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Challenge Cars Burn-up the Track at BeaveRun

Wampum, PA - June 10-11, 2006, eight Challenge racers made the trip to BeaveRun Motorsports Complex to run in the third event of both the Ohio/Indiana Region and the East Coast Series. In attendance were ECS regulars Brian Cates (Broad Run, VA), Brian Sanders (Cincinnati, OH), Ed Boothman (Naples, FL), Tony Johnson (North Wilkesboro, NC), and Peter LaRose (Northville, MI). They were joined by John George (Nashua, NH) and Factory Five engineers Dave Riha and Jim Schenck.

No racer could have asked for better weather than we had this weekend, especially in June. Both days were partly cloudy with temperatures in the mid to upper 60's. The cars certainly liked the cool air. Well, maybe not them all.  Saturday morning warm-up proved uneventful as the drivers went out to simply make a few laps and check out the cars. Later that morning in qualifying, things got interesting. On his third lap, Cates lost third gear and retired to the pits. On lap 4, Dave Riha turned the fastest lap of the weekend and set a new track record of 1.04.635. Three drivers eclipsed the old record of 1.05.155 set by Chris Mitchum, driving for Marcus Motorsports, last year. This is the ninth new track record set this year! Between qualifying and the race, Cates and crew would spend their time replacing the transmission. Luckily he had a spare.

Once again the Challenge cars lined up for a standing start. On the pole was Riha with Cates next to him. Row 2 was Schenck and Johnson. In row 3, George and Boothman. And row 4, Sanders and LaRose. In the first 2 laps, Cates and Riha would exchange the lead and back again with Cates continuing to lead until lap 11 when he was forced to pit with a bad vibration that turned out to be loose lug nuts. After re-torquing the lugs he returned to the race, 5 laps down, to be sure he completed half the race distance for points. When Cates pitted, Riha took the lead back and stayed there until the end. Schenck and Johnson did everything they could to keep up with Riha but ended up having nothing for him. Further back in the pack, Sanders chased George the entire race but to no avail even though George spent more than two occasions "dirt-tracking" on the outside of turn 10. Boothman and LaRose had their own battles with cars from other classes. Final results were Riha, Schenck, Johnson, George, Sanders, Boothman, LaRose, and Cates.

At the end of Saturdays activities the drivers went out for dinner and drinks. Some good tales were told and there was certainly a little "smack" talked. In the end, talks turned to making the cars better and tips for turning fast lap times. While most left, heading back to motels, Ed was heading back to the track to change the springs on his car.

Sunday morning everyone was back at the track and another beautiful day. Everyone except Riha decided to go out during the warm-up session to try out the "tips" and changes made to the cars. I know we beat this to death but the true strength of our series is in the people that run in it. Everyone kicked it up a notch turning better lap times because of the information that was so openly shared between the competitors. Well, almost everyone. Once again Cates found himself sidelined during the session with another third gear failure. But proving the generosity and sportsmanship of the competitors once again, Dave Riha offered up a spare tranny he was carrying. So once again, Cates and crew set into changing out  a transmission. This would cause him to miss qualifying but not the race.

Today's qualifying favored Schenck, earning his first pole of the year. Riha, Johnson, Sanders, George, Boothman and LaRose filled in behind him with Cates bringing up the rear with no time. After qualifying, Peter was looking his car over when he thought he noticed something wrong. Upon conferring with the other drivers, it was determined that he had a serious problem with the rear brakes and unfortunately no way to make repairs. For the safety of himself and others, he decided to sit out the race.

From another standing start, Cates got an incredible launch and quickly got to the fourth position. From the start through lap 9, the top four were racing hard, exchanging positions several times in a single lap. Things started to settle down for them at this point with Schenck in the lead followed by Riha, Cates, and Johnson. This didn't change until 3 laps from the end. While all this was going on up front, Sanders and George were having their own battle. After leading George for the first two laps, Sanders was passed on the back straight and settled into stalk mode. Over the next 18 laps, Sanders stayed right on George, waiting for his chance to make the move. And that opportunity came on lap 21 when George slid off in turn 10. This turn definitely became John's nemesis. Ed turned in a good run. He was still trying to learn to drive his car with the softer springs under him. In the end, Cates was able to pick off Riha and Schenck and take the checkers. Final results were Cates, Schenck, Riha, Johnson, Sanders, George, and Boothman.

These 2 strong runs by Tony Johnson moved him to second in the ECS, just a mere 18 points behind Cates. Brian Sanders moved up two spots to the third position in the ECS and took over the points lead in the Ohio/Indiana Region. This is shaping up to be another exciting battle for the titles.

OH/IN is done for the month but will get back at in July at Mid-Ohio. This also happens to be on the same weekend as the next ECS event, Summit Point Hyperfest. I think the drivers have a tough decision here. Should one go to Mid-Ohio, where Nationals will be held in September, or to Summit Point and stay in the fight for the ECS title. Either way, the action is sure to be exciting.

C'ya at the track!!

--Brian Sanders

Page last updated: 07/02/2008

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