Double Regional / SPaRCS at Las Vegas
(c) copyright 1995 by John P. M. Dillon
Yeah, verily, it is written in the stars that all who come to Las Vegas for racing shall have a good time. And so it came to pass, with passing intense on the front straight, that the signs of the astrologers bore true, and racers left satisfied, beaming at the confluence of positive things and track position.
Brian Winch vanquished the field overall on Saturday in his rotary-powered RX7, but John Norris showed his BMW's pistons to Winch on Sunday, kicking "the Kiwi" down to second place. Meanwhile Doug Kott and Rick Malone split ITA wins, with Malone earning a lap record concurrently with Sunday's SPaRCS victory. Malone ran much of Saturday's race behind Winch, but an 18th lap contact with Larry Bagalini spun him down to eighth overall. Sunday's ITA race raged between Malone and Ron Haase, with Malone finally gapping the Honda by over a second at the finish line after a couple of shoving matches in turns 7 and 9.
You'd be hard pressed to find a dual winner in the first race group; only Mark Jones, in a Toyota MR2, and Tom Grossman, in Ron Ostlund's ITT Toyota, secured double wins, each of them running uncontested. Ostland, meanwhile, ran a Spec RX7 to mixed success.
Those Spec RX-7s were everywhere! More than a six-pack of 'em ran both days at Vegas, with all but one running as a single train of contenders. The two Marks, Blakley and Holland, split victory and runner-up positions over the weekend, with Holland winning on SPaRCS day. Holland saw plenty of action on Saturday, swapping paint with Ron Ostlund a couple of times and slipping off the track in Turn 3 early on. Jason Miner had several incidents of contact on Sunday, including a pair with Ostlund and another with Norris.
Robert Dennard and Bryan Farnsworth split ITB honors, while Dion Pownall and Gary Dickey split ITC and Craig Sheer and Paul Martin split GT4.
The second race group had a light turnout, but Steve Anderson and Mike Lewis helped pass the workers' time quickly, their GT1 cars rocketing around the course. Saturday, after an aborted start due to John Ross's mechanical breakdown in Turn 2, Anderson's Camaro lapped the field, followed by four AS cars. Kirk Robe was the first of those, followed by Ed Rogers, Gordon Laduke, and Michael Thomas. Mike Lewis finished behind these four, racing his GT3-spec'd Mazda RX7. Ross, despite his vehicular woes, went on to claim the EP flag uncontested.
On Sunday, Lewis climbed into his Mustang, fresh from his GT1 victory at the Runoffs, and motored away to victory. Anderson ran second for the first eight laps, but broke a valve train and was forced to retire. Once again Kirk Robe took home the AS wins. Mike Marshall grabbed the uncontested EP win on Sunday after Ross's car expired in qualifying.
Dan Snow, driving his father's old Fiat X1/9, took home uncontested twin FP wins, as did Terry Rohr in his GP VW Rabbit. Bill Gibson, formerly of Hawaii, won the SP race on Saturday driving a Datsun 510, but chose not to compete on Sunday.
The Spec Racer crowd ran amongst the other sports racers on Saturday, but whether alone or in a crowd, Craig Reeder (SRF) and Ed Raby (SR) knew how to dominate. Sunday's race started with Drew Maloney spinning in turn 2 along with Dan Weyland executing a similar manouver one lap and four turns later. Merle Slater, his car newly equipped with Ford power, had a dandy dice with Weyland, Bary Pantzer, and Ed Raby much of the race, and indeed finished second overall behind Reeder and ahead of Raby. Weyland's second spin late in the race dropped him a slot overall but didn't cost him third in class.
Saturday's mixed bag of sports racers began with a big mess in turn 5. Rich Navarra contacted Joe Moran, sending Moran off the course at high speed. Mike Phillips got caught out in the melee, spinning before also getting collected by Navarra. None of the three finished.
Up front, Bruce Sunseri led DSR-classmates John Bosso and Ted Arken and the rest of the field to the overall victory. Rod Mathis slotted his ShelCan fourth overall, ahead of yet another DSR, this one driven by Robert Fox. Dennis Goughary, the first place CSR driver, followed, just ahead of classmates Scotty Gafforini, Mike Anderson, and Barbara Goughary. All told, seven DSRs and six CSRs took the green, which must be some kind of Vegas record. 13th overall was S2000 winner Greg Geyheart, followed by Craig Reed (SRF winner), Gary Holcomb (CS2 winner), Bill Welters (ASR winner), Barry Pantzer, and Ed Raby (SR winner).
Sunseri and Bosso repeated their top-of-the-heap performance on Sunday, while Fox pulled up to third ahead of Mathis. Gafforini took home CSR honors this time, while Avik Avedisian claimed the S2 crown. Holcomb and Welters repeated their class victories in CS2 and ASR, respectively. Corey Witherwell spun on the first lap, and was then involved in a contact with Barbara Goughary on the third lap, resulting in a full course yellow. When Holcomb spun later in turn 2, Avedisian tagged him unavoidably. Turn 3 had stuff happening too, with Witherwell and John Spencer touching hard enough they both spun. On the last lap, Spencer slipped off track again in turn 5.
The last races of each day featured plenty of Formula classes vying for bragging rights. George Staehling and Bob Hatle finished first and second overall on both days, each in a Formula Mazda, while the Continentals of Dan Weyland (Saturday) and Mike Dow (Sunday) followed the pair. Tom Hunter, Jr. (FF), David Stilwell (SF), Roland Johnson (CF), Jens Ploughman (FA) and Sharon Lopardo (F440) all won both days. In Formula Vee, Rob Wallschlaeger won the SPaRCS race on Sunday, but John Dambro finished first on Saturday ahead of Gene Peterson, also running in FV. Chris Schlarmann bumped a couple of cars in turn 5 near the finish. First was Martin Torrez, who retired, and next was Peterson, who limped into the pits after the checker fell. Schlarman finished seventh overall, fourth in FC.
Jeff Nadler has got a problem; he spins too much. On Sunday's first lap he looped the car in turn 5 and spent the rest of the race playing catch-up, finishing 13th overall. Near the midway point Greg Ramsay and Sandra Popescu had a good dice going, but she's got Jeff's problem too. On the last lap she stuffed her Van Dieman FF into the turn 9 tire barrier. (She spun the car twice there on Saturday.) Her sudden stop prompted crew chief Steve Jepsen to dash across the track to her assistance, perhaps not recognizing the corner worker already had things handled. The manouver dropped her to 19th overall, two FF slots behind Nadler. Rich Sheya and RIchard Zimmerman each joined the spin-of-the-day club too, at turns 5 and 7, respectively.
The city glittered in the dusk like those mystic heavens, imparting their sparkles to the eyes of Vegas visitor racers, and beckoning unto all a speedy return. Yes it is written, and it shall come to pass, again and again. The Las Vegas Region awaits you; satisfy your soul; race with us in '96.