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Record Numbers Turn Out For Great Lakes Race

 Lexington, OH - On August 15-17, 2008, Great Lakes saw its largest field of regional FFR competitors. Series Director Brian Sanders was joined by veterans Ed Bootman/Kevin Eves, Gary McDaniel, Peter LaRose, rookies Greg Jr. and Gregg Sr. Wellinghoff, Wes Holliday, and comp license student Mike Dzuirgalski. Even John George made the long hall from the Northeast to get a practice in for Nationals. There was a lot of excitement over the large FFR field. As many readers know, this season has been full of a lot of mechanical mishaps and this weekend was to be no different.

It all started early in the week as both Sanders and Boothman scrambled to get engines in their cars for the weekend. Both finished in time but had no idea about how they would perform. On Friday’s test and tune, Brian came in after the first session with fluctuating oil pressure and Ed came in overheating. John, on the other hand, had no complaints. After a lengthy diagnosis on Ed’s car, it was determined he had blown a head gasket and the pan and block was full of water/oil. Brian diagnosed his as a potential bearing spinning so he decided to not run anymore until he talked to the owners of the borrowed engine. So we set out to fix Ed’s engine. We basically did a complete tear-down and rebuild, completing it by the end of the day.

In the meantime, Wes showed up and shortly after that his car did. But the news was not good. While Wes’s mechanic was making a last minute wiring fix, he shorted something and the entire car was dead. Everyone took a stab at finding the problem but to no avail. In the process of tracking the problem, Brian took a relay from his car to try. When he put it back, his car would not start either. However, this was not due to the relay but pointed out a bad connection to the fuel pump relay. Crisis averted. We never did get Wes’s car to run.

Before the last session of the day, the Wellinghoff’s, owners of Brian’s engine, arrived and the engine problems were discussed. Gregg said, “If the engine was in my car we’d have the same problem. Just run it.” So Brian took it out for one more session.

While all this was going on Friday, John was running good sessions and cutting time. Mike was working with the Mid-Ohio school to earn his competition license. On several occasions the instructors were overheard giving Mike praise for his skills. The last session of the comp school contains two short sprint races. The first is a very short 3 lap shootout and the second a 5 lapper. Mike finished 2nd in the first race and won the second when the leading Mustang was forced to pit for a spin. Congratulations to Mike and we all look forward to running with you next season.

After all the drama of Friday, everyone was ready to get to the business of racing. With Ed’s car running again, Kevin took it out for the morning practice without incident. Again Kevin took the car out in qualifying but was unable to best John, who took the pole. However, as the green flag flew for the race, Kevin got the jump on John and led him for the first four laps. But the ugly had gasket problem caused Kevin to retire early leaving an easy win for John. Peter and Gary were the next cars and ran a close race from start to finish. The Wellinghoff’s had their own battle throughout the race. And Brian with another ailing car, retired at the halfway point just as the spun bearing was starting to make a noticeable knock. Finishing order was as follows, John, Gary, Peter, Gregg Sr., Greg Jr., Brian, and Team Boothman/Eves.

John took the pole again on Sunday. Brian desperately needed to earn some points, so he took the green flag and promptly retired. Near the end of the race, Gregg Sr. was towed into the paddock with fuel delivery issues. John went on to win his second race of the weekend followed by Gary, nursing a slipping clutch, Peter, and Greg Jr.

So it’s back to the drawing board for Brian and Ed as they scramble to get engines ready for Nationals.

Cya at the track!

-Brian Sanders

 FFR Great Lakes - Midwest Series Director

Page last updated: 08/20/2008

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