Eastern Finale at LRP
Wednesday, October 18, 2006
There have been 31 Eastern Region Race Series finales – 1976 was the first year – and it’s not an exaggeration to claim that this year’s was one of the best ever. The racing was great, the weather stellar, almost everyone stayed on the road, we crowned deserving, fast champions – and the banquet was most excellent. Hearty congratulations to the champs! A.J. Riley in Championship, Julia Landauer in Sportsman, and Bill Hammer, taking both the Masters and Grand Masters titles.
Skip Barber National ‘‘ringer’’ Jonathan Goring (he’s the championship points leader with only the finale at Miller remaining) started at the back and methodically worked his way to the lead, getting past A.J. Riley with eight to go. But on his way to the front, Goring had some slight contact. Still in his National mindset, Goring never came in; the eventual 20-second penalty meant he was classified fifth. And that meant that the last-lap pass for second place – Stevan McAleer getting around Riley – was actually the winning move! Ryan Booth was an impressive third and Matt Ferris fourth. Behind Goring’s fifth place were Dom Bastien, Jared Fisher, Jim Craige, Bill Hammer and Eric Mayo.
Goring again, as he took over the lead from McAleer six laps in and went on to victory, 3.5 seconds over the young Scotsman. But Riley’s smartly driven race to third place ensured that the young man from Weston, Conn., was the 2006 Eastern Region champion and McAleer the runner-up (with Hammer an impressive third). Riley and McAleer (who was racing in the Skip Barber Series as winner of the U.K.-based ‘‘Be a Racing Driver’’ scholarship program) both appear to have bright motorsports careers in front of them.
G2R1 (Sportsman 1)
In the Eastern Series, drivers count the best 12 of the 14 races. In Julia Landauer’s case, she had 12 wins, with a third (Mid-Ohio) and a sixth (Road America) being her other results. And that meant she was 12 for 12 in computing the final points — an impressive effort to say the least! On Friday, she hounded Tim George, Jr., made the move on lap 13 and brought home the win. Capizzi had a good race, running in P3 for the bulk of it but he got around George, Jr. (who did the fastest race lap) with six to go to grab second. Lee Carpentier and James Booth rounded out the top five.
G2R2 (Sportsman 1)
Leaving no doubt about who was the Eastern Region Sportsman champion, Landauer whipped the field in this one, leading green to checker. Pat Daly had a huge race, going from 11th to P2, while Junior again set fastest race lap on his way to third, with Lee Carpentier and Nick Spencer fourth and fifth.
G3R1 (Sportsman 2)
A great first-time win for Angelos Angelopoulos. He grabbed the point on lap six from Steve Nelson and led the rest of the race. Andy Li presaged his own victory (it would come later in the day, in Group 4) with a monster drive from the back of the field to P2 at the checker. Nelson got a podium, while another stunner of a drive came from Eric Mayo, finishing fourth after starting 12th. Louis Albornoz led early but eventually wound up fifth.
G3R2 (Sportsman 2)
It took Geoff Arnold eight laps to get himself into striking position – he was up to third, behind leader Mayo and second-place Frederic Greiling – then just two more laps to dispatch Greiling before setting out after Mayo. With seven laps to go, Arnold shuffled Mayo back to P2 then went on to a 4-second MoV. Late in the race Greiling fell off the road in Big Bend which let Albornoz take the last podium spot. Angelopoulos wasn’t quite as tidy as he had been in his Friday win, but still took a good fourth place, about 20 seconds up the road from Nelson in fifth.
G4R1 (Sportsman 3)
Li also did the first race in ‘‘Sportsman 3’’ and battled it out with Rene Blanchard. (Bear in mind that this was the first race weekend for both of these two!) Li led all the way to lap 22, when the hounding Blanchard made his move for the lead and it stuck. Li waited two laps then made his move. It was very close at the line, but Li prevailed by .355 of a second. Michael Kratz was stellar, coming up through the pack to take third. These three, in fact, lapped the field! Robbin Conner and Steve Hancsarik rounded out the top five.
On Friday, Rene Blanchard (#53) took the lead in G4 with four laps to go. But Andy Li (#27) wasn’t going to settle for second and with two to go, grabbed the lead back for the win. Blanchard, however, put a winning notch on his belt in Saturday’s race.
G4R2 (Sportsman 3)
Blanchard took the bull by the horns and led every lap to match Li and Angelopoulos in getting his first win. Hancsarik (second) and Kratz (third) put on a good show for P2 honors, with Paul Fletcher putting a very nice race together to finish fourth, Conner getting into the top five, too.
Bill Hammer emphatically underscored his Masters title with a flag-to-flagger. The dice for second place wasn’t decided until the last lap when Pat Daly put a strong Tom Capizzi behind him. Dom Bastien hung around nicely from his P2 starting spot and pocketed fourth, while Mike Distaulo moved up the most; starting 12th he came home fifth. Of note was Peter Ludwig’s effort. He started DFL, had early contact, continued to rocket up through the field and on his 17th lap, while running fourth, Ludwig set a new track record for an R/T 2000 – a stunning :56.542, which comes mighty close to averaging 100 mph around Lime Rock. Shockingly, Ludwig subsequently fell off the road in the Downhill… BTW, the record he broke had barely cooled off: In the first of two Josh Rehm Memorials, MHP had put up a :57.079, which had bested Jonathan Goring’s Friday :57.210…
Josh Rehm Memorials
The signed helmet presented to Mr. and Mrs. Rehm at the banquet wasn’t the only moving tribute to Josh’s memory during the weekend. Not one but two Memorials were run in his honor. On Friday, Gerardo went to the front (from the seventh row) in just seven laps and stayed there the rest of the way, with Vince Lombardi second and Go-Go Goring P3. In the second Memorial, Hazmat and Ludwig put on a show, with A.J. Riley coming home third. We know Josh would have savored these two races… Miss you, man…
And for all you new Race Series drivers, we want you to know that winter never means the end of racing with Skip Barber! The Western Series opens its 2006-2007 season right away – October 28-29 at fabulous Miller Motorsports Park in Salt Lake City, Utah – and the 2006-2007 Southern Series begins November 18-19 at one of the world’s most famous race tracks, Road Atlanta. See you there!
Words, Rick Roso; pix, Roso & Nancy Hoyt