Hot Track, Hot Racing at Heartland Park Topeka TOPEKA, Kan. (June 18, 2007) -- There's no better place to spend Father's Day than at the track, which is where many Midwest Division Club Racers spent their weekend for the KVRG Salute To ...
Hot Track, Hot Racing at Heartland Park Topeka
TOPEKA, Kan. (June 18, 2007) -- There's no better place to spend Father's Day than at the track, which is where many Midwest Division Club Racers spent their weekend for the KVRG Salute To Workers National at Heartland Park Topeka. In stark contrast to last year's SCCA National Championship Runoffs, competitors were faced with blistering 90-degree temperatures and struggled to find grip on the greasy course.
Starting on pole in Spec Miata, Charlie James was looking for his second win of the season. James and Houston Region's Tony Rivera broke away from the pack early, but a nasty slide by James in Turn Four was all Rivera needed to pull alongside and takeover the lead. James was able to stick with Rivera through the remainder of the race, but never mounted a serious challenge. It would be the first of two wins on the day for Rivera who also took home the top E Production prize in Group 3, driving a Mazda RX7.
Colorado Region's J.R. Osborne reminded everyone who the reigning D Sports Racing Runoffs polesitter was by taking the class handily in Group Two.
Cliff Johnson was the early leader in Formula Ford, but his Piper fell out of the race just past the halfway mark. Eric Langbein, of the D.C. Region, was the benefactor in his Van Diemen, and was able to pull a gap quickly on the dueling Swifts of William Kephart and Bill Johnson. They would finish in that order.
Midwest Division Formula Vee point leader Lisa Noble was clearly on a mission as she weaved her Vortech from third to first in the opening corners of the race. After such a great start, Noble's day ended in disappointment just three laps later as her car slowed to a stop in the runoff area at Turn One with apparent mechanical problems. Polesitter Stephen Oseth inherited the lead and commenced a race-long battle with Stephen Dreizler. The two Vortechs shared a couple of side-by-side moments, some of which resulted in short lead changes. But Oseth, the reigning FV National Champion, was able to hold off Dreizler for the win.
The key to success in Group Three was staying out of trouble in the opening laps. Spinning cars shook things up in the GT-1 class, but not enough to stop current Midwest Division point leader Shawn Gray from running away with the win in his Chevrolet Corvette. Behind him, an excellent battle developed for the remaining podium spots. As Gray motored into the distance, the Corvette of Simon Gregg and Camaro of Douglass Johnson ran nose to tail before swapping positions on lap eight. Gregg attempted to use a thick batch of late-race traffic to reclaim his runner-up spot, but it was seventh-place starter Tom Smith in a Camaro, who stunned both Gregg and Johnson to take second place. Gregg finished third.
Texas Region's Paul Baynard Jr. took GT2 class honors, followed by GT3 winner Pete Peterson, of the Central Carolinas Region, both in Toyota Celicas.
Starting on the F Production pole, it appeared current FP National Champion Jesse Prather was on his way to another Heartland Park victory when second and third-place starters Eric Prill and Bob Bramlage immediately began to jockey for the runner-up spot. But Prill's Lotus Super 7 made quick work of Bramlage's Mazda Miata and spent the rest of the race reeling in Prather. It wasn't until Lap 16 that Prill would finally make his move stick on Prather, pulling alongside the Miata in Turns 6 and 7 and winning the drag race out of the chicane. It was Prill's second win of the season as he continues to lead the Midwest Division points.
Colorado Region's Cliff White had a flawless drive in Spec Racer Ford, while the battle raged on behind him. After breaking free of Michael Wold Steele, John Stickler was able to put a firm hold on the second spot, leaving Steele and Kenneth Sellenriek to continue the fight for third. Sellenriek would take the position.
Chris Bovis took a commanding GT-Lite win in his Honda CRX, his second of the season, as did H Production victor John Salisbury, of the Blackhawk Valley Region, in an Austin Healey Sprite.
Large victory margins abounded in Group Five, where David Wilcox took home his third Formula Atlantic win of the season in a Swift DB4. Atlanta Region's Jim Downing put several cars between his Ralt and the next C Sports Racing car of local driver Mike McGinley to take home the CSR win, while Cal Club's Joe Moran took the Sports 2000 win by a comfortable margin.
Also in Group Five, Sam Stuard, of the Susquehanna Region, made an impressive run from third to first on the opening lap in Formula Mazda. Ken DeNault was able to hang with Stuard for awhile, but soon had to worry about fellow Des Moines Valley member Mark Greb, who would go on to finish second behind Stuard.
Group Six closed out the day and there were no surprises in Touring 1, where polesitter Andrew Aquilante of the Philadelphia Region breezed to the win in his Chevrolet Corvette, followed by the Corvettes of Mike McGinley and Jerry Onks, finishing in their qualifying order.
In America Sedan, after a quick back-and-forth between Jim Wheeler's Pontiac Firebird and Kyle Watkins' Ford Mustang, Watkins, of the Colorado Region, took over the lead and motored into the distance for the win. Another Colorado Region member, Ross Andrews, led the Showroom Stock B group to the checkered flag.
For full results, visit the Midwest Division website at www.middiv.org.
The next Midwest Division Club National at Heartland Park is scheduled for August 18-19 and SCCA Club Racers across the country are eager to hear if the planned course changes will be completed in time for some early National Championship Runoffs tuning.