Ohio/Indiana Racers Rock Mid-Ohio!
Lexington, OH -- This past weekend, July 7-9, was
the the fourth race of the 2006 OH/IN Challenge Season. Due to an ECS
race this same weekend at Summit Point, only the Ohio/Indiana regulars
were in attendance. But that didn't hurt the action on track. The four
series regulars put on quite a show for the crowd. Brian Sanders
(Cincinnati, OH), Ed Boothman (Naples, FL), and Peter LaRose
(Northville, MI) showed up on Friday for a test and tune day. They were
joined Saturday morning by Gary McDaniel (Kansas City, MO). This weekend
was special as it was a three points race weekend. And the weather was
perfect in the low 80's and bright sunshine.
During Thursday's Test and Tune, the racers were
given three sessions to work on car set up. Tire temps were taken.
Pressures were changed. Ride heights were adjusted. Cars were scaled.
Spark plugs changed and even oil. This reporter hears that Ed is looking
for a new crewman after the old one left the old oil filter seal in when
he installed the new one. Ed got lucky that the engine was not damaged
after it pumped out six quarts of oil. All this preparation on Thursday
paid off as everyone ran the best times they had ever ran at this
From left to right: 2nd Place, Ed Boothman. 1st Place,
Brian Sanders. 3rd Place, Gary McDaniel. 4th Place, Peter LaRose.
All three races had the same finishing order.
Saturday morning the racer's were
geared up and ready to go. After a warm-up and qualifying session, the
four drivers anxiously waited for the grid to be posted. The grid was
posted after the driver's meeting and Gary McDaniel found himself on the
pole for the third time this season. Sanders sat on the outside with
Boothman and LaRose in the second row. Once again we were joined by the
CMC cars for a standing start with them behind us.
As usual, the tension was high as the
cars and drivers sat on grid waiting for the green flag to drop.
McDaniel was caught napping and Sanders launched, drag racing style,
into the lead before turn 1. Behind him the other cars were dicing and
jockeying for position. This allowed Sanders to pull out a sizeable lead
but McDaniel was determined to hunt him down. Sanders lead overall for
the first five laps before relinquishing the lead to an American Stock
Car. McDaniel kept up pace in second. Further back Boothman was
recovering from the start and setting his sites on getting past LaRose.
On lap 9, McDaniel made a great late breaking move at the end of the
back straights to momentarily take the lead only to relinquish it one
turn later by spinning over the top of "madness." This gave Sanders a
bit of breathing room, allowing him to cool the tires and brakes for a
mere four laps before he saw Gary, once again, in his rearview. How did
he catch up so fast? Well, by setting a new FFR track record (1.45.375)!
Determined to get by Sanders, McDaniel pushed his car hard into the "bus
stop" and clipped the curbing sending the car spinning through the
"keyhole", across the sand trap and into the tire wall. Seeing this in
his rearview, Sanders knew he had the race in hand if he could keep the
tires on the pavement and pointed the right way. Boothman was able to
gain a position while McDaniel tried to find his way back on track. In
the end, Sanders took the checkers for his first win. Boothman crossed
the line second followed by McDaniel and LaRose. After the race, Sanders
was heard saying, "I'll always remember this one. It's been a long time
coming." Previously, McDaniel had beaten him three times. After the
race, we sat in Ed's motorhome watching the race video and critiquing
each others performance.
Sunday morning brought more great
weather and the promise of even better action on the track. The FFR's
were the buzz of the paddock. Many drivers from other series came over
to praise the cars and drivers. It would seem that we put on an awesome
show. Now that the pressure was on us, I wondered if we could repeat our
performance. Let me say, we did not disappoint. The early morning
session was both a warm-up and a qualifying session as this was a two
race day. Continuing his weekend of "firsts," Sanders grabbed his first
pole for Race 2. Boothman started on the outside this time with McDaniel
and LaRose in the second row. Gary was determined not to get caught
sleeping on the grid this time and pressured Sanders from the start. But
this time the CMC guys wanted to get out front. Due to a poor start by
Boothman, the CMC guys ganged up on Gary and put him behind them. This
opened up a lot of room for Sanders to stretch out his lead. Further
back, Ed and Gary were battling each other for position. In the end,
Sanders earned his second win followed by Ed, Gary and Peter. However,
for Sanders, this win was overshadowed by a potential problem. During
the race his clutch started slipping and progressively got worse. Back
in the paddock, this was confirmed by the tell-tale smell. All Sanders
could do was hope that it would hold up for one more race, preceded by
the fact, there was no replacement.
The grid for Race 3 was set by the
finishing order of Race 2. By virtue of his second win Brian got his
second pole. Once again Brian was able to hold off the others on the
start and maintain the lead. This was by far the hottest contested race
of the weekend. Brian, Ed and Gary were never separated by more than one
second until the end when Gary fell off by two seconds in traffic. Ed
ran his best race of the weekend showing that he would fight for his
first season win. But by shear luck and the slipping clutch making the
race distance, Brian held on to sweep the weekend with his third win. Ed
crossed the finish line less than a half second behind and Gary, two
seconds later. This also turned out to be Peter's best performance of
the weekend knocking better than three seconds off his lap times.
OH/IN is one of the newest regions
for the FFR Challenge Series but things really look promising. We will
be well represented at the National Championships later this year in
September. The next stop for OH/IN is a cross-over event with the
Midwest Region at The Autobahn Country Club in Joliet, IL on July 22-23.
Here we will get together with another group of wonderful FFR racer's.
C'ya at the track!!