Ken Stiver IRP Race Report 99-05-07

Stiver Posts Back-to-Back Victories at IRP INDIANAPOLIS, May 11 - Driving in what he admits may have been "the race of my life," Ken Stiver of Avon, Ind., started dead last but still won the Formula Continental race...

Stiver Posts Back-to-Back Victories at IRP

INDIANAPOLIS, May 11 - Driving in what he admits may have been "the race of my life," Ken Stiver of Avon, Ind., started dead last but still won the Formula Continental race Saturday at Indianapolis Raceway Park (IRP). Then, to make his weekend even better, he won a similar race at IRP Sunday afternoon to take both halves of the divisional race in the Sports Car Club of America (SCCA) regional event, part of the Central Division/Cincinnati Region's Midsummer Madness - Champagne Sprints series.

Stiver now has a healthy lead in the point standings going into this series' finale, another doubleheader July 3-4 at the Mid-Ohio Sports Car Course in Lexington, Ohio.

Driving a Citation Formula 2000/Formula Continental car sporting Hoosier tires, Stiver qualified first in class and second overall for Saturday's race that morning despite a rainstorm. The car developed a problem with its clutch when it approached the starting grid later Saturday afternoon, however, and he was barely able to get push-started and join the field prior to the green flag. The problem forced him to join the 15-car field in the rear for the 13-lap race on IRP's 2.5-mile, 15-turn road course.

"I guess it made me even more determined," said Stiver, a native of Logansport, Ind. "I started passing cars right and left and worked my way up through the field for the win. It was definitely the most gratifying win I've ever had."

At the end of the stirring drive on Saturday he crossed the finish line in second place overall and first in the Formula Continental class. Mylon Stockton of Fishers, Ind., led the whole way in a Formula Mazda car, but Stiver was only 2.962 seconds behind at the line. He was 40 seconds ahead of the third-place finisher overall, and he set the fastest lap of all the competitors in the race. He was 4 seconds faster than the fastest Formula Atlantic car in the field Saturday.

Another gratifying part of the race was how the tables were turned on one of his particularly tough competitors. "On Saturday I dove down and had two wheels in the grass in turn three when I passed him, and by the end of the race I had lapped him," he said.

"At the checkered flag I was almost a minute ahead of the guy behind me. I finally turned some heads I think. I really want to thank my wife, Kim; my chief mechanic, Rick Smith of Indianapolis; and also Dave Garner at Hoosier Tires Midwest-Indy for helping me with my tires. I also want to thank Steve Lathrop and Richard Pere of Indianapolis Competition Products, designers and builders of the Citation chassis, and Craig Richey of North American Race Parts for their help."

Things went a little easier on Sunday, as he qualified fifth overall and second in class and won the division again, taking the checkered in third-place overall. He still had clutch problems at the start, but he set the fastest lap of anyone in that race too, posting one lap that was 2 seconds faster than the more powerful Formula Atlantic cars in the field. The average speed of his fastest race lap on Sunday was 1.403 seconds better than he ran on Saturday. Sunday's race was run under sunny skies but it was overcast and cold on Saturday. Phil Gumpert of Noblesville, Ind., won Sunday's event in a Swift Formula Atlantic car.

"My tires were pretty used up by Sunday, and I had my hands full," Stiver said. "I was hanging it out in every turn. I was so loose it was wild. It was definitely a handful, but it was fun!"

Now Stiver will turn his attention to a different role in motorsports, as he will be working in the data acquisition area on the pit crew of Jeret Schroeder's Purity Farms G-Force Infiniti for the Indianapolis 500 at Indianapolis Motor Speedway. Schroeder will be running as a teammate to Roberto Guerrero at Cobb Racing when practice gets underway on Saturday at the Brickyard.

"In 1995 Jeret and I were competitors in the U.S. Formula 2000 pro series, which uses the same type of car as my Citation, and he ended up as the national champion of that series. I'm going to be doing everything I can to help him try to win the Bank One Rookie of the Year Award at Indy this year," said Stiver, who has aspirations to advance into the SCCA KOOL/Toyota Atlantic Series or the Pep Boys Indy Racing League himself. "Helping Jeret become the top rookie at Indy this year is my next goal. Then in June I'll turn my attention back to my driving, because I want to try to keep this streak going!"

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Series SCCA
Drivers Jeret Schroeder , Roberto Guerrero , Ken Stiver , Phil Gumpert