Masters National at Road America

Friday, July 08, 2005 The gist of the giant Road America Race Weekend was Jagermeister and dryer riding… No, wait, that’s another story… The real essence of the weekend was Quentin Wahl. Well, at least as far as the Masters National Guys (and gal) were concerned…

Wahl had been absent from the Series for more than a year, but showed that he most assuredly still has what it takes. He dominated practice, qualifying and for the most part, the races, of this 17-car field (the biggest we have seen in a while!). The majority of the weekend was bathed in sunshine, with warm temperatures and no rain. Read on for the full story.

Official Practice: Wahl over Peter Tucker by a half a second followed by reigning series champion Chris Willcox, Jimmy Locke, and Jeff Kaiser, in just his second MN race weekend.

1st round qualifying: Wahl over Willcox, Dick Lippert, John Mayes and Kaiser.

2nd round qualifying: Wahl over Lippert, Mayes, Tucker and Kaiser.

RACE ONE (in finishing order):

1st., Quentin Wahl: Quentin led the field to a perfect start, at least as far as he was concerned. Wahl led into One (with Willcox slotting into second) and led the first two laps, but Willcox used the draft on the long front straight on lap three to take the lead. With the same tactic, Wahl got it back the next time by. On lap eight, two to go, Wahl gets steamrolled by a fast charging John Greist and Dick Lippert! Cool as a cucumber Quentin doesn’t panic and picks off one per lap to take the win. Congrats, Q., on a great return to the series.

2nd., Dick Lippert: Dick came to RA third in points and looking for good results. The Road America rounds marked the halfway point in the season and Lippert wanted to close in on Locke (who was just five points in front of him) and, of course, Willcox (69 ahead of Lippert). That reminds me of a joke.. why can’t blondes drive faster than….? Um, never mind. Anyway, Dick started third but wasn’t able to get by Willcox in One. While Dick was focusing on getting by Willcox, he found himself being passed by John Greist! This put Lippert right behind John (reminds me of another joke) for the majority of the race as these two hounded Willcox and Wahl. Finally, on lap eight, Greist and Dick get the draft working and both of them go by Willcox and Wahl! This puts Dick in second and challenging for the lead. But West Coast Swinger Wahl was not having any of this dance move, and got by both of them; Dick brings it home for a fine points paying P2.

Race one, Turn Five, first lap: Wahl (#27), Willcox (#71) and Lippert (#38).

3rd., John Greist: John G., local hometown hero, made good use of his extensive knowledge of Road America to quickly move from eighth on the grid to fifth as the field crossed the line at the start. Clearly, John read the rulebook in regard to starting procedure! (And this is not an easy feat considering how narrow the front straight is.) Greist was able to latch on to the top three and created a four-car breakaway. John was able to get by Wahl and then run past Willcox and Lippert for the lead, but it was short-lived as both Lippert and Wahl battled their way by on the last lap to relegate Greist to the final podium spot. But John did get noteworthy bragging rights: he set fastest race lap.

Greist (#66) at the finish, 1/10th of a second behind Lippert.

4th., Chris Willcox: Chris found himself in several new positions this weekend (at least at the racetrack…) as he didn’t start from pole, and even more of an anomaly, didn’t finish first (for those of you keeping score at home, C-Dub had won seven of the first eight Masters National races this year). But check this out. Willcox was the model of consistency as his fastest laps in Practice, Q1, Q2 and R1 only varied by .4 of a second — and that was in two different cars! Chris did a great job of hounding Quentin. He didn’t let him get away at the start and was able to get by on lap three for the lead (though Wahl got back by on the next lap). This dicing and a one-lap FCY allowed Greist and Lippert to get in the mix, and very quickly Chris found himself in fourth, where he finished. This had the makings of a potential giant cut into Chris’s points lead because he had to leave Saturday night and wouldn’t be able to race on Sunday…

5th., Peter Tucker: Peter, who’s had a couple of excellent P2 finishes this year, really wanted a solid points-scoring weekend. Despite not being able to race at Daytona for rounds five and six, Tucker was fifth in points just behind John Mayes. Tucker spent most of this race dicing with John Peterson, Dario Cioti and Jeff Kaiser, a battle that helped the top four break away. In the end Peter finished P5, a spot better than he started.

6th., John Peterson: John had a great battle with Tucker, Cioti and Kaiser for P4. It took Peterson four or so laps to get by everyone (and a little help from an FCY) and he held the P5 spot for the majority of the race, but Tucker timed things perfectly and got by Peterson on the last lap.

7th., Dario Cioti: Dario’s lap chart looked like a roller coaster ride. Down, up, up, down, up… He was slicing and dicing with Tucker, Peterson and Kaiser. Dario lost a spot at the green and was down to P11. End of the first lap, up to P9. Lap three? Up to sixth! This is where the coaster peaked; on the next lap he slipped back to eighth, but then recovered again, to finish seventh.

8th., Jeff Kaiser: Jeff had more of an “up-and-down, roller coaster” weekend than Dario, but more about that later… As mentioned earlier, Kaiser was part of the awesome battle with Tucker, Peterson and Cioti. On the start of the last lap it looked like Jeff had a shot of taking P5 from Peterson, but in Canada he had a “loss of control” that got him into the wall! Luckily it was only a “glancing blow” and he was able to finish eighth.

9th., Ron Yarab: Ron had a good race, especially considering that he missed the Watkins Glen event and hadn’t been in a racecar since Daytona. He kept taking big chunks out of his lap time. Starting 11th, Yarab got caught out on the narrow front straight at the green and was all the way back in 14th after one lap. But Ron kept his head down and worked his way back up to a very respectable finish.

10th., John Muehl: John’s ride was similar to Yarab’s. End of the first lap, he had fallen two spots from where he started (13th). Following the restart on lap four, he climbed his way back up to round out the top 10. Nice comeback!

11th, Shawn Price: This was Shawn’s first event with us, joining the Skippy crowd to learn the track, since he’s running the August ALMS event here. It took Shawn a little bit to adapt to the car, but each session he just kept getting better. From his eighth-row starting position, he kept his nose clean and moved up a few spots. After the FCY he battled it out with Muehl and brought it home in fine fashion.

12th., Lorin Gill: Lorin has only done one other Masters National event this year, and that was Daytona. Like Price, Lorin had a good conservative start and was keeping in touch up to the restart. After that he lost a bit of ground, but made it to the finish (which was better than others).

13th., Murray Marden: Murray’s race started out great: From his sixth row grid position he was 10th before the FCY. After the restart, he came down in to Turn Five and… spun! Murray kept it on the tarmac, but Jimmy Locke spins in avoidance and ends up in the gravel. Murray continues and claws back a few spots to get 13th.

14th., Susan Addison: Susan made SBRS history this weekend by being the first woman to compete in the Master National’s long and lustrous series. (Back in Daytona, Michele Marden competed in the final Master’s Regional race, which I think might have been history breaking as well.) Susan did a fine job this weekend. She continued to improve her lap times through out the weekend. She stayed clean through T1 and improved three spots to finish 14th.

15th., Jimmy Locke: Jimmy had a tough first race, which was a result of his qualifying session. On his second Q-lap he tagged the wall and damaged his car. He was allowed to make up the seat time, but his T-car lap time wouldn’t count. This put him 12 seconds off of his fast lap and in 15th starting position! At the green, Locke starts the charge: Lap one and he is three spots up. Two more laps and he is 11th. His momentum is slowed by the one-lap FCY and after the re-green, Jimmy’s following Marden down Thunder Valley, rocketing up to Turn Five. As they enter the corner, Marden spins right in front of him! Jimmy goes to avoid, but spins as well, and ends up in the gravel trap. The awesome Road America Safety Crew is on the scene and gets Jimmy going without losing a lap. Still, he’s more than two minutes behind at the checker, in 15th. Not good for the old points, boys and girls, since Lippert finished P2 and Willcox P4.

16th., Mike Edwards: Famous Dr. Mike made his appearance this weekend and as always, smiling and having a good time. Doc stayed consistent from his eighth-place start and ran there for the majority of the race. Mike had several encounters with other drivers as they moved up and down the scoreboard: For the first half he was behind Tucker and fending off Cioti and Yarab. After the FCY he had a shot at getting Kaiser, but Cioti used it to his advantage to slip by Dr. Mike on lap eight, putting Mike in ninth. Then, Edwards proved yet again what a gentleman he is… Since he wasn’t in it for the season points, on the last lap he decided to pit, so that everyone else would get the points. What a guy!

17th., John Mayes: John’s race was looking good. He qualified fourth and was battling with P5 and 6 for the first few laps, but then he got in hot and went into a gravel trap, bringing out the full course caution. It only took one lap to get him out and going, but at that point he was a lap down and DFL, where he would finish. Needless to say, not a good thing for the points chase as he was fourth coming in to RA, 8 points up on Tucker and 12 points behind Lippert. We would have to wait until Sunday morning to see how it all shook out.

A Win for the Wahl.

RACE TWO (in finishing order):

1st., Wahl: You can’t say much more than this: Wahl dominated the race, leading every lap, and that’s no easy feat at draft-happy Road America. He held the lead on the “original” start: On the first lap there was a black flag all, so the restart was in original grid order (minus a couple of cars) and so Quentin maintained the lead. He fended off a hard-charging Mayes for the next two laps, but then all hell broke loose behind him in Canada Corner. After two laps of FCY Quentin again retained the lead, nevertheless fending off an inspired Edwards and Locke to take the victory.

2nd., Locke: Boy oh boy, Jimmy had to make some moves in this race to keep his hand in the points chase. On the restart he was battling with Edwards and Peterson and just before the FCY on lap three, he got by Peterson. And that full course yellow was because of contretemps between three cars in front of Locke, so he was third for the restart. Edwards and Wahl were right in front of him and he could taste the win… He was able to get by Edwards on lap seven and two to go. He hounded Wahl, but juuuuuuuust couldn’t get the pass done in time and finished .089 of a second behind! Great race, guys.

Locke (Big L) and Wahl fly under the starter’s stand, inches apart, at about a buck-five…

3rd., Price: Wow! Talk about Most Progressive award. Was this a Memorial or a Masters National race? Shawn (a.k.a. New Guy) makes it from 15th on the grid to P3. Not enough space to write this one up… Shawn did have quite a bit of help from his fellow competitors as five DNF’d. From the black flag on lap one to the FCY on lap three he was able to get by Muehl, Gill, and Yarab for ninth. After the restart he was sitting in sixth and two laps later picked off late-joiner Auriemma. Next lap, two to go, and he got by Edwards, and on the last lap got by Peterson for the final podium spot. Way to go Shawn!

See that red no. 86, way in the back near the wall? That’s Mr. Price. Yep, got up to P3 at the checker.

4th., Peterson: John had a good race and a fair amount of help as well. He too benefited from the five DNFs. For the majority of the race he was battling it out with Edwards and Locke and followed them as they marched to the front. On lap seven he was able to get by Edwards and looked like he had the final podium spot, but on the last lap, new guy Price got the better of him.

5th., Edwards: Mike had a great race battling with Locke and Peterson from his ninth-place starting position. He got by Locke just before the FCY on lap three and on the restart was second! Edwards and Wahl actually traded the lead during the laps, even though there is no evidence on the scoreboard. This allowed Locke, Price and Peterson to catch up. Using the draft, two got by on the front straight and then another in T5. This relegated Mike to the final top-five position. Still, a great race.

6th., Auriemma: Michael decided Sunday morning to jump in and race and start from the back (or was it that Sue let him?). Either way, he had a great race following, and battling, with Price. On laps five, six and seven they traded positions, with Price getting the better at the end and Michael finishing a fine sixth, just one position shy of matching Price for Most Progressive.

7th., Marden: Murray’s race started off well as he battled with Peterson and Price and all three moved up the scoreboard. After the restart, Auriemma got in the mix and after all the slicing and dicing the dust settled and Murray ended up in seventh — and set fastest race-lap!

8th., Cioti: If only Dario had had a crystal ball… After the black flag on the first lap that took out Kaiser and Lippert, Dario was sitting fifth for the restart. The field took the green and Dario was right there. If only he knew that two laps hence there’d be an FCY and that he would’ve moved up three spots! No way to know, of course, and in an attempt to stay with the group he went four-off and spun in Eight! This dropped him to DFL, but he didn’t give up. The FCY allowed him to catch the tail end of the field and after the green he picked off cars one by one and moved his way up to salvage his eighth.

9th., Yarab: After the lap-one black all, Ron was having a good tussle with Gill. Coming in to the famous (and treacherous) Turn Five, Ron got wide of the apex and lost three spots. After the FCY Ron couldn’t get the pass done on Gill and this allowed the group in front of them to get away. Finally Gill folded under the “pressure from behind” and spun in Canada. This got Ron the P8 spot, but with two laps to go a Crazed Cioti got by and Ron brought it home in ninth.

10th., Muehl: John had a good race, following Gill and Yarab for most of it. In the end Muehl got Gill and finished behind Yarab.

11th., Gill: Lorin and Yarab duked it out heavily and with all the attrition moved up to P8-P9 after the FCY and restart. Lorin had the position over Yarab until lap six when Lorin got in to Canada too hot and spun! This cost him three spots.

12th., Addison: Susan started 16th, but on lap three, just before the FCY, she spun in the Carousel. She managed to keep it on the pavement and not hit anything and was able to continue. After the FCY she was 11th, but the recovering Gill got her by the checker. Susan finished 12th and scored 4 championship points.

13th., Mayes: John did not have a good points-paying weekend. R2 was looking like a good one, however. After the black flag he was sitting second and ready to pounce on Wahl. But on lap three coming out of Canada Corner, John put the “pedal to the metal” too aggressively and spun! Unfortunately he didn’t get it stopped before it backed in to the inside wall. Kudos to John for limping the car off the track and behind a tire wall.

14th., Tucker: Peter was on fire Sunday versus Saturday. On the first last he was able to avoid the “Kaiser Roll” in T5 which brought out the black all, and for the restart it was back to the starting grid “missing man” formation. He was third on the restart, doing a fantastic job of sticking with the leaders, and the next two laps the top four (Wahl, Mayes, Peter and Greist) broke away from the field. But Peter’s race ended early, on lap three. As they approached Canada he went to the brakes, he found there were none. He ran into the back of Greist, taking both of them out of the competition. At the same time, Mayes spun and crashed at the exit of Canada Corner (see above) which brought the only saving grace to the weekend for Peter; Mayes scored less points than Peter and allowed him to improve one position in the overall points.

15th., Greist: A sixth-on-the-grid Greist had a solid start and was able to avoid the “Kaiser Roll” in Five. On the restart John was fourth behind Tucker. Both of them locked in on Mayes and Wahl. Unfortunately for Greist, he managed to get by Tucker on the lap at which point … (please see Tucker above).

16th., Lippert: Starting second thanks to his fantastic qualifying effort on Saturday, Dick was looking forward to making some huge progress in the overall points due to the fact that current points leader Willcox wasn’t racing Sunday. This went to hell in a handbasket when Dick became the casualty of the “Kaiser Roll” on lap one. Dick ended up in the gravel trap but stayed in the car in the hopes that he would be able to continue. The awesome Road America Safety Crew pulled him out but it was apparent that his car could not continue. This ended Dick’s day (except for a trip to the hospital to take a look at his catcher’s mitt of a left hand…).

17th., Kaiser: After Saturday’s race Jeff was looking for a good finish from his P5 starting spot in what was his third-ever Masters National race. He was aggressive on the start and as they came down into Turn Five for the first time, Kaiser was trying to pass Mayes for P3. He broke too late, couldn’t get the car slowed down, and as poor Lippert turned in he got hit by Jeff. Jeff’s right side tires climbed over Lippert’s left side which sent Jeff into a triple salchow that landed him on the access road. Lippert slid off into the gravel where he got stuck. No one got hurt but we witnessed the most amazing thing: As Jeff’s car came down for the final time, on all four, he smashed dead-nuts center over his own center section! That was a feat never before seen. This being Skip Barber Racing, within seconds it came over the radio… This was the invention of the “Kaiser Roll.” Skippy friend and local photographer Edmund Lacis has a great sequence of photos of the entire event, if anyone is interested.

The next Masters National event is at Mont-Tremblant. This should be a great weekend as it is another Midwest meets East meets Masters National combo. For those who’ve not been, “Le Circuit Mont-Tremblant” is an amazing place — and not just for racing. It’s great for families and friends, what with hiking, biking, great restaurants, and lots for the kids to do. Skip Barber Racing will be hosting a BBQ at the lake on Friday night, which is not to be missed!

Todd Snyder

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