As I wing back to Shreveport, I'll jot down a few final notes and impressions from the 1995 Valvoline Runoffs.
Once again our racers dodged the weather bullet, and the paranoia exhibited when Mid-Ohio was first selected has subsided somewhat. It only rained one day, Saturday morning, though Sat afternoon turned cold and windy. This morning was colder and windier, but plenty of sun assured quality spectating.
There are still a few drivers who'd like to return to Road Atlanta, complaining about the difficulty of the course in Ohio, but for the most part everyone has enjoyed their visit. It's possible that next year M-O could be under snow for the Runoffs, but we'll just have to wait and see.
GT1 was running as I was leaving M-O. Sorry my recollections aren't better, but all I can recall is that Mike Lewis from San Diego was running second and doing his best to catch the leader.
I've offered to help out in the press room next year, doing more of the same, but doing it better--I promise! I was unprepared for the task this time, but thanks to Ann, Greg, and others, I was able to provide at least some of the information that you, gentle readers, wanted. Top on my list for next year is to prepare a checklist so I can keep better track of what I'm sending! I may invest in a Tapcis-type program too to reduce my connect and forum charges.
Several people have commented on the generally positive demeanor of the racers, officials, Mid-Ohio staff and everyone else. Sure, there are exceptions, but most have had a most pleasant experience. Some credit the "more open" paddock area and beautiful facility; others thank Ron Sharp, the race chairman, for his exceptional organizational skills.
There were more protests this year than last, but the stewards brought the "wagons in a circle" to streamline the process. A driver walked into one trailer for his driver advocate steward, the protests were heard in the next trailer, and--if an appeal was made--the driver headed on down to "door #3."
While there were also plenty of racing incidents, which is to be expected with 700 entrants, they seemed less serious than in years past. At the time I left they'd certainly had nothing near the severity of Atlanta '94, when the FV race had to be red-flagged because they ran out of ambulances. I did hear that a worker had a seizure while on duty, but you can't consider that a racing incident. I also heard several times that some corners kept running out of witness forms and incident forms (separate paperwork here). However, considering that every incident received a write-up, no matter how slight, the lack of forms is less ominous than it appears.
It was good to see old friends again, including Mary Anne Slick, M. G. Lewis, the Spec Racer drivers and crew, and my flagging buddies from Texas, Arizona, and around the country. It's good too to visit with people I see at the track regularly, including Jack Brabban, Marge Binks, Debi Biggs, Ken and Kathe Silva, Jim McCashin, Jane Anderson, and the SoPac and NorPac drivers who frequent my neighborhood racetracks.
In closing, it looked like the things that won the Runoffs for the drivers were the things that make winners in general. The top guys: didn't make dramatic changes to their cars from what they ran all season; kept their cool and stayed in the hunt even when they weren't foremost in the pack; drove the race track instead of the competition; let the race come to them, but recognized the opportunities to gain when presented to them, and; relied on the people they trusted, including crew, family, and fellow competitors.
Thank you all for your patience and encouragement. I shall now slip quietly into the night....
John Dillon Cal Club Flag Chief (off duty) Scum of the Press (also off duty)