OHIO/INDIANA - MIDWEST
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
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!!