Scalmanini, Albert Head First-Time Winners at Laguna

< Back 12/14/2004

Tuesday, December 14, 2004 At Mazda Raceway Laguna Seca for rounds five and six of the Western Series, where the R/T 2000s work really well so we almost always end up with really good racing, we had 30+ drivers that comprised three groups: two Championship and one Sportsman. One of the Championship groups was mostly ”karting kids,” prepping for the eighth annual Skip Barber Karting Scholarship Shoot-out January 7-8-9 here at Laguna…

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Alan Baia did awesome in his first Race Weekend, snagging a fourth on Saturday and a third on Sunday.

G1R1 (Championship A)
This was the ”regular” Championship group, with experienced speedsters such as Tim Traver, Tom Roberts, Dom Bastien et al. But it also had two star karters (Justin Moon, younger bro’ of Benny Moon, a Karting Scholarship winner last year, and Ryan Phinny). Traver was on pole and led every lap, but it became an extremely tight fight following a re-start two-thirds of the way in. Moon had shot up from a fifth row starting spot and was third when we went green again. He immediately got underneath Roberts for P2 and went after Traver. On the last lap we saw the best of what makes our racing so exciting: Moon and Traver do the pass/re-pass thing in the Corkscrew and Turn Nine complex, then an absolute drag race out of 11 up to the finish line. Moon came this close to getting Traver… just 0.067 of a second behind. Good stuff! Brian ”I’m Not the AC/DC Singer” Johnson was fourth and the returning John Scalmanini a fine fifth. Bastien followed in sixth, with Curt Berg (who had been in the hunt until he went off in the intimidating Turn Six) seventh. Jeff Kaiser and Jonathan Feiber were the last of the runners; Phinny, unfortunately, had to park it when his car ran out of fuel.

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Marco ”Electric” Estrada was a super-deserving Mechanic of the Weekend. Forget the trophy — get that man his own ohm meter!

G1R2 (Championship A)
Sunday was another heavy duty Traver-Moon dice, but this time it was Moon out front. Traver was giving him all that he could handle! It was great fun to watch. On the last lap, with Moon slightly heldp up by traffic, Traver was setting up Moon for the pass under braking going into 11, the last corner. The way you do that is to get a really good shot out of T10. That’s what Traver was trying… but he asked the car to do just a bit too much! He went off, and the win was Moon’s. Emil Sildos got third, Berg fourth and Johnson fifth. Kaiser, Bastien, Roberts and Ze’ev Drori rounded out the field.

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Now that’s Italian! Momma Scalmanini, her son and double race-winner John (c.), and Stars of Karting supernova Alan Sciuto (r.) discuss which French restaurant they should go to…

G2R1 (Sportsman)
Wayne ”The Weapon” Williams was the poleman and early leader until he unfortunately but spectacularly blew an engine in T5. That put Scalmanini into the lead, but we had to go FCY. On the re-start, John did fantastic keeping the lead — this was his first Race Series victory! — but was hounded relentlessly right to the end by Duncan Ende. Meanwhile, Sprague Theobald was rocketing through the field from his 12th place grid position, eventually catching the frontrunners but he ran out of time, finishing third, as the race finished under yellow. Brand new guy Alan Baia was very impressive on his run to fourth, followed by Pieter Dams, Scott Sundem and Steven Miller The Russian Mafia, Vladimir Charchlyan, and Adnen Mehmood (damn, we get some great names in the Race Series!) rounded out the top 10.

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Oh, man, this photo is waaaaaay too cute! Who shot this? Todd? You’re a sentimental softie! …and that’s why we love this pic of Tim and Sarena Traver. They both scored a lot of points on the track. And big points in our hearts… Okay, now we’re getting too mushy…

G2R2 (Sportsman)
Polesitter Ende and Scalmanini the Helmet dished out the fireworks early on in this one, until lap nine, when leader Ende went agricultural in Turn 10 (he never came in for his mandatory, and was classified ninth at the end). Scalmanini’s Helmet eventually went on to a near 30-second victory. Behind him it was an entertaining clusterfest: Theobald yet again was putting on a massive charge — he was 15th on the grid and all the way up to sixth with five laps to go — when a whole bunch of stuff came down. First, Dams went on an OCE exiting Turn Nine, then the Russian Mafia OCE’d a lap later, then on the same lap (11) The Weapon spun in the Corkscrew! With all that happening, Theobald worked his way into P2 on lap 12, with Baia grabbing the last podium spot. Paul Schnobrich snagged a fine fourth, and Tim Traver’s wife Sarena was finally rewarded with her fine driving over the weekend with a fifth. Rounding out the top 10 were Sundem, Miller, Charchlyan and Michael Lee.

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Two winners hangin’ Joel Miller (l.) won one of the Championship B races, Paul Albert (r.) the other.

G3R1 (Championship B)
This was the group with the star ”karting kids.” But check it out! Paul Albert, 33, took his first Skippy win by beating the teenage wunderkinds! This whole field was bunched together — the ”slowest” fastest-lap was only 1.5 seconds behind the quickest, Alan Sciuto’s 1:42.792 — and it was great wheel to wheel action. Sciuto and Joel Miller were furiously duking it out, a snarling pack right on their gearboxes, headed by Albert, but eventually the two frontrunners put a bit of a gap on the rest. With just a couple laps to go, Miller was relentlessly hounding Scuito… into the Andretti Hairpin they went… and they touched. Not enough to hurt either car, but contact is contact, and when they didn’t come in for their ”mandatory,” they were served their 20-second penalty … and that meant victory for Albert, second for Garrett Zine and third for Casey Neal. Albert, it must be said, did put up the second-fastest race lap, just 1/10th of a second behind Sciuto’s, so this was a well-earned win. And he backed up the effort with another podium on Sunday…

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…while visons of race cars danced in their heads…

G3R2 (Championship B)
Another tightly packed, snarling bunch defined this race, with a barn-burner finish. Through the first three laps, led by Miller, the gap from P1 to P 11 was only five seconds. A third of the way in, the top four — Miller, Sciuto, Zine and Albert — began to put a gap on the rest. On lap six, Sciuto made himself an opening going into Andretti to take the lead, but on the very next lap, Miller returned the favor in fine fashion, doing it in the Corkscrew. By halfway, the field had ”paired” — Miller and Sciuto, Zine and Albert, Neal and Alexander Rossi — but on lap 10, we saw the start of some exciting shuffling: Neal flew off the road in T10, handing fifth place to Rossi. By lap 12, Nolan Waak was stuck to the gearbox of Rossi, and a lap later Albert put the move on Zine for P3. Waak and Rossi flipped the fifth and sixth positions the last five laps (Rossi wound up winning the battle), with Kaiser licking his chops hoping for an opening. Last lap, last corner, Miller and Sciuto were as close as could be. In they went together, out the same way. We had another drag race up to the finish line! But Sciuto just missed, the tiniest fraction of a second behind. Great show, guys, thanks for playing!

Photos by Todd & Linda Snyder

It was a good, closely fought weekend, and we saw the joy of four first-time winners: John Scalmanini, Paul Albert, Joel Miller and Justin Moon. We hired a new caterer and the food was great. Everyone seemed to love the new ”fighter pilot” helmet stickers, for the podium finishers (”Thanks Aaron — and possibly you, Traver! — for the idea). And BFGoodrich, being the tremendous sponsor they are, have come up with a new tire for the R/T 2000s that we’re testing. It has the balance and feel that seems the near-equal of the racing slick, but with a wonderfully manageable progression of the slip angle. It’s called the g-Force Sport, and if our testing continues on the same path, and if BFG is able to supply them, we might have them for the Road Atlanta Race Weekend January 14-16.

See you there!

At Skip Barber, we’ve got lots of racing over the winter; here are the remaining schedules for both the South and the West…

Southern Series
January 14-16, Road Atlanta, Braselton, Ga.
February 18-20, Sebring Full Course, Sebring, Fla.
March 4-6, Roebling Road, Savannah, Ga.
April 1-3, Daytona 24-Hour Course, Daytona, Fla.

Western Series
January 14-16, Road Atlanta, Braselton, Ga.
March 11-13. Laguna Seca, Monterey, Calif.
April 8-10, Laguna Seca, Monterey, Calif.

Rick Roso

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