Lime Rock Race Weekend: Forman and Hoffman take the lead in the Triple Crown!
Wednesday, May 18, 2005 A slightly chilly but mostly sunny Lime Rock Park Race Weekend saw two new drivers, Todor Mitev and Kevin Hoffman, win their first races. Dust on the Downhill kept the wrecker busy, and Len Forman, after a two-year hiatus from racing, came back to show the Championship Group that he still has the will and the skill to win…
A very fast start from pole sitter Bob Manzella had Dom Bastien responding on the second lap with some side-by-side action through Big Bend all the way to turn 4 before Championship driver Bastien took the lead from Manzella. On lap three Todor Mitev passed Pat Daly who had been holding onto third and started to loom large in Manzella’s mirrors. Meanwhile Dane Moxlow spun in the downhill and George McArthur had to take evasive action dropping them from their fifth place battle. Whilst McArthur had to pit for his four off check Moxlow started a charge back up the field with Adrian Dixon in tow. Mitov had his sights set on first place and in his haste to get to Bastien milked the rim of Big Bend, the battling duo of Manzella and Daly were fast to take advantage of this mistake as did Jared Fisher and suddenly Mitov finds himself back in fifth and once again trying to catch up. At two-thirds distance Daly spun in the downhill and retired, a lap later Moxlow tags McManus also in the downhill. At the flag Bob Manzella took 2nd place and the moral victory behind Championship driver and Masters winner Dom Bastien with Jared Fisher 3rd Adrian Dixon 4th and Chris Brassard 5th.
Dom Bastien got a good start and led Bob Manzella into turn one but it all goes wrong in the Lefthander on the first lap when Bastien spins and slides into Manzella’s path, thankfully neither driver was hurt. The crash brought out pace car and then the black flags to stop the field on the front straight. On the restart Jared Fisher led into turn one with Adrian Dixon and Todor Mitev close behind, on lap six Mitev passed Dixon into turn one and a lap later took Fisher in the same place. Behind them Dane Moxlow was on another charge, having started from the back of the field he was up to fourth by lap six, by Jared Fisher for third by lap ten and then started to close in on the leaders. Fisher now had to deal with Michael Kratz up from 8th on the grid unfortunately Fisher powered off the road at the downhill and dropped back as he took his four off check. All eyes were now on Mitev and Dixon and with two to go Dixon made his move in turn one but was in too hot and Mitev neatly side steps him allowing Dixon to sail off the edge. Todor Mitev takes the checkered for his first win with Dane Moxlow 2nd, Adrian Dixon recovered to claim 3rd and the Masters win with Michael Kratz 4th and Chris Brassard 5th.
The first start was waved off but at the second attempt pole sitter Jonathan Frost took off chased by Jonathan Goring, behind these two Jim Craige was being followed closely by Anton Vataj who plowed off the road in the downhill and Bill Hammer. In three laps Len Forman is up to fourth and starting to shadow Jim Craige behind these two there is a train led firstly by Bill Hammer then Dom Bastien and finally young AJ Riley. The train gets longer and more intense as RJ Smith, Scott Boissoneau and Randy Youngsma detach themselves from Steven Goldstein and Joseph Pagano and catch the AJ train. Nearing mid race Jonathan Goring running second drops all four wheels off the track at the exit of turn two but continues without loosing a spot, this allows the battling duo of Craige and Forman to close onto the youngster. A black flag is displayed for Goring who not being familiar with the rule continues to race against Craige and Forman to the white flag lap when he makes his pitstop only to find that he had been disqualified on lap 22 for ignoring three black flags. At the checkered Jonathan Frost took the win with Jim Craige 2nd Len Forman takes the Masters win and 3rd AJ Riley an impressive 4th Dom Bastien 5th and Randy Youngsma just getting the better of RJ Smith in 6th.
Standard operating procedure in racing is for the crew to always tape important mechanical information about the car on the steering wheel so the driver doesn’t miss it, such as ”bed pads.” Here’s a new one we’re trying.
Once again Jonathan Frost took the lead into Big Bend with Jim Craige, AJ Riley and Len Forman on his tail. On lap three Riley spins on the Downhill but stayed on the track and dropped to seventh, the same lap Forman passes Craige for second. A few laps later the leader Frost spins in the same place and Forman misses him by a hair. The race starts to heat up as Forman takes the lead followed by RJ Smith who has slipped by Jim Craige and is now in second, Steven Goldstein holds fourth with Randy Youngsma, Jonathan Goring and Bill Hammer ready to pounce. It starts to rain very lightly and everyone watching holds their breathe as the pace continues unabated with some drivers heading for the wet line and others taking their chances on the damp dry line. On lap 16 Foreman slides wide in Big Bend and RJ Smith takes the lead. Now the order is RJ, Forman, Craige, Youngsma, Goring, Hammer and Goldstein this remains status quo for two laps until its RJ’s turn to get hustled back by Len and Craige and eventually Randy Youngsma who is on a roll and a lap later Youngsma passes Craige going into turn one. But Craige will not give it up and they run side by side all the way to the lefthander until Craige concedes the position. With a lap to go Youngsma tries to pass Forman for the lead on the outside of Big Bend but Len holds firm. The third spot is still being fought over by Jonathan Goring, RJ and Craige and RJ decides to “go for it “ in the Downhill and spins into the barrier. Craig also takes to the dirt and Goring already ahead claims the spot. At the flag Len Forman wins and now leads both the Triple Crown Championship and Masters points. Randy Youngsma took a close 2nd with Jonathan Goring 3rd Steven Goldstein 4th Dom Bastien 5th and Jim Craige 6th.
Kevin Hoffman came to Lime Rock having only raced once before in May 2004 but quickly got back into his stride by taking pole, but when the green flag came out it was Derek Defonce who led into Big Bend with Hoffman right behind him and Robert Ecklin in close attention. Ecklin squeezed by Hoffman into turn one on the second lap and hangs onto that spot for five laps before Hoffman took the place back and a lap later passes Defonce for the lead. Behind these three a fairly heated battle has started between George McArthur and new drivers Daniel Colao and Ari Gatoff . By half distance the order is Hoffman, Defonce, Colao, McArthur, Ecklin with Gatoff close behind. McArthur surprises Colao with a pass in turn one and they touch both earning a visit to the pits. Ecklin is now back up to third with Gatoff right with him and closing in on Defonce who is even closer to Hoffman. With two laps to go Defonce hit the wall in the uphill so at the flag Kevin Hoffman wins from new driver Ari Gatoff with Robert Ecklin the first Master in 3rd. Nestor Cybriwsky has his best finish in 4th and new driver Paul Fletcher finishes 5th.
Pole sitter Kevin Hoffman made a great start and leads into Big Bend, behind him Ari Gatoff fends off Robert Ecklin. On lap three Ecklin makes his move on Gatoff and they run side by side eventually touching in the Lefthander. Ecklin is the first to pit for his safety check dropping him back to 6th , Gathoff pits a lap later handing his 2nd place to Daniel Colao who has Derek Defonce in close attention. Unfortunately Colao spins in Big Bend so now Defonce takes over the 2nd, Gatoff is back up to 3rd and quickly takes over the second spot from Defonce. Meanwhile Robert Ecklin can see his sparring partner Gatoff ahead of Defonce so he ups his efforts and squeezes by Defonce for third. The order is now Hoffman, Gatoff, Ecklin, Defonce ,Colao and Paul Fletcher who has Nestor Cybriwsky directly behind him. Robert Ecklin now gets into his stride and takes Gatoff and heads off after Hoffman who has been cruising at the front since the green flag. Ecklin manages to post fastest race lap and get within two tenths of Hoffman but its Kevin Hoffman who takes his second win of the weekend and securing the top spot in the Triple Crown points table. Robert Ecklin takes 2nd and first Masters with Ari Gathoff 3rd, Derek Defonce 4th and Daniel Colao 5th.
It was a fitting tribute to Michael Johnson that the Memorial Race in his name was won by 15-year-old Pablo Sanchez Lopez who is running in the National Championship, which Michael started in 1999 to promote the talents of young drivers…
REMEMBER! The very special Watkins Glen Invitational still has seats left, so call A.S.A.P. if you want to enter… JUST ANNOUNCED! A golf tournament on the Sunday after the Lime Rock weekend in mid-July. No cost, 11:30 a.m. shotgun start, big fun. Look for us to send details soon…