Summer Series Finale At Lime Rock

Monday, October 25, 2010 Some say he learned about grip in the rain by scaling Manhattan skyscrapers with Spider Man during hurricane season. All we know is, he always has a Vee-Wipe visor squeegee in his pocket. He’s the Stig’s New York cousin.

Many showed up days early for lapping sessions to seek an advantage on this last race weekend for the Summer Series at Lime Rock Park, only to find mother nature had left the sprinklers on. Tuesday, Wednesday and half of Thursday varied between wet, very wet and monsoon. This not only set back racers looking for an edge but also meant the cars couldn’t be tested.

When the track finally dried Thursday afternoon, those fortunate enough to have a dry practice session were able to see dry lap times. Needless to say everyone with fast times thought their cars were great and everyone with slow times was absolutely certain their cars were out of the window. Let us take a moment to bow our heads and give thanks for the two Keiths, Dom and all the mechanics who handled the unfair work load of untested cars and cranky drivers with their usual grace and aplomb. (Is that redundant?)

From Thursday afternoon practice through Saturday’s Tony Curtis memorial there wasn’t another drop of rain and it was put up or shut up time for the drivers.

To level the playing field, drivers considered kidnapping Ashley Freiberg and Mike Zimicki and pink duct taping them to a flagpole but no one could catch them and even if they had caught them, Zimicki had already cornered the market on east coast pink duct tape.


Group 1 Race 1 Formula Skip Barber
In race one, Ashley leveled the playing field herself by starting at the back of the field due to a qualifying spin as Sebastian Ordonez took an early lead with Jesus Rios P2 closely counting the rivets on Sebas’s rear wing. Thomas McGregor slotted into P3, Kevin Tittle P4 and Pat Daly P5.

Kevin T did some four-off-roading at the downhill track-out on lap 2 nicely saving the car but requiring a safety check that moved him back. This moved Daly up to P4 Zach Silver to P5 Luigi Biangardi P6, Greg Strelzoff P7 Paul Subject P8, Austin Dyne P9. Jim Booth P10 and Gary Vizioli P11.

At lap 4 Ashley started a charge to the front that took her all the way to P4 by lap 20. Zack Silver hounded Pat Daly the entire race as Greg Strelzoff and Luigi Biangardi battled for both position and series points with Luigi running just ahead of Greg for most of the race. Gary Vizioli and Michael Johnson locked horns early and had a great battle exchanging positions several times. Paul Subject, Jim Booth, Gus Doppes, Austin Dyne and David Knight all had spins and/or four-offs that moved them out of the top 10.

Jesus Rios had counted enough rivets by lap 18, took the lead from Sebastian and never looked back. Ashley applied heavy pressure to Thomas who was trying to hold P3 by playing defensive hardball into turn 1. On the last lap Ashley passed Thomas before turn one but Thomas attempted an ill-fated late braking maneuver that ended badly when his brakes locked forcing both of them off the track.

At the finish line Jesus Rios was the winner 1.6 seconds ahead of Sebastian Ordonez P2 and Pat Daly grabbed P3 after McGregor and Freiberg went off. Zack Silver P4 was eight-tenths behind Daly and ten seconds ahead of Greg Strelzoff P5 who managed to nip Luigi Biangardi P6 by a tenth at the finish line. McGregor P7 and Freiberg P8 were next after their off-track excursion and a strong drive by Gary Vizioli P9 who managed to hold off an equally strong Michael Johnson by just three tenths at the checkered flag.


Group 1 Race 2 Formula Skip Barber
At the green flag Jesus Rios and Sebastian Ordonez once again ran nose to tail exchanging the lead five times in the early going as Pat Daly, starting in the wrong gear, shuffled back from third to eighth place in the first turn.

Ashley Freiberg took full advantage launching herself from eighth all the way to Daly’s P3 on lap 2. Paul Subject slid off of turn 4 slapping the tire wall and ending his race prematurely. Zach Silver slid off of turn 1 bringing him in for a safety check and a reset to the back of the field. Chris Brassard and Gus Doppes had contact with both continuing after safety checks. Austin Dyne and Michael Johnson had contact with Dyne getting the worst of it having to retire with damage on lap 8.

Jesus Rios had contact with Thomas McGregor and both had to report to the pits while Daly worked his way back up to P4 behind Luigi before Tittle passed Daly on lap 18 and challenged Biangardi for the last podium spot.

At the finish line Ashley Freiberg, holding the point for the last 11 laps led Sebastian Ordonez P2 by half a second and Kevin Tittle P3 had a photo finish with Luigi Biangardi P4 taking the last podium step by four hundredths of a second. (Bravo to both for a clean and hard fought finish.) Pat Daly P5 again held off Zach Silver P6 by three tenths with Greg Strelzoff P7 seven-tenths behind Zach. David Knight had a clean P8 with Chris Brassard P9 first of the one-stop strategy and Jesus Rios fighting back after his stop to round out the top 10.


Group 2 Race 1 MAZDASPEED Challenge
This race had more contact than a mosh pit as the secret to success was keeping it on track and avoiding other cars. Over half the field did themselves in by going four off, blocking and/or having contact with each other.

Tyler Cooke was the calm leading the storm as he led the first five laps before Angelo Dinkov muscled his way to the front. Jim Craige slid four off in turn two in the early going shuffling to the back after his safety check. Dinkov received a black stick for blocking on the front straight and Tyler Wolfson set fastest lap on lap 10, spending most of his race hounding and dicing with Cooke and Dinkov at the front. On lap 17 his good work went south as Wolfson slid four-off in turn one and had to pit.

In the closing laps Lucas Bize and Brian Freiberg had side-to-side contact as did John Dubets and Jim Craige. Craige came in for a safety check and the other three were time penalized after the race for not pitting. Angelo Dinkov was given a fifteen-second post race time penalty for unsportsmanlike driving.

When it was all said and done Tyler Cooke was the only one in the lead group to make it through unscathed and he ultimately won the race. Mathew Di Leo P2 and Ward Herst P3 appropriately inherited podium steps by simply driving without incident. Thomas McGregor P4 was also elevated two spots after time penalties were awarded to those in front of him.

Among the bumper car boys, spinners and blockers Lucas Bize was P5, John Dubets P6 Jim Craige P7 Brian Freiberg P8 Tyler Wolfson P9, David Steinschraber P10 and Angelo Dinkov in P11.


Group 2 Race 2 MAZDASPEED Challenge
Thankfully more curbs than fenders were hit this race as Tyler Cooke again took the lead at the green flag. Mathew Di Leo slotted into P2 with Ward Herst P3.

Angelo Dinkov and David Steinscrhaber had contact in turn 3 and both came in for safety checks. Thomas McGregor threw it off of turn one and also had a safety check. Brian Freiberg had braking issues and was forced to use the escape road in turn 1 before retiring with an MDNF.

Back at the front Lucas Bize fought his way up from P6 to challenge Cooke for the lead. The time sheet shows Cooke at the front but that doesn’t tell the story of how close and hard they fought. In the process they drove away from the field.

The Indy Lights battle had Ward Herst give way to John Dubets and Jim Craige with Mathew Di Leo hounding Herst.

At the finish Tyler Cooke took the checker less than 3 tenths ahead of Lucas Bize P2. Just eleven and a half seconds later John Debuts grabbed P3 by less than a tenth of a second in front of Jim Craige. Half a second later, Ward Herst P5 bested Mathew Di Leo P6 by three tenths and four seconds later Tyler Wolfson P7 crossed the line with enough points to win the MAZDASPEED overall championship. (Bravo Tyler) Angelo Dinkov was P8, David Steinschraber P9 and Thomas McGregor P10.


Group 3 Race 1 Formula Skip Barber
This large field had fast young guns, wily veterans, relative newby’s and outright rookies and turn 1 was the scene of most crimes, but given the size and breadth of experience in this group, most behaved admirably.

Most admirable was Trent Hindman who started on pole, had fastest lap of the race and drove away from the field from the start. Scott Heckert, Dex Tuttle, Al Carter, Franco Aragones and Shelby Blackstock slotted in behind Hindman in the early going.

Greg Strelzoff was most progressive with a nice run up from seventeenth to sixth. Unfortunately Jim Booth and Gus Doppes had contact in turn 1 as did Bill Shields and Steve Hahn requiring safety checks that set them back.

Scott Heckert and Dex Tuttle had a great battle until Heckert went four-off at the downhill track-out and finished in the pits. At the checker Trent Hindman had an 11.5 second walk away from Dex Tuttle P2 who led Al Carter P3 by 10 seconds. Scott Heckert P4 finished in the pits after his safety check. 10 seconds later Franco Aragones P5 crossed the line and Greg Strelzoff P6 was the last car on the lead lap. Relative newcomer Shelby Blackstock P7 had a strong clean run and RJ Smith with no practice came from sixteenth to eighth. Gus Doppes P9 and Jim Booth P10 both recovered from their contact to complete the top 10.


Group 3 Race 2 Formula Skip Barber
Most thought Trent Hindman would walk away again based on his race 1 performance but there’s a reason they don’t award wins based on lap times or previous performance. At the end of lap one Hindman gave everyone else a shot by throwing himself off the outside of turn one requiring a safety check. This gave Scott Heckert and Dex Tuttle the chance to resume their dogfight at the head of the field… And they did.

Franco Aragones slotted into P3 with Al Carter P4 and last minute entry Peter Ludwig coming all the way from P last (15) to P5 in 6 laps. They held this order until lap 19 when Aragones had a turn one spin and four off that sent him to the pits. On lap 20 Scott Heckert wrestled the lead from Dex Tuttle and they would trade places two more times before the end of the race.

Trent Hindman worked himself all the way back up to and around Ludwig for P4 on lap 21 and they had a good battle until Peter slid off of turn one on the last lap and finished in the pits.

At the finish line, Dex Tuttle, who took back the lead from Scott Heckert with two laps to go, won by a paper thin twenty-two hundredths of a second margin. (Whew!) Al Carter crossed for P3 11 seconds later with Trent Hindman P4 setting fastest lap of the race while coming back from his four-off finishing three-tenths behind Carter. Shelby Blackstock P5 had his best finish yet and Steve Nelson P6 had a solid run coming all the way up from P14. Peter Ludwig P7 finished in the pits after his spin, nipping Franco Aragones by nine thousandths at the line. Bill Shields took P9 and Gus Doppes P10 both with solid clean runs.


Group 4 Race 1 MAZDASPEED Challenge
Race one for Group Four showed a clean start and straightforward race as Ashley took the lead with Al Carter, Ward Herst, Scott Panzer, Steven Craige, Zoran Mitrovski, Pablo Cisillin and Chip Thielen in hot pursuit. With some jockeying this order held until the last few laps when Ward Herst got by Carter on lap 22 with Al taking P2 back on lap 23 allowing Ashley to pull away.

At the finish Ashley Freiberg won by just under four seconds over Al Carter P2 with Ward Herst P3 one second behind Carter. With the podium decided Scotty Panzer P4 crossed the line thirty seconds later beating Zoran Mitrovski by two tenths of a second after Steven Craige P6 went four-off at west bend.

Pablo Cisillin was P7 Chip Thielen P8 and Elias Sakkal P9 completed the field.


Group 4 Race 2 MAZDASPEED Challenge
This time Ashley walked away at the start as Scott Panzer grabbed P2, Brian Freiberg P3, Al Carter P4, Steven Craige P5 Michael Auriemma P6, Pablo Cisillin P7, Zoran Mitrovski P8, Chip Thielen P9 and Peter Ludwig who started to move up from DFL on lap two but went four-off of turn one and had to pit in for a safety check on lap 3.

Al Carter quickly advanced to P2 on lap 7 trading the spot again on lap 11 and lap 20 with Brian Freiberg who hounded Carter the entire race. Scott Panzer took sole possession of P4 with Michael Auriemma in P5 until Ludwig caught Auriemma and they had a fight to the finish line that ended with incidental contact.

Ashley won by almost fourteen seconds over Al Carter P2 and after a safety check following a four-off, Brian Freiberg P3 was fifteen seconds in back of Carter. Fifteen seconds was also the margin back to Scott Panzer P4. Peter Ludwig finished P5 in the pits as Michael Auriemma P6 failed to pit after his contact with Ludwig and was time penalized as a result. Zoran Mitrovski was a lap down in P7 with Pablo Cisillin P8, Steven Craige P9 and Chip Thielen P10.


Skip Barber Formula Masters and Grand Masters
Masters points for the entire weekend are based on this one race for the Masters and Grand Masters Championship. A pre-emptive dose of Advil is administered to all participants.

At the start Pat Daly led into turn one with Greg Stelzoff P2 David Knight P3, hard charging Al Carter P4, Paul Subject P5, master of the last minute appearance Peter Ludwig P6, Gary Vizioli P7, Chris Brassard P8, Jim Craige P9 and Gus Doppes P10.

Jim Craig dropped a wheel at the downhill turn in and was high sided at the tire wall where he had to be towed out requiring a full course yellow and re-start.

After the restart, Ludwig and Carter flew to the front around Daly and Strelzoff before Carter slid off turn one and Ludwig spun himself out in turn 2. Carter had to pit-in for a safety check but Ludwig did not go four-off and continued. Daly resumed the point from lap 11 through 17 before Ludwig ran him down and took the lead again with Strelzoff dogging Daly while Paul Subject and David Knight had a great fight for P4 & 5 and Chris Brassard and Bill Shields dueled for P6 & 7.

At the white flag Ludwig led and Strelzoff tried a late brake pass inside of Daly into turn one. His wheels locked and Strelzoff slid wide. The crowd was on its feet as Daly tried to tuck back underneath Strelzoff but asked too much of the car over-rotating it to a stop with the front wheels in the infield grass, requiring a four-off to continue. The crowd moaned in unison as the air went out of their exciting finish balloon.

At the finish it was Peter Ludwig by 3.3 seconds over Greg Strelzoff P2, then eight seconds back to Paul Subject P3 who won his battle with David Knight P4 by less than a tenth. Chris Brassard P5 held off Al Carter P6 after his four-off and Al managed to nip Bill Shields P7 by less than a tenth. Pat Daly P8 finished in the pits while Steve Hahn was P9 and Gary “The Viz” Vizioli completed the top 10 in style.


MX-5 Cup Masters and Grand Masters
Jim Craige took the early lead before he and Ward Herst had contact and had to pit. David Steinschraber then grabbed the point on laps 4 & 5 before Al Carter took possession from lap 6 through 20. Behind Carter, John Snyder, David Steinschraber, Michael Auriemma and Steven Craige gave chase.

Jim Craige was on a mission as he worked his way back up through the field after his safety check setting new track record in the process (103.329!) Let’s hear it for the fastest MX-5 driver on the LRP planet! He caught and passed David Steinschraber for P3 on lap 20 and when Al Carter and John Snyder had contact Jim completed his mission and retook the lead.

At the checker Jim Craige was the master of the masters and his universe with David Steinschraber four seconds behind in P2. Ten seconds later Michael Auriemma P3 completed the podium steps as Zoran Mitrovski was P5, Ward Herst P6, Al Carter P6, Steven Craige P7, Chip Thielen P8 and John Snyder P9 in the pits.


The Tony Curtis Memorial
Some like it hot so the first went last and the last went first. There were many passes, a few four offs and lots of laughs with just enough time for Sparticus to win the chariot race and everyone else to get to the banquet.


The Banquet
The 2010 Skip Barber Summer Series came to a glorious fair weather end at the Canaan Country Club where a thankfully brief auction raised lots of money for the mechanics and a good time was had by all.


Ashley Freiberg and Tyler Wofson were crowned the Skip Barber Formula & MAZDASPEED Challenge series champions respectively. Great to see so much young upcoming talent, challenging the wily veterans… Unless you’re a wily veteran.

The overall top ten in SB Formula points were:
1. 445pts – Ashley Freiberg
2. 422-Jesus Rios
3. 413-Sebastian Ordonez
4. 394-Thomas McGregor
5. 379-Greg Strelzoff
6. 379-Luigi Biangardi
7. 378-Pat Daly
8. 368-Zachary Silvzer
9. 345-Kevin Tittle
10. 344-Dr. Mike Edwards

The overall top ten in the MAZDASPEED Challenge were:

1. 413pts-Tyler Wolfson
2. 409-Angelo Dinkov
3. 394-Tyler Cooke
4. 392-Ward Herst
5. 390-Jim Craige
6. 386-John Dubets
7. 379-Brian Freiberg
8. 363-Lucas Bize
9. 361-Mathew Di Leo
10. 331-Bruce Robson

Among the wily veterans Greg Strelzoff (last year’s most improved driver) earned more frequent flier mileage than anyone else while grabbing his first Masters Championship. The SB Formula Masters top ten after Advil look like this:
1. 361pts – Greg Strelzoff
2. 336-Pat Daly
3. 303-Dr. Mike Edwards
4. 300-David Knight
5. 293-Paul Subject
6. 291-Chris Brassard
7. 272-Jim Booth
8. 266-Gary Vizioli
9. 248-Gus Doppes
10. 182-Robert Ecklin

The MAZDASPEED Challenge Masters top ten after Advil look like this:
1. 373pts-Jim Craige
2. 362-Ward Herst
3. 320-John Snyder
4. 286-David Steinschraber
5. 246-Bruce Robson
6. 224-Steve Randal
7. 217-Steve Craige
8. 184-Rod Randal
9. 148-Al Carter
10. 112-Zoran Mitrovski

In the Grand Master category… Pat (beyond Advil) Daly took home his second consecutive fastest old slow guy SB Formula Grand Masters trophy while Bruce Robson won the MAZDASPEED Challenge Grand Master trophy. Gary Vizioli rightfully earned the “Most Improved Driver” award including $3,000 Skippy dollars.


Doug Harrison didn’t get a trophy but should have for his usual highly crafted and entertaining banquet video.

Special mention to Keith Neer, Dom Rotondo and all the mechanics, who not only did their usual stellar job of fixing and maintaining both fleets all season, but also produced a hand control car for Michael Johnson. Michael, who has no use of his legs, ran the entire series in their custom modified car and when the original car was destroyed during a July Lime Rock crash Keith and Dom went above and beyond, burning the midnight oil to fabricate a second hand control car from scratch overnight so that Michael never missed a lap that weekend. Bravo and bow downs to the guys who best represented the true spirit of sportsmanship at Skip Barber.

After an accident racing motorcycles changed Michael’s life, he decided, with the support of his father, to become a competitive open wheel racer this year by adapting to a hand control open wheel race car. He applies the brakes by pushing forward on the steering wheel while blipping the throttle, shifting gears and using the clutch with his hands and fingers… Pretty amazing stuff. It was inspiring to see both Michael and his dad Tim work so powerfully together all season to overcome the obstacles of their situation.



Photos by Kelly Brouillet

Photos from the weekend are available here
Photos from the Summer Series Regional Season are available here

So one Summer series ending means another Southern or Western series is beginning… What obstacles have you got? Are you in?

The Stig’s New York Cousin

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