Thunder and Lightning on and off Track at VIR SCCA Double National Races DANVILLE, VA. - The Sports Car Club of America held the club's Oak Tree Double National races this weekend at VIRginia International Raceway, an event punctuated by thunder...
Thunder and Lightning on and off Track at VIR SCCA Double National Races
DANVILLE, VA. - The Sports Car Club of America held the club's Oak Tree Double National races this weekend at VIRginia International Raceway, an event punctuated by thunder and lightning both on and off the track.
The races served as a preview of the Bosch Engineering 250 race for the Grand American Sports Car Series Rolex Cup races coming in two weeks. With that race, VIR's biggest sports car race of the year, the Grand Am Rolex Daytona Prototypes will be competing along with the GT category production sports cars in a 250-mile endurance race Sunday afternoon, starting at noon.
Other races that day will include the BFGoodrich/Skip Barber National Presented by Mazda for open-wheeled cars, the SCCA Pro Racing SPEED Challenge Touring cars, the SunTrust MotoST Super Twin motorcycles and the inaugural race for SCCA Pro Racing's newest series; the Volkswagen Jetta TDI Cup. This series for identical turbo-diesel VWs pits thirty aspiring young racers in a quest for the championship and a chance at a professional road racing drive for 2009. Race fans voted the 2006 finish of the Daytona Prototype race at VIR as the "move of the year," cementing VIR's reputation as one of the most exciting tracks in the country.
With VIR's reputation as a challenging, fun track, the SCCA races drew a collection of some of the best race drivers in the nation. Eleven members of the Road Racing Drivers' Club were assembled, some racing, some helping other racers, but all present for the love of the sport. Don Knowles, from nearby Pittsboro, N.C. is secretary of the club and was joined by members from as far away as Texas in their favorite weekend activity. Membership in RRDC is by invitation only. Members include famed drivers including John Andretti; Peter Brock, designer of the legendary Shelby Cobra Daytona Coupe; Jim Downing, who designed the HANS device with his brother-in-law; Phil Hill; David Hobbs and many more.
In the races on Saturday, after heavy rainstorms halted the action and forced an early lunch, Larry Connor drove his Ralt Formula Atlantic to a big lead on a drying track with sloppily muddy shoulders, eventually holding an advantage of over 40 seconds over the second placed Stohr D Sports Racer wheeled by Ken Tyrrell. In spite of Connor's domination on the track, Keith Grant set fast lap, over a second quicker than Connor's. Canadian racer Jacek Mucha just edged out racing legend Jim Downing in C Sports Racing, with Formula Mazda laurels going to Franklin Futrelle. Mark Eaton captured the Formula SCCA class, while RRDC member John Fergus continued his long history of National victories in Sports 2000. Fifty five cars started the race with only a few dropping out. Racing continued all afternoon, with Lee Hill of Brandon, Florida taking the race for Spec Racer Fords over a field of 37 starters.
The third race of the day, for a variety of sports cars and Mazda Miatas, went to Rob Hines from Arlington, Va., setting a new class record for the T3 class on the way. Showroom Stock B was captured by Chad Gilsinger in another record-setting drive. Proving that the "the family that races together, stays together," the Aquilante family of Chester Springs, Pa. had four entrants in the race. Patron Joe captured third overall and in T3 class, with the rest of the family competing in the SSB category.
Race Four was captured by Greg Ira, with Mike Canney's Corvette taking overall honors in the fifth race. Race Five saw three course records set, as James Goughary, Jason Von Kluge and Robert Hines all set new fastest race laps in their respective classes. Saturday's final race was worthy of its position as the anchor for the day as Jeremy Treadway and Thomas Schwietz (another RRDC member) battled before Treadway moved out to a half-minute margin. But the real race of the day was for Formula Vee. The Volkswagen powered open-wheeled racers staged a multi-car drafting duel for the entire race before Ed Womer just edged out Stevan Davis at the line by a scant inch, according to the officials.
Sunday's weather was much kinder, with slightly cooler temperatures and no precipitation. Larry Connor repeated his romp in the first race, while Jordan Gore captured the hard-fought Spec Racer Ford second race. Omer Norton drove his Caterham Seven Lotus replica to a win in Race Four, making up for his non-start on Saturday. The ground-pounding GT cars and big sedans of the fifth race more than made enough noise for everyone present, with William Gray coming from Springdale, Arizona to take the win over Virginia Beach's William Thumel. The weekend's final race went to Leslie Richard overall, in the Formula Ford category, while Stevan Davis and Ed Womer swapped positions from Saturday, this time by about a half car length.
More sports car excitement returns to VIRginia International Raceway the weekend of April 25-27, with the Grand American Road Racing Association prototypes and GT cars plus supporting events including the inaugural SCCA VW Jetta TDI Cup race and SPEED Challenge Touring cars, Formula SAE Collegiate Challenge and MOTO-ST motorcycles on April 25-27...