FERRARI HISTORIC CHALLENGE CONCLUDES SEASON AT LIME ROCK PARK (LAKEVILLE, CT, July 23) Even a passing thundershower couldn't dampen the final 2006 event of the Shell Ferrari/Maserati Historic Challenge, held this weekend at Lime Rock Park as...
FERRARI HISTORIC CHALLENGE CONCLUDES SEASON AT LIME ROCK PARK
(LAKEVILLE, CT, July 23) Even a passing thundershower couldn't dampen the final 2006 event of the Shell Ferrari/Maserati Historic Challenge, held this weekend at Lime Rock Park as part of Ferrari Racing Days.
The field was one of the best seen in the series, with racers ranging from an important pre-war Maserati and an equally important Alfa Romeo (the Scuderia Ferrari raced Alfas in the '30s) to a pair of 512 BB/LMs from 1980. Five of the famous 250 GTOs added excitement to the field, as did trios of 250 GT SWBs and Maserati 200 SIs.
The Shell Historic grid is divided into two groups, separating older cars with drum brakes from the newer disc-braked racers. Tom Price, the 2004 Drum champion, was on pole in his Maserati 200 SI, just ahead of the defending champion, Peter LeSaffre in a Ferrari 250 "Tour de France." Peter Greenfield's 1935 Alfa Romeo 8C/35 and Tony Wang's Maserati 300 S filled the second row of the 13-car grid.
Price took an immediate lead but within a few laps Greenfield had moved into a close second, and ultimately took the lead after the two cars lightly touched. Price eventually spun off and was unable to restart, giving second place to LeSaffre, who was busy holding off Bob Bodin in a similar TdF. Perennial winner Peter Giddings, in the ex-Whitney Straight 1934 Maserati 8CM, had suffered major mechanical problems, and had posted no qualifying time. He started at the back after all-night repairs, and was up to fifth place at the checker.
Greenfield, LeSaffre, Jon Shirley in a 500 Mondial (over Dan Ghose in a 750 Monza and Herb Wolfe's Maserati 200 SI), and Jack Boxtrom in a Ferrari 250 Ellena were each presented trophies as class winners.
Friday was a tough day for the pair of 512 BB/LMs expected to dominate the Disc group. Both cars were driven by past champions, Todd Morici and Jim Fuchs, and both suffered mechanical failures in practice and failed to qualify. Morici was out for the weekend, but Fuch's Motion Products crew pulled another all-nighter, and his BB/LM was ready for Saturday's races.
Rob Dusek had qualified his 365 P2/3 on pole. Peter Sachs, a one-time track record holder at Lime Rock, qualified second in his 250 GTO, ahead of Chuck Wegner's 196 SP and Bob Benedict's 308 GT/M. Seven more 250s -- GTOs and SWBs -- plus Tony Wang's Maserati Birdcage and Fuch's BB/LM starting last made up the grid for the first Disc race.
Dusek initially took a strong lead (and said later he had hoped to lead at least four or five laps) but by the third lap Fuchs had used the superior power and torque of the 512 engine to pass Dusek for the lead. Fuchs was never challenged, and had a ten second margin at the checkered flag.
The 250s had a terrific battle, but Tom Price, the defending champion in a 250 GTO, could never quite catch Sachs, but finished second ahead of Shirley, Paul Pappalardo, and Greg Whitten, all also in GTOs. Three 250 SWBs driven by LeSaffre, Nick Colonna, and John Romano seemed to switch positions on every lap; ultimately Romano was ahead when it counted.
Fuchs dedicated his win to his crew, who had made it possible. Other class winners were Sachs, Dusek, Wegner and Benedict. An additional award was presented to Romano, as the best 250 "not a GTO."
And then the rains came. A sprinkle turned into heavy rain, and as it continued a number of competitors (and spectators) decided the day was over and left.
It seems a Lime Rock tradition to see radical weather swings in one day. By the scheduled time for the second pair of races the rain had stopped, the track was drying, and it seemed likely the sun would reappear. Series officials decided that the last pair of races would be run as ten lap trophy dashes; fun races for both the drivers and spectators who remained.
Greenfield dominated the Drum race. Giddings got close before suffering another mechanical problem; Price started his 200 SI at the back and moved up, but never to a challenging position. Shirley finished second and took another class trophy, as did LeSaffre and Boxstrom.
The day finished with the Disc group trophy dash. Dusek and Sachs had left and Fuchs was not expected to start (his BB/LM fitted with slicks and the track still damp), so Wegner's 196 SP led Price, Shirley and Whitten in GTOs, and LeSaffre and Romano in SWBs, plus Wang in his Birdcage.
As the field rolled off the pre-grid Fuchs appeared at the back (to the enthusiastic applause of the spectators). Fuchs passed the entire field on the first lap, and blasted to an easy 50 second margin by the finish. Wegner, Price, and LeSaffre were also awarded trophies for class wins.
At the final podium ceremony a special award was presented by Bose, a sponsor of the Ferrari Challenge. Shawn Thomas, responsible for the preparation of Giddings' and Price' cars, was recognized for his assistance to many competitors during the year. He was presented the largest trophy of the weekend plus a certificate allowing him to select from the extensive line of Bose sound products and systems.