Southern/Western/MAZDASPEED triple header at Mazda Raceway Laguna Seca

< Back 03/26/2010

Friday, March 26, 2010 With the Skip Barber National now underway and three Winter Race Series to cover, we’ve decided to hand off some of our race reports to our tamed racing driver customer…

Some say that he has an unhealthy obsession with Lotus Exiges and that he once played The Black Knight in an off-off-Broadway production of Spam-A-Lot. All we know is… he’s not The Stig, but he’s The Stig’s cousin from New York City!

Click here to see images from the weekend
Click here for complete results
Click here for points standings

The sun is beginning to set on the Western Regional Series for this year but no one held anything back as the Laguna track record was re-set three times by various demons of speed. Featherweight (by weight – not driving ability) Ashley Freiberg set the standard in Group 4 Race 1 with a 1:40.957 only to be topped by Kyle Kaiser in G2 R2. Kaiser later dropped his time by more than two tenths of a second to 1:40.733. Conrad Grunewald put down the penultimate lap of the weekend in the memorial at 1:40.374. Even better than fastest laps we had two first-time winners with Michael Cooper taking home a checkered flag in Group 2 Race 1 and Tristan Nunez receiving his first top-step podium finish in open wheel Group 3 Race 1.

Group 1, Race 1 – Western Race Series
In setting a new track record, Kyle Kaiser took a four car-length lead from lap 1 over Scott Anderson, the only driver able to give serious chase. Another battle also developed early in the session but between Stephen Hill and Greg Strelzoff. In fact the battle was so close in turn 2 it was thought there had been contact between the two drivers, but that turned out not to be the case and the battle continued unabated until lap 6 when Hill went four-off at turn 5 bequeathing P4 to Strelzoff. Hill’s required safety check dropped him back to P10. Lee Kaiser, who started 8th, and John Mitchel, who started 9th, took each other to race craft school while exchanging P7 multiple times with Lee ultimately taking P7 and Mitchel P8.

At the end of the round, Kyle Kaiser won the checkered flag, Scott Anderson took P2 and 18 seconds behind was Kyle Gimple, rounding out the top three. Greg Strelzoff finished with a solid fourth place finish, and Ross Jaffe rounded out the top five. By the end of the session, Stephen Hill had fought back to P6. Lee Kaiser and John Mitchel as already mentioned had a photo finish for P7 and P8 while David Stubbs, Luigi Biangardi and Andrea Zurek took the 9th, 10th and 11th positions.

Group 1, Race 2
Everyone had their Wheaties in anticipation of the start of R2 as they were three wide through turn 1 with billows of lockup smoke into the apex of turn 2 at the back of the pack. To everyone’s amazement when the smoke cleared, all the cars had fled the scene unscathed. Unfortunately later that lap, while trying to set his track record early, Kyle Kaiser took himself four-off at turn 10 and had to pit for a safety check restarting at the back of the pack. Lap 2 had our new leader Scott Anderson and P6 Lee Kaiser both take their cars off-roading and out of the race. By lap 3, the Strelzoff/Hill battle resumed big time for two laps with Stephen Hill finally pulling away from Greg and setting off to catch the leaders. With time quickly running out, a spirited Indy Lights battle broke out between John Mitchel, Kyle Kaiser, Ross Jaffe and Greg Strelzoff. At the checker Kyle Gimple took P1, Stephen Hill P2, and Luigi Biangardi P3 (Bravo to Luigi who started P10!). Kyle Kaiser set a new track record (1:40.733) chasing down the leaders after his lap one spin, while John Mitchell grabbed P5, David Stubbs took P6, Ross Jaffe got P7, and Greg Strelzoff P8.

Group 2, Race 1 – MAZDASPEED Challenge Winter Tour
Round 1 for Group 2 looked like a close start but looks proved to be deceiving. Michael Cooper led a gaggle through the early turns of lap 1 but by lap 2, Cooper had a seven-car length lead. By lap 3, James Lustman caught up to Cooper and overtook him for the lead. John Snyder who was then P3 had a four-off that dropped him well back in the pack after his safety check. A ferocious battle ensued between Cooper and Lustman as they traded the point four times in two laps with Lustman finally pulling out a three car-length gap. Meanwhile Tyler Wolfson, who started in P6 was quietly making his way up the field catching Brian Freiberg in P3. There were tears on lap 14 when leader Lustman caught too much of the inside curb in turn 6, removing his left front wheel and causing a race-ending meeting with the turn 6 wall. This left Michael Cooper with a substantial lead over Brian Freiberg, and a cruise to his first victory!

Group 2, Race 2
We all need redemption occasionally and James Lustman didn’t wait long for his. After starting in last place from his Round 1 misfortune, he proceeded to charge up through the field to P3 by lap 5. Michael Cooper was defending the point from Brian Freiberg when Lustman arrived; overtaking Freiberg on lap 7 for P2 and then making a clean pass for the lead on lap 10, putting Cooper and Freiberg P2 and P3. Tyler Wolfson and David Levine battled for P4 before Wolfson spun in turn 2 but later recovered to finish P6.

The podium positions remained stable until lap 15 when Cooper was called for blocking an attempted pass by Freiberg but before the penalty could be assessed, Cooper penalized himself by beaching at turn 11. At the checker, James Lustman earned redemption and hard charger points for going from dead last to the top of the podium, joined by Brian Freiberg and David Levine on the podium. John Snyder came home forth, and was followed by Ward Hert Jr., and David Steinschraber. Steven Nakamura came home with an eighth place finish and Michael Cooper ninth.

Group 3, Race 1 – Southern Race Series

South and East Coast interlopers showed up for this scrum as Tristan Nunez put his head down at the start and didn’t look back until a full course yellow tightened things up on lap three to retrieve John Mitchel1 from the beach in turn 2. At the lap 5 restart, relative new master Peter “Lugnuts” Ludwig slipped though on the inside of turn 2, by veteran grand master Quentin “The Wall” Wahl, only as Nunez gapped both of the drivers. Hard charging, Harsha Sen was P4 with Thomas McGreggor P5, and Ross Jaffe behind in P6. Lap 7 saw treachery as Wahl took back P2 going into the corkscrew. Lap 8 had Ludwig take Wahl again for P2 in turn 2. Brian Whitmire’s race ended early with a mechanical failure on lap 10. On the final lap, Ludwig slipped by Wahl for P2 (don’t ask me where) but Wahl tapped the back of Ludwig and the resulting time penalty for contact dropped Wahl to P7 and Ludwig, who finished in the pits, managed to save a third place position. Harsha Sen was the big beneficiary inheriting P2, while Thomas McGregor, Ross Jaffe and Brian Cook had a very close battle for P4, 5 and 6. After Wahl’s P7 came Ward Herst, Nick Victor Smith and John Mitchell in P8, 9 and 10. Special congrats to first time winner Tistan Nunez!

Group 3, Race 2
Group three had an exciting Round 2 start as Nunez took the point and Ludwig and Sen battled for P2. A four-wide snarling mess somehow negotiated through turn 5 with no contact before the drivers spread out into single file. On lap 2 Peter Ludwig passed Nunez for P1. In lap 3 treachery returned as Quentin Wahl came up from P7 to battle Nunez for second position as Nunez was also seeking to take P1 from Peter Ludwig. In lap 4, Nunez made a “masterly executed pass” over Ludwig for P1, and the battle for P2 continued, but this time between Quentin and Ludwig. By lap 6, John Mitchel had caught up with Thomas McGregor while Ward Herst and Brian Cook constantly battled for position. Placement stayed consistent for lap 7 with Jaffe still holding Harsha at bay and Thomas McGregor seeing a lot of John Mitchell in his mirrors.

By lap 10 the situation had stabilized except for the last lap when Ludwig got a run inside Quentin at turn 6 and made it stick taking P2 to the finish line. Tristan had an eight-second walk away win, while Peter Ludwig and Quentin Wahl rounding out the podium. Hotly contested P4 was taken by Harsha Sen with Thomas McGregor P5, Ross Jaffe P6, John Mitchell P7 all within a couple of seconds of each other. Ten seconds later Brian Cook crossed the finish line at P8, with Ward Herst P9 and Mick Victo Smith rounded out the top 10.

Group 4, Race 1 – Western Race Series
This field of drivers got everyone’s attention as the middle of the pack went 3 wide into turn two’s second apex. Ashley Freiberg quickly took a 2-car length lead over Kyle Kaiser and they both immediately pulled away from the field. Brian Whitmire had a four off at turn 10/11 and had to retire with suspension damage while Randy Sturgeon went four off to avoid Whitmire and continued. On lap 6 Kaiser was all over the back of race leader Ashley Freiberg who then spun between turn 4/5 and went 4-off. On lap 7 after a safety check Freiberg rejoined in P3 and set off to catch Peter Ludwig and Kyle Kaiser. Kaiser won with an 8 second lead as Freiberg caught and passed Peter Ludwig in traffic on the last lap for P2 setting a new track record in the process.

Brian Cook and Mathew Thill had a good battle over fourth position, with Cook coming out on top. Nick Smith took P6 with Ted Jewell not far behind in P7. With Randy Sturgeon in P8, Max Maxedon caught and passed Jack Mitchel into turn 5 on Lap 11 and held that to the end. Bill Oliver, Franz Fleischili, Wade Leathers and Bob Gogerty rounded out the field.

Group 4, Race 2
This was the biggest field of the weekend with all the fast kids and veterans duking it out for points and bragging rights. In the early going Kyle Kaiser led laps one and two before Ashley Freiberg asserted her leadership qualities for the next eight laps. Kaiser wouldn’t go down without a fight and on lap 10 he took back the lead for three laps. On lap 14 Freiberg took advantage of back marker traffic passing Kaiser and taking the lead for good. Peter Ludwig pulled an enormous gap from the rest of the field to join Freiberg and Kaiser but didn’t get close enough to do battle with them. Quentin Wahl who started dead last worked himself up to P5 by lap 5 and finished in P4. Bravo Quentin. Mathew Thill took P5 and Brian Sturgeon P6 in a close finish with Brian Cook a few seconds behind in P7. Andrea Zurek in P8 led Ted Jewell P9 to the checker with Nick Smith, Jack Mitchell, Max Maxedon, Wade Leathers, Bill Oliver, Franz Fleischili and Bob Gogerty finishing out the field.

The San Quiarte Memorial
Forget what I said about big fields as this was the biggest field of the weekend and if you’ve ever been to a Skip Barber race weekend you know the routine. The fast guys start at the back. The slow guys start at the front and mayhem ensues. In this one, an attempt was made to stagger the start times so everyone would wind up at the finish line together… What could possibly go wrong?! This worked beautifully until lap 2 when the first car beached itself and a full course yellow came out bunching everyone up. Conrad Grunewald was the man with a plan as he took both a commanding lead and set a new course record before going four-off at the outside of turn 6. It should be noted that it was impressive that he could go four-off in turn 6 without a loss of control! His safety check dropped him back to fourth at the finish less than six seconds back from winner Kyle Kaiser. Jeff Kaiser and Scott Anderson who were each less than two seconds behind, taking the other two podium spots. Ross Jaffe, Harsha Sen and Greg Strelzoff had a great battle and close finish as did Andrea Zurek and Ted Jewell. All the boys and girls played nice and a good time was had by all. Bravo and Brava!

The Stig’s New York cousin

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