On Sunday, Jan. 12, round four of the SCCA Eastern Conference Majors Tour featured seven races on the seventh day of the week under the warm, sunny skies of Palm Beach International Raceway. In only the second week of the new year, many drivers are more than halfway done with their best eight finishes used to score Conference Championships.
With 196 participants, the 11-turn, 2.034 mile circuit saw a great deal of action this weekend. Dominating for the second consecutive day and moving into a draw in the Formula Continental point race was Robert Allaer in the No. 52 LTD Motorsports Van Diemen RF00/Ford. Allaer joined James Goughary’s Formula F No. 72 Van Diemen RF-00/Honda and Russell Strate’s Formula 500 QRE/Hoosier Rocketech R2 in weekend sweeps.
Donnie Isley swept Formula Vee in the same group, but his psychedelic decaled No. 30 Agitator by Brookshire Agitator 016/Volkswagen didn’t move into the lead until the final series of corners.
Andrew Longe drove his No. 02 Trianon/Fall-Line Porsche 997 to an early lead in T2, and then used traffic mid-race to help stretch his advantage on the way to a second-consecutive win. Rob May earned his weekend sweep in the No. 4 Fall-Line Motorsports BMW M3 with a mirror full of Ricardo Flores’ No. 10 Gary Yeomans Ford Ford Mustang for the last half of the race.
Andrew Charbonneau’s No. 69 Ford Mustang swept T4, and Glen Bocchino (No. 12 Team I-Moto MAZDA3) and Cliff Ira (No. 36 Fira Motorsports Acura Integra) matched that in Super Touring Under and Super Touring Lite, respectively.
Both Simon Gregg’s GT-1 No. 59 Gregg Motorsports Chevrolet Corvette and Chad Bacon’s GT-3 No. 18 CB Motorsports Toyota Celica raced away for weekend sweeps, while Randy Kinsland earned a GT-2 win that he was robbed of through incidental contact and a flat tire on Saturday in the No. 4 Crossroad Motorsports Chevrolet Corvette.
In Touring 1, Joe Aquilante’s black No. 32 Phoenix/Hawk Chevrolet Corvette chased the bright red No. 77 Phoenix Performance Chevrolet Corvette of Saturday race winner Preston Calvert through the early stages of the race, but once in front, Aquilante edged ahead with quicker lap times to the top step of the podium.
Cliff White continued his run of dominating Spec Racer Ford performances to open the season.
While Peter Shadowen was driving the No. 72 Road N Race Automotive/Hoosier Honda CRX to an overall and GT-Lite win, Mike Miller was working his way through the H Production field for his second win of the weekend.
Like Miller, Ernie Francis, Jr. stayed ahead of the swale to snag his second B-Spec win of the weekend. Francis started on the class pole and kept the No. 9 Breathless Performance MAZDA2 in front, flag to flag for the win.
Alex Bolanos stretched his Spec Miata winning streak to three in the No. 57 Momo Mazda Miata, but the race for second place couldn’t have been closer – literally.
The fight for position pared down to the No. 39 Adept Studios Miata of Danny Steyn, Selin Rollan’s No. 87 Apex Alignment Miata, and the No. 174 BSI Racing Miata of Andrew Carbonell running nose to tail. On the final lap, Steyn protected the inside down the back straight, but Carbonell squared off the corner and dove to the inside through the final long right hander and quick flick back to the left to enter the front straight. Exiting the final corner side-by-side, the two were in a drag race to the checkered flag.
How close was it? The electronic timing system scored Steyn and Carbonell in a dead heat. Visual confirmation gave the nod to Steyn by inches in the photo finish, with Carbonell settling on the podium and Rollan less than a car length behind in fourth.
Keith Grant, driving the No. 40 Mazda/Hoosier Swift 016/Mazda in Formula Atlantic, was one of five drivers to race ahead of their class for the second-consecutive day to take wins in the unofficially named “wings and things” group, the last race of the day.
Darryl Wills’ No. 1 Hillenburg Motorsports Formula Mazda, Brandon Kennedy’s No. 14 Osinga Construction Formula Enterprises machine, Jacek Mucha’s No. 07 Phoenix/Innotech Mazda JMS016 in Prototype 1, and Richard Colburn’s No. 97 Nostendos Protoype 2 machine joined Grant as double winners in the group.
After two weekends of non-stop racing action, the drivers and teams get a well deserved break. Some of them, however, will soon be returning to the high banks of Daytona to participate in the Rolex 24 at Daytona from Jan. 24-26.
Round Five and Six of the Eastern Conference SCCA Majors Tour continues at Road Atlanta for the BFGoodrich Tires Atlanta Super Tour, March 21-23. The Western Conference SCCA Majors Tour opens next weekend, January 17-19, at Auto Club Speedway.
Next up at PBIR is the fourth annual PRO Winter Warm-up on January 17 and 18, 2014. This event brings together all the top names in professional drag racing, under the lights at PBIR’s Drag Strip, as race teams test and tune their Top Fuel Dragsters and Funny Cars in anticipation of the 2014 race season. This column will provide a full wrap-up of the event, as well as pictures, interviews, and more!
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