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NASA Midwest makes first trip to Gateway International

East St. Louis, IL -- On April 26th, Gary McDaniel and Brian Sanders participated in NASA Midwest’s first event at Gateway International’s “roval.” This is the home track of the Annual Run-n-Gun that many FFR cars have participated in. Brian arrived early to the track on Friday to assist the Chief Scrutineer with race car annuals. Fridays’ temps were in the high 70’s but this drastically changed as a cold front and storm moved in. Just as it was turning dark, the temp had fallen into the low 50’s. Gary was delayed in arriving due the storm and traffic. But he made it just in time to get his annual inspection before tech shut down for the evening.

Saturday morning remained cold. This was not Gary’s first time at Gateway and he showed this by running off and leaving Brian in the morning practice. Brian improved his times in qualifying but then so did Gary. But Gary pushed it a little to far on one lap, spinning and backing his car into the wall. The only damage was a couple broken tail lights. He was very lucky. Because of the design of most infield road courses or rovals, there tends to be a lot of concrete very close to the track. Race Group B consisted of all classes except for spec miata and 944. To accommodate the varying speeds of this class, it was decided to grid all cars by time. This meant Gary would start three rows ahead of Brian. From the start, Brian was caught behind a slower car and Gary pulled away to lead from start to finish with no challenge.

As a bonus, all licensed drivers were invited to run with the rookies that had just completed their comp licensing school in a practice race. Both Gary and Brian decided to join them. The veterans were asked to start from the rear of the field so Brian and Gary took up grid in 19th and 20th starting positions. This race was a standing start. Challenge cars have always had an advantage on standing starts and this was no different as Brian and Gary found themselves in the top 5 exiting turn 2. This gave the rookies a real experience as we were 4-5 wide into turn 1 and 2. Gary went on to win this race with Brian taking 3rd.

Sunday’s weather was to be more of the same cool temps with a 40% chance of rain about race time. Sunday proved to be a much better day for Brian as he cut down the advantage Gary had in track experience. Once again the cars were gridded by time, except this time, Brian would be on the row behind Gary. Brian blew a shift on the start and was passed by three cars. After fighting his way back around these three, he set his sites on Gary and began closing the distance. For many laps in the middle of the race, Gary and Brian ran nose to tail, reminiscent of past races. All was good and Brian thought he had a chance until almost spinning in the same spot two laps in a row. This gave Gary enough space to take the win uncontested. Gary ran exceptionally well and would have been hard to beat regardless. Gary claimed the FFR track record at Gateway with a time of 1:12.879.

The next stop for FFR in the Midwest is a cross-over event with Great Lakes at Putnam Park on May 17-18.

Cya at the track!

Brian Sanders

Midwest Challenge Series Director

Page last updated: 07/02/2008

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