RACE: Mid-Ohio Runoffs Monday notes

Runoffs Notes copyright 1996 John P. M. Dillon Greetings from Monday at the Runoffs. It's a glorious day today, short sleeve weather just built for racing. What a beautiful day to get lost en route to the track. The colorful cars enrich...

Runoffs Notes copyright 1996 John P. M. Dillon

Greetings from Monday at the Runoffs. It's a glorious day today, short sleeve weather just built for racing. What a beautiful day to get lost en route to the track. The colorful cars enrich the colorful setting in a most pleasing manner--or am I just biased in favor of racing?

On arrival, I met Richard Welty in the press room--he's a delightful fellow, and it's always nice to associate a face with a signature file. He's arranged for full results to be posted on the valvoline web page, so unless there is a strong desire from you readers, I'll refrain from submitting these lists to W2W. Well, maybe I'll abbreviate the final results and post _them_.

After leaving the press room, I hailed Phil Binks who was in the starter stand. He and Marge have been here for a week already, and have taken in plenty of sights as well as the track. They attended an Amish auction in one of the neighboring towns. He said there must have been 50 horse-and-buggies tied the hitchin' post.

Next stop was the Honda race control tower. Nelda Snow, one of SoPac's three regular "ladies of the log," was serving as "logger." Her compatriots decided not to attend this year since they worked so hard last year and felt like they didn't have fun. Nelda has two sons racing at the Runoffs: John in GP and Dan in FP. Danny is having trouble with the clutch and has taken out the engine three times. Dan and his wife (sorry, forgot her name) just had new baby two weeks ago. Nelda showed us pictures. Dan requested car number 25, but another driver, running both FP and GP, asked if he could take it instead. Finally Dan relented, getting 21 instead. For those of you newer folks, Bob Snow raced the 21 car, the same car Dan is running now. (Bob raced it in brown; Dan repainted it white.)

Barney Moen, a SoPac SR driver, noted "My Buttonwillow setup doesn't work here," to which Scott Webb retorted, "Yes it does!" Webb, another SoPac SR pilot, ruined his first practice on the first lap. "In order to save a minute I lost 16 by crashing in the carousel." He pointed out that even with the crash, he still turned a 5 minute lap time. Despite the incident, he says "I'm having a blast; what a fun track."

Scott is one of those guys who's racing completely out of his pocket, though Bill Thompson at Winspec helped him with the rates. "He put together a great package for us," said Webb. "We wouldn't have been able to do it without Bill." Reportedly, Thomspson told Moen and Webb "I want you guys to go."

Eric Morehouse, SSB Miata driver, had a ramp collapse on his foot while helping unload Pratt Cole's EP Miata. The Miata was on the ramp at the time. The doctor told Eric he'd have to stay horizontal and keep his foot up if he wanted to race, and they're still not sure if it's broken or not. It's amazing what you can do horizontal though-- change the oil, check the tire pressures, and count on your friends for help. "I credit Jeanie [Ross] with doing all the work. She organized it all." Indeed, the help she organized included crewmen from Mike Lewis, Bill Harrison, Gail Blake, and a bunch of others. "They all helped prep the car; it's amazing how everyone pitches in to help a racer in trouble." Despite the injury, Morehouse managed to be 3rd fastest in today's practice.

Ken Payson, SSA driver, was interviewed during a snack break. (The snack brigade of the Miata drivers, especially Jean Ross and her sister Marion, keep the Mazda tent a popular meeting place. Indeed, they have a message board hanging they've dubbed "The Mazda Mouth.") Payson said "I want to look as good and svelte as Eric, so I'm eating carrots!" His analysis of the SSB race is that Sportscar magazine picked it just right. "It will be Altenburg, Morehouse, and Michael Galati: Galati is up there for a reason." He also thinks Mike Courtney will be a dark horse contender. "All these guys come to David Delgenio for assistance. He helps them with suspension setup to suit the particular drivers." As for Payson's own goals this week, "I just want to be in impound, I don't want to get greedy." He assured us the race would "never be dull," and adds that the secret to his success will be the hurricane!

Terry Johnson, a T1 driver, admitted to a poor performance today. "I was experimenting with setup. The car is new to us, plus I only come to Mid Ohio once a year for the Runoffs. I'm an amateur racer, not a pro, and I do all my own prep work." BF Goodrich tire engineers are helping the competitors, including Johnson, with tire setups. When asked what he gets out of the Runoffs, Johnson says "I get see friends I don't see but once a year, like thes nice friends from the west coast, including Jeanie and Marion."

Bill Hagerty said he'd be happy to start where he finished the practice. "I'm in car number 7, and I was 7th fastest in practice." He attributes his improvement to a new Kumho tire compound.

John Stott, racing a Mazda built by Chaffee College Auto Students, is having a tough week already. "We're on our second motor and it's only Monday," he sighed. He told us though that in the SoPac AS compound, a bunch of Ford stickers "magically" appeared on all the Camaros. The lone Ford driver, Robert Nagle, in turn found his stuffed mascot Alf hanging from the awning. Nagle used to drive the Chaffee College car back when they still campaigned a Ford Pinto.

The last checkered flag has just fallen, so I'll get on line now. Tonight is the chamber-of-commerce barbecue. We'll see you there!

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