GIDDINGS, FUCHS, MORICI OVERALL WINNERS AT INFINEON SHELL FERRARI HISTORICS SONOMA, CA, APRIL 16) Jim Fuchs, Peter Giddings, and Todd Morici -- all past Champions in the Shell Ferrari Historic Challenge series -- were the big winners this...
GIDDINGS, FUCHS, MORICI OVERALL WINNERS AT INFINEON SHELL FERRARI HISTORICS
SONOMA, CA, APRIL 16) Jim Fuchs, Peter Giddings, and Todd Morici -- all past Champions in the Shell Ferrari Historic Challenge series -- were the big winners this past weekend, but they headed a number of outstanding drives. The races, held on the 2.53 mile Infineon Raceway near Sonoma in the California wine country, were part of a Ferrari Challenge racing event, featuring the F430 Challenge, FXXs, and Corse Clienti F1 cars in addition to the Historic Ferraris, Maseratis, and Alfa Romeos.
The Shell Historics separates entries into two groups for racing, by drum brakes versus disc brakes, and further by classes for similar cars within those groups. Giddings had qualified his Maserati 250F, a grand prix car once raced by Sir Stirling Moss, on pole for the event, with Jon Shirley's Maserati 300S alongside.
There had been rain earlier on Saturday morning, but Giddings is well known to enjoy a wet track, and he had little trouble taking immediate command of the race. Shirley easily held on for second place to finish second both in the race and in class behind Giddings. Chuck Wegner, whose Maserati 200SI had arrived late and left him with little time for practice, was unable to catch the lead pair, but still won his class over Jeff Abramson's Ferrari 500 Mondial, making its first appearance in the Shell Historics. Tom Price had been competitive in the class, but a rare mechanical failure -- a broken spindle -- left his Maserati 200SI parked for the balance of the event.
Peter Greenfield won the pre-war class in his Alfa Romeo 8C/35 over Ned Spieker's earlier Alfa Tipo B, and Charlie Arnott took class honors in his Ferrari 250 TdF prototype over Peter LeSaffre's Maserati A6GCS and Manny Delaroz's 250 MM Vignale Spyder among the early post-war entries.
The faster Disc group cars took to a drying track on Saturday afternoon for their first race, with the four 512 BB/LMs of Morici, Fuchs, John Goodman, and Chuck Wegner expected to dominate.
Morici and Fuchs battled for the lead until a fuel pickup problem ended Morici's race. Wegner could not get close enough to the flying Fuchs to mount an effective challenge, and the final order among the 512s was Fuchs, Wegner and Goodman. Wegner had just acquired his BB/LM, an ex-NART LeMans entry once owned and raced by Morici, and it had arrived very late at the track, so Wegner was learning its capabilities on every lap.
The 250/275 Berlinettas always produce one of the largest classes and always a good battle. Tom Price took the class win in his 250 GTO, just ahead of Ned Spieker's 250 Competition SWB berlinetta, Jon Shirley's GTO, and Bill Cotter's 275 GTB/Comp. Bob Benedict seems to have all the bugs out of his rare 308 Michelotto, and he also gave Price a good battle en route to his class win over Steve Dudley's 308 GTB/Michelotto. Charlie Arnott rounded out the class winners in his ex-NART Competition Daytona.
The sun and wind were out on Sunday, and the track was completely dry for the Historics. That improvement seemed to have little effect on the racing, and in the Drum Group Giddings, on pole from his Saturday win, again led every lap over Shirley, with David Love's 250 TR -- a car he's owned and raced for over 40 years -- in third. Wegner again won the four-cylinder class over Abramson, and Greenfield took the pre-war win over Spieker. Arnott was again a class winner over LeSaffre and Delaroz.
The grid for Sunday's Disc race was set from the Saturday results, so Morici's DNF put him at the back of the field. The former Champion felt the had something to prove, and made short work of passing the slower 250s and 275s. Fuchs had started on pole and was turning quick laps, pulling away from Goodman and Wegner, but Morici was setting a new fastest race lap on almost every round. He was able to pass both Wegner and Goodman, and with only minutes remaining, caught -- and then passed Fuchs for the overall and class wins in a stunning last-to-first charge.
The four BB/LMs took the first four places overall, with repeat class winner Bob Benedict in fifth. Price again won the 250/275 Berlinetta class over Spieker, Shirley, and Nick Colonna (250 SWB Comp). Steven Read marked his first Shell Historics event with a class win in his 250 LM.
The next event for the Shell Historics will be at VIRginia International Raceway near Danville, on May 18-20. The Shell Historics will again be joined by the F430 Challenge racers to help celebrate the famed track's 50th anniversary.
The Shell Ferrari Historic Challenge, for authentic racing Ferraris built prior to the 1980s, racing Maseratis of that period, and pre-war Alfa Romeos of the type raced by the Scuderia Ferrari, is organized by Ferrari North America, and sanctioned by the Grand American Road Racing Association. The series, now in its tenth year in North America, is sponsored by Shell Oil and Officine Panerai.