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.
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.
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!!