Rounds 3 & 4 of the Western Series 2008-2009
Tuesday, December 16, 2008 Mother Nature didn’t necessarily cooperate for this weekends SBRS Western F2000 and MazdaSpeed Challenge Series, but considering the forecast from several days ago we were lucky……and we had fun.
This is a strange time for racing. It is the middle of the off-season and there is not much on TV for those of us die hard’s that can’t get enough. We are also smack in the middle of the holiday season, which brings reflection on days gone by and the days of the future. In fact as I start this article I’m watching a NASCAR recap on CMT. For those of you like me this is the Country Music Television station. This show is actually done well and is quite sad. I admit that I am not a big NASCAR fan, but I have watched most of the big ones over the years, Daytona, Talladega, Pocono, etc. This show has covered all of the great drivers over the course of 30 years. Some that are no longer with us. Tim Richmond, Davey Allison and Dale Earnhardt Sr. to name a few.
This makes me reflect back on the people that have come and gone through the Western Series with Skip Barber (although all still alive as far as I know) and how much I miss them. The Travers (Tim and Sarena) Tom Roberts, Jeff Kaiser, Grey Gregory, John Scalmanini, Curt Berg, Gary Williams and John Potter just to name a few. But then I think of all the great people that are currently racing with us and the time that they have put in to learn to drive and race and how proud I am to know them; Ethan Stone, Gary Manheimer, Frank Cusack, Ross Jaffe, Emil Sildos, Michael Raimes, David Stubbs, Dan Cheadle, Max Riddle, David Cheng, Charles Ng, Kevin Marshall, Doug Schirripa, Ashley Freiberg, Ken Greenberg and all the those that I don’t have room to add. Everyone here has a great story and add a tremendous amount to the fun we call racing. In full non-PC fashion: Merry Christmas to all.
Group 1 – Qualifying
Emil Sildos continued his winning theme and domination by qualifying on the pole. Emil won both his races during the first race weekend and is currently tied in points with Francisco Weller. That will change this weekend as Francisco is not present. Max Riddle and Kevin Tittle (Laguna Seca regulars) qualified well, but were challenged by a few newbie’s and non-regulars. Ashley Freiberg, a mid-west regular, came here to learn this historic track and learn she did, qualifying P2. Newbie Carlos Linares and returnee Ian Costa also put in good laps with Linares just outside of a top five qualifying position. Starting behind Ashley will be Max Riddle, Ian Costa and Kevin Tittle rounding out the top five.
Group 1 – R1
Slight rain early in the morning made for damp conditions for the start of race 1. This weekend was the first time SBRS had tried a new “condensed” format. With this new format, on Saturday we ran the practice sessions and the qualifying sessions (9 sessions and we were done by 4pm. Way to go P.O.D.!!) and both races for each group on Sunday. The “new” Race Control person (RB Stiewing) elected to add a lap to the warm-up making it a 3 lap warm up and a 15-lap race. Everyone played it “cautiously aggressive” on the start and made it through turn two without any drama. From there it was all drama, all the time. Before making it back to the stripe Max Riddle went 4-off in T6 and had to pit. Unfortunately on his way back through the field he had another 4-off in T8. At the end of lap one it was a 3-car battle for the lead. Emil closely followed by Ashley and Ian. Tittle was a little too conservative in the damp condition and fell back to a distant P4, which is where he finished. Mid-pack was a 6-car battle for P5 between Carlos Linares, Harry Cheung, Gavin Sun, David Cheung, Greg Strelzoff and Jamie Wilson. This battle ensued for most of the race but after encountering lap traffic it got whittled down to Gavin, Carlos and Harry locked in mortal combat and that is how they finished with Gavin in P5. At the front of the field the battle between Emil, Ian and Ashley continued. Ian was able to get by Ashley on lap 3 and closed in tight on Emil. Ashley hangs in the catbird’s seat for most of the race and on lap 7 Ian was able to get by Emil for the lead. Emil stays calm and cool and puts the pressure back on Ian. Next lap Ian bobbles in Turn 10 and gets wide of the apex. Emil capitalizes and passes in to T11 and takes the lead back. Ian tries the re-pass but can’t make it stick in to T2. With a few laps to go Emil pulled a little bit of a lead and Ashley is putting the pressure on Ian. On the last lap Ian goes 4-off in the corkscrew and Ashley clinches P2! Ian elects to stay on track and even with the post penalty retains P3.
Group 1 – R2
Another good start and it looks like dйjа vu. Emil out front over Ian over Ashley. Behind them Max is making big moves and makes it 4 wide in to T5 getting by two cars at once! Carlos gets by Kevin Tittle and there is a good battle mid-pack. 4 laps in and Emil starts pulling away, leaving Ian and Ashley to duke it out for P2 and Gavin and Max are battling for P4. Lap 5, Tittle and Linares are joined by Harry Chueng making it a 3-way battle. Next lap Gavin makes the move on Riddle, but Max gets the re-pass on the front straight and before you knew it the battle was over when Gavin spins in the Corkscrew. At the halfway point Gus Doppes gets stuck in T5 and we have to go FCY for one lap. Coming to the restart Emil hangs back to let the pace car pull off and gets it up to speed going in to T11. In the attempt to stay with Emil and Ian, Ashley overcooks it going in and spins before the green! This drops her back to P9. Sadly Harry gets in to the back of Carlos going in to the Corkscrew causing them to drop on the results sheet. Not to be outdone, Ian gets in to Emil going in to T11 with just two laps to go! They both pit and rejoin and end up finishing P4 for Emil and P7 for Ian. This puts Riddle, who was in the catbird seat up to P1 and he takes the win! Ashley had gotten back up to P3 and on the last lap gets by Tittle for P2.
Group 2 – Qualifying
Charles Ng has learned Emil’s winning ways but in the MazdaSpeed Challenge behind the wheel of a MX5. Charles won both races in the first two rounds of the Western MazdaSpeed Challenge and is our current points leader. Charles took the pole over Peter Mokran, but only by two tenths! In fact just one second covered the top five qualifiers; Ng, Mokran, James Lustman, Max Riddle and Kevin Marshall.
Group 2 – R1
This weekend we had one of the biggest MazdaSpeed Challenge fields in the history of SBRS. 14 cars took the green flag and barreled in to T2. Everyone makes it cleanly through and a 14-car train ensues. James Lustman was able to get by Peter Mokran on the run in to T2 for P2 and settles in right behind Charles Ng. James is aggressive on the opening lap and looks for the lead in to T5 and in to the corkscrew but can’t get it done. At the end of lap one it is a 6-car battle for the lead and 3 wide for P4! This allows Charles and James to get a gap and some breathing room from the rest of the field. The 4-car battle for P3, consisting of Kevin Marshall, Brian Freiberg, Max Riddle and Peter Mokran, stack each other up in the corkscrew and end up side by side in 2 rows through T9! Wow. On the next lap JT Holmes goes off in T2 and gets stuck in the gravel, which brings out a FCY. The restart is a beautiful line of MX5’s and in to T2 Ken Greenberg passes Doug Schirripa for P8. Charles and James again breakaway from the field for the battle for the lead and Kevin and Max become a 2-car battle for P3. In fact at this point everyone is in close contact with at least one other car and battling hard. Mokran, Frieberg, Doros Loucaides, Greenberg and Schirripa are in a 5-car battle for P5. On lap 8 Frieberg goes 4 off in T5 and takes himself out of contention and by lap 10 Riddle has pulled ahead of Marshall and is in a lonely P3. Back up front it was tight between Charles and James. 4 laps to go and Charles bobbles in T11 and James makes the pop in to T2. They run side by side through T2 and all the way through T3. Lustman falls back through 4 and tries again in to T5. Side by side again through the corner! 2 laps to go and there is a possible contact call on the leaders, James in to the back of Charles. The instructor can’t confirm so it is decided to wait until the end to check. Unfortunately we didn’t have to wait until the end to find out as Charles and James came across the stripe to start the last lap and had side-to-side contact. Neither one pits and after the post penalty they drop back to P4 for Lustman and P6 for Ng. Max Riddle ends up getting the win followed by Kevin Marshall and Peter Mokran.
Group 2 – R2
The clouds rolled back in and it was starting to drizzle during the warm up laps. Another good start and multiple side by sides going in to T2. Riddle keeps the point and Marshall slots in to P2. Everybody gets it sorted out going in to T3. 5 cars nose to tail for P2. Lap 2 and Lustman spins in T6. At the same time Charles Ng goes 4-off on the outside of T6 and as he comes back on track has contact with Doros Loucaides. Both pit, but neither one is able to continue. On the same lap, coming in to T11, Brian Frieberg gets in to the back of Peter Mokran. By lap 3 the top 2 were spread out, but Ward Herst, John Snyder and JT Holmes were locked in battle for P6. Lap 5 and everybody is equally spaced and Lustman is gradually working his way back through the field from the earlier spin. Lap 8, Brian and James are working there way by John Snyder, Ken Greenberg and Peter Mokran making it a momentarily 5-car battle for P5. Lap 9 and the rain is getting worse. Everyone is doing their best Paul McCartney impersonation (“Slip slide-in away”). Riddle is way out in front and it seems that Marshall is in a comfortable P2. Kenon Chen (1st race weekend) has done a great job staying on the road and is battling with Frieberg for P3 with 4 laps to go. 2 to go and Frieberg gets clear of Kenon and closes in on Marshall making an impressive run, and battle, for P2. Lustman also has a great run back through the field and on the last lap gets by Kenon for P4. Great racing by all!
Group 3 – Qualifying
This was the tightest qualifying of the day. Gary “I refuse to race in Sportsman to win a trophy” Manheimer took the pole position over Luca Orlandi by only one hundredth of a second! Ethan Stone appeared to be the fastest car on track, but due to traffic was never able to get a clean lap. Ethan was still able to qualify in the P3 spot and only a half a second off of Gary. Michael Raimes and Mason Marotta (1st race weekend) rounded out the top five.
Group 3 – R1
Great start by all, but Luca is able to get by Gary in to T2 to take the point, but Gary says “no sir!” and takes the lead back in to T5. Behind them Kyle Gimple (1st race weekend) takes a look on David Stubbs in to T8, but David says “no sir!” and Ross Jaffe makes the pass stick on Frank Cusack going in to the Corkscrew. Lap two is a bad lap for Team Cusack as Frank spins in the Corkscrew (no 4-off) and his brother; James Cusack (1st race weekend) takes himself out of contention by spinning in T2 and going 4-off. Meanwhile back up front Mason Marotta takes P2 from Luca and there is a 5-car battle between Luca, Ethan Stone, Michael Raimes, Michael Voight and Kyle Gimple for P3. This group closes back in on Marotta making it a 6 car battle for P2! 2 laps later Luca goes 4-off in the Corkscrew, which separates the group. After his pit stop Luca is able to claw back to a P5 finish. Halfway through the race and Gary has checked out. Team Cusack’s troubles continue as Frank hits Lee Kaiser in T11 and Voight ends his multi-car battle by going 4-off in T2. 2 laps later James Cusack spins in T2, as does Kevin Adds (1st race weekend) in the Corkscrew. With 5 to go Gary is almost in “Stanley territory” but Raimes has made it pass everyone to P2 and is pulling away from Marotta, Stone and Gimple who are locked in mortal combat. With the help of lap traffic Raimes closes in over the laps and at the checker flag is less than one second behind Gary who takes his first pole and win, all on his Birthday! What a great day and what a pleasure to watch Gary’s improvement over the last two years. Way to go Gary!! Behind these two, Ethan goes off in T11 and gets stuck in the gravel and Stephen Hill (1st race weekend) gets in to David Stubbs.
Group 3 – R2
Steady rain was coming down for this start. I’m surprised it wasn’t snowing with how cold it was! We were kind to Gary and did not give him his deserving first time winner’s dunk after R1 as he had to race again today. Little does he know that it will be coming after this one, no matter what or how cold it is. The first attempt at a start was waved off due to an irregular shaped field. Second attempt we got a green. Big spray over the hill and in to T2. Raimes takes the lead in T2 as he has the preferred rain line from his P2 starting position. Lee Kaiser spins at the exit of two on the slick pavement but continues. Gary gets back in front of Michael somewhere in, or after, T6. Luca closes in on Raimes for P2. Luca makes the pass in to T11 but bobbles on the exit and Michael hits him. By lap 4 Gary is checked out. Lap 5 and Ethan Stone goes 4-off in T2. Lap 6 and Luca and Mason are battling for P2, Raimes and Gimple are duking it out for P4 and Alex Jasserme and David Stubbs are going at it for P7. Lap 9 and Frank Cusack has a spin in T6 and are leader, Gary, goes off in T2 and gets stuck! We go FCY on lap 10 to get Gary out and on lap 11 go green. Way to go crew! New guy Mason assumes the lead on the restart but he to goes 4-off in T2 and ends up in almost the same spot as Gary! Lap 12 we are FCY again. Green next time around and 3 to go. Melee once again ensues. Coming in to T11, for the restart Ethan Stone spins and gets tagged by Voight. After the green in T2, Luca spins and gets tagged by Stephen Hill. Gary finds the thrill of victory and the agony of defeat as he spins in T8 and then 4-off again in T2 on the next lap. James Cusack has a spin and a 4-off in T10. With all of that, at one point the poor 4-off crew has 5 cars in pit lane! When it is all said and done and the checker comes out it is Kyle Gimple who takes the win in his first race weekend with us! Way to go Kyle! Frank redeems Team Cusack by charging back to a P2 podium finish followed by Raimes in P3; David Stubbs in P4 and Jasserme rounds out the top five.
Congratulations to all the competitors for putting on some great racing!
Thanks to everyone, competitors, crew, staff and instructors for keeping smiles on their face even in some pretty bad weather conditions.
Also a heartfelt get well soon to Nick Nick who had a detached retina and could not make it this weekend to be are Control. He was sorely missed. We hope he will be here next month for rounds 4 & 5 in early January.