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Mt. Meridian, IN -- This past weekend, May 20-21, six challenge racers journeyed to Putnam Park Race Course to battle in The OH/IN - Midwest Challenge. This was the first of two cross-over events for the regions. In attendance were Gary McDaniel (Kansas City, MO), current OH/IN points leader, Lyle Riggen (Channahon, Illinois), current Midwest points leader, Brian Sanders (Cincinnati, OH), Ed Boothman (Naples, FL), Peter LaRose (Northville, MI), and Lars Lattstrom (Charlotte, NC).

After two weeks of rain everyday in the area, Saturday morning started off cool but beautiful. The morning warm-up session was hampered by an AI car dumping oil on the track just after leaving the pits. This brought a yellow flag on the front straights for the entire session while the track cleaned up the mess. During qualifying, Lars would set fast time followed by Sanders, just three tenths behind. Riggen, McDaniel, Boothman, and LaRose rounded out the field. At the lunchtime drivers meeting the FFR and CMC drivers were told they would have a standing start with the CMC guys up front for the race followed by a rolling start for AI.


Well we learn from our mistakes. The mistake being CMC in front of the FFR's on a standing start. Lars and Brian were all over the tails of the CMC cars, in and out of the throttle, all the way down the front straight until one of the CMC's decided he couldn't hold turn 1 on the inside and made a move to the outside, pushing Sanders wide and into the path of a hard charging Lattstrom. I wish I could report that all was well but that is not the case. Lars left a huge donut on the left rear of Brian's car and proceeded to leave the track surface and mow down the braking markers bringing out a full course caution. After two laps under caution, they had Lars out of the kitty litter and the race resumed with Sanders in the lead followed by Riggen and McDaniel. It remained so until lap 9 when Gary had a huge run out of turn 10 onto the front straight and took over the lead. By this time Lars had retired with low oil pressure. Gary proved difficult to run with turning fast lap after fast lap. In the end, it was Gary taking the checkers first followed by Sanders, Riggen, Boothman, and LaRose.

Once again on Sunday, the racer's arrived at the track under bright sun and beautiful skies. Well rested, everyone was excited to get at it and see what they could make of the day. Practice and qualifying were pretty typical. Gary once again set fast lap and took the pole for Sunday's race. Lyle took the other front row position with Brian and Ed in the second row and Lars and Peter in the third. After yesterdays start fiasco, it was decided to grid the CMC cars behind the FFR's. This worked out much better.


Lined up for another standing start, drivers chomping at the bit, the starter blew it. Instead of following standing start procedures, where he would raise the flag, signaling "get ready" and then dropping it for the start, he waived it without warning catching everyone sleeping, some more than others. Ed jumped from the second row, around Lyle, and challenged Gary into turn 1 for the lead. However, Gary held onto the lead closely chased by Ed. Meanwhile, Brian is doing everything possible to keep Lyle Behind him. About five laps into the race, Brian's car came to life. He started putting some distance between himself and Lyle and could see he was gaining on Ed. On lap 5, Brian took Ed on the inside of turn 7 and set his sights on catching Gary. Slowly but surely Brian was gaining on Gary as Ed slipped further behind. On lap 19, Lyle overtook Ed for the third position. While all this was going on up front, Lars and Peter were having their own personal battles with AI and CMC cars. Seeing Brian growing larger in his mirror, Gary dropped the hammer and turned his fastest lap of the weekend and the race to hold onto his second win of the weekend. Sanders finished 1 second behind in 2nd. Lyle, Ed, Lars and Peter rounded out the field.


After the race, back in the paddock, drivers shared stories and frustrations. Probably the most excited was Peter. He had just turned in his best performance to date. He did not get lapped by a single FFR. I remember when that day came for me and it is quite a milestone for a novice racer. Congratulations Peter!

The next event for OH/IN is June 10-11 at BeaveRun which is also the 3rd stop on the ECS tour. Midwest racers will find themselves at Brainard over the Memorial Day Weekend.

C'ya at the track!!

--Brian Sanders


Page last updated: 07/02/2008

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