The Skip Barber Race Series ran its first ever Laguna Seca Summer Classic weekend on June 23-24. What is often a tense, high-pressure weekend uncharacteristically played out as a relaxed, low-pressure event. A high turnout of first-time drivers agreed this was the perfect setting to get their first wheel-to-wheel race experience. The one-off race weekend was run as a non-points paying event.
In group 1 race 1, Western Series veteran Al O'Connor snuck past pole-sitting rookie Scott Appleberry on the opening lap and held the point until Appleberry regained the advantage on lap 3. The field closed up under caution on lap 4 when Gilan Reynolds and Peter Chiang tangled out of turn 4, but Appleberry held his position on the restart and drove on to claim the victory in his first-ever Skip Barber Race Series event. Joe Spencer, Jr. finished second ahead of Mark Takehashi and Bob Nisbet, who set fast lap of the race and made up four positions to be named most progressive driver. Michael Gullet finished in fifth.
Polesitter David Wieringa led flag to flag and set fast lap en route to victory in group 2 race 1 over local favorite Jose Guzman. Weiringa, who pilots in the Barber Dodge Pro Series, was using the seat time to hone his craft prior to this weekend's round 6 action at Cleveland. Guzman took second spot from veteran Lee Novak on lap 2, but by then Wieringa had extended his lead over the field. Joe Colasacco held off a charge from Michael Vukelich for third, Vukelich claiming the most progressive drive from the eighth starting position, followed by Novak in fifth.
Saturday's 17-car Memorial was won by Jose Guzman over last-row starter Wieringa by a scant 0.13 second margin. The two were linked nose-to-tail for the final three laps of the race in which Colasacco drove a solid race to claim his second podium of the day in third ahead of Novak in fourth and Vukelich in fifth.
Sunday's Group 1 action began with polesitter Appleberry leading the first four laps, but a small miscue in the corkscrew on lap 4 allowed fourth-place starter Nisbet to dart into the lead. A quick spin in turn 2 to didn't deter Appleberry's charge, as he ran Nisbet down and took back the lead with just two laps to go. Appleberry's second victory in as many days had him all smiles ahead of Nisbet and O'Connor, who's most progressive drive got him to the podium from the sixth spot ahead of Spencer and Takehashi.
Group 2's race appeared as if it would be another victory for polesitter Wieringa until a stop-and-go penalty shuffled him down to fifth place. Guzman's extensive knowledge of the circuit enabled him to fend off the most progressive drive from Vukelich for his second victory of the weekend. Wieringa's succession of fast laps put him on the final podium spot, missing out on second by just two-tenths of a second, with Novak fourth and Colasacco fifth.
Sunday's Memorial saw four lead changes as Western Series veteran Dennis Rock started on pole alongside Randy Klein, who unfortunately had his day end early after lap 1. Rock relinquished his lead to Vukelich by lap 4, who in turn was overtaken by third-place starter Colasacco on lap 10. Wieringa overcame a last-row start to come all the way to the front with just 2 laps remaining, beating Colasacco to the line by just 0.5 second. Guzman's podium streak remained intact by placing third over double race-winner Appleberry and fifth-place John Adams.
- Andrew Torres