Las Vegas: Racy, As One Would Expect

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Monday, April 03, 2006

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You have to go way back to 1999 to find a Race Series result sheet from the outside road course at LVMS. Since then, the track and facilities have been vastly improved: The layout is fast and mostly smooth, run-off is good (if a bit rocky!) and a couple of corner complexes – Seven and Eight, and T10 and T11 – proved to be real challenges! This was a combined Southern/Western Race Series weekend, plus the always exciting Masters National (rounds three and four), and so we had 76 drivers on hand…

The Vegas weekend also resulted in championship-clinches for three drivers. In the South, Craig Duerson is your 2005-2006 Masters champion, while Yannick Hofman was very happy to claim the Sportsman title. In the West, Alexander Rossi, at age 14, became the youngest-ever Race Series champion in Skip Barber history, winning the Championship Group laurels. Congratulations to all three in their title-winning performances!

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We hire a Mechanics’ Fund ”enforcer” for most race weekends…

G1R1 (Championship South)
Here’s what’s great about the Race Series; in many of our race groups, young teens end up racing against “grizzled” vets. In this very fast group, if you add together the ages of Alex Doman and ‘‘Micro’’ Duerson, you still come up a few years short of Craig Duerson’s age. And it’s not much of a surprise that Papa Duerson took the kids to school in this one. Duerson the Elder was on pole and led the first nine of this 15-lapper. Doman got inside Duerson going into One at the beginning of lap 10 and led the next five circuits. Doman then pulled out a big lead over the next five laps. But drama ensued on the last lap, as young Alex fell off the road in Turn One! That made it a Duerson-Doman-Duerson podium. Ricky Taylor was awesome, coming from a DFL starting spot to snatch fourth, with Laura Rowe a competitive fifth, followed by a solid Curt Berg. Fast guys Michel Garrido, John Peterson, Brent Milner and Duncan Ende all found spin, contact or four-off trouble and wound up seventh-through-10th, respectively.

G1R2 (Championship South)
This was a cool Dad-vs-Son for the first four laps, as Hayden Duerson grabbed the lead from polesitter Pops, Garrido a right-there third (and second-starting Doman got caught out somewhere, crossing theline last at the end of one). On the fifth lap, however, Maxi Duerson made a mistake somewhere – Dad went from second to seventh – putting Hayden in the lead and Garrido, Taylor and Ende in hot pursuit. By mid-race the leaders were spaced out (no, not that way), about two car-lengths between each. Then Ende fell out of the mix with a spin-and-go in T11, handing fourth to Rowe. So Mini Duerson took the checker, 1.5 seconds up on Garrido, who was nine second up the road from Taylor. Rowe easily kept her fifth, Berg sixth, then Major Duerson, Milner, Doman, Ende and Peterson.

G3R1 (Sportsman South)
A 143-car field made this race special, with title contender Yannik Hofman on pole and Dane Moxlow alongside. Those two put on a great show, with Hofman leading laps 1 – 7, Moxlow 8 – 12, back to Hofman for 13 and 14. Two laps to go, Moxlow makes his last move and it works. He crossed the line just a half-second up on Hofman, who was a good 45 seconds to the good on P3 David Stubbs (who had put in a super consistent series of 2:01s and :02s and made no mistakes). Some of the other stories: Jules Duc was running third for a while, but in the last third of the race he dropped like a rock, ninth his result. Steve Rooyakkers was also running competitively – third and fourth place for much of the race – until he too threw a result away. Tim George, the man with two first names, was rock-solid, patiently working his way from 10th to fourth. Other good efforts: George Ebel went 10th to fifth, while Tom Davidoff, the man with almost two first names, did a stunning 21st to eighth run. Max Hyatt, a rookie like you read about, was very impressive. He had qualified third, but in the head rush of the first lap in his first race, he made amistake and dropped 15 spots. But then he put his max head down and climbed inexorably up the ladder, taking sixth at the checker. Carmine Pici, in just his second RW, was 10th.

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Dane Moxlow won the first of the Sportsman South races.

And here’s a neat story… Randy Allison, who raced with us from 1989 (when the dinosaurs still roamed the earth, the cars were Formula Fords, and Rick Roso, who had just started with Skip Barber, reportedly still had hair) and did at least two or three Race Weekends per year right up through 2003, his last one being Road Atlanta, 2003. With plans of making a ‘‘comback’’ at the Eastern and Midwestern opener at VIR the first week of May, he thought, Hey, let’s bring the wife to Vegas and tune up! How does 18th to seventh grab ya?

G3R2 (Sportsman South)
Up front, Hofman and Moxlow went at it again but this time it was Yannick winning the laurels, five seconds up on Dane (who did set fastest lap of the race). Hyatt made up for his Saturday oof with a run to third place, while The Man with Two First names, Rooyakkers and Allison (along with Ebel and Stubbs) fought it out for top-five honors. At the checker, Tom George got fourth, Ebel crossed fifth, but was assigned a 30-second penalty, so P5 went to Rooyakkers in a fine effort, and Allison got sixth. Nick Spencer was seventh, Ebel was classified eighth, Marc Charbonneau ninth and Stubbs, also suffering a 30-second hit to the watch, was a classified 10th.

G4R1 (Championship West)
In tricky, very windy conditions, Alexander Rossi continued his impressive season with a flag-to-flagger on Saturday, with Ende trying hard but unable to keep up. Ende, for his part, was never really troubled by Tom Roberts (P3), who had a nice battle with Tim Traver (fifth). Paul Bonilla was Most Progressive, starting 10th and crossing the line fifth. It was in this race that Rossi set the new record for the track, a 1:55.025.

G4R2 (Championship West)
An identical podium – Rossi, Ende (much closer at the checker than Saturday) and Roberts, with Bonilla and Traver swapping positions relative to race one. Rossi again impressively got into the :55s, and with this victory, he clinched the 2005-2006 Western Region championship. He’s now had seven wins in 10 starts. And at age 14, he becomes the youngest Regional champion since Marco Andretti won the Eastern Series at age 17. Rossi is proving his choice as the most recent Karting Scholarship winner was pretty darn wise!

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Alexander Rossi (c.) won twice in Championship, clinching the Western title. Duncan Ende (l., two second places) and Tom Roberts (r., two thirds) congratulate the 14-year-old.

G5R1 (Sportsman West)
With 137 starters, only a few less cars than Group 3’s first race, Alan Baia led every lap from pole. But portending even greater things for himself was Matt Reynolds. He started way back in 12th but was so good over the first few laps, he was up into P3 by lap two! Reynolds then hunted down Vladimir Charchlyan and with five to go, took over second place. (Reynolds, by the way, was the only driver to get into the :58s.) Gray Gregory also came from way-way back, taking fourth (from row seven), while John Potter went up and down a bit in the early laps, but before mid-race he consolidated fifth. Jules Duc, however, improved the most positions by far: He rocketed past nine cars on the first lap alone, and though he dropped a few spots mid-race, he made those up and finally wound up sixth. Newbie Cyrus Shargh did an excellent job, coming home seventh, followed by Dana Rock, Davidov and Pat McCormick.

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In Saturday’s dusk, Alan Baia powers down the front straight on the way to his win.

G5R2 (Sportsman West)
Hyatt was a late-add to this race, so he started 17th, while on the front row it was Baia and Reynolds, Bad Vlad and Gregory on row two. Vlad got a great start and came around to end the first lap in first place, with Reynolds right behind. Baia, meanwhile, had taken up third and John Potter fourth. But on lap three, the Russian oops-ed and the field went by, relegating him to 10 th. That gave young Reynolds the lead, one he would never relinquish, grabbing his first-time win with a four-second MoV over Baia. It was Hyatt with the big drive, knocking off nine cars on the first lap then, by lap six, taking P3 from Gregory. Potter had a good race, too: Even though he lost a couple of spots on the first lap, Potter got into third with Vlad’s off and only Hyatt and Gregory go around him, so he finished where he started, fifth. Rock took sixth, Shargh seventh and Sarena Traver an impressive eighth – from 16th on the grid. Vlad wound up ninth while Ross Jaffe got himself a 10th.

Josh Rehm Memorial
What we were going to name this Memorial was a given, with the sad passing of Skip Barber Instructor Josh Rehm earlier in the month. We did this one as an Enduro, and 30 drivers making up 10 teams took the green. There were a number of lead changes, but in the end, a very quick trio – Alex Doman, Michel Garrido and Ricky Taylor – were up about a minute and a half on the only other team on the lead lap: Jeremy Schakel, Roger Cote and Gerardo Bonilla. Alexander Rossi, Alan Baia and Jeff Kaiser were one lap down in third.

Up next? Lots of stuff!
Down South, the 2005-2006 finale weekend is on Sebring’s full course, April 7-9. The stage is set for an exciting Championship Group battle between Craig Duerson (470 points), Carlos Llano (390) and Ricky Taylor (370). When the racing’s over Sunday afternoon, the not-to-be-missed season ending banquet. Not since 1999 have we partied at the Kenilworth Lodge, which is a really cool place. Drinks and classy munchies start at 6:30, and an embarrassingly accurate Southern Series video will be set to ‘‘air,’’ of course…

The Western Series 2005-2006 finale is also just around the corner, April 14-16 at Laguna, when Alan Baia and Gray Gregory will duke it out for the Sportsman title. Jeff Kaiser and Tom Roberts will settle Masters, too. The always-fun Western Series banquet is Sunday, April 16, with cocktails beginning at 6:30 at the Hyatt Regency Monterey (and you’ll not want to miss the ‘‘broadcast’’ of the Western Series video, either…).

In early May (4-6), the Masters National aims for VIR for rounds five and six – which is also the opening weekend for the 2006 Eastern and Midwestern championship seasons! Virginia International Raceway gets better and better every year and is a really fun track to race on. And just so you know, two weeks prior – April 21-23 – the Skip Barber National Presented by RACER is at VIR, running in support of the Grand-Am Rolex Sports Car Series and Grand-Am Cup championships.

One more thing before you get to the quick links to stories, points and pix: We don’t have it up on the website yet (but iwe will soon!), but there is a brand new program that we’ve been selling (very well, I might add) and it’s available to all Race Series drivers (though the more experienced ones will find it especially beneficial. It’s called the ‘‘R/T 2000 Test Day,’’ an Advanced Activity that combines the important elements of Computer Lapping and Lead/Follow. We schedule the $1,995 Test Days, appropriately enough, in the days leading up to Race Weekends. Call your Series Advisors for details and schedules, and as soon as the full description hits skipbarber.com, we’ll let you know!

Okay, here are the quick links from the weekend…

Photos from the Regional Vegas weekend are here

Masters National shots are here, while the story on the MNC can be found here

Click here for all of the Regional and National race weekend schedules

Reminder: East and Midwest pre-pay discounts end this week!

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The Big Cock (the metal one, up top) made its inaugural appearance in Las Vegas and was soon being awarded to drivers for all manner of ”accomplishments.”

Riche Roulette

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