Words and photos by Michael Chandler
They say rain is the great equalizer, and on Saturday the old saying was put to the test. There were those who came prepared, like Todd Green and Derek Wolthoff who had proper rain tires, and those who weren’t, which was the Spec Z field. Rumor is that they went and raided local tire shops for anything better than the dry weather tires they all had. One driver in the group was even on Blizzak snow tires! Despite very few people being prepared for the weather, I was one of the many who weren’t prepared for the cold and driving rain, there was some serious racing going on with championship implications attached. We’ll start off in the Lightning group, where the usually quick Z cars were slowed by the downpour.
Todd Green, on a set of Hoosier rain tires, led the field in his Pro Touring E Miata. He took the overall win, and class win (by 58 seconds!), with Matt Guiver in second in the Paul Mitchell Miata. Ole Paul was on the Toyo rain tires Todd used in the very wet qualifying session. Matt’s performance has, in some minds, proven that he is some sort of wizard. The podium was rounded out by Allan Anderson, who was in first for the championship.
Spec Z had Paul House putting together a solid race and claiming a well deserved victory over the normally strong, if not dominant, Arthur Golebiowski. The Lightning qualifying session was relatively dry, but by the time the start of the race rolled around the heavens had opened up and unleashed a torrent. Paul had the stock 350Z wheels on, which lead me to believe he had at least the OEM tires on for the race. Arthur was on the Enkei RPF1 wheels he has used for every other event, so it’s safe to assume he was out on tires that weren’t best suited for the conditions.
Spec Miata was taken by Chris Bond, with David Sherman and Joe Schubert following behind. Unfortunately the rain spread the field out quite a bit, with a little over twenty seconds separating first and second, and second and third. McKay Snow was noticeably absent, probably because he was preparing to make his debut in the IMSA Cooper Tires Prototype Lights Powered by Mazda at Road Atlanta.
And good guy Gus Stribakos threw some different wheels and tires on his Porsche, went out and turned some laps. In doing so he solidified his GTS3 title, and so we say congratulations Gus!
Terry Binner officially secured his Super Formula title by taking both of the races on Saturday. He didn’t have to run either of the races in their entirety, going in to the weekend he had a dominating 380 point lead over Steve Burns.
In Formula, Steven Costello had to score points to hold off any challenger to his season title. Troy Duffin, third place in the championship standings, took both of the races on Saturday, but (at least according to my rudimentary math) could not overcome the 270 point deficit. However, he did leap over Chris Taylor for second in the standings.
TT was a little different. Greg Valdez stepped up to TT1 from TT2 in not the best of conditions for Lelantos. Still, the Ziptie Dynowerks sponsored STi put forth a solid effort and finished second. Derek Wolthoff took the Makes and Models Audi R8 LMS for two sessions, and proceeded to win the class. Both Greg and Derek ended the day as champions though. Derek in TT1, and Greg in TT2.
Brendon Stewart made a brief return to TT2, and came in second to David Bradshaw.
James Pasquier in his yellow Porsche 911 edged out John Carver’s black Corvette for the TT3 win
Rhett Panter made his second appearance of the season and took TTU in his Acura with all of the downforce.
TTE had David Sherman and Joe Schubert battling for the win for the day (David won) with Jeb Brown and Ben Lamberson continuing their championship fight, with Jeb squeaking out a third place finish ahead of Ben by less than half of a second.
Chris Bond ran one session, and claimed the TTD victory.
Thunder had four classes. One massive class (ST3) and three one man classes (GTSU, ST2 and SU). Brendon Stewart was the lone ST2 competitor, as he has been most of the season, and by winning (again) solidified his season title. Derek Wolthoff ran against a strong field of nobody, made only two (that I know of) off track excursions and won GTSU. And Joe Sim, of Turbo Lab fame, trotted out his NSX and claimed the SU win. I really wish it wasn’t cold and rainy, because I would have loved to see the NSX turn some truly screaming laps.
Now ST3 was where the action was. Travis Tidball and Cary Wilson had only 16 points between them in the championship standings. So it was Corvette vs. Corvette, and it didn’t look too promising for Cary. Going in to turn 1 he looked slow and did get the back end loose at the exit. Travis looked like he was ripping through everything, driving like a hero. BUT looks can be receiving. Cary took the win in dominating fashion, holding off Travis for another day. Cary’s win was bolstered by Alex Whetman (third in the championship, spitter of fire from his Focus of Doom) coming in third, lessening the dent Travis put into Cary’s lead.
And so there we have it. A rainy, generally miserable day yielded some champions from the diminished fields. Sunday was a much better day, and more people showed up then. I wasn’t one of them, because I went to a car show. Oh well, I will be at the season ending Enduro on October 18. Not gonna miss that, and I sincerely hope you don’t either!