, leader and championship racer Andy Porterfield, who passed away last week. Defending GT-1 National Champion Michael Lewis led all the way for the win.

Grant Westmorland of Chula Vista, California, won the Super Touring Lite in his ’99 Mazda Miata. Marc Hoover of Shingle Springs, California, Erich Joiner of Torrance, California, and John Bower of Granada Hills, California, took the STU, GT-2 and GT-Lite wins, respectively.

The best class race in Group Three was in Sports 2000. Polesitter Ted Guenther of Paradise Valley, Arizona, led all the way, but caught traffic on the final lap, allowing Joe Moran of Laguna Hills, California, to pull alongside several times. Despite getting loose coming off the last corner, Guenther was able to put his Swift to the finish line 0.462-second ahead of Moran.

Joseph Schifini of Henderson, Nevada, won C Sports Racing, with Chris Emanuel of Huntington Beach, California; Michael Manning of Dinuba, California, and Steve Brown of Ontario, California, taking the top Formula Atlantic, Formula Continental and Formula Mazda trophies, respectively.

Seventeen-year-old Tyler Vance of Ladera Ranch, California, led from the pole, but on lap four, Clement Lee of San Diego, went from third to first under braking into the Grapevine turn. Lee led the next handful of laps, with Vance bump-drafting him as the two tried to break away from another 17-year-old, Saturday’s winning driver Elliott Skeer. The lead duo never could shake Skeer, and on lap 10, Vance and Skeer both made their way by Lee.

The three stayed bumper-to-bumper for the final four laps as they moved in and out of traffic. They finished in that order, with just 0.557-second the gap from Vance, in first, to Lee, in third. The top two reversed the finishing order from Saturday, and it was Skeer’s second runner-up finish on the day.

Ed Erlandson of Burbank, California, was the lone Formula F car, but was motivated enough to set a new track record of 1:55.397 en route to the overall win in Group Five. After a first-turn incident eliminated Mark Edwards and dropped Ron Wake to the rear of the field, Dennis Andrade of Brush Prairie, Washington, dominated Formula Vee, scoring a 25-second win over early leader Brian McCarthy.

The sixth, and final, group of the weekend was won by Chuck Matthews of Westlake, Village, California, in his Chevrolet Corvette, taking the Touring 1 and overall honors. Early in the race, Jim Tway of Yorba Linda, California, applied plenty of pressure with his Corvette before he spun back to third. Matthews looked to be on cruise control until the closing laps, when Roy Benedetti of Laguna Niguel, California, came charging. Despite feeling his car had “gone off,” Matthews held on to a 1.282-second win.

In Touring 2, Tom Wickersham of San Ramon, California, ran uncontested to a win in his Honda S2000, as did Matt Staal of Torrance, California, in Touring 3. Aaron Bailey of Shasta Lake, California, captured American Sedan in his Pontiac Firebird.

Aaron Downey of Rossmoor, California, had to change an engine after breaking on Saturday but cruised to the E Production win in his Mazda RX-3. Likewise, Hermosa Beach’s Brian Linn recovered from Saturday mechanical issues to win F Production in his Mazda Miata. Jason Isley of Coto deCaza, California, won H Production for the second-consecutive day in his Toyota Yaris. X-Games star Jamie Bestwick of Port Matilda, Pennsylvania, brought his Yaris home second.

Lee Niffenegger of Santa Clarita, California, drove his Honda Civic Si to the Showroom Stock B win after flying from Miami to California following a professional race at Homestead. Finally, Ali Naimi of Morgan Hill, California, drove his MAZDA3 to a 15-second victory in Showroom Stock C.

The next BFGoodrich Tires Super Tour event is at Summit Point Raceway in West Virginia for the Northeast Super Tour May 5–6.

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