Another Giant Race Weekend

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Thursday, August 04, 2005 Le Circuit Mont-Tremblant never disappoints: The weather, apart from a brief sprinkle on Friday, was spectacular. The track is fast, safe and fun and the racing was close and furious. It was the second “giant” weekend in a row, as this was a combo of Eastern Series, Midwest Series and Masters National ( see separate story ).

Patrick Barret won his first-ever race and yes, Divi and Captain Wally finally went head to head, both starting from the back in the “Beam Me up, Scottie!” Memorial. Look for a rematch at Mid Ohio…

G1R1 (Midwest Sportsman)
Twenty drivers in this huge group. On the first lap four cars came together in turn four. Rick Balsley had to retire but Steve Ablondi, Mike Kolaki and Rob Ecklin all continued. Ecklin went a lap down after having some damage repaired but rejoined on track with the front-runners. Martin Zimmerman took a commanding lead over young Cody Jolly with Rhonda Hill in hot pursuit. Behind these three an inspired Greg Willard did battle with Joe Trevino and then a train led by Matthew Garver, Ecklin (one lap down), Marc Bastien, Michele Marden and Dirk Daems. These guys/gal caught Trevino and when Garver went for the pass in turn 8 the two cars touched sending Trevino into the gravel. Trevino was rescued but he dropped to 17th. Garver had more luck dragging his front wing, continuing until his pit stop dropped him to P9. A little further back Marc Martinez and new driver David Stubbs had a good race but Stubbs was unable to find a way ’round Martinez. At the back of the field there was a heated race between the wily George Morales and relative newcomer Faith Pellien, who ended up stuck in the litter.

At the front Jolly started to reel in Zimmerman. Meanwhile Ms. Marden, who had started 13th, fought her way to the front of the group and was running directly behind Shantanu Reddy’s P4. Reddy was trying to find a way past [the down one lap but still fast running] Ecklin. At the last corner Reddy lunged , they tangled and Ecklin gracefully rolled into the gravel trap. Michele of course slipped through for fifth and Ablondi dived into the pits to take a safety check for tapping Reddy and took the flag for seventh in pit lane. Zimmerman took his win from the hard-charging 14-year-old Jolly. Hill took third, Willard fourth, Garver sixth and Marc Bastien P8. Daems and Martinez rounded out the top 10.

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Cody Jolly (l.), 14, gave G1R1 winner Martin Zimmerman a run for his money.

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None the worse for wear for Rob Ecklin after a relatively gentle roll into the Namerow kitty litter.

G1R2 (Midwest Sportsman)
Young Jolly was determined not to let Zimmerman go and hung on like a leech. Willard gradually reeled in Hill, towing the determined Ablondi with him. Behind these three Garver tried to hold off Marc Bastien. Further back Andy Piscitello, Martinez, Daems and Reddy traded places whilst a fierce battle was renewed between Steve Scofes, George Morales and Faith Pellien. At half distance Jolly, overly eager to catch and pass Zimmerman, went four-off and dropped to 12th. Hill got a little breathing space from Willard when Ablondi tried to pass him and they ran side by side from T8 all the way up to 10. Meanwhile, Championship Group driver Charles Anti, this a make-up race from Watkins Glen, was knifing his way to the front of this Sportsman’s field. By lap 10 he was in second place but fate intervened as Anti tried to close the gap between himself and Zimmerman. While passing George Morales — last corner, last lap — he hit Morales and then dived into the pit for his safety check, dropping from second to fifth. Z-Man took his second win with an ecstatic Hill second and Willard a fine third. Ablondi, Anti, Bastien, Garver, Jolly, Joe Trevino and Mike Kolacki rounded out the top 10.

G3R1 (Midwest Championship)
What a race! Polesitter Sy Aryeh chased by new driver Logan Gomez who was closely followed by Revere Greist, Peter Ludwig and Dean Patzer. Duncan Ende was next, then a convoy of Brent Milner, Jim Craige, Bill Hammer and Charles Anti. Milner ran out of road at the exit of Two and earned himself a pit visit. At half-distance it was “all change”; Gomez squeezed by Aryeh and Ludwig got the better of Greist — who now had Patzer to contend with — and all were running mid-:49 lap times! With four laps to go Greist dropped behind Patzer after a quick spin at Namerow. With two to go Aryeh got by Gomez with a great outside pass in T10. For the white flag lap these two were nose to gearbox and coming into Namerow, the last corner, Ayreh drove a defensive line but just before the corner he enlarged his radius and left a gap which Gomez dived into. Instantly realizing his mistake, Ayreh tried to close the gap and the two cars made contact. Ayreh made the right decision and dove straight into the pit taking the checker and saving his second place, behind victor Ludwig. Gomez instead stayed on the track to take the flag and was disappointed to learn that the 20-second penalty for not pitting had dropped him to ninth. D. Patzer was third, R. Greist salvaged fourth and Ende fifth. Bill Hammer took maximum Masters points with his seventh, trailing Jim Craige’s sixth after a terrific battle.

G3R2 (Midwest Championship)
On the first lap John Greist spun in Eight and Jonathan Frost collected him. While the dust settled Charles Anti and Jonathan Gore had car contact. So the pace car came out whilst the cars were retrieved from the gravel trap. Anti made it to the pits and back on track during the FCY. Gore, Frost and Greist regrettably had to retire. Seconds after the green flag came out following two caution laps, Ende spun wildly down Turn Two’s hill, throwing away fifth place. At the front this looked a calmer race than the previous day as Aryeh led Ludwig and Revere Greist held P3 from D. Patzer with twin brother Chase right behind in fifth. As the laps wound down young Logan Gomez, who’d started ninth, marched up through the field but 14 laps in this fast company was not enough time to get him to the front and at the flag he had to settle for fifth — and fastest race lap. At the flag it was Aryeh, Ludwig, R. Greist, D. Patzer, Gomez and C. Patzer sixth. Craige, John Peterson (first Masters), Brent Milner and Anti rounded out the top 10.

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A great G3R2 podium: Sy Aryeh (c.), Peter & Petey Ludwig (l.), Revere Greist (r.) and First Master John Peterson

G4R1 (Eastern Sportsman)
New driver Philip Major from pole took the lead going into One as Pat Daly, Chris Brassard, Jim Lowe, Ari Gatoff and a fast-starting Patrick Barret (also a newbie, and up from ninth!) closed in. But, oh, Daly spun his P2 away in Four. Next time around Barrett was into second, and Doug Harrison caught the Brassard train. In the lead Major suddenly finds himself four-wheels-off at Turn Five and Barrett takes the lead! You could see Brassard, Lowe, Harrison and Gatoff just waiting for the rookie to make a mistake… and Barrett disappoints them by refusing to do so. Then the Pack behind begins to see spot-swaps every lap, but by mid-race, Harrison and Brassard have consolidated second- and third-place, respectively. Lowe, fourth is fending off Gatoff.

Not far behind the lead group Marc Charbonneau, Bob Manzella and Leland Englebart are fully engaged — and then are caught by Rick Balsley, who’s marched forward from waaaaaay back (17th). Suddenly they all catch Lowe, who had dropped off the road at Namerwo. A lap later, after his pitstop, Lowe rejoins the track with Dirk Daems and Tom Cochran. At the checker, Barrett the Karter takes the win, Harrison and Brassard joining him on the podium. Gatoff was fourth, Balsley a remarkable fifth, then Englebardt, Lowe, Charbonneau, Manzella and Daems.

G4R2 (Eastern Sportsman)
On the first lap Brassard dug himself into the Turn Eight kitty litter and we needed a full course yellow for the extraction. When the green re-flew Englebardt spun at Two and a lap later he spun again at Three! At the front Young Master Barrett was marching away from the field and Harrison was holding a comfortable second, Gatoff securely in third. Fourth-place Lowe was being pushed by Jared Fisher who was up from 10th; Fisher finally got by going into Turn 10 and Lowe now had his mirrors full of Pat Daly. Minor Major was also on the move. Starting 15th he passed a car per lap until he stalled behind Manzella. Major eventually got it done on Manzella, and when Lowe went four-off at super-fast Turn Seven, he also squeezed by Brassard who was momentarily held up. At the checker Barrett took his second win with Harrison again first Master in second, Gatoff third, Fisher fourth, then Daly, Englebardt, Major, Brassard, Manzella and Charbonneau.

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Newbie Patrick Barrett won twice! And the first one you get earns you a dunkin’…

G5R1 (Eastern Championship)
Pole sitter Reid “Not Rod” Stewart forgot we do short pace laps at Mont-Tremblant (using the shortcut to 10) and drove the long way round, instantly demoting himself to the back of the field. On the first lap Jim Craige dove into the gravel at Four and Deyne Bentt braked too late for Eight, ran wide and wild, and Charles Anti spun trying to miss him (both earning four-off checks). Sy Aryeh was out front chased by Brent Milner, Revere Greist and Peter Ludwig. Greist got by Milner after two laps but Ludwig took his time to get by the on-form Milner, finally out-braking him in Eight. Behind these three John Greist, Bill Hammer, Dom Bastien and Reid Stewart contested fourth place. At half distance Ludwig closed in on R. Greist whilst Hammer looked for a way round J. Greist for fourth but it was Stewart who got everyone’s attention when he hit the Turn 11 wall hard. This brought out the pace car. On the restart two laps later J. Greist was easing his way away from Bastien when he spun at Five and Bastien hit him broadside. The two cars are stuck so the pace car again is called for and the race ends under yellow as the five o’clock engine curfew was reached. Aryeh had held a comfortable lead the whole race from R. Greist, Ludwig, Milner, Hammer and Michael Auriemma , the first Master (in sixth).

G5R2 (Eastern Championship)
R. Greist demoted polesitter Aryeh to second and into the clutches of the motivated Ludwig while Milner settled once again into fourth. Behind these Bastien led the train of Hammer, Auriemma, Anti and Craige. Hammer took to the grass at Turn Three, dropping to the back of the pack, and it was Anti and Auriemma who were on the move. Tracking each other’s move, they marched through the group (Anti having to pass and re-pass Bastien to stay close to Auriemma!). At the front Aryeh finally got by Greist with three laps to go and Ludwig, hoping he could do the same thing, spun at Four but stayed on the track and saved third place. Milner, Auriemma (first Master, in fifth), Anti, Bastien, Craige, Stewart and J. Greist rounded out the top 10.

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The East and Midwest crew did a stellar job at Mont-Tremblant, keeping the cars primed and prepped. In front, Josh Steeves (with trophy plate) won Mechanic of the Race honors, and in back, Don Sharp was given his trophy cup for Mechanic of the Race that he earned during the previous weekend’s National Championship event, also at Mont-Tremblant.

“Beam Me Up, Scottie!” Memorial, Le Circuit Mont-Tremblant
The following photos come courtesy of Robert Pearson (the PR person for part-time National Championship driver David Greco) who’s quickly become a “friend of the family,” so to speak. Sunday’s fun race — the “Beam Me Up, Scottie!” Memorial (James Doohan. Dead.) — had 14 entrants. But the real race was between Divina Galica and Walt Bohren…

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It was, Sid Brenner announced, a race that had been in the making for several years. Walt (Wally, Cubbie, Captain Wally) Bohren and Divina Galica — two Skippy “vetchrins” — had been teasing each other for years over who would prevail should the two go head-to-head. At last, with the public announcement that Divi would be leaving Skip Barber in a few weeks, the moment of truth was Sunday, July 31, 2005. A betting pool was established: 50 percent to the winner, 50 percent to the Mechanics’ Fund — and a 50 percent chance of winning. It was, as Sid put it, “50-50-50.”

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On the grid, Divi (#98) politely explains to Captain Wally (#14) how she plans to spank him. Walt, of course, is confident of who will and won’t be the spankee… Lining up at the back of the grid and leaving the Memorial field a chance to distance itself, Divi and Cubbie set out on their warm up lap — and missed the cut-off just past Turn Five for the “seven-eighths” pace lap. Taking the long way around, still they managed to avoid getting caught. The race started with Walter taking the lap one “lead.”

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Never distanced by more than a couple of car lengths, Bohren also led at the end of lap two, but Galica took him back on lap four and stayed there for five laps.

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By now the pair were catching Russell Payson and were nearly collected when Marc Bastien spun at Namerow.

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Wally wiggled past Divi on lap 10 and held on to win the duel by the hugest of margins: 0.137 of a second…a mere two-tenths at the checkered.

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Walter Z. Bohren, whose address used to be On a Boat, In the Caribbean, augmented the traditional Skippy Big Cooler of Ice Water Celebratory Dump he got with a second dousing; a polite pouring of the finest Canadian bottled water…

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Observing Bohren post-race, post-water dump — he was now thoroughly and comprehensively soaked — Galica laughed. “I am sure as hell glad I did not win that race!”

In the race up front, computer car guru Mark Hamilton Peters set fastest race-lap on his way to the Memorial win, though Sy Aryeh was just a tick behind: 1.150 seconds at the stripe. And Sy was the only driver other than MHP to get into the 48s. Instructor Josh Rehm was third, Brent Milner fourth and Silver Shampoo fifth.

To see all the photos from Mont-Tremblant, click here

To see the complete Race Series schedule, click here

Divina Galica & Todd Snyder

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