Western Series Rounds 1 & 2

Thursday, October 28, 2004 The opening rounds of the Skip Barber Western Race Series enjoyed great weather and an enthusiastic collection of drivers. The weekend’s field size dictated two divisions — Sportsman and Championship — and by Sunday afternoon we had witnessed our typical good racing and good times…

G1R1 (Championship)
New guy (er, new boy) Ryan Phinny, fresh out of a three-day and an ADV2, took pole in qualifying and though he led flag-to-flag, Phinny had to hold off a charging Tim Traver, who fell just half-a-second short at the end. Doug Melvin started P2 and was there through the first six laps, but he spun himself back to fourth exiting T2. When Quentin Wahl went four-off in 10 with a bit more than a lap to go, Melvin got his podium. Darin Marcus worked his way impressively from ninth on the grid to fourth at the finish, ahead of Wahl, with Dave House, Dennis Rock, Vito Racano and Curt Berg rounding out the finishers. Roger Cote parked it halfway, after suffering some damage from early-race contact with Racano. By the way, we should mention that Boy Phinny is an experienced karter, so don’t feel too bad about losing to a rookie, guys…

Twenty-two minutes before this shot was taken, Mikel Miller told a joke. Flamboyant Kris (r.) and Double-R just got it…

Wayne “Wendy O.” Williams used to drive Canadian CASCAR stockers and gave our open-wheelers a try at Laguna, copping a fine fifth in Sunday’s race and sixth in the Yankees & Astros Memorial.

G1R2 (Championship)
The experienced Wahl strutted his stuff in race-two qualifying to snatch the pole, with Marcus alongside, and they ran one-two early on. The race then became a Four-Off Festival: On lap three, Marcus found the dirt in Nine; House, who had been as high as P2, bounced over the same real estate on lap eight; with three to go, Leader Wahl gave it up when he went agricultural in the fast and tricky Turn Six area. One lap before that had happened, Phinny — remember him? — who had started fifth, had snatched second from Traver. Wahl’s wobble put Phinny in front and Traver in second. When Wahl came in for his four-off check, that gave third to the Melvin, who had come all the way from last. Well done.

Double-T and Double-R were in a desperately fought ”Best Sunglasses” competition; regrettably, taking the gold medal was Jim Clark and his old school aviators, which had inexplicably swayed the Russian judge…

Ryan “Albert” Phinny, probably past his prime at 14, applied his karting experience to the R/T 2000 and won twice.

G2R1 (Sportsman)
Whew! Definitely a case of Last Man (or Woman) Standing! If you put a checkmark next to the name of any driver who either went four-off or crashed, there’s just one who is checkmark free. And guess what? He won the race! (lol!) Yep, Dana ”Like a” Rock was steady as she goes and was the only driver in the field not to have some sort of incident, and it paid off big time. Rock’s first-time victory came from a starting position of seventh. Anyway, when the dust [literally] settled, it was Rock, Gray Gregory and Tom Roberts on the podium, followed by Sarena Traver (Tim’s hooked-up wife) and Daniel Cheadle, the last cars running. Though Theobald didn’t finish, he still had a great time in this race. We’ll let him tell it in his own words… ”My first race I started in eighth, had a great start and came through T2 in P3. Next lap, P1 and P2 took each other out and I inherited a lead I wasn’t ready for! Three laps before the end I had a coming-together in Turn Five with P2, he went on. I didn’t… the new groupings help tremendously. So much more fun…”

The Sportsman group put on a very exciting show at Laguna.

Sprague “Theobald Sprague” Theobald (r.) said the new grouping-format was a lot of fun. Here, he gives some advice to Government Grant Ryley, who would parlay it into a Memorial win later in the day.

Rick Roso

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