Sanders - Riggen Split Wins at August Mid-Ohio
Lexington, OH - This past
weekend felt like a typical Ohio August weekend, temperatures in the
high 80’s and high humidity. This combination made racing all the more
challenging. Six NASA Great Lakes FFR regulars showed up with the same
thing in mind - have a good time and/or win! Rookie Mike Dzuirgalski,
Lyle Riggen, the Wellinghoff Duo, Gregg Sr. and Greg Jr., and Brian
Sanders came to race while other rookie Wes Holiday continued to get a
feel for the rear-wheel drive Challenge Car in HPDE4. While Wes is no
stranger to racing, he has spent most of his time behind the wheel of
front-wheel drive cars. The only one missing was Peter LaRose who had to
cancel at the last minute for unforeseen circumstances.
It all started on Friday with
Brian taking advantage of the test-n-tune day. The first two morning
sessions went off without a hitch with respectable lap times being
turned. Then during the third session, while negotiating “madness,”
Brian experienced a loud bang, the rear stepped out, and the driveshaft
began grinding against the safety loop. As the car was straightened, the
grinding stopped. Through the next right hander - nothing? Then the left
hander, under the bridge and there was that horrible grinding noise from
the driveshaft. After limping the car back to the paddock and getting it
up in the air, the problem was found. The stock shock bracket, where we
attach the Trak-Loc bracket, had broken off the axle tube. The only fix
for this was to find a welder. Having no luck finding a welder at the
track, one was located a short distance away complete with a
professional welder to complete the repair.
Gregg and Greg had just arrived
at the track and before they unhooked their trailers Brian’s car was
loaded into Greg’s and off they went to the shop. A mere hour and half
and everyone is back at the track with one repaired race car. With a
couple test sessions left, Brian is joined on the track by the
Wellinghoff’s to make sure the cars are good to go. This was also a
competition school weekend administered by the Mid-Ohio School. They had
a small number of students and asked some racers to join them for
drills, practice and the comp school race. Brian, Gregg, Greg, and even
Mike went out to pick on the “newbies.”
Saturday’s qualifying session
was without incident as Lyle claimed the pole over Brian by less than
two tenths. Everyone else was significantly off the pace but this was
not going to last long as each improved their times every time out.
Greg, Gregg, and Mike rounded out the starting grid.
As the green flag waved to start
Saturday’s race, everyone jockeyed for position trying to find any
available space in the jumble of cars ahead. Up and over “madness,”
Brian was able to use another car as a pick and trap Lyle to assume the
lead. Gregg was also able to take advantage of this, following Brian
through. As things sorted themselves out, the first lap ended with Brian
in the lead followed closely by Lyle, Gregg, Greg, and Mike. This pretty
much set up the pairings for the battles to be fought in this race.
It started on lap 2 when Greg
picked off his Dad to take over the third position. On lap 4, Lyle
pulled off a brilliant pass, late braking into the “keyhole,” to take
over the lead. A minor mishap on lap 6 caused Greg to loose touch with
the leaders. Over the next six laps, Brian patiently sat in second while
he and Lyle worked through lap traffic, both drivers aware and waiting
for the other to give the least little advantage. Further back Greg and
Gregg were having their own battle.
Ironically, lap 13 presented the
opportunity for Brian to use a faster overtaking car to pull along side
Lyle and take the preferred line through turn one and the lead. But Lyle
never gave up and kept the pressure on for the next three laps. At the
checkers it was Brian over Lyle by a mere 0.239 seconds, followed by
Greg Gregg, and Mike.
Sunday morning was again hot and
muggy. A post qualifying impound altered the starting grid for the race.
Gregg and Lyle both had their times disallowed due to a fuel pressure
infraction. Their measured fuel pressure differed by more than the 2 psi
tolerance allowed by rule. With that, the grid was set; Brian on pole,
followed by Greg, Mike, Lyle, and Gregg.
At the start of the race Lyle
got a good jump and pulled along side Brian as they headed into the
first turn. However, Brian held him off and assumed the lead followed by
Lyle Greg, Gregg, and Mike. Once again, on lap three, Lyle took the lead
through the keyhole. On lap six, Greg got a good run onto the back
straight and used some overtaking cars to assume the second position.
To start lap seven, the three
front runners crossed start/finish nose to tail and entered turn one the
same. Suddenly, Greg lost the rear of the car. Unfortunately this was
not to end well as he left the surface and introduced the front of his
car to the tire barrier. He tried to drive away but found the fiberglass
damage to be too much to continue.
Greg’s spin and that of Porsche,
a couple laps later, in front of Brian gave Lyle a comfortable lead. But
not too comfortable as Brian mounted a charge and turned the fastest lap
times of the weekend to catch Lyle and set up a last lap shootout.
Having a good run off turn one Brian was set up for the pass going into
the keyhole. However, there was a yellow flag for a car off the track so
Brian got on the binders, went for the downshift and missed the blip,
locking the rear-end. Somehow, Lyle managed to avoid contact and exiting
the keyhole, Brian gave the position back to Lyle.
How far is it from the nose of
your car to the middle of the door? Answer: 0.170 seconds. This was the
margin of victory for Lyle as he held off Brian for the win. Gregg was
third, Mike fourth, and Greg with the DNF.
Great Lakes FFR will take a
month off due to Nationals and return with the season finale at Putnam
Park, the first weekend in October.
Great Lakes FFR Challenge Series Director
Photos courtesy of Julie Riggen