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FFROGFEST WEST

2002 Spec Racer National Championship Race and FFR Owner's Group event

Welcome to Infineon Raceway in Sonoma California for the 2002 Spec Series Championship Race and the Factory Five Racing National Owner's Group car meet.

Officially known as FFROG FEST WEST, this year's event saw the first ever National Championship race for the new Factory Five Spec Racer Challenge Series.  In addition to the racing action, the 3-day event incorporated a concourse customer car show and a Saturday night awards dinner.

Spec Racers from all over the US were joined by hundreds of customers and their cars for the show and awards dinner.

On Saturday, over 5,000 people came to check out hand built show cars and daily drivers of every color and configuration.

It was a great chance for folks to get a close up look at a huge array of finished FFR cars and to meet their owners.  It was also a great time for FFR customers and old friends to gather and share their passion for these amazing machines.

The National Factory Five Racing Owner's group sponsored the car show and wards dinner.  Trophies were awarded to customers in categories like, best of show, most innovative and best use of Chrome.
The team from Factory Five joined customers and spectators alike in welcoming some distinguished VIP guests.  The legendary Bob Bondurant and Dick Smith were present for autographs and everyone was thrilled to watch as these two veterans climbed behind the wheel and raced in the Saturday exhibition races.
Several magazines and members of the Press were present to cover the National Spec Race, as well as the introduction of the new FFR Spyder GT.
Along side the more than 80 FFR roadster, Dick Smith brought out his original CSX3035 for display as well as an original 289 car that belonged to a close friend.  It was a thrill to see these vintage machines up close and a real honor to meet the guys that raced and made them so famous.
At noon on Saturday, the crew from Factory Five unveiled the exciting new Spyder GT.  The stunning silver roadster attracted a crowd and earned rave reviews by the press gathered there to see it for the first time.
The car show allowed everyone a chance to compete without the risk of swapping paint...yet this may have been the most contested event.

FFROG standout and perennial show-stopper Russ Thompson assembled a posse of the pickiest judges in the crowd.  They were then assigned the toughest task of the day, to determine who among the automotive rembrandts would drive away with one of the roomful of trophies.  Trophies were provided for every category imaginable from best of show to most use of chrome.

Proud to the FFR tradition of building beautiful cars that WORK, the cars entered into the show were also seen driving all over the place throughout the day.

And when the racers came off the track for lunch, over 60 FFR roadsters headed out onot the main raceway for some spirited parade laps.  Nothing but grins all around. The parade laps gave everyone a chance to circumnavigate the scenic and historic, 12 turn Infineon Raceway.

The day saw history being made as Dick Smith and Bob Bondurant strapped into FFR roadsters, and headed out on the track.  A real moment...two of the winningest racers of the 1960's were again racing and were joined by more than 20 other FFR Spec Racers all vying for the lead.
Saturday flew by as people split time between the car show and watching qualifying runs of Spec Racers.  The fun was nowhere near finished, however, as the racers and spectators formed a caravan and headed to the Sheraton Petaluma, where an exclusive awards dinner was held and everyone enjoyed good food, great stories, and the fellowship of like minded friends.
Bob Bondurant was the special guest of honor at the awards dinner, where he entertained all present with stories of LeMans and the early days of American roadracing.
The National Spec Racer finals saw local boy Dave Borden edge out Virginias own Gary Krichbaum and the rest of the field for the first ever national title.

In the qualifying races, Gary Krichbaum established the fastest lap times and thus set himself up as the man to beat.  Close behind, however, the rest of the 20 car field knew they were solidly in the hunt.

Like modern day gladiators riding chariots of steel and aluminum, powered by hundreds of horses, the field of twenty drivers climbed into their racecars as the afternoon sun warmed the historic Sears Point-Infineon Raceway.
The cars stormed out of pit lane and into formation behind the pace car.  Following in pairs, tires were warmed as pressure mounted in the cockpit.

Coming back to the start/finish line, the racers took the green flag at full speed.  Sprinting down the front straight, neck and neck, the evenly matched cars blasted away around the track, ultimately splitting into smaller packs as the better drivers pulled away.

Eventually, a lead pack emerged and separated from the novices.

Krichbaum held the pack at bay and seemed to stay in the lead despite daring maneuvers from East Coast partner Dan Elam and Michigans' John McIver.

Other fast runners included NASA's own Chris Cobetto (driving a Bondurant-FFR Spec Racer) and West coast driver Dan Lawson, who moved up through the pack and to the lead group.

Coming out of turn six on the second to last lap, however, Gary was pushing hard in the decreasing radius of turn six, the fabled "Carousel", when his white spec racer spun out of contention after a mechanical failure.

Dave Borden was running slightly behind Krichbaum, and Victor Seabor was just to his inside.  Dave had luckily positioned himself on a line which allowed him to avoid the spinning drichbaum.  Borden squeezed to the outside and grabbed the lead.
In a sprint to the finish, Borden edged Brian Cates (Mid-Atlantic region) for the national crown.  A jubilant Mary Borden met him off the track to celebrate the nail-biting victory.

In the end, the first National Spec Race and Owners Group event was a great time for everyone and a date that will be remembered years down the road.  The 2003 event is scheduled for Las Vegas Motor Speedway on November 8 and 9.

We'll see you there!

 
 

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