Regional Series Race Report from Mazda Raceway Laguna SecaDec 13, 2006
Wednesday, December 13, 2006
It was a rainy Race Weekend at Mazda Raceway Laguna Seca for rounds three and four of the 2006-2007 Skip Barber Western Series, but as we all know, real racers do it in the rain. Special thanks to the awesome mechanics, who make it happen no matter what the weather.
Here the race group re-caps…
This was a pretty big field of 16 doing a 14-lapper in damp-to-drying conditions. The front row was Shantanu Reddy and Mike Clark, while row two had Juan Pablo Glover Contreras (henceforth JPGC) and Caleb Hallman. (For future reference, please note that Juan Carlos Sistos (JCS) and Al ‘‘Roso Better Not Put a Nickname Here!’’ Delattre started 12th and 16th, respectively.) Anyway, after the green the and completing lap one we saw Reddy in front, Clark P2 and Hallman third. JPGC and Max Riddle were fourth and fifth. By the third lap, the top four remained the same but JCS was now fifth (remember, he had been gridded 12 th) by virtue of Riddle falling off – and getting stuck in – Turn Five. That meant laps three and four were FCY, lap five was green – and Hallman corkscrewed himself in the Corkscrew. By the time lap six was in the books, the order was Reddy, Clark, JCS, JPGC and Andrew Brightman. They stayed that way for two laps. On lap eight Clark locked ‘em up and got cattywampus and by the next lap, JCS took P2 from him. By lap 10, JCS was hunting down Reddy for the lead. And JPGS was all hot to trot to take over third from Clark. Which he duly did on lap 11. But Clark wasn’t going to hang on to third, either, as he and Sarena Traver got all messy in the Corkscrew. When it all sorted out, JPGC was third, Brightman fourth and – ta-da! – Delattre fifth. All that remained was one lap. Would JCS get around Reddy for the win? Yes, yes he did.
Heads-up Clark took brilliant advantage of the conditions, the full course yellows, the 90-minute race stoppage (rivers of rainwater halfway through) and other people skittering off the road. What it got him was a well-driven win from a starting spot of 15 th! Reddy led the first five laps, three of which were FCY, but Clark picked up nine spots on lap one, then two more on lap two before the yellows flew to retrieve JPGC from the gravel in Turn Two. Reddy kept the lead on the lap-five restart but the next time around he was shuffled to third, behind new leader Clark and P2 Hallman. But with conditions deteriorating, the officials called for a full course yellow on lap seven, then stopped the race to wait things out. At that point, the order was Clark, Hallman, Reddy, Sarena Traver, Brightman, Sistos, Ted Jewell, Dan Cheadle, Riddle and JPGC. On the re-start an hour and change later to begin lap 10, Reddy spun it on the straight, then JCS spun in Two, then Reddy found the fence in Five — which meant two more laps of yellow, with the order Clark, Hallman, Traver, Sistos and Riddle. The green flew again with three laps to go. Clark held steady at the front for the win, while Sistos took third place from Traver on lap 14, then second place from Hallman on the last lap. Fifth was Riddle, recovering extremely well from an early off.
This was a wild one, with four lead changes in the first six laps. Poleman was Chris Wehrheim (winner of a very wet National race back in April at VIR), Sistos alongside, Tim Traver P3 and Tom ‘‘Rocket’’ Roberts outside row two. In the tight opening laps, Wehrheim led the first two laps, Roberts took it on lap three, then 11th-starting Patrick Barrett, like Moses through the Red Sea, took the lead on lap four. He held on for another lap, but Sistos, Roberts and Barrett started bouncing off each other in the Corkscrew and Wehrheim was back in the lead. Barrett’s and Sistos’ cars were DOC so we had to go yellow for three laps, with the order Wehrheim, Beau Debard (from ninth), Alan Baia, Traver and Emil Sildos. A lap after the lap-11 restart, Baia said bye to Beau to take over second place. Roberts recovered well from the T8 melee to garner fourth (setting fastest race lap at the checker) while Traver brought it home fifth.
No yellows in this one despite it being a lot wetter. If you can be on fire in the rain, that was Barrett; in just four laps he went from 13th on the grid to the lead, dispatching Baia (who had put polesitter Wehrheim behind him on the first lap). Baia four-offed a few laps later to take himself out of the running. While Barrett trotted off into the distance from Wehrheim, Wehrheim in turn was leaving P3 behind, which was a relatively close battle between Sildos and Roberts though the position didn’t change hands. Baia recovered for a decent fifth-place at the checker. Roberts again had the fastest race lap., nipping Barrett by 5/100s.
This race had the biggest field, 17 hopefuls clambering for honors on what would be the driest track of the weekend. Alpine Stars U.S. sales guru P.J. Rashidi was on pole, while the third Moon, Little Jimmy (following in the Skip Barber footsteps of Benny and Justin), was alongside. John Thompson and Vladimir Charchiyan made up row two. Way in the back was Gary M. Williams, Jr., and TV and film star Josh Brolin. (Brolin backgrounder: He won the Celebrity class in the Toyota Pro/Celebrity Race at Long Beach in 2000 (his Dad James won it in 1978!). Josh beat George Lucas, John Elway and Ashley Judd, who had yet to get some driving pointers from Dario…). At the green Rashidi led from Moon, until Moon got tagged by Charchiyan up in the Corkscrew. That put Thompson in second, while GMWJ(!), Corey Condit and Brolin(!) rounded out the top five as the field circulated under two laps of FCY. After the lap six re-start, Thompson was fending off GMWJ whilst trying to hassle Rashidi. On the next to last lap, Thompson set fastest race-lap, but on the last lap, he got Turn Four wrong and put it in the fence, making the podium Rashidi, GMWJ and Brolin (who had gotten around Condit on lap seven), with John Potter rounding out the top five.
Polesitter Rashidi fell off the road and got stuck in Two right from the git-go, so when the full course yellow flags flew, the order was GMWJ, Thompson (up all the way from 11 th), Vlad, Max Riddle and Michael Ramies. (Rashidi got going again, but of course he was DFL. Still, he set fastest race lap, a couple 10s quicker than Thompson’s next-best.) On the lap-three re-start, Thompson got the better of Williams, Jr., to lead, but earlier he had passed under yellow and he was brought in to ‘‘serve.’’ So GMWJ had the lead again, Charchiyan second and Ramies third. It stayed that wayuntil we went FCY again on lap six, following Evan Bell’s and Condit’s incidents with sandbags and ditches. Green again to start lap eight, Williams, Jr., was hounded ruthlessly (‘‘where’s Ruth?’’) by Charchiyan, who finally made the pass on the next to last lap. But GMWJ fought right back and regained the lead on the last lap, to score his first SBRS win. While this was happening, Brolin was dispatching car after car, after having fallen back to 14th at the very beginning because he had to pit after making contact with Condit. Brolin took over P3 five laps from the end. Moon had a fine drive to fourth from the seventh row, while Thompson recovered well to fifth.
Major J.T. McCloud Memorial
While the race weekend was going on, Major J.T. McCloud was killed in action in Iraq. McCloud, a Marine, was the best friend of Al Delattre’s business partner. Like most of us in the race series, Major McCloud was a big car guy; Al asked us if we could name the Memorial Race in Major McCloud’s honor. Of course, Al, of course… And a lot of you racers made donations to the Wounded Warriors Fund, and Al tells us McCloud’s family much appreciated it… Thank you.
Lots of lead changes as Ted Jewell, Andrew Brightman, Max Hyatt and Patrick Barrett all took turns at the front, Barrett leading the final four laps for the win. Hyatt was second, followed by the Western Region Grand Poobah of Social Organizing, Tom Roberts. MHP (from DFL on the grid) and Jessica Brunelli were fourth and fifth, followed by Tim Traver, Alan Baia, Mike Clark, Jimmy Moon, Brightman, Jewell and Gary M. Williams, Jr., whose latest C&W CD will be out in stores next week…
The Western Series sees rounds five and six at Mazda Raceway Laguna Seca, January 19 – 21, but just before that, rounds five and six of the Southern Series heads to Homestead Miami Speedway, January 5 – 7. Remember, that’s also the weekend of the Skip Barber U.S. Regional Run-off Championship. Enter now if you haven’t already!
Oh, one more thing. Be sure to check the Skip Barber website tomorrow, December 14, after 12:00 noon Eastern Time…
And as a ‘‘public service,’’ one truly final thing: Skip Barber Gift Certificates — and they’re specially priced — make wonderful presents for the holidays!