Mid-Ohio: 80+ Drivers Converge for Midwest, East & Masters National

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Friday, September 09, 2005

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Photo of the Year! Ace lensman and driver Adrian Dixon got this tremendous shot: Look how the right-rear of this driver’s car is being rubbed by the left-front of the car behind. Amazing…

Mid-Ohio Sports Car Course is yet another of the large number of race tracks we run at that are easily one of the top 1- circuits in North America. We were here for another big weekend of racing: Eastern, Midwestern and Masters National ( and the National Championship finale on Monday/Tuesday/Wednesday). The weather was awesome and the track, as usual, was in great condition. Here are some very brief descriptions of each race group…

G1R1 (Eastern Championship)
Polesitter Charles Anti took the lead, lost it to Duncan Ende just after a re-start following three laps of FCY, then snatched it back six to go. A.J. Riley took third place away from Jeff Relic with four laps to go, with Mike Distaulo rounding out the top five.

G1R2 (Eastern Championship)
Anti went almost flag-to-flag in this one. Ende was in P2 up until lap 12, when he took the lead, but the next lap he spun it. Riley inherited second and Relic third. Distaulo and Jisu Kim were fourth and fifth.

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The G1R1 (Eastern Championship) podium: Charles Anti (c.) and Duncan Ende (l.) went back and forth, Anti the eventual winner (and he also won G4R1 (Midwest Championship). On the right are A.J. Riley (P3, G1R1) and the first Master, Mike “Guns” Distaulo.

G3R1 (Eastern Sportsman)
Giant 24-car field! Robert Caldwell and Ari Gatoff went back and forth up front early on. But soon there were some four-offs and contact, some drivers reporting to pitlane and some not, so when all was said and done (including Marc Charbonneau doing a “Roso” in the Caroussel) and penalties assessed, Adrian Dixon was your winner, with Jared Fisher second and Gabriel Negrea third. Hans Stubbe and Justin “Jack” Rausch rounded out the top five.

G3R2 (Eastern Sportsman)
With 22 drivers catching the green flag, Gatoff was impressive as he sliced up from eighth on the grid to fourth in just a handful of laps. He put Negrea behind to take second on lap eight, and just a lap later hunted down and passed leader Dixon. We were denied any last-lap heroics as it finished under yellow to get a car out of the beach., so it was Gatoff, Dixon, Negrea, Caldwell and Chris Brassard your top five finishers.

G4R1 (Midwest Championship)
Charles Anti is running both East and Midwest, and from pole he led the first 12 laps, in front of first Duncan Ende, then Jonathan Frost, then Gerardo Bonilla. Bonilla took the lead from Anti on lap 13 but in post-race, both he and Frost were penalized for failing to report for a safety check. That put George Scheiderer second and A.J. Riley third. Bonilla was classified fourth and Jonathan Gore took fifth.

G4R2 (Midwest Championship)
Anti was again on pole and led Bonilla for the first two laps, then hounded the soon-to-be SBNC champion for 10 laps. Anti made the pass for the lead on lap 13, but Bonilla grabbed it back a lap later and led the rest of the way. Todor Mitev consolidated third place right at the beginning and stayed there. Gore and Jisu Kim were fourth and fifth.

G5R1 (Midwest Sportsman)
Wow, this one was pretty darn good! There were five lead changes among four different leaders, and when it was done, 45-year-old David Merola, in his first ever SBRS race, took home the gold. Mike Kolacki was a solid second and Hans Stubbe third. Dirk Daems got fourth, while Michele Marden scored one of her best finishes ever, taking fifth.

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Michele Marden gets faster every weekend. In the G5R1 (Midwest Sportsman) race on Saturday, Marden pulled down a solid fifth place and the 10th-fastest race lap.

G5R2 (Eastern Championship)
Another race with bunches of lead changes as Kolacki led, then Steve Ablondi, then Michael Gomez for a bunch of laps, then Ablondi again… and finally Gomez, for the last four laps and the win. Ablondi got P2, Rick Balsley third, followed by Chris Gaydos and Doug Rauh.

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Child psychologist Mike Gomez (how come we don’t use him in the Drivers Meetings?) diced with Mike Kolacki and Steve Ablondi before coming through with a P1 in the Midwest Sportsman race on Sunday.

Judge Rehnquist Memorial
The Memorial Race at Mid-O was dedicated to the late Supreme Court judge, but even more important, ALL the proceeds are going to help the Hurricane Katrina victims…

Twenty-two drivers took the green flag. The twist for the Rehnquist was the length: All the drivers were required to do the two-and-seven-eighths warm-up, and then attempt a 19-lap race. Pre-race calculations led most drivers to the conclusion that it would be close on fuel… which is exactly what we were looking for.

You should have seen the warm-up laps. It looked like a race in slow motion! A train of eight or so cars driving around at half-speed to save fuel!

Gomez decided he was good on fuel and from the green was hard on it. Gerardo “Bobo” Bonilla also thought he saved enough fuel in the warm-up to run 10/10ths from the start. Several others — Jordy Vorrath, Andy Rossetto and Charles Anti — also were running hard from the start, but the rest were in fuel conservation mode.

First lap had some contact between Richard Heistand and Jason Weiner. Neither one was able to continue. Matt “Haz Matt” Franc also had trouble on the first lap and pitted with minor damage. Franc, found “guilty” in pit lane, proceeded to quickly repair his car. He rejoined many laps down, but came out right with the leaders. Coincidence? He didn’t stay there long as Bobo pulled away and he was left to battle with Gomez.

As the laps “pounded” away, some driver’s strategies changed and they started burning more fuel. There were two groups of several drivers apiece that were “battling” it out at three-quarter speed. It was great!

As we got within five laps to go, Vorrath was steadily closing in on Gomez and Bobo. The other fast guys, Anti and Rossetto, had gone four-off earlier in the race and were now hooked in to the “chain gang.”

With two to go, the Chief Steward “laid down the law” that this race wouldn’t end until someone ran out of gas and put the cuffs on the countdown board. Bobo couldn’t believe it as for three laps he saw the number “2” on the term length of the race. As if this wasn’t enough of an “injustice,” the Chief Steward then had the “sentence” go back up to three laps!

All the while Vorrath was getting closer. He had gotten by Gomez and was closing in on Bobo. The lap count dropped to “2” to go, just as Bobo’s car started to sputter through Turn One. Vorrath got the run and passed going into the Lock-and Keyhole. As they came around to supposedly see the white flag, the checker came out instead! After the race Bobo clearly said that this was a case of “blind justice.”

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The Bear was everywhere, with Chris Weldon picking up 2/10ths per lap following Mike Gascoyne’s advice concerning ursine aero…

So there’s now one race weekend to go in each of the regions: Midwest is October 1-2 at Road America, and the East is Lime Rock Park October 14-15. Season finales are always huge fun and have great racing, so if you haven’t made plans yet, try to get to one or both of them!

Rick Roso & Todd Snyder

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