VIR Combo Race Weekend
Friday, May 12, 2006 The Midwest and East ‘‘Region-aires’’ produced a stellar show at Virginia International Raceway Full Course in the season-opener for both the Midwest racers and the Eastern crьe. There were 12 new drivers, one of whom won a race (Stevan McAleer), joining two other first-time winners (Julia Landauer and Matthew Jordan). The crew was awesome, led by Joe Gulish and German Perez and of course new team leader Jimmy Reid, and Chief Observer Terry Earwood gave a shout-out to Partsmeister Mike Velucci, too.
With almost 80 drivers on hand for the weekend (Masters National was here too, for rounds five and six), we tried something different: the Championship Group drivers from both regions were put into one industrial-sized race group. This gave many regular drivers the chance to race against other regular drivers for the first time. The end result was some great racing on what is quickly becoming a Series-favorite track, VIR.
Oh, one more thing… it was great to see the ‘return’ of the brat pack, including Louis Dibrell, Bud Risser, Chris Oliver, Jim Craige and Randy Allison.
G1R1 (East & Midwest Championship Group)
With a field of 21 – eight fast, experienced guys from the Midwest, 13 of their brethren from the East – the two winners were Alex ‘‘East’’ Doman (first overall) and Revere ‘‘Midwest’’ Greist (third overall). Doman led green to checker, Craig ‘‘East’’ Duerson ran P2 the whole race, as did Greist in third. Fourth on the track was Peter ‘‘Midwest’’ Ludwig (second in class), while Hayden ‘‘East’’ Duerson and Matthew ‘‘East’’ Jordan battled for fifth on the track (but a podium in class), eventually won by Mini Duerson. John ‘‘Midwest’’ Greist snagged P3 in class, seventh overall.
G1R2 (East & Midwest Championship Group)
Craig Duerson and Alex Doman both missed the drivers’ meeting – that’s a no-no – and so would start at the back… The front row was Revere Greist and Ludwig, Hayden Duerson and Jordan on row two. The first lap was awesome, with drivers racing side-by-side all the way to Turn Nine. During that first lap, while Ludwig took the lead and Revere slotted into P2, Craig Duerson went from 21st to sixth, while Doman (carrying 50 lbs. of ballast, like he does in the National) went to 10th. Revere, Ludwig and Hayden were trading spots up front, but Revere fell out of the mix on lap four when he spun and four-offed in One, and Craig Duerson couldn’t avoid. Then Revere’s gearbox broke and that was that. So for the rest of the race it was a delicious battle between Ludwig, Hayden, Sy Aryeh (who hadn’t been in a car since July!), Matthew Jordan and Craig Duerson (who still had to stop for his contact). All the while, Darius Trinka was rifling up through the field, and Quentin Wahl had gotten into the top-five mix by mid-race. With two laps remaining in this 11-lapper, the order was Hayden, Ludwig, Aryeh, Wahl, Jordan, Trinka and Craig (who had made his stop). On the next to last lap, however, Hayden and Sy skated off into the grass in T17, so Ludwig took over and then stretched his lead out a bit over the last lap. So when everything shook out, on the track the finish was Ludwig, Jordan, Wahl, Trinka, Aryeh and Doman. And that meant the East winner was Jordan – his first! – followed by Trinka and Doman, while the Midwest podium was Ludwig, Wahl and Aryeh.
G3R1 (Sportsman Midwest)
There were 21 starters in this wild and wooly one, and 11 drivers spun and/or went four-off – and five of them neglected to hit the pits in rules-required penance! So even though new guy Stevan McAleer (who’s had some previous racing experience) crossed the line P1, his pit penalty for a tangle with Joe Moore (also a new driver) at the exit of Oak Tree went unserved; with the required 25 seconds added to McAleer’s total time, Mark Fee got the win, with Randy ‘‘I Shall Return’’ Allison just inches behind. Rick Balsley was a solid third. The drive of the race came from Sundaresh Kumar; he hauled his #68 from the 10th row and crossed sixth on the track and fourth on the result sheet. McAleer and Moore, the front row starters, drove very well and very quickly (they had the top-two fastest race laps), but their Oak Tree contretemps made for a less than best result (they were classified fifth and sixth, respectively). John Potter also did very well, coming from 17 th on the grid for seventh, while Kasey Kuhlman, Jarrett Grieve and Stirling Brinner rounded out the top 10.
G3R2 (Sportsman Midwest)
With the grid for the Midwest Sportsman up to 23, McAleer wasted no time making amends for Saturday. From fifth on the grid, he shot to the lead and never gave it up, walloping the field. Moore put up fastest race lap trying to chase him down, but even without the time penalty for Moore’s miscue in T15, McAleer still had him covered. Balsley again had a solid race, crossing P3 but earning P2. Moore still got third, while Allison and Kuhlman crossed the line fifth and sixth (fourth and fifth on the sheet), just a couple seconds apart. Fee had been holding station in fourth for good while but a slip and slide in One dropped him to sixth at the checker. James Booth and Chris Popp were mistake free and got seventh and eighth; Kumar crossed the line fourth but he too had to swallow a 25-second hit and was classified ninth, with Harsha Sen rounding out the top 10.
G5R1 (Sportsman East)
The Eastern Sportspersons were taken to the cleaners by Julia Landauer. From pole she gapped P2 instantly, dialing up a five-car-length lead before Turn Nine on the first lap. From there she cruised to the win – her first! Pat Daly came closest to matching Julia’s fastest-lap (they were the only two drivers in the high :12s) and second place was his reward, with Nicholas Spencer in an uncontested third. At the end, Skip Bennett was also pretty much alone to take a fine fourth, but in the last five laps George McArthur chased down both Chris Gaydos and Angelos Angelopoulos, got them, then held off the Angel at the line for fifth. Leland Englebardt crossed seventh but ‘‘a failure to report’’ moved him back to 10th. In the eighth and ninth spots were Charles McManus and Steve Mayer.
G5R2 (Sportsman East)
With the coming of springtime, love is in the air, and what could be more romantic then self-sacrifice? You know, helping your girl-friend out… This race started wet and ended even wetter, as Landauer took advantage of her pole and at the green put her R/T out front, Daly trailing in her wake. Daly was one of the quicker ones, actually. (His fastest lap was second only to Alex Doman, who was in this race group to get some practice in the wet. Doman had promised to not win…) Of the frontrunners, Steve Mayer had the most difficult pull; he started mid-pack and had to swim his way forward, taking third from Spencer early on, then getting shuffled back to fourth when Doman came up on he and Daly to take over P2. (A lap later, Doman snatched the lead, but, as ‘‘promised,’’ he put the car into the tires in T4 three laps from the end.) The last three laps, with the rain really coming down, Landauer easily kept Mayer at arm’s length, but Daly did get around Spencer to take the final podium. Gaydos headed a pack of three for fifth, sixth (mistake-free Michele Marden, now a magazine star) and seventh (Dale Hedderick). Englebardt, McManus and the Double Angel rounded out the top 10.
Ronnie ‘‘4-Speed’’ Sox Memorial
In case you didn’t know who Ronnie Sox was, be aware that not only were he and our own amazing Terry Earwood dragracing buds back in the day, but Sox was so adept at speed-shifting that someone had to invent a gearbox that even a stroker couldn’t muff the upshift on, just to keep up with Sox! So there’s the race name. The race itself? A dandy, one that Craig Duerson won, Gerardo was second and Sy third. You know what? Let Sy tell the tale…
‘In the Memorial on Saturday, I had an absolute blast. It was between Matt, Bobo, Craig, Revere and me. You could throw a towel over us for most of the race. Craig held a tiny lead from the middle of the race on, but the rest of us were dicing like madmen, passing each other (and lapped traffic) everywhere. Bobo and I in particular had a great race against each other, and we tried hard to catch Craig but our communication didn’t work that well: Bobo uses arm restraints, so when he tried to do the ‘get in line’ hand motion, his hand kept ‘arcing’ instead, which looked more like ‘’go around me!!’’ By the end we dropped Matt and Revere, and Craig, Bobo and I finished nose to tail for P1-2-3…’
Rounds five and six of the Skip Barber National Presented by RACER is at Lime Rock Park, May 18-20… Another big combined weekend, at Watkins Glen International: Midwest, East & Masters National… Remember, Las Vegas has ‘‘replaced’’ Laguna Seca for the months of May and June, as Laguna is undergoing some track refurbishment (and that’s where you guys may want to try out the new High Performance Driving School (Porsche 911, Boxster, BMW M3 and Viper, on the race track…)
Reich Racine & Rock Rizzo