FM Challege Winter Series Sonoma race 1 summary

Winter Series Race One - Goncalvez on Pole - Lewis Awarded Win 19 Cars take the green for race one at Infineon Raceway This past Saturday the Formula Mazda Winter Series had their first race of the championship at Infineon Raceway. Nineteen cars...

Winter Series Race One - Goncalvez on Pole - Lewis Awarded Win
19 Cars take the green for race one at Infineon Raceway

This past Saturday the Formula Mazda Winter Series had their first race of the championship at Infineon Raceway. Nineteen cars showed up for the event that featured both Pro Formula Mazdas and Standard Formula Mazdas.

In the Pro class Jorge Goncalvez proved early in the week that he was going to be quick, and on Saturday he did not disappoint turning the fastest lap times in qualifying and the race. Team Apex, the team running Goncalvez, also showed their speed as Goncalvez crashed in the morning warmup and they rebuilt his car and got it aligned in just a couple of hours.

Goncalvez gridded next to 2009 series champion Chuck Hulse. Patrick O'Neill had the second fastest qualifying time, but had an incident and had to go to a spare car for the race which put him at the back of the field. Hulse's third fastest time made him the beneficiary of a spot on the front row. At the start Goncalvez accelerated out of turn eleven and then checked up sending an accordion effect down through the field. The Star Mazda and NASA rules state that once the pole sitter has established the start speed for the field, that speed must remain constant until the starter displays the green flag. The race director immediately made the decision not to black flag the Venezuelan which would have certainly affected his race more than the one position penalty he was assessed at the close of the race. Corey Lewis, who was driving for GDT, had been on Goncalvez from the start and his track position made him the benefactor of the penalty. "It was unfortunate that after such a great week that the race would start in this manner, but the racing was fantastic anyway and there were battles for position all over the track," stated series official Ben Hettema. Chuck Hulse was able to work his way up and finish on the third step of the podium, but it wasn't easy. Michael Guasch was on Hulse's tailcone for the most of the final laps and Guasch was turning slightly faster lap times than Hulse.

In the Standard FM class it was business as usual with Bill Weaver taking the pole position and the win. Derry O'Donovan took the second position, followed by Stew Tabak. "This was the final race of the Molecule Formula Mazda Challenge series," added Hettema. "It was nice to have seven of the Standard FM drivers join us, although we were missing some of our regulars."

The next event for the Formula Mazda Winter Series is the Phoenix International Raceway double header that takes place during the Arizona Region's 3rd Annual December Vintage Classic presented by Russo and Steele.

2009 Molecule FM Challenge Awards Banquet Announcement
The series will party at a different type of race track on January 9th

As part of the continuing relationship with NASA the Molecule Formula Mazda Challenge Series has been invited to participate in the official NASA Awards banquet. "We are very appreciative of everything NASA has done to make the series successful this year," stated Series Official Ben Hettema. "Getting the invitation to participate in the official NASA banquet is another added bonus of working with such a professional level sanctioning body."

This season's banquet will take place at the Turf Club at Golden Gate Fields. The Turf Club Restaurant has great views of Mount Tamalpais, San Francisco Bay, Alcatraz Island and the Golden Gate Bridge, and offers patrons fine cuisine prepared by Executive Chef Miguel Porras. The prime rib banquet will commence at 11am on January 9th, 2010 and all Molecule Formula Mazda Challenge awards and prizes will be presented at this event.

Golden Gate Fields is a horse racing track on the border between Albany and Berkeley situated along the shoreline of San Francisco Bay. The track's facilities currently include a one-mile dirt track and a turf course measuring 9/10 of a mile, stalls for more than 1,350 horses, a main grandstand with seating for approximately 9,000, a clubhouse with seating for approximately 4,500, and the Turf Club with seating for approximately 1,200 and parking for over 8,500 cars.

In addition to the NASA event, World Speed hosted a series end dinner party for participants at their headquarters following the final race on November 7th.

Additional event details are expected to be announced after the holidays.


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Series Road racing
Drivers Chuck Hulse , Jorge Goncalvez , Corey Lewis