Masters National Finale at Lime Rock
Monday, October 17, 2005 Wednesday (Lapping day) leading in to the race weekend had picture perfect fall weather, the leaves were falling, the track was wet, and the wind was blowing. Thursday (official practice day) was much better. The leaves were almost done falling, the track was wetter, and the wind was still blowing. Friday was the best day, as the leaves were off the trees and on the track; the rain kept coming like a hurricane in the Gulf, and the track had more lakes than Minnesota. But none of this (including walls) stopped the Masters National drivers on their final quest of the season.
Thursday’s practice and qualifying session surprisingly had exactly the same conditions. For those that have raced or driven in the rain, you know that “adaptability” to changing conditions is the key. That’s because it is rare to have the same amount of “wetness” from the beginning of a session or race to the end. Not so on Thursday. It was pretty much a constant rain all day.
Two of the main contenders had either not been to Lime Rock or it had been a long time. John Mayes, in his long career, had never been to Lime Rock. Apparently going to new tracks is a good thing for John as he put in on the pole for race one! Way to go, you magazine print advertising superstar (see December 2005 issue of RACER). Dick Lippert had not been to Lime Rock since May of 2003. Like Mayes, this sort of paid off, as he was able to pull off a “hat trick.” Unfortunately it wasn’t the kind that involved checkered flags. Wednesday, during the Lapping day, he found the wall in the Uphill, with the left front. Thursday in practice he again found the wall in the Uphill, again with the left front. Dick learned from this and in first round qualifying he made it through the Uphill, but found the wall in West Bend, with the, um… left front.
Dick wasn’t alone as many of the “Masters” found immovable objects. As a matter of fact, the Masters group accounted for almost 40 percent of the total crash damage for the weekend. During qualifying Jimmy Locke (LRP regular) also found the wall in the Uphill with the left front. Jimmy found it on the first lap, which put him at the back of the field. Willcox and LRP regular Bill Hammer qualified second and third.
1. John Mayes
2. Chris Willcox
3. Bill Hammer
4. Peter Tucker
5. Murray Marden
6. Dom Bastien
7. Dick Lippert
8. Jimmy Locke
Qualifying for the second race in the morning was wet, but not as bad (yet) as Thursday. The local boys stole the show as Jimmy took the pole, and Bill P2. Reigning Champ Willcox (he clinched at Mid-Ohio) took P3. This was the closest thing to a dry track that Mayes had seen yet, and he ended up fourth, followed by Dom Bastien.
1. Jimmy Locke
2. Bill Hammer
3. Chris Willcox
4. John Mayes
5. Dom Bastien
6. Dick Lippert
7. Peter Tucker
8. Murray Marden
Green flag and Mayes had the best track position and led in to Big Bend. The spray off the BFG G-Force Sport tires was high and mighty and most of the field couldn’t see. In the brake zone Dom got into the back of Bill and turned him around. They both continued with Bill getting the worst of it. Dom lost his nose, which meant that he had a true “open cockpit” for the 20-lap (very) wet race.
Two laps down and Jimmy moved from eighth to third behind Chris and John. These three already started to gap the field. Chris took several runs on John, but John was on the “preferred” inside wet line and held the point. Murray was in a solid P4, with no one directly in front or behind. In the back there was a nice battle going on between Peter, Dom and Bill.
Six laps in the book and Jimmy has lost a little ground to Chris and John. The battle in the back has caught up to Lippert, making it a four-car battle for fifth. Next lap around and Murray gets too high in the Lefthander and spins! He re-enters DFL.
Half-way and Peter is trying his best to get by Dick. He pushes the braking too deep and goes off on the outside of Big Bend! This allows Murray to hand over the DFL spot to Peter. A couple laps later and Bill “Hammertimes” Dom for fifth and set his sights on Dick in fourth.
Five laps to go and Bill is “Hammering” on Dick. Peter has caught back up to Dom and is challenging to hand over DFL. Up front, John has pulled a big lead on Chris, who has slipped back into the clutches of Jimmy Locke.
Three to go and Dick, who is under pressure from Bill, out brakes himself and slides wide in T1! Bill easily makes the pass. It looks like this is how they are going to finish, but on the last lap Bill gets too greedy with the power on No Name Straight and spins! He has light contact with the guardrail, but is able to continue, in the much-coveted DFL position.
Wet conditions again, but no rain as we took the green flag. The guys learned from the previous race and everybody makes it through Big Bend without damage. Jimmy also learned from John the importance of good track position and he breaks away from the field. Jimmy never looks back, leads every lap, takes the win and barely misses fastest race lap (two-tenths)! Way to go Jimmy Locke, Jimmy Locke! Behind Jimmy, Bill and Chris are duking it out for the bridesmaid position. Behind them Dick and Dom are battling for 5th.
Eight laps down and John has closed on Chris and Bill. Coming on to No Name Straight, Chris gets big wheel spin and John capitalizes on the way to the Uphill. Unfortunately this is short lived, when at the half-way point John goes four-off in the Lefthander. Luckily he misses Lake Lefthander (which is quickly becoming an ocean) and continues.
Eight laps to go and Chris finally puts the move on Bill for P2! In the back, John is trying hard to make up for his indiscretion and is trying to get by Dom for fourth. Their battling allows Dick and Peter to close in making it a four-car train.
This continues over the next several laps, until Dom gets in too hot going into the Uphill and spins! He tags the wall, but luckily everybody gets by. This also puts too much distance between everyone and that is how it finishes.
The moral of the story? They all lived happily ever after… or at least until their next race season.
Thanks to all the Masters that raced in the Masters National this season!
We are working on next year’s schedule and we’ll post it on the website as soon as possible.