N.A. Ferrari Challenge - Texas - Final Day FORT WORTH, TX, APRIL 9. Familiar names finished on top of the results sheets from the first event of the 2001 North American Ferrari Challenge season, but a group of enthusiastic new drivers, as well...
N.A. Ferrari Challenge - Texas - Final Day
FORT WORTH, TX, APRIL 9. Familiar names finished on top of the results sheets from the first event of the 2001 North American Ferrari Challenge season, but a group of enthusiastic new drivers, as well as drivers returning from the early days of the series, suggest that this year will see some of the most exciting racing yet.
In the first race for Group A 360s, Polesitter Jim McCormick (Ferrari of Washington) led only as far as the first corner, where he was passed by defending 360 Champion Steve Earle (Ferrari of Houston). Earle led every lap, but behind him Lucio Nicolodi (Ferrari of Beverly Hills) fought with McCormick and Carlos Hank, Jr. (Ferrari of Houston) for second place. Nicolodi turned the fastest race lap, .25 seconds faster than the qualifying record, but a brief trip off-track kept him from passing the Washington driver. The final order was Earle, McCormick, Nicolodi, and Hank.
Carlos Hank Sr. (Ferrari of Houston) dominated the first Class B race. Hank started on pole, holding off George Flefel (Ferrari of Washington) who was driving his first Challenge race. Flefel tried a variety of tactics, and turned the fastest race lap (by 7/10 second) but the experienced Hank was able to hold off Flefel's every challenge. Gary Eyler (Lake Forest Sports Cars), driving with a strained back, completed the podium. In addition to the 360s, seven 355s raced in Group B. Phillip Shearer (Ferrari of Long Island) was the fastest 355 qualified, led every lap among the 355s, and turned the fastest 355 race lap. Michael Louli (Ferrari of Ontario) and Ken Rice (Ferrari of Dallas) shared the 355 podium with Shearer.
The second Group A race produced results similar to the first. Earle every lap from pole, taking the win over McCormick and Hank Jr. Nicolodi ran as high as second, but a spin dropped him to 12th; his battle back through the field was the highlight of the race.
In the second Group B race two of the podium spots were familar; Flefel again finished second and Eyler third. Carlos Hank Sr. had been moved to Group A, and the Group B winner was Doug Peterson (Shelton Sports Cars), another driver new to the Challenge. Peterson started dead last, having failed to finish the first race when he was hit by another competitor. Peterson's drive from last to first was clearly the outstanding drive of the day, and in addition to the winner's trophy he was also selected as "Best New Driver." Shearer again won the 355 class, over Denis Boule and Ken Rice, two drivers new to the series from the Ferrari of Dallas team.,
The day ended with a one-hour Endurance Challenge race. The team of Steve Earle and Kevin Crowder combined fast driving and strategy for the win, over Darius Grala (Shelton Sports Cars) and McCormick.
The weather was ideal for racing, with the threatened rain never appearing. There were few incidents, and driver comments both about the quality of the racing as well as new Challenge features (a complete hospitality unit, for instance) made clear that this was one of the best Challenge events yet.