Holtville report

Drivers School / Regional at Holtville copyright 1995 John Dillon Bob Swenson came to Holtville to celebrate Leo Baker's 50th birthday for the Drivers School / Regional of Oct 28-29, 1995. "This is truly one of the really great places to...

Drivers School / Regional at Holtville

copyright 1995 John Dillon Bob Swenson came to Holtville to celebrate Leo Baker's 50th birthday for the Drivers School / Regional of Oct 28-29, 1995. "This is truly one of the really great places to have fun and go racing. People are so friendly down here," said Swenson.

One class defined the Holtville weekend - Spec RX7. For the first time these specially prepared Mazdas fielded so many cars that they earned the right to their own race group, and a better pair of races wasn't seen all weekend. The group raced in a fifteen car train and no one wanted to be the caboose. Ah, but engineer-wanna-be's?--there were fifteen of those guys.

Speaking of wanna-be's, Ken Tooker bought an RX7 to campaign a year ago, but never quite completed the package. Enter Steve Coe, who bought the past SSC champ's rotarymobile... and in his first two races after a long hiatus, managed to overtake a highly competitive field for twin victories. Ken noted ruefully, "Why is it my cars always go faster when someone else is driving?!"

The last SRX7 lap proved particularly exciting, with three cars trying to squeeze into the last corner. Quipped one corner worker, "Three [cars] into [turn] 6 does not equal two!" A little contact was the inevitable result, with John Penteler Molnar's car bouncing into the air. Chuck Knox observed, "I was working the Response 6 position. On the last lap the 61 car got so much air I could've walked under it; there was only one wheel on the ground." He said the drivers couldn't find their braking mark because the clangor cone had been taken out earlier in the race. Brett Nason summarized it for the workers: "We all enjoyed _that_ race."

SR driver Rick Hagen, a cheerful lad, watched longingly when the SRX7's went out for their race. "I feel like an orphan child in my Spec Racer, watching the future of club racing go on course. Denver promised us Spec Racer guys an equitable, competitive class, but look what they did to it--they've abandoned us and killed our class. Spec RX7's are the way to go."

In Solo I, Paul Davis set the fast time of day with his Chevy Z-28 running a 1:09.853. The next six cars ran in the 1:12's, with the top five being Mazdas (a Miata in the middle, the rest Spec RX7's.) Ernie Hernandez was the fastest of these with a 1:12.010, followed by Dan Cadenhead (1:12.055), the Miata of Dan Gollnick (1:12.198), Dave Varco (1:12.297), and Melissa Clark (1:12.676). Neil Westfall's Mustang SVO ran a 1:12.932, while car 99 (no name shown) posted the final time of 1:17.162.

The west coast drivers have been slow to adopt the Spec Racer Fords, but fully half the eight SR entries featured Ford power. In the morning race, Javier Sardina (SRF) squeaked by Bernie Weber (SRF) and Rick Hagen (SR) for the win, beating "classmate" Weber by 0.797 seconds. He'd led the early laps, but Weber took the point on lap 8, before dropping to third on lap 11, reclaiming the penultimate position on the last lap by virtue of traffic. Hagen and Dave Rice swapped the class lead for much of the race, both finishing ahead of Ernie Becker, the third SRF. (Becker spun just past the halfway point, but lost no position.) Completing the order in the morning race were Drew Maloney (SRF), Bill Holland, and Adam Gelbart.

The afternoon race shuffled the finishing order quite a bit... Hagen (San Diego's chief instructor for Saturday's driving school) put every wheel perfect all race, finishing ahead of Rice by over a second and Ford winner Weber for almost 7 seconds. Initially Hagen ran fourth behind Weber, Sardina, and Becker, but when Drew Maloney spun, Weber and Javier Sardina spun too in avoidance. By the halfway mark Hagen held a comfortable lead, all the way to the checker, Rice riding his coat tails the whole way. Becker had more control problems, looping the car in turn 3 and again in 5 before finishing sixth overall.

Bob Hatle led the first lap of the morning race, but pitted on lap two with fuel problems. Steve Jepsen (SF) took the lead for the rest of the distance. Roland Johnson (CF) got around Jeff Nadler (FF, who spun away the position) on the fourth lap to finish behind Jepsen, with Nadler third overall, just ahead of Sandra Popescu. Greg Gayheart won in S2000, while Dietmar Bauerle earned the FV win over Danny Turcutto.

In the afternoon race, Hatle got his Mazda sorted out. Though he started on the last row, he seized the lead at the halfway point and never looked back. This time Nadler drove a masterful race and stayed ahead of those "other flavors of Fords" of Jepsen and Johnson.

Group 5 brought out a mixed bag of fendered cars, with the EP Elva of Roger Karlson winning the morning 12-lapper, while Mike Henderson's GT3 Mazda RX3 took overall honors in the afternoon, both times finishing ahead of Ken Leslie's ITGT Camaro. Jerry Jones and Bob Lawrence split ITS wins, while Bill Hagerty took twin SSC victories and Tim Toth ran for twin RS wins. Kathy Rice, Diana Holland, Steve Jacko and Richard Gray won twice in FP, ITA, ITB and GT2, respectively. Said Jacko, "it was a great weekend--all I had to do was shut the hood and go racing."

Carol Roach summarized the delightful weekend, saying "Holtville is proof positive you can do it right and still have a good time."

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Series SCCA
Drivers Bill Hagerty , Mike Henderson , Steve J