RACE: Mid-Ohio Runoffs Monday notes #2

Runoffs Notes - 3 copyright 1996 John P. M. Dillon Late night greetings from Monday at the Runoffs. I've just returned from the dinner hosted by Richland County. Another wonderful evening of friendship, live music, bench racing, and great...

Runoffs Notes - 3 copyright 1996 John P. M. Dillon

Late night greetings from Monday at the Runoffs. I've just returned from the dinner hosted by Richland County. Another wonderful evening of friendship, live music, bench racing, and great food and (I'm told) spirits. It was a perfect venue for more interviews, especially since I've committed to flagging tomorrow.

Les Handley, a Porsche 914 EP racer, is attending his 13th Runoffs. When asked why, he retorted, "Insanity!" In a more serious vein, he said "it's the only chance I get to see some old friends. Plus, it's only an 8 hour tow from Pennsylvania, so it's a no-brainer."

John Snow, GP Fiat, had problems with his throttle, and seemed to get only about 3/4 of the expected performance. After the session he discovered a bent linkage and assures us that he'll run at 100% tomorrow. He hopes, however, that it doesn't rain.

There is a slight chance of sprinkles, so Snowman's fears are well- founded. Richard Crites, on the other hand, is anxious for rain--he loves wet weather racing. Of course, at the moment he's still without a car, since his Mazda MX6 is awaiting a new transmission. It should show up by 10 AM tomorrow; they've got to be on course for their 16 minute session at 2 PM. Larry Cress and Sue Mashiko have joined Crites as crew members.

Chris Funk and Neil Tilbor, both Spec Racer Ford drivers, agreed that "we're here way to long for way too little track time." Their complaint centers around the 16 minute sessions alloted to each group in a day. In past years these sessions were 20 minutes, though carnage often shortened the time somewhat. Said Tilbor, "It's especially a problem for us Sunday guys. It seems like our class always races on Sundays--besides, there's way too many classes." Funk complimented the facility though: "This track and community are the best. We'd just like to be here five days instead of eight."

Tilbor then turned his thoughts to a perennial complaint. "I wonder if the domination of the locals will ever end. As far as Spec Racers (both flavors) go, there will be three groups: the locals at the top, then the pro racers, then all the others."

Both drivers praised recent efforts by Patc Henry and Lars at SCCA Enterprises. "I hope it continues even though Lars is leaving the operation." Funk then returned to the earlier topic of track time at the Runoffs. "It's a nice event, but the June Sprints is five times as nice; it's a nice facility, with nice racing, and a nice presentation, and lots of track time." Tilbor followed up with reasoning for the local advantage. "The track doesn't allow test days before the regionals or nationals, except for the Runoffs. From a business perspective, I can see their position--they want people to sign up for their school. It makes it tough on us to learn the track though."

Clay Silvestre listened quietly through all this, but when we finally got to talking I learned he suffered a big wreck last Friday. "It was my first ambulance ride." He said the throttle stuck wide open as he went through Turn 6, thus smacking into the Turn 7 wall driver's right ("Rahal's corner"). The crash destroyed the car, but Ray LaRue's team "did a good job of putting it back together." As in Morehouse's situation described earlier, his compatriots pulled out the stops to help him out. "Without the help of the other racers, we couldn't have gotten the car together." His injuries include one sprained ankle, a bruised ankle, and a bruised knee, so "I'm hobbling around a bit." Silvestre, who's raced over 200 times in SR, claims to have more runs in the class than anybody else. Tilbor suggested, however, than John Bowden may have him beat.

At this point in the juncture, the band played the "Neons go rolling along" song, with the audience chiming in. As unlikely as it seems, the song brought up the age-old battle about the word "Mayday," since CenDiv still uses it and (as far as we can tell) is not being pressed to change it. In SoPac, we were forcefully told to remove it from our vocabulary, and an ugly battle it was.

Jim Marinangel, who won the '93 Runoffs at Atlanta, didn't have much to say about his early performance today. Instead, he mentioned advice that Liz Patterson gave him the year he won. "Just take it slow--some will not get to play." He added, "sure enough, several didn't get to play."

Lee Fleming, SRF, is rumored to dislike this track, but has managed nonetheless to be second fastest overall behind Warren Stilwell, who loves this track. Tom Van Camp admitted to good test sessions last week. He and John Hollansworth are working together, sharing setup information along with garage space, so the "grudge match" story that makes editors drool and readers buy just won't happen. Said Van Camp, "We're looking at it as a team effort and working together."

San Diego Flag Chief Linda Haneline, attending the Runoffs for the first (along with husband Bill) is having fun. They went to the Rock 'n' Roll Hall of Fame before the SCCA week started, but they're enjoying the course too. "I love seeing lots of cars, though there are not as many as I was expecting in some groups." She especially enjoyed seeing all the old British cars. She commented on track communications too. "I heard a lot of 'rather descriptive' calls on the land line. We really appreciate our SoPac stewards and how they trust us to do the right thing."

Runoffs Flag Chief Kathy Maleck declined to be interviewed at the party, but when pressed, she admitted to having fun. She added "I've got a wonderful crew of F&C people." Joanne Jensen, working with Sandy Byrnes in Race Control, said "We started on time, and ended on time, and I'm proud of everybody's work today." She credit the secret of success to "a good crew and excellent corner working."

John Frank, an SR pilot, also preferred to be mostly silent, admitting only "We didn't come to place or show." Tim Castellano started spewing quotes from "Race Driver Interview School" like "Thank my crew for doing a great job, etc, etc." but finally admitted "this track is really tough. You really work hard to race here."

Well, I'm done for the evening. If I get lots of requests for results (perhaps in abbreviated form) I'll post them, otherwise I'll just coast along with what I'm doing now. (Well, it's hardly coasting!) Tomorrow will be light on news since I'll be on course most likely, but I'll pick up again on Wednesday. (I may flag on Thursday too, since that's typically the day with the lightest turnout.)

Until next time, I'll see you at the Runoffs.

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