PPG Neon Charity Challenge Presented by Yazaki Race 1 - Saturday, August 19, 2000 Race one of the PPG Neon Charity Challenge Presented by Yazaki took place at Road America today as a record-breaking field of 75 Dodge and Plymouth Neons...
PPG Neon Charity Challenge Presented by Yazaki
Race 1 - Saturday, August 19, 2000
Race one of the PPG Neon Charity Challenge Presented by Yazaki took place at Road America today as a record-breaking field of 75 Dodge and Plymouth Neons piloted by professional club racers and charity drivers attacked the 4-mile Road America circuit for championship points and prize money. There were four classes of competition in the field today, including SSB (coupe), SSC (sedan), Charity Pro and Charity Novice to support the Rainbow Connection with a $154,000 donation in the 30-minute race. Mark Hansen drove to the win in SSB and overall competition, followed by Bill Bartlett and Toby Grahovec. In the SSC class, Tom Start won, followed by Larry DuLude and Joel Lipperini. Tom Cotter, Chairman and CEO, Cotter Group, brought home first-place in the Charity Pro class leading Doug Peterson, president, 3-Dimensional Services and Harlan Bettenhausen, owner, Bettenhausen Dodge across the line. The Celebrity Novice class win went to Terry Tobey, president, Key Chrysler/Plymouth/ Dodge/Jeep, followed by Floyd Hall, former chairman, president and CEO of Kmart Corporation, and Larry Bruzzese, vice president, Vehicle Research and Development. Bartlett, the SSB and overall pole sitter for race one lead the massive field into turn one over class points leader Toby Grahovec and Joel Lipperini, who lead the SSC class and Mark Hansen. Bartlett received a closed black flag later as a warning for bump-drafting Hansen. Tom Start held the second qualifying position in the SSC class, followed by Larry DuLude, defending class champion and points leader, and Sam Ryan. In Charity Pro competition, Tom Cotter and Carl Jensen built up a sizeable lead and moved through the field while constantly battling around the 14-turn course. Jensen later went off-course on lap five of the ten-lap race. The PPG Neon Charity Challenge Presented by Yazaki race experienced one full course yellow, resulting in a one-lap shoot-out to the finish, providing an exciting end to the day. There were 61 of the 75 Neon race starters remaining on the lead lap at the drop of the checkered flag. Charity Pro driver Carl Jensen, Charity Novice driver Frank Butterworth and club racer Kjell Skavnes were examined for precautionary measures and released from the infield medical center after incidents on course.
Mark Hansen, SSB and overall winner:
"Bartlett was really quick, but I was better on the brakes and in the kink," said Hansen. "I got a great jump on the restart so that helped considerably. We found a problem with the brakes right before the race and put on new pads and rotors, and that proved to be the difference."
Tom Start, SSC class winner and fourth overall:
"I have been racing here for many years, first starting in the Neon Super Cup, and have contested several SCCA nationals here so knowing the track really helped," said Start. "I got a good start and moved up a few positions in the first couple of laps. I know how the field is going to start tomorrow, and I'm really happy because I'll have a few SSB guys between me and the next SSC car."
Tom Cotter, Charity Pro winner:
"We all had a good start, but everyone nearly came to a complete stop in turn one and I cut across the grass and passed about ten cars," said Charity Pro winner Tom Cotter. "These cars are so evenly matched that if someone is drafting you, there isn't anything you can do about it. This series is like a poor man's IROC (International Race of Champions), and to have this much fun for such a good cause, is a wonderful marriage."
Terry Tobey, Charity Novice winner:
"I ran with Floyd (Hall) all day long and I almost had him in turn one a couple of times," said Terry Tobey. "All the charity guys were great and clean and the club guys were awesome too. They showed us a video about the children of the Rainbow Connection before the race, and there wasn't a dry eye in the house. It's great to be involved with a charity like this."