RACE: Popielarz wins SSB at Moroso "Longest Night"

PALM BEACH GARDENS, FL -- Friday, January 12, 2001 -- Terri Popielarz, formerly Hundertmark, had to fight more than the car and conditions at the "Longest Night of Moroso" 24-Hour SCCA event, held here, at Moroso Motorsports Park. The ...

PALM BEACH GARDENS, FL -- Friday, January 12, 2001 -- Terri Popielarz, formerly Hundertmark, had to fight more than the car and conditions at the "Longest Night of Moroso" 24-Hour SCCA event, held here, at Moroso Motorsports Park. The Indianapolis-resident had a last minute ride change that placed her in a new class and an entirely different type of car. However, in her true spirit and tradition, Popielarz overcame those obstacles to take the SSB-class win (20th overall) in the #00 Car Revolution.com/ Black Forrest Tuning 1995 Mazda Miata.

The Black Forest team with Caroline Van Vurst (owner of the race car), Belinda Endress (a fellow Women's Global GT Series racer with Popielarz), Steve Shelton Jr. (a competitor in the Ferrari Challenge and Formula Ford) and William (Bill) D. Fondriest (who races BMWs in SCCA competition and a Porsche 962 in vintage racing) co-driving with Popielarz led from the pole position. The Miata was prepared by Black Forest Tuning out of Deland, Florida with 1996 Indianapolis 500-winning chief mechanic Brian Nott working as crew chief and Jim Shoemaker as chief mechanic.

Popielarz and Endress have been rivals in the WGGTS for some time, each racing a full-season schedule in 2000. This was the first time that the two teamed together on the track, though they have worked together multiple times in the past to promote the WGGTS off the track. Said Popielarz: "Belinda is talented and we get along well. I have respect for her. We have a similar background of how we grew up and how we got into racing. We also have similar goals and both of us work hard to meet them. It was a blast to get to race as a teammate with someone like that." She would go on to say: "Our whole Black Forest Tuning Team was talented. Steve's (Shelton) dad was a Formula Atlantic Champion in the 80's and he has that same talent, Caroline (Van Vurst) has experience in racing Miatas, Bill (Fondriest) has raced extensively in Vintage and BMW club racing. That is a lot of talent. Add to that two Indy-winning crew members on the team (Dave Popielarz in 1995 with Jacques Villenueve and Team Green and Nott in 1996 with Buddy Lazier and Hemelgarn Racing), we knew we'd be in good shape."

The 2000 "Longest Night" marks the second time that Popielarz has used the race as an effort to raise funding for Racing For Kids. She also used the endurance event for that purpose in 1999, her only other "Longest Night of Moroso" start. The 2000 effort was a success as the #00 collected pledges for the number of laps that it completed in the grueling endurance event. All the money raised through the pledges has been donated to Racing For Kids to go to the healthcare needs of needy children in the area. In advance of the event she visited with children at The Richard and Pat Johnson Children Hospital at St. Mary's Medical Center in West Palm Beach.

As the sole female spokesperson for Racing For Kids, Popielarz helps raise awareness of the health-care needs of children in the communities in which she races. Racing For Kids, has raised over $1.5 million since its creation.

The event marked the first time that Terri has worked with husband Dave Popielarz at the track. Dave, crew chief for Mo Nunn's CART effort, acted as a crewmember for his wife. Dave has help crew several championship teams in CART and SportsCar/IMSA throughout his career.

"We went from the outhouse to the penthouse on this one! At the first of the weekend, the original car that we were to run with Team Phoenix blew up. Knowing that there was no way it was going to run, to driving for Black Forest Tuning and taking a class win is hard to believe," Popielarz reflected. "I want to thank the Black Forest Tuning crew, my teammates and everyone that supported the Racing For Kids effort, especially the folks at Race Rock. I guess maybe my Christmas present came late."

-MsSpeed.com

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About this article
Series SCCA
Drivers Belinda Endress , Steve Shelton Jr , Mo Nunn