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Ed 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.

Friday

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.

    

Saturday

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.

    

Sunday

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 track!

--Brian Sanders

Photo's courtesy of Graham McNeill

Page last updated: 07/02/2008

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