SCCA PRO FAX -- Volume 3, Number 21 -- October 4, 1996
WORLD CHALLENGE SEASON FINALE THIS WEEKEND: The 1996 World Challenge season comes to a close this weekend at Sears Point Raceway. All four World Challenge Drivers Championship titles (S1, S2, T1 and T2) have come down to this weekend's season finale. In the S1 class, Martin Snow tops Klaus Bytzek by three points, 60 to 57. Almo Coppelli holds a 10-point advantage over Shane Lewis in S2, 220 to 210, with Steve Saleen third at 180. In the Touring Division, Lou Gigliotti leads the T1 field with 222 points, followed by Willy Lewis and Kermit Upton tied at 204. In T2, Taz Harvey holds a slim three-point lead over Michael Galati, 185 to 182, with Alain Chebeir third with 178. Three of the four Manufacturers Championship titles (S2, T1 and T2) have come down to the wire as well, with Porsche leading the S2 class by five points over Callaway and Saleen, 45 to 40. In the T1 class, Eagle leads Ford by just two points, 63 to 61, while T2 is a battle between BMW and Honda, with BMW holding a one-point edge, 54 to 53.
SCHROEDER TO ASSIST GIGLIOTTI: Trans-Am ace Dorsey Schroeder will compete in the #12 LG Motorsports Saleen Mustang at Sears Point in an effort to help Ford win the T1 Manufacturers Championship and LG Motorsports team owner Lou Gigliotti win the Drivers title. We want to win the Manufacturers Championship for Ford, said Gigliotti. I ll be focusing on winning the Drivers Championship, so we wanted a top-notch Ford driver to come out and win the race. Dorsey was going to be here anyway, racing in the NASCAR truck race, so he was a natural choice. Dorsey's a true professional and we couldn t have made a better choice. Schroeder, who had no testing or practice time prior to Thursday's qualifying session, was second-fastest to start fourth. Reno T1 victor Peter Cunningham was the fastest qualifier with a record lap of 1:43.503 (87.753 mph). The top 14 drivers were all under the old mark.
LEWIS TOPS S2 GRID; BOOHER FASTEST IN T2: Also in Thursday's Sears Point World Challenge qualifying, Shane Lewis (#19 Mosler Intruder) was the fastest qualifier in S2, followed by Steve Saleen (#55 Saleen Mustang); Almo Coppelli (#00 Callaway Corvette); Steve Dinan (#4 Dinan 540); and Kevin Buckler (#63 Porsche 911). With the top five S2 cars inverted, Buckler, of Sonoma, Calif., will start on the pole for Saturday's 26-lap, 65.598-mile combined S2, S1 and GTA class race. Paul Booher (#04 Quaker State Saturn SC) posted a record qualifying lap to start Saturday's 24-lap, 60.552-mile combined T1 and T2 class race fifth. Booher's teammate David Rosenblum (#18 Saturn SC) was the fifth-fastest qualifier to start on the pole. Mike Galati (#44 Comptech Honda Prelude) was second-fastest, followed by Taz Harvey (#8 Dublin Honda Prelude) and Johannes van Overbeek (#21 Last Minute Racing BMW M3).
KENDALL GAINS THIRD TRANS-AM DRIVERS TITLE: Tom Kendall (#11 All Sport Body Quencher Ford Mustang Cobra) clinched his third Trans-Am Drivers Championship with a fourth-place finish at the recent Reno Grand Prix, joining the 1995 championship he won for Roush and the 1990 title he won driving the Cars & Concepts Chevy Beretta. Tom thus became the first driver to win three official Trans-Am Drivers Championships. Mark Donohue won a total of three titles as well, but two of them were unofficial, as the Drivers Championship was not officially instituted until 1971. Kendall became just the second Trans-Am driver to win consecutive Trans-Am titles in the series modern era (1980- 96), joining Wally Dallenbach Jr. (1985-86), but the first to do so for the same team as Dallenbach changed teams and cars. This season's Trans-Am title Kendall's ninth pro championship is Roush Racing's fifth, joining 1985 (Dallenbach), 1987 (Scott Pruett), 1989 (Dorsey Schroeder) and 1995 (Kendall) and allows Roush to claim the honor of most Trans-Am driver titles with five. Buz McCall's American Equipment Racing ranks second with four.
FORD TAKES TRANS-AM MANUFACTURERS CROWN: The Trans-Am Manufacturers Championship was again a heated battle between Detroit rivals Ford and Chevrolet. Ford, on the strength of eight wins (four each by Kendall and Dorsey Schroeder), edged Chevrolet 108 to 103. This season's battle was one of the closest in series history in fact the second closest in the Trans-Am's modern era. The only one closer was last season's two-point nail biter (82 to 80), won by Chevrolet. It was Ford's sixth Trans-Am Manufacturers title, 10th including Lincoln-Mercury's titles (1984-85-86-87).
KENDALL NETS RAYBESTOS QUALIFYING AWARD: Tom Kendall proved for the third consecutive season that he's the king of qualifying, winning the Raybestos Fastest Qualifier honors at eight of the 14 races, including the final four races of the season. Kendall's dominance earned the 96 champion an additional $7,500 in Raybestos bonus monies as well as the title of Raybestos Fastest Qualifier of the Year. Kendall, with 28 Fastest Qualifier of the Race efforts in his career, is the Trans-Am's all-time fastest qualifier leader.
FELLOWS CLOSES IN STYLE: Ron Fellows (#3 Sunoco/AER Manufacturing Camaro) ended the 96 campaign on a hot note, winning the Dallas and Reno races to give him four victories on the season, tying Kendall and Schroeder for most victories on the season. Fellows late-season surge propelled him to third in the Drivers Championship. With 19 wins (in 95 starts), Fellows now ranks first among active Trans-Am drivers and fourth all-time. Fellows win at Reno was American Equipment Racing's 32nd in Trans-Am, as Buz McCall's team moved past Penske Racing (31 wins) into second place all-time, behind Roush Racing's 58 victories. Fellows teammate Jamie Galles finished second at Reno, giving A.E.R. its ninth 1-2 finish in Trans-Am, second all-time only to Roush Racing's 14.
SAUNDERS VOTED MOST IMPROVED: Four-year Trans-Am veteran Bill Saunders (#8 HighwayMaster Camaro) enjoyed his finest season in the series, finishing with 10 top-10 finishes, including a pair of career-best sixth-place efforts (St. Petersburg, Cleveland). Saunders finished ninth overall, another career-high, and his efforts didn t go unnoticed as his fellow drivers voted him the BBS Most Improved Driver of the Year.
LAGOD CLAIMS RAYBESTOS RISING STAR AWARD: Rookie Max Lagod (#83 HyperMax Camaro) made an impressive entry into the Trans-Am Championship, recording six top-10 finishes in 10 outings, including a season best sixth at Road America. He emerged as one of the top contenders for both the Rookie of the Year and the Raybestos Rising Star of the Year, winning the latter. On the season, Lagod finished 15th overall and won four Raybestos Rising Star of the Race awards (Homestead, Mosport Park, Road America and Dallas), thus putting him in position to win the Raybestos Rising Star of the Year award.
MILLER PREVAILS IN ROOKIE BATTLE: John Miller IV (#64 PLC Direct Camaro), Bob Ruman (#23 Cenweld Corp. Camaro) and Lagod had one of the best tussles in series history for the coveted Rookie of the Year honors, with all three still having a chance heading into the season-ending Reno race. All three drivers led the Rookie standings at one time or another, but Miller came on strong over the second half of the season, thanks to his mid-season upgrade to a Rocketsports Revolution chassis. Miller ended the year with six top-15 finishes out of the last seven races, culminating with a season-high ninth-place finish at Reno. Miller finished 13th overall with 147 points, topping Lagod (128, 15th) and Ruman (122, 16th).
30TH ANNIVERSARY PIN SET AVAILABLE: A very limited number of complete sets of 30th Anniversary Trans-Am lapel pins are available for $50.00 per set. Each set contains 14 pins one from each 1996 Trans-Am venue. Contact Cindi at SCCA Pro Racing (303) 694-7223.
ROUSH TAKES TOTALTEL LONG DISTANCE AWARD: The TotalTel Long Distance Award honors the team whose driver completes the most laps during the Trans-Am Championship season, and this year's recipient was Tom Kendall and Roush Racing, with 743 laps completed out of a possible 765. Kendall and crew shared in a $10,000 first-place prize. Taking runner-up honors were Dorsey Schroeder with 733 laps ($3,000 cash award) and R.J. Valentine with 717 ($2,000 cash award).
R.J. AND CREW AMONG THE HONORED: R.J. Valentine capped off his finest Trans-Am season by winning the OPTIMA Batteries Quick Charger of the Year award, while the crew of his #7 Pennzoil Products\Pickett Racing Camaro won Trans-Am Crew of the Year honors, as voted on by Trans-Am crew members. The OPTIMA Batteries Quick Charger of the Year honors came thanks to R.J.'s 66 positions improved during the course of the season, including 15 spots improved in the Reno finale. Valentine, who was one of three finalists for the BBS Most Improved Driver of the Year award, finished a career-best 12th overall with 198 points. He earned a career-high four top-10 finishes, including a career-best tying seventh-place finish at Lime Rock.
CARPENTIER INDY CAR TEST SET: 1996 Player's/Toyota Atlantic Champion Patrick Carpentier gets his first taste of Indy Car racing Tuesday, October 22, as he's been invited to participate in an Arciero-Wells Racing test session at Buttonwillow Raceway Park (Calif.). Carpentier, who will test in the 1996 MCI Toyota-powered Reynard Indy Car, was awarded an opportunity to participate in the test by virtue of winning the 1996 Atlantic championship.