We've always known that Skip Barber Race Series competitors were resilient, but last week's tragedy and subsequent air travel shutdown allowed several to display their mettle. Besides dealing with the emotional stress caused by the devastation in...
We've always known that Skip Barber Race Series competitors were resilient, but last week's tragedy and subsequent air travel shutdown allowed several to display their mettle. Besides dealing with the emotional stress caused by the devastation in New York, Washington and Pennsylvania, racers looking for a reprieve in racing faced the daunting challenge of getting to Road America and the Midwest Regional finale, if only for a breather from the previous week's distress.
Overcoming those obstacles proved fascinating as exemplified by four racers who had championship aspirations. Take Roland Isra, who waited out an eight-hour delay at LaGuardia Airport, finally catching a flight to Milwaukee just in time to qualify. Isra, the current Midwest Masters champion, was looking to repeat as champion with a strong outing. Then there's Tim Traver, out of San Diego, who made a split decision to share a private jet cleared to leave the West Coast. Traver literally ran out of his house without packing [no suit, no helmet] to catch the only ride available to him. Traver's stake in the weekend was a possible third place overall result in the championship.
Equally impressive were Daniel Lancaster and Chris Baker, both caught in a myriad of problems that effectively grounded them. Lancaster, out of Florida, and Baker, from Texas, were poised to shoot it out for the championship at the Elkhart Lake track. Baker held a slight advantage heading into the weekend but needed to attend the event to be officially coronated. Lancaster had shown all season that winning a pair over a race weekend was entirely possibly. A Baker no-show would have only facilitated matters for him.
The Brazilian born racer was initially delayed in Atlanta en route to the Midwest. Meanwhile, Baker was considering his limited options in Texas. As of Thursday prior to the weekend, neither had managed to get any closer to Elkhart Lake.
Skip Barber Race Series Director Divina Galica was caught in the middle, committed to going forward with the race weekend but clearly uneasy at the prospect of the leader's absence.
"I wanted to get them both into qualifying. So we had to run qualifying for Group 1 and 3 followed by Group 1's first race," said Galica. "I kept in telephone contact with Chris and Daniel and we were eventually able to run the Championship group 2 qualifying when both contenders arrived at about noon on Saturday. I want to thank all the drivers who waited patiently through all the schedule changes."
On Saturday, before Lancaster boarded the plane that would eventually deliver him from Atlanta, Baker embarked on what many consider one of his best drives. After picking up the keys to his rental car on Thursday, Baker motored directly through five states, from Texas to Wisconsin, not stopping to sleep on Thursday and half of Friday night. Though he arrived in less than ideal condition to qualify, the popular racer earned pole position for the championship-determining race.
Hats off to all the racers, family and friends who found a way to come together in Wisconsin, rewarded with a fantastic and uplifting race weekend.