Lyle Riggen Sweeps Autobahn
Joliet, IL - Lyle Riggen and Brian Sanders rolled
into Autobahn Country Club on Friday for a head to head shootout. This
was another of NASA’s three race weekends. The pair had decided before
the season started to run complete seasons in both the Great Lakes and
Midwest Regions after Lyle threw out a challenge to see if one of them
could win a dual Region Championship. Lyle is the only FFR driver
registered in the Midwest Region. So the trade off was that Lyle would
run the Great Lakes schedule and Brian would run the Midwest giving Lyle
at least one competitor. Joining the duo was Lyle’s wife, Julie Riggen,
in her Baby Grand.
The weekend started out rough for Brian when he
discovered the kill switch had been left on for the past week and the
battery was dead. Over the next three hours the car sat beside Lyle’s
trailer with the generator and charger running. This put Brian at a
disadvantage, missing the morning practice session. This was very
apparent when Lyle qualified three seconds ahead.
NASA gridded the race by class so Lyle and Brian
started the race from the sixth and seventh positions, so qualifying was
of little importance. Julie’s class was put up front so she started on
the front row. As most readers know, the FFR Challenge Car makes
incredible starts, whether rolling or standing. So at the drop of the
green flag we were able to grab several positions by flanking the cars
ahead of us.
But this was the closest the pair would be for the
entire race as Lyle clicked off significantly faster laps. In the end,
Lyle crossed the finished line twenty-three seconds ahead for his first
The second race on Saturday was gridded by
finishing position of the first race. Lyle started in the second row,
while Brian found himself in the fifth. As the race got underway Lyle
missed a shift and Brian took over the lead. But that only lasted for
two laps as Brian ran out of road in turn one and gave up numerous
positions. That was all she wrote. Lyle drove off, never looking back,
to his second race win under double yellows. This was caused by a couple
of 944 spec cars coming together and collecting a couple more right in
front of Brian. Fortunately Brian came away unscathed.
Sunday brought a new day and a much faster track.
Lyle and Brian both qualified within tenths of the track record. And
these qualifying times put both drivers on the front row for the race.
Brian got a bad jump and ended up with a few cars between him and Lyle
which allowed Lyle to get away again. Over the next eight laps, Brian
worked to reel him in but threw it away with another big off. This gave
Lyle his third win of the weekend.
Now, what impact did this have on the Midwest
Region standings? Well, the two drivers are dead even again. So, it will
take the last two events of 2009 to determine who will win the Midwest
Region and if one of them can win both Regions. The next stop for the
pair in the Midwest is Blackhawk Farms on August 8-9.
Lakes/Midwest FFR Challenge Series Director