Wednesday October 9, 1996 Welcome to Mid-Ohio and the Sports Car Club of America National Championship Runoffs. The weather has not been the best, with rain and cold on the schedule for today. The weather report is more optimistic for...
Wednesday October 9, 1996
Welcome to Mid-Ohio and the Sports Car Club of America National Championship Runoffs. The weather has not been the best, with rain and cold on the schedule for today. The weather report is more optimistic for the rest of the week, however. Rain is predicted for Thursday morning, but clearing in the afternoon. The weather prediction for Friday through Sunday is for cool temperatures but dry. Steve Bidlack is the PR Manager for Mid-Ohio, Greg Rubenstein is on loan from SCCA Pro Racing Department, and Ann McHugh and several volunteers from nearby SCCA regions will be manning the Press Room to help you get the information you need. If you have any questions let us know.
The first qualifying session for the day was for the new T1 class, making its debut at the Runoffs. The rain kept the new qualifying records in the "nothing to write home about" category, with the best belonging to long-time Showroom driver Bob Endicott in his Honda Prelude. Bob's best time was 2:07.711 with a top speed of 67.652 mph. Kerry Alexander, the 1995 American Sedan National Champion, is now in the T1 class but could manage no better than an 8th place provisional qualifying slot, possibly due to the wet track. 18 of the 19 cars entered in the class were able to post some kind of qualifying time. With a later qualifying time tomorrow they will be hoping for a drier track.
The second session was for the American Sedan class which had 43 cars entered. Of those entered 36 were able to post qualifying times. Eric Butze was the first spin off course at station 3, but he was able to gather it up, point his Mustang in the right direction and continue. Beran Peter, making his first trip to the Championhips, took a shortcut at the keyhole in his Camaro, but was able to continue. Ten minutes into the session, Peter put his Camaro into the wall before turn 8, severly damaging the front end. Peter was okay, but there is a question as to whether the car can be fixed for the race. At station 10 there was some excitement when Jerry Post pulled his Camaro off course with what appeared to be a small fire. The car was towed in after the session. The fastest qualifier was Scott Olsen in his Ford Mustang with a time of 2:04.543 and a speed of 69.373 mph. FYI the pole time for 1995 was 1:40.934 or 86.523 mph.
The third session was for the 45 entered SR cars of which only 37 posted times during the session. Several cars spun, but were able to continue until Adam Burney went off at station 11. Off on drivers' left at the exit to the turn, it was deemed an unsafe position and the session was black-flagged until the car could be moved to a safer location. After the session was re-started, John Hays put four wheels off at turn 9, continued only to go off again at turn 15. He was able to continue. Mark Broyles spun at station 11 and appeared to get stuck in the mud. The cornerworkers were able to get the car moving at the end of the session. The fastest qualifier was Tom Van Camp, the defending SR champion, with a time of 2:07.860 for a speed of 67.573 mph.
The 4th session was for SSC which has been dominated by Neons for the past year. The defending SSC champion, Eric Heuschele, was able to stay on track and stay out of trouble till about 15 minutes into the session when the car ended up on its roof at station 11. The driver was okay, but the car was seriously damaged and it is questionable to start the race. It turned out that Eric had set the fastest time of the session to take the provisional pole! An interesting note to this race is the competition between Lea Bartlett in her Kumho-shod Neon racing against her husband Bill's BFG-shod Neon. Bill finished 2nd in the '95 SSC race. The fastest provisional non-Neon qualifier is Wiley Timbrook in his Nissan 200SX that captured the 3rd spot. The pole time was 2:08.282 for a speed of 67.351. There are 37 drivers entered and 32 posted times in the rain.
The 5th session was for DSR, but only 13 of the entered cars took to the wet track to try for qualifying times. The first casualty was the Lola of Craig Mendenhall that went into the wall on the driver's right on the front straight. He was okay and the car was towed into the pits. The provisional pole position went to Michael Reupert in his Lola with a time of 1:57.180 for a speed of 73.732 mph. Al Beasley, Jr. was 2nd in his Beasley B2 followed by Nancy James in her Amac TJ. Of note in this race is the debut of Jason Miller as a driver. The son of Jeff Miller, Jason has been coming to the Runoffs for many years as a gofer, but this is his first time as a driver. Jason is driving a Wynnfurst as is his dad in CSR.
The 6th session, still in the rain, was for GP. Only 23 out of the 29 cars entered braved the inclement weather to try for a decent lap time. The first excitment of the session was provided by Gary Wittman and his AH Sprite that lost its hood near turn 4. Chris Fox impacted the tirewall with her AH Sprite at station 7, but was able to continue. Steve Sargis went off at station 11 and got his Triumph Spitfire stuuck in the gravel pit where it stayed till the end of the session. Mark Mc Allister pulled into station 3 with 'no power' and needed a flat tow at the end of the session. Toward the end of the session it appeared that the Sprite of Chris Fox was dragging some kind of ducting that may have come loose when she impacted the wall at 7. The provisional pole position went to Dean Johnson and his Triumph Spitfire with a time of 2:09.687 for a speed of 66.621 mph. The venerable Nissan SPL311 of Joe Hauser set the 5th fastest time of 2:10.716.
The 7th session was for CSR and FA in a combined session. Defending FA champion, Dan Carmichael, did not go on course during the session, preferring to wait for hopefully better weather on Thursday. The CSR defending champion, Alexander Smith is not here this weekend to defend his title. There were many 'off and on' excursions during the session, but of no serious consequence. William Fralick captured the provisional CSR pole with a time of 1:56.784 for a time of 73.982 mph in his Tiga TR1. The FA provisional pole went to Steve Forrer's Ralt RT-40 with a time of 1:52.662 for a speed of 76.689 mph.
The 8th session was for SSB and 33 of the 34 entered cars took to the track despite the continuing rain. With the slippery track, the drivers seemed to play it safe and the session, despite many slides, spins and re-enters, was relatively uneventful. The provisional pole went to David Daughtery the defending SSB champion in his Nissan 240SXSE with a time of 2:04.657 and a speed of 69.310 mph. Close behind him is past National champion, Mike Galati in his Mazda Miata. (Mike may have been a little shaken after his run in with a deer this morning that reportedly went into the windshield of his street vehicle somewhere on I-71.)
The F440 session was another 'spun and continued' saga with 29 cars entered and 23 taking to the wet track. The most significant incident was the spin at station 3 by Galen Puccini. The car had to be pushed to a safe place. Galen worked on the car and he was able to drive the car back into the pits. The provisional pole was won by Michael Brent in his Invader QC1 with a time of 2:03.510 and a speed of 69.953 mph.
The 10th qualifying session was for FV and 52 of the 57 cars in the class went on track. Several drivers had trouble staying on the track for full laps at a time! Carl Watral's Warrior 1 went off at turn 11 and got stuck in the sand pit. He would need a flat tow back to the pits. Jaques Lazier pulled off at station 5 in need of a flat tow at the end of the session. The Protoform 92/5 of Jim Kearney slid into the gravel pit at station 11 and would also need a flat tow at the end of the session. Just before the checker fell, Stephen Rogers drove his Bobcat Elite off course, under the bridge and got out of the car He was able to push it back into the pit lane himself. An additional note on this class is the husband vs. wife competition between multiple FV Champion Bill Noble and his wife Lisa. Bill is driving Cracal C and Lisa is driving Protoform. The pole was won by Michael Varacins in his Speed Sport AM3 with a time of 2:03.279 with a speed of 70.084 mph.
The combined group of S2000 and SCA went out in the 11th session. The two groups will run in one race on Friday afternoon due to the very low number of entries in SAC - 4. Only one of the SAC cars qualified yesterday - Stephen Burgner with a 2:26.105 and a speed of 59.135. The session was relatively uneventful with the provisional S2000 pole being won by Owen Trinkler in his Shannon 93SP with a time of 2:00.676 and a speed of 71.596 mph. Owen finished 5th in the '95 race.
The HP class was out in the 12th session - it was still raining. Phil Chiles was the first to suffer the effects of a cold, wet race track. He took his AH Sprite off course at station 2 and needed a flat tow at the end of the session to get back to the pits. No word on any damage. There are 24 cars entered and 18 were on course during the session. The provisional pole time was 2:10.661 set by Adam Malley in his Honda Civic for a speed of 66.125 mph. Randy Canfield who has often expressed his dislike for running in the rain was gridded 6th with a time of 2:16.101.
The 13th session starting at approx. 2:05 was for the EP contingent with 27 entries. 21 cars were on course during the session. There were a number of "spun & continues" in the session due to the slippery track conditions. Close to the end of the sesion, Austin Britton spun on drivers' left and hit the wall near station 16 at the end of the pit straight. Although Austin was sent to medical for a checkup, he was okay. The car had to be pulled off the wall, but there is no report on its condition. The provisional pole position was won by Vic Skirmants in his Porsche 356B with a time of 2:08.469 for a speed of 67.253. Defending EP champion, Bruce Qvale is not entered in EP this year, having moved to FC.
The 14th session was for FP. In his second session of the day, Dean Johnson captured another provisional pole with a time of 2:13.052 for a speed of 64.937 mph. (his first was in GP) The field has only 20 cars this year and only 14 went on course for the session. Bobby Wolf pulled his MG Midget into station 5 with no power. It turns out that the crew forgot to hook up the oil sensor and when the light came on indicating no oil pressure, Bobby shut the engine down in a hurry! With the wire in place on Thursday, he is hoping to better his 4th place qualifying position. Defending champion Harold Flescher is currently gridded 12th.
The 15th session was a combined one for GT4 and GT5 which would have been for a combined total of 51 cars had they all gone on course. As it turned out, only 31 cars posted times for the day. The provisional pole in GT4 was won by Roger Wiley in his Nissan 510 with a time of 2:04.498 and a speed of 69.398 mph. The GT5 pole went to Ted Phenix in his Austin Mini Cooper with a time of 2:09.967 and a speed of 66.478 mph. GT5 defending champion David Walsh retired his Nissan 200SX to the paddock after half a session of blowing smoke and reportedly dropping fluid of some sort. His time was only good enough for 16th on the grid. Defending GT4 champion Russ Theus did not take his Toyota Tercel out in the rain.
The 16th session was for GT3. Of the 29 cars entered, 24 went on the still wet track for the first qualifying session. Jeff Clinton pulled his Toyota Paseo off course at station 8 on drivers' left and needed a flat tow back to the paddock. Paul Young, Jr pulled off at station 8 with no power. Young's Ford Probe would also need a flat tow to the paddock at the end of the session. GT3 defending champion, Pete Peterson could only qualify his Toyota paseo in the 17th position. The pole position was taken by Gary Brockman in his Mazda RX-3 with a time of 2:01.922 and a speed of 70.864 mph.
The 17th session was for SRF and there are 41 of them entered this weekend. 37 went out for the first qualifying session. This class has been won two years in a row by Warren Stilwell. Warren had a clean practice session, but was only able to grab a 4th qualifying spot. Don Gilkison and the tirewall had a coming together at station 3. Don was okay, but the car needed a wrecker at the end of the session. Geoff Herald put his car into the gravel at station 11 and also needed a flat tow. John Hollansworth went into the gravel at station 9 and needed a flat tow. Danny Weyls contacted the tirewall at station 7 and ended up near station 9 on the drivers' right. It needed a wrecker to get back to the paddock. Tom Van Camp, 1995 SR defending champion, "kissed the wall" at station 7 and parked it for the duration of the session. Keeping the wreckers busy, it was added to the list for aid in returning to the paddock. The pole position was won by James Goughary, Jr. with a time of 2:04.069 and a speed of 69.638. Van Camp had to settle for a provisional 7th spot on the grid.
The 18th session was for FC of which there are 32 entered. There were many spins off course, but most were able to continue. Michael Williams spun his Van Diemen RF95 at station 11 and got back on track. He spun again at station 3 and ended up on the drivers' right, needing a flat tow at the end of the session.. Sergio Musacchio spun his Van Diemen at station 9. He was able to continue, but it was reported that the car was dragging something - possibly the diffuser. He ended up parking it at station 3. At the very end of the session, Steve Fried spun his Citation 95SF at station 7 and contacted the tirewall. It would need a wrecker to get back to the paddock for repairs. The pole position was won by Jeremy Treadway in a Van DiemenRF94 with a time of 1:50.855 and a speed of 77.939 mph. Of note in this class is the 6th gridded car driven by Owen Trinkler who is also entered in S2. Only 24 of the cars went out for the session. Passing up the rainy session in anticipation of a dry track tomorrow was 6 time gold medalist Dave Weitzenhof with his Citation 95SF.
The 19th session was a combined session for GT1 and GT2. The combined grid should have had a total of 32 cars, but only 18 cars took to the track in the growing darkness and rain. Bill Davis went off at station 15 and needed a flat tow to get his Pontiac Sunfire. The car was pulled out and and was able to continue the session. Jim Goughary, Sr went off in his Nissan 300ZX at staion 8 and impacted the tirewall backwards. He was able to back out and continue, but damaged the tirewall such that it neede repairs for the next session. Defending GT2 champion Dave Finch put his Porsche 944 on the provisional pole with a time of 1:56.632 for a speed of 74.079 mph. The GT1 pole was taken by Don Meluzio in his Chevy Camaro with a time of 1:53.494 and a speed of 76.127 mph. Defending GT1 champion did not go out for this session.
The 20th session was for the 26 FF entered this week. As might be expected there were a lot of "spun and continued" incidents. Allen Newcombe did manage to put his Swift DB-1 into the gravel pit at station 1 while George Forgeois did the same at station 10 in his Swift DB-1. Bruce May, the defending FF champion took the second spot on the provisional grid, while the pole went to Jon Horgas in his Van Diemen RF92 with a time of 1:54.132 which converts to a speed of 75.70 mph.
The last session of the day was for SSA which had only 19 entrants for the race. Surprisingly all 19 went on the almost dark course in search of a decent lap time. Richard Crites had a problem with his Mazda MX at station 10, reportedly of the mechanical type. The session was run cautiously and had very few incidents. The provisional pole was won by Terry Coates in his Volkswagen Corrado with a time of 2:03.855 and a speed of 69.759 mph.
The cornerworkers and emergency crews were fantastic throughout the day. Despite the cold and rain much of the day, the sessions were only behind by 18 minutes.
The forecast for Thursday is sunny, but cold for the second set of qualifying sessions.