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East Coast Challenge Series Race #3

Beaver  Run

June 11-12 2005

  After the rain and rookie success of Tony Buffamonte (Buffalo, NY) at Kershaw, the East Coast Challenge races shifted to Beaver Run outside of Pittsburgh. With Mid-Ohio cancelled for snow, the weekend would potentially count for 1/3 of the points to win the championship.

Unfortunately Buffamonte missed the weekend due to some minor surgery the week before, but points co-leader Brian Cates (Manassas, VA) was there to add some valuable points. Marcus Motorsports accounted for most of the field with a variety of drivers. With temps in the upper 80s and nearly 90% humidity, cooling was not only an issue for the cars but for the drivers as well.

Saturday morning showed Cates, Rob Mau (Richmond, VA), and Dan Elam (Richmond, VA) in a Marcus car moving quick, but no one was really pushing hard. Part of that was concern over closing speeds as the Factory Five Challenge cars were placed (for the first time) with the slower small bore cars. Qualifying dropped a couple of seconds off the times and the race saw Mau, Chris Mitchum (Reston, VA), Cates, Jim Schenck (Wareham, MA), and Sunny Hobbs (Richmond, VA) at the top of the overall field. Elam was penalized for being late to a meeting and banished to 19th overall for the start. Peter LaRose (Detroit, MI) and Brian Sanders (Cincinnati, OH) also qualified well ahead of most of the field.

Pictures courtesy

As expected, the start was hot and heavy with Mau, Mitchum, and Cates leaning on each other for the first turns. Mau and Cates continued to swap the lead back and forth over the next three laps. Elam took his frustration out on the slower cars to move up into fourth and then into third when Mau lost his transmission. With Mau out of the way, Mitchum moved back to challenge Cates hard and the two came across the finish line nearly side-by-side with Cates taking the win. The constant racing let Elam close the gap, but his hard driving in the early stages of the race left his brakes overheated and Schenck was the fastest car late in the race as he made his last turn move inside of Elam to capture third.


Sunday morning brought three important changes. First, the temperature was slightly lower thanks to the hard overnight rain. Second, Mitchum was determined to obliterate the small bore moving chicanes and break the track record. Finally, rookie Paul Kaiser (Troutville, VA) obtained his provisional license and promptly took his black #8 car out as the fifth fastest in practice. That was fifth fastest overall. Qualifying showed some sandbagging as Mitchum came out to break the track record by 0.003 seconds and the top six spots overall went to Factory Five cars with Mitchum and Cates on the front row. Marcus-driver Mitchum brought the field down fast and was rewarded with a quick green with he and Cates side by side into turn one for each of the first four laps. Schenck switched to new tires and was just a slight distance behind but Mau had immediate brake problems that let Hobbs and Elam get past. A full course yellow rebunched the field for several laps. When the pace car finally came in, it was Cates setting sail and leaving the field behind, but Mitchum and Schenck running him back down until he finally used the traffic to get a lead he wouldn’t relinquish. Elam had transmission problems and settled in to protect his position and hope someone would break. But while the cars were hot, everyone else but LaRose continued. A really entertaining battle between Sanders and the rookie Kaiser came down to the very last turn with Sanders giving the spot to Kaiser.


Next up for the East Challenge is Hyper-fest at Summit Point in July where Cates will attempt to lock up the Championship. With Challenge Cars trading positions every lap and nearly every turn being contested, the expected 10,000 spectators should be in for a real treat of entertaining racing.

Dan Elam



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