Twenty championship caliber Master racers embarked on Road America's 4.0-mile course this past weekend for the season opener of the Masters National Championship. Among the favorites and past Regional Masters Champs were New York's Roland ...
Twenty championship caliber Master racers embarked on Road America's 4.0-mile course this past weekend for the season opener of the Masters National Championship. Among the favorites and past Regional Masters Champs were New York's Roland Isra, Westchester's Mark Patterson and Basking Ridge, New Jersey's Chris Willcox. A new category of Grand Master has been added for the 2002 campaign-- a championship within a championship inclusive of speedy 50-plus racers. Isra, last year's Masters National Champion, looks to make history with a dream repeat season. The Masters ran as group 2 of the Midwest Regional action, which included 70 racers in total.
In group 1 race 1, Revere Greist led all 8 laps to prevail over Atticus Missner and Tim Traver. Missner, a quickly developing racer who doubles as a National Championship driver, set the fastest lap of the group with a time of 2:37.411 sec. Alex Donnini advanced the most positions, from 15th, to finish with a top-5 result. John Greist claimed the Masters top prize.
Masters Champion and occasional Pro Series pilot Roland Isra took the lead from polesitter Brian Shepherd on lap 1 and led all remaining laps in a delay plagued Masters National Championship opener. The race featured numerous full course yellow periods, reducing the number of laps run to an unusally low four. Shepherd followed Isra to claim runner-up in the competitive 40-plus group, ahead of Mark Patterson, in third. Jep Thornton raced to progressive driver distinction, climbing his way up from 14th to finish in eighth.
Charlie Kimball's outstanding effort in group 3 led to his first ever Skip Barber Race Series win. The Californian and Barber-CART Scholarship winner led all 8 trips -- consistently pressured by Whitney Bellows and later Chase Patzer -- en route to a 10-second margin victory. Bellows would out-duel Patzer to claim second place honors with Patzer, who had started from pole, slotting in for third. Tim Traver collected the most progressive driver honors by picking off eight positions to finish in the top-5. John Dickman excelled among the Master racers in this contest to claim maximum points in the category.
Polesitter Rafael Matos motored to a seven-second margin win over Atticus Missner in group 4. The Brazilian led all six laps and set the fastest lap with a time of 2:37.289 sec. Missner followed in second ahead of Masters racer John Greist, in third. Mark Patterson overcame his 15th place grid position to land in eighth and claim merit for the most progressive driver.
Group 5 saw one of the closest contest in recent history when Revere Greist beat Ben Freudenberg to the final flag by 0.111 sec. Freudenberg led the first two laps before being reeled in by Greist on lap 3, although the pair continued to scrap for the remainder of the race. Freudenberg went on to finish second ahead of former Skip Barber mechanic Conrad Grunewald, who overcame early contact in the race with Roland Isra and Brian Milligan and fell back to 10th before mounting his charge. 13th place starter Nick Mavridis drove a smart race to place fifth.
Alex Donnini celebrated his return to racing in the States when he took his first Skip Barber Race Series win in group 1 race 2. The Italian, who started fifth, battled to find the front of the field, besting Tim Traver and Atticus Missner along the way. Donnini led only once on the final lap, edging out Missner for the final glory. Missner, who led two laps, earned a podium second place result along with Dean Patzer, who had ascended from 13th to finish third. John Greist repeated as the Masters winner in this group.
The second Masters Race saw former Masters Champion and Grand Master competitor Chris Willcox narrowly edge out fellow Grand Master Brian Shepherd for the win. Willcox and Roland Isra shared the lead over the eight lap contest. Shepherd was followed home by Charlie Hilmer, who rounded out the rostrum in third. Mark Patterson recorded his second consecutive most progressive driver award by picking off six positions to land in seventh.
Chase Patzer turned a gritty effort into his first ever Skip Barber Race Series win over Tim Traver and Gary Maas. Maas's third place finish is his best result of the young Midwestern season. Charlie Kimball, who led the first three laps, had his race end prematurely with a mechanical failure. Michael Kolacki, who started 14th, claimed the top-honors among the 40-plus set as well as most progressive driver distinction.
Rafael Matos turned in a stellar peformance in group 4 race 2, one in which he led all laps for the second consecutive day and set the fastest lap. John Greist and Kyle Lawrence did everything they could to stay with the young hotshoe but had to settle for second and third, respectively. Joe Pruskowski, the seventh place starter, impressed many with his steady charge to fourth.
In group 5 race 2, Bren Freudenberg recorded his first series win, taking the lead from Revere Greist at the start, and then pacing the 14-car field the remainder of the race. Conrad Grunewald advanced to second on lap 3 but would stare at the back of Freudenberg's R/T 2000 for the balance of the contest. Roland Isra charged from ninth to third to join the pair on the podium.
In the Nancy Drew Memorial, Rafael Matos graduated from an eighth place start position to find the point on lap 5 and then hang on for the victory over Gerardo Bonilla and Curt Andrews. Andrews, of Plymouth, Wisconsin, set the fastest lap of the weekend with a late-day flyer clocked at 2:34.984 sec.
The Masters National Championship picks up the pace when it moves to picturesque Virginia International Raceway for Rounds 3 and 4 on June 21-23. Rounds 5 and 6 of the Formula Dodge Midwest Championship are slated for Indianapolis Raceway Park on June 12-14. The latter series will run in conjunction with the Skip Barber Formula Dodge National Championship presented by RACER.