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Mixed Blessings at Mid-Ohio For FFR Challenge Racers

Lexington, Ohio --  The racing gods smiled on the OH/IN Challenge racers once again this year by offering beautiful weather and some hot racing action. The weekend started with a Friday Test & Tune, which Brian Sanders (Cincinnati, OH), Ed Boothman (Naples, FL) and Peter LaRose (Northville, MI) took advantage of. Peter went one step further and enrolled in the Mid-Ohio coaching clinic. But not all was bright and cheery, during the second session out, Brian, once again, lost a transmission. This is becoming a frequent problem with the OH/IN racers. But with the help of Ed, the two got the tranny replaced without missing a session. Kevin Eves joined the group that evening as the second member of Team Boothman/Eves. Ed decided that at several races this year he would bring Kevin in to run in the Challenge Series and PTA.

Mike Dzuirgalski (Fairmont, WV) also joined the Challenge racers. Mike is currently running HPDE, working his way up the ladder to his competition license and should join the series early next spring. Mike was very pleased with the performance of his car in the early sessions but on Saturday ran into some problems. After troubleshooting the entire fuel system, it was discovered he had a faulty throttle position sensor.

Saturday morning practice was sat out by Brian as he was still concerned with the replacement transmission. But the others went out to warm-up. Ed decided that Kevin would represent the team, this day, in the Challenge Series while Ed made all his runs in the PTA class. In qualifying, it was Brian on top with a 1.40.800 followed by Kevin at 1.41.178. Peter was next, consistently chopping off time in each session he ran.

As the Challenge racers took the green flag for the race, Brian was able to put his car in the right position to pick off a few cars entering the first few turns while Kevin got trapped. This allowed Brian to open up a sixteen second gap over the next several laps. This gap continued to grow to almost thirty seconds as the checkered flag flew. This win meant a lot to Brian as it was the first time he had ever beaten Kevin. “It’s the drive to beat guys like Kevin that make you a better racer,” said Brian after the race. “But that was just one race; I know he’ll be back with a vengeance tomorrow.” Kevin did finish second with Peter in third.

After the loss to Brian, Kevin and Ed decided to run Kevin again in the Challenge race on Sunday. Brian knew he would have to drive flawlessly if he were to beat him again. But the thoughts of a second victory came to an abrupt halt. A VERY abrupt halt as Brian stuffed the Rat Racing Graphics Challenge Car in the tire-wall exiting the difficult turn 9 “jump” during qualifying. On a side note, Kevin ran qualifying in PTA and ran a 1:39.630 which would have been enough for a new FFR track record had it been a Challenge Series qualifying session.

Ed met Brian and the “piggy-back truck” at Brian’s paddock spot and said, “What do we need to do first?” At this point Brian was feeling that the day was done and stated this fact. But Ed was not buying it. He kept at Brian and repairs were started. The basic repairs needed to get the car back on track included replacing a tie-rod end, broken shock, remounting the exhaust, and a track-side alignment. In exactly 3 hours, this was accomplished. The car was taken to the grid; Ed grabbed the hood to put on the car while it sat on grid as Brian got suited up for the race. Some very harsh persuasion was needed to get the hood to mount as the body was tweaked a little. Brian was running to the grid as the whistle blew announcing two minutes to roll. In the end, Brian pulled his shoulder straps tight as he rolled off the grid.

Kevin sat on pole with Peter next to him and Brian in the rear. When the green flag fell, Brian pulled ahead of Peter as Kevin drove away. Over the next laps, Kevin pulled further away as Brian made sure the car would be track worthy. Peter stayed close behind. Around lap 5, Brian started feeling a nasty vibration and a squeal in the turns, he identified this as brakes dragging on the rotor. Putting two and two together, he realized no one had torqued the wheels after the repairs. Immediately he slowed and exited the track down pit road, rolled across the scales and retired from the race. Kevin went on to win with Peter in second and Brian in third.

The OH/IN racers will be returning to Mid-Ohio on Aug. 17-19 for a final shakedown before Nationals. We hope to be joined by other Challenge racers and extend a warm invitation.  This is your last time to get some seat time before Nationals.

C’ya at the track!

--Brian Sanders

Page last updated: 07/02/2008

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