Western Series Finale at Laguna

< Back 04/04/2007

Wednesday, April 04, 2007 Before we get into the re-cap of the Western Series finale at Mazda Raceway Laguna Seca, a quick reminder: Watkins Glen International invited SBRS again to race at the big Rolex Grand-Am weekend! The date is June 7-10, and our races are open to ANY series driver over the age of 18.

NOTE: These races are also part of the 2007 Masters National Championship.

At this point we’re looking at having pre-event (Thursday) Lapping, plus separate qualifiers for each race.

This is a rare opportunity for our regular Series drivers to race in front of a very large, very appreciative racing crowd, during a professional road racing weekend. Don’t miss out!

Okay, back to Laguna…

Hard to believe the 2006-2007 Western Series has wrapped up. It seems like only yesterday (though it was the end of October) that we were throwing the first green flag of the season at Miller!

Hearty congratulations to this year’s champions:Tom Roberts in Championship and Masters, Gary Williams, Jr., in Sportsman, and Dom Bastien in Grand Masters.

At the banquet, we recognized the top 10 overall…
10th was John Potter, who was third place in the Sportsman Division
9th was Gary Manheimer
8th was Juan Pablo Glover Contreras, who was also second in Sportsman
7th was Gary Williams, Jr., the Sportsman titlist
6th was three-time winner Jimmy Moon
5th went to Jessica Brunelli
4th was Alan Baia
3rd was Tim Traver
and 2nd, behind champion Roberts, was Max Hyatt

There were a lot of worthy candidates for Most Improved Driver, including Harsha Sen, Gary Manheimer, Sarena Traver, Alan Baia and Mx Hyatt, but in the end it was Jimmy Moon being awarded the honor. The Rookie of the Year was clearly Jessica Brunelli and she was thusly recognized and congratulated.

The John Bigham Award, our heartfelt version of a humanitarian award, was nobly earned by Dean Moon, the super-cool father of Benny, Jimmy and Justin.

There was a heaping-helping of new drivers, too – welcome to our very cool racing world, folks! Kevin & Austin Nichols (Kevin won a race, too), Ryan Larscheid, Dave Kopacz, Tom Ferrara, Ed Lever, Steve Forsythe, Jeremy Magoon and Seijchiro Kita.
RC&T&S&H were handled admirably by Kim, Kelly, Laurie and Nickity-Nick, and a great job by the Western Skip Barber crew, too – with congratulations to Kelly Eckman, the Mechanic of the Weekend.

Results, time sheets and qualifying are here

Here the race group re-caps…

040407a
Max Hyatt (l.) scored a great first-time win while Tom Roberts (r.) was the Championship Group — and Masters Division — man.

G1R1 (Championship)
The first two laps were under yellow because in Turn Five, Gary Manheimer spun and was tagged by Jimmy Moon; both had to retire. Meanwhile, Max Hyatt, Jessica Brunelli and Tim Traver were the top three and it stayed that way through laps three and four. On the fifth circuit Tom Roberts took over P3 from Traver, so all the way through the 10th lap, the running order was Hyatt, Brunelli, Roberts, Traver, Emil Sildos, Tom Brown and J.P. Scalmanini. But things changed on lap 11 when first, Traver spun in the Andretti Hairpin (T2) and moments later, Roberts put the pass on Brunelli in Nine. Hyatt romped home the winner – first one! – with a 3.5-second MoV over Roberts. Brunelli barely fended off Sildos for third, with Baia fifth, then Brown, Traver and Scalmanini. And what did the P2 for Roberts do? Clinched the title. Way to go, Tom!

G1R2 (Championship)
Brunelli, Hyatt and Roberts went at it right from the git-go and before the first lap was done, Brunelli had suffered a bent front wing from light contact in Turn Three during the scrabble. By lap three Brunelli grabbed P1 from Hyatt going into Five. Of course, we knew she would have to pit, but she probably wasn’t aware of it. When she got the message via the black flag, she finally came in for her mandatory check, but with the speed of this group – everybody was running 1:39s and :40s – Brunelli’s podium hopes were dashed. Anyway, that left Hyatt in the lead and Roberts P2 by the end of lap six. But guess who was already into third? Jimmy Moon, rocketing up from the last row. On lap 10 he and Roberts put on a ‘‘side-by-each’’ show from Two to Five, Moon eventually taking second. Now Moon went after leader Hyatt and when Max went wide in the Corkscrew on the last lap, that was the shot Moon needed. Well done, Moonster… Traver was fourth, crossing the line just 6/10s behind Roberts, followed by Manheimer, Sildos, Baia, Brunelli, Brown and Scalmanini.

040407c040407d
Nice posse! Gary Williams, Jr., had the clan supporting him at Laguna. And then gets the always fun ‘Gatorade Dunk,’ this one for winning the Sportsman Division!

G2R1 (Sportsman)
Gary Williams, Jr. (henceforth GW,J) and Juan Pablo Glover Contreras (JPGC) put on a great show for the first nine laps, Michael Ramies also joining the fray, with peeks, pops, looks, slides and lock-up keeping everyone on their toes. It went wrong on lap 10, when P4 Carlos Medina got into the back of Ramies in Turn Two, both of them done for the day. Two laps of FCY meant three laps of green at the end. GW,J kept the lead on the re-start, JPGC took the lead briefly with an outside move in Five, GW,J got it back with the pass-repass, and the next time we saw them JPGC was the leader, which he held to the end, finishing a bit more than a second ahead of Williams. But there was another podium spot to be decided: Harsha Sen and Sarena Traver were having a go and on the last lap, Sen popped for P3. Walter Kuhn was fifth, followed by Dennis Rock and Dan Cheadle, the last of the runners.

G2R2 (Sportsman)
A bit of a snore up front, with the top three – JPGC, GW,J and Sarena – settling into those spots on the first lap. There was a bit of excitement with Traver driving really well and beginning to haul in Williams, but by the checker she was 4 seconds behind; Williams, for his part, was 11 seconds behind winner Contreras. Fourth place changed three laps from the end, with a race-long Ramies-Medina tussle ending in Ramies’ favor thanks to a pass in Turn 11.

G3R1 (Sportsman)
Adam Evans, who’s done a bit of other racing and was competing in his second Skip Barber Race Weekend, led this one flag to flag. Early on he was chased by a very fast Blake Kreiger, but he had made some slight wing contact with Seth Manheimer on the first lap and they both ended up having to pit from second place. That put Kasey Kuhlman and Rick Balsley – up from 10th! – in second and third, and they went at it all race long, Balsley eventually getting P2. Manheimer recovered to fourth at the flag, with Mark Fee rounding out the top five. Newbie Jeremy Magoon was a solid sixth, trailed by Philip Kuhn, Kreiger (who set fastest race lap), another new driver – Seijchiro Kita – Ralph Salomon, Dave Bathke and Gary DeWitt.

G3R2 (Sportsman)
Evans again went the distance so the battle, a good one, was between Manheimer, Kuhlman, Balsley and Kreiger for the podium. With two to go (lap 13), you could still throw a blanket over the lot, but then Kuhlman and Manheimer had contact in the Corkscrew and Kreiger killed some cones in Andretti. When it all shook out, Balsley got second and Fee P3, with Kuhlman and Manheimer rounding out the top five.

040407e
Another wet driver! This time, Yuki Nakayama, a first-time-winner (G4R1).

G4R1 (Sportsman)
Yuki Nakayama took full advantage of his pole position and walked this race, a first-time win. An excellent battle brewed for second and third, however, as Austin Nichols (new), Ross Jaffe and Kevin Nichols (new) each took turns in the podium spots. On the next to last lap, K. Nichols got under Jaffe for second, so it finished Nakayama, K-Nick (fastest lap, too), Jaffe, Ryan Larscheid (a new guy, coming up all the way from 11th), Walter Kuhn, Niels Larson, A-Nick, Dave Kopacz (new), Tom Ferrara (also new), Allan Edwards, Frank Traceski, newbie Ed Lever, Dave Koster and Steve Forsythe (new).

G4R2 (Sportsman)
From his pole position, Nakayam dashed right to the lead and held station for the first 12 laps (laps 3 and 4 were FCY, to recover a stuck Kopacz from Turn Four), looking all the while like a double winner. But by mid-race, K. Nichols began to reel Nakayama in and we had a race! With three to go, these two came up on lapped traffic after going side-by-side through Four. K-Nick took better advantage and got around Nakayama for the lead and the win. Good stuff… Larscheid, after having run P2 early on, was a solid third, followed by A-Nick and Larson who rounded out the top five.

Masters Run-off
At the finale for every Region, we put all the Masters in one group for one race, for everyone to score their final points of the year. We had 13 drivers in this one. Tom Roberts opened up and kept the lead from Alan Baia, Gray Gregory and John P. Scalmanini, joined mid-race by Tom Brown (coming from way back, by the way). The first to fall was Scalmanini, who made a mistake in Turn Six on lap eight and went agricultural. Now the top four were Roberts, Baia, Brown and Gregory. A couple laps later, Harsha Sen put Gregory behind him to take over fourth. The next to fall was Sen, however; he too went off into the tulies in Three and got ‘er stuck, bringing out FCY for two laps. Roberts lead was gone and he had Baia, Brown and Gregory on his tail for the restart. No change up front, but Gregory popped on Brown for third place. Now there were two laps to go and we had a third frontrunner get in trouble: Baia sacrificed P2 with a four-off in 11. Same lap, Brown put Gregory behind him and combined with Baia’s blunder, he had P2, with Gregory right behind. And that’s how it finished: Roberts (clinching the title), Brown and Gregory, followed by Dennis Rock, Scalmanini, Jaffe, Kevin Nichols, Gary DeWitt, Seijchiro Kita, Baia, Yuki Nakayama, Dan Cheadle and Sen.

040407b
In spite of being coached by Fogarty, Jimmy Moon was named Most Improved Driver and Jessica Brunelli was the unanimous Rookie of the Year. Later in the evening, her earrings caught fire and tigers started jumping through them…

Eddie Griffin’s Producer’s Enzo Memorial
You gotta love comedian Eddie Griffin power-understeering a movie producer’s Enzo full-chat into a Joisey Barrier in Irwindale, Calif. Publicity stunt? Or true DWD (Driving While Dumb)? Either way, the poor Ferrari had earned its Skippy Memorial. Instructor Steve ‘‘Lawrence’’ Welk sliced up through the field from 13th on the grid for the win, with Tim Traver and Alan Baia second and third. Noteworthy guest appearances by instructor Rene Villeneuve, National driver Peter Husser, mechanics Dave ‘‘Dizzle’’ and Hair-Mon Perez, and former F1 driver A-Hall.

Next up!
The season finale of the 2006-2007 Southern Region is April 13-15 at one of the coolest tracks we race at: the Rolex 24-Hour Course at Daytona. Then bang! we’re right into the combo East/Midwest opener, at fabulous VIR, April 20-22. One week later, the BFGoodrich/Skip Barber National Presented by Mazda is at the same track, supporting the big Rolex Grand-Am pro weekend.

Note
There’s still time to get the discount for the Midwest and Eastern Series! If you pay for a full season (plus any additional Lapping Days and Practice Days you would like to include) by Monday, April 16, we will take 10% off – that’s like getting a Race Weekend for free…

2007 Midwest Race Series
April 20-22, VIR
May 25-27, Watkins Glen
June 29-July 1, Road America
July 27-29, Le Circuit Mont-Tremblant
Oct. 30-Sept. 2, Mid-Ohio
Sept. 28-30, Road America

2007 Eastern Race Series
April 20-22, VIR
May 25-27, Watkins Glen
June 29-July 1, Road America
July 12-14, Lime Rock Park
July 27-29, Le Circuit Mont-Tremblant
Oct. 30-Sept. 2, Mid-Ohio
Oct. 11-13, Lime Rock Park

040407f
Amongst a very good group of mechanics, Kelly Eckman (with trophy) was recognized as the Mechanic of the Weekend.

Rick Roso

Testimonials Subscribe Contact