Boothman Dominates Autobahn Weekend
Joliet, IL -- Once again this season
the Ohio/Indiana racers joined the Midwest racers for a shoot-out at the
Autobahn Country Club. This year we ran the South course. This was a 3-day event, July 21-23, with Friday
being a Test/Tune and racing on Saturday and Sunday. Four Challenge
racer's showed up for the weekend. In attendance were Brian Sanders
(Cincinnati, OH), Ed Boothman (Naples, FL), Lyle Riggen (Channahon, IL)
and Randy Van de Loo (Minneapolis MN). Graham McNeill (Naperville, IL)
was also there running his car on Friday before turning it over to his
son Shawn to run in HPDE the rest of the weekend. Graham has decided to
allow Shawn to progress through the HPDE ranks and possibly join us in
wheel-to-wheel competition in the future. Two other non-spec challenge
cars were there running in HPDE, owned by Warren Munson and Steve Kolrud.
The morning started out promising. Ed
and Brian arrived to beautiful weather and a track that neither had
driven before. The first session out was approached tentatively. As we
learned where the track went, we started pushing it in the "safe" areas.
Near the end of the session, just before pit-in, Brian pushed in the
clutch of his challenge car and was greeted with some rather nasty
noises. Upon releasing the clutch, he found he had no drive. Being so
close to pit-in, he was able to coast onto pit road and a short distance
into the paddock. Ed went on to finish the session. Brian gathered
several fellow racers and pushed the car back to his trailer. First
thoughts centered on a clutch failure as he had just replaced the clutch
earlier in the week. It looked like his weekend was finished. However,
due to the encouragement of those around him, it was decided that we
would tear into it and see if repairs could be made.
I would like to thank Ed Boothman for
taking all his time between the remaining sessions of the day for
helping in the tear down and ultimately the re-install. Many others
helped in some small way but Ed was there for the majority. After all
was said and done, Ed thanked me for the education. After removing the
T5 and the clutch, nothing could be found wrong with the clutch. I had
anyone I could find look at it. So our attention turned to the tranny
and in short order we found the problem, something was definitely broke
inside. Again, thinking his weekend was over due to the lack of a spare,
Brian joked about his demise with those around him. Many ideas were
discussed to get him back on track but it didn't look promising, at
least to me. As word spread in the paddock, Jeff Feit, an American Iron
racer, stepped up and offered a loaner. Once again this goes to show the
spirit of the NASA racers. With a replacement tranny at hand, Ed and
Brian began the re-install. A few hours later, we had it back together
and I was able to take it out for half of the last session of the day. I
missed my opportunity for learning the track but at least got to run the
rest of the weekend.
After a rainy night, the Challenge
racers awoke to a cool morning with plenty of sunshine. Still
apprehensive of the new tranny, Brian went out for a casual drive and to
figure out which way the track went. Ed started, right out of the box,
knocking seconds off his lap times. This session was the first of the
weekend for Randy and Lyle. But this session was not good for Randy. On
the very first lap, the car started acting funny and wouldn't run right.
I remember feeling for him as I passed him sitting on the side of the
track waiting for a tow. It turns out that a bad TPS was the culprit.
Luckily this was the last gremlin Randy had to work out after his his
crash at Brainard in May. Randy has worked continuously for the past
month and half to get the car back on track.
Qualifying showed that Brian had gained confidence in
the new T5, but missing all those session on Friday only allowed him a
second place in qualifying. On the other hand, Ed showed what the extra
sessions were worth by earning his first ever pole, almost a full second
ahead of Brian. Randy and Lyle claimed third and fourth respectively.
Their times showed they were still learning the track.
Once again the Challenge cars took to the track to
line up for a standing start with the CMC cars. At the drop of the flag,
Ed took off, Brian spun the tires, Randy jumped into second with Lyle
close behind. From the start it looked like it was going to be tough to
bring down Ed. On the exit of turn 6, Randy relinquished second place as
he decided the grass needed mowing. About half way through the race,
Randy had recovered, caught up to, and used a faster car to help him get
by Brian and back into second. At this point, Ed had checked out. Lyle
had some of his own battles going on back in the pack. As Brian chased
Randy over the remaining laps, he wondered, "Does Randy know this is
road racing....not drifting?" Randy put on quite a show either way!
Late in the race, Brian and Randy actually started
catching up to Ed..... well, at least we could see him. On the next to
last lap, Brian tried to make a move on Randy. But Randy was just
driving too good. "I tried to late brake him into two consecutive
corners but decided not to push the issue and take us both out," said
Sanders. The race ended with Ed taking his first win from his first
pole, with Randy second, Brian third and Lyle fourth. After the race we
checked the results sheet and found that Brian had run the fast lap for
the race and set a new track record for Autobahn - South, 1.41.794.
Once again the weather cleared from a night of nasty
storms. Morning practice went off without any hitches. The same was true
for qualifying and Ed proved he was the man to beat. Brian qualified
second. Lyle, after going home Sat. night and watching his video, gained
several seconds and qualified in third. Randy was fourth and all 4
drivers were within 1.25 seconds of each other.
At the request of a couple drivers, it was decided to
do a flying start or Sunday's race. As the cars starting rolling off
grid, Ed was allowed to leave but Brian, Randy and Lyle were held and
two SU cars were placed between them. Boy what a mistake by the grid
workers. On the start, Ed took advantage of his position and ran out
front from start to finish with Brian never too far behind. Randy and
Lyle battled for the other positions. All of a sudden the yellows
started flying. Then the double yellow. Would Brian get a shot at Ed on
the re-start? No, the race was black flagged and ended with Ed in first,
Brian in second, Randy third and Lyle fourth. The cause of the early end
to the race was an American Iron car that backed into the Armco. The
driver was ok but the car was a mess.
Hang on..........there's one more surprise! Not only
did Ed win his second race but he also had the fast lap of the race, a
1.41.794. Yes, you are correct. That is exactly the same time Brian ran
in Saturday's race. So both of them will be sharing that record until we
return to Autobahn South.
The next stop for OH/IN and Midwest is the Mid-Ohio
Sports Car Course in Lexington, OH on August 12 & 13. This will also be
the finale of the East Coast Challenge Series. While Brian Cates takes a
fifty point lead into the races, it is still possible for someone else
to come out on top.
C'ya at the
Photo's courtesy of Graham McNeill