2019 Finale is Memorable!

Spending a superb fall weather weekend with great friends at an event hosted by an excellent region (Finger Lakes Region SCCA) at one of the top five tracks in the country - what else could one ask for? Even though some broke on Friday we ended up with eighteen V8RRS members attending and that's the most EVER for one of our events. And we also had some VERY close racing both days!

The Friday test day was relatively uneventful and all but John Hellmers survived (electrical issues), then that evening we had about 50 people show up at the V8RRS Compound for pizza, wings, fixings, beverages, and lots of bench racing. These socials are a large part of our weekends and thanks to our den mothers Amy Mercurio and Judy Walker for coordinating things.

With 36 cars sharing the 3.400 mile course for a 20-minute qualifying session getting a clean lap was definitely a challenge. After the dust settled we had V8RRS members occupying the top 13 spots on the grid, so the host region definitely knew we were there. Here's how we ended up:

. 1st GT2 (1st OA) - Andy Trought, Winfield Farms Camaro: 1.56.800

. 1st SPO (2nd OA) - Mark Mercurio, Champion Brands Oils Camaro: 1.58.352

. 1st GTA (3rd OA) - Al Rowland, Superior Trailer Camaro: 1.59.267

. 2nd GTA (4th OA) - Chris Durbin, Hawk Performance Monte Carlo: 1.59.297

. 3rd GTA (5th OA) - Jared Hincher, Morgan Lumber Camaro: 1.59.899

. 4th GTA (6th OA) - Bob Davis, Aqua Pro Pools & Spas Impala: 2.00.425

. 5th GTA (7th OA) - Tyler Wilson, Revolution Electric Grand Prix: 2.00.652

. 2nd GT2 (8th OA) - Dick Ruckh, Technical Compressor Services Camaro: 2.03.035

. 6th GTA (9th OA) - Randy Walker, Walker Properties Camaro: 2.04.425

. 7th GTA (10th OA) - Mike Longo, 7 Oil Co. Grand Prix: 2.04.554

. 1st GT1 (11th OA) - Chris Evans, South Bend Limestone Camaro: 2.04.887

. 3rd GT2 (12th OA) - Danny Lowry, Beech Island Porsche GT3 Cup: 2.04.976

. 4th GT2 (13th OA) - Mike Attaway, ATCO Demolition Camaro: 2.05.819

. 2nd SPO (19th OA) - Jim Smith, Bud Monte Carlo: 2.12.149

. 3rd SPO (20th OA) - Tony Stefanon, Catfish Racing Camaro: 2.12.426

. 8th GTA (31st OA) - Greg Burgess, Hip Pocket Challenger: 2.32.277

. 4th SPO (36th OA) - Dave Melley, Mad Metals Monte Carlo: no time (transponder)

. 2nd GT1 (37th OA) - John Hellmers, Oldsmobile Cutlass: no time (electrical issues)

Since the V8RRS directors denied my request to charter a helicopter to follow the action all the way around the track, I set up on the inside of the last turn before the front straight to watch Saturday’s race. This allowed me to see the entry into Turn 11, I lost the cars briefly behind the spectator crossover bridge, then I could see all the way down the front straight until the Start/Finish line.

The field was nicely formed up so they got the green first time by. At the end of lap 1 Andy had a slight lead over Mark followed closely by Al, Chris, Bob, Jared, Randy, and Mike. Tyler was missing from the mix and I found out later his Cool Shirt box was not tied down so he had come down Pit Road to have the Flying Wrenches secure it again. David Melley also pulled off track before completing lap 1 when a connecting rod decided to depart the premises (his third in three races – ouch!).

Jared got by Bob to run fifth overall on lap 2, then the order stayed pretty much the same until lap 6 when Al came by in second between Andy and Mark. The next time by (lap 7) the order changed dramatically with Chris in the lead, Al second, Jared third, Mark fourth, and Andy nowhere to be found – I wrote “Wow!” on my lap chart next to that lap.

I later found out that Mark had gotten back by Al before the Uphill Esses, then both of them backed off for lapped traffic entering the Bus Stop (Inner Loop) which allowed Chris to get by both of them at once to move up to second overall behind Andy. Then as Andy hit the brakes for the Toe of the Boot (on the same lap) his throttle stuck and he sailed off track but stopped just short of the tire wall. It ends up a part of his mirror had broken off during qualifying and chose that moment to lodge between the throttle pedal and firewall! Chris thought there was oil on the track and slipped slightly but continued while Mark also slid up the track which opened the door for Al. Al went for the opening, Mark came down, and contact was made. Both recovered with Al in second and Mark dropping back to fourth, and Al later found his front toe had been knocked out. He managed to close the gap to Chris but ran out of time before he could complete the pass.

Andy’s retirement meant the nose-to-tail battle between Dick and Mike was now for first in GT2 and they did not disappoint. Dick led early, Mike got around for 4-5 laps in the middle of the race, then Dick got back by on lap 10, but his win did not stand up when he (and Danny) forgot to report to Impound.

After the dust settled for Race #1 the order was:

. 1st GTA (1st OA) - Chris Durbin, Hawk Performance Monte Carlo: 1.59.409

. 2nd GTA (2nd OA) - Al Rowland, Superior Trailer Camaro: 1.58.137 (new record)

. 1st SPO (3rd OA) - Mark Mercurio, Champion Brands Oils Camaro: 1.59.092

. 3rd GTA (4th OA) - Jared Hincher, Morgan Lumber Camaro: 1.59.666

. 4th GTA (5th OA) - Bob Davis, Aqua Pro Pools & Spas Impala: 1.59.454

. 5th GTA (6th OA) - Mike Longo, 7 Oil Co. Grand Prix: 2.02.651

. 6th GTA (7th OA) - Randy Walker, Walker Properties Camaro: 2.01.684

. 1st GT2 (8th OA) - Mike Attaway, ATCO Demolition Camaro: 2.03.960

. 2nd GT2 (9th OA) - Dick Ruckh, Technical Compressor Services Camaro: 2.03.649

. 3rd GT2 (11th OA) - Danny Lowry, Beech Island Porsche GT3 Cup: 2.03.513

. 1st GT1 (12th OA) - Chris Evans, South Bend Limestone Camaro: 2.03.846

. 7th GTA (14th OA) - Tyler Wilson, Revolution Electric Grand Prix: 2.05.284

. 2nd SPO (26th OA) - Jim Smith, Bud Monte Carlo: 2.24.107

. 8th GTA (32nd OA) - Greg Burgess, Hip Pocket Challenger: 2.29.505

. 4th GT2 (34th OA) - Andy Trought, Winfield Farms Camaro: 1.58.626

. 3rd SPO (36th OA) - Dave Melley, Mad Metals Monte Carlo: no time (blown engine)

. dns SPO - Tony Stefanon, Catfish Racing Camaro: no time (differential issues)

. dns GT1 - John Hellmers, Oldsmobile Cutlass: no time (electrical issues)

After the Finger Lakes social that evening we all gathered again at the V8RRS Compound to continue the party, give out some awards, and (thanks to Amy for reminding me) draw the name of the winner of the $2500 PitBoxes.com tool box. The winner was Dick Ruckh, which is fitting as they ran 12 races over six weekends.

Qualifying for Sunday’s race on the short (NASCAR) configuration was relatively uneventful other than (again) the challenge of getting a clear track for at least one lap. After his first hot lap Al’s engine lost power which they later traced to a bad battery and Mike’s car sounded like it was running on four cylinder (later found four burned plug wires), so the final grid changed just a bit from Saturday:

. 1st GT2 (1st OA) - Andy Trought, Winfield Farms Camaro: 1.16.898

. 1st SPO (2nd OA) - Mark Mercurio, Champion Brands Oils Camaro: 1.17.128

. 1st GTA (3rd OA) - Chris Durbin, Hawk Performance Monte Carlo: 1.17.904

. 2nd GTA (4th OA) - Al Rowland, Superior Trailer Camaro: 1.18.312

. 3rd GTA (5th OA) - Jared Hincher, Morgan Lumber Camaro: 1.18.645

. 2nd GT2 (6th OA) - Danny Lowry, Beech Island Porsche GT3 Cup: 1.19.414

. 4th GTA (7th OA) - Bob Davis, Aqua Pro Pools & Spas Impala: 1.19.459

. 5th GTA (9th OA) - Randy Walker, Walker Properties Camaro: 1.20.218

. 6th GTA (9th OA) - Tyler Wilson, Revolution Electric Grand Prix: 1.20.626

. 7th GTA (11th OA) - Mike Longo, 7 Oil Co. Grand Prix: 1.21.046

. 3rd GT2 (12th OA) - Dick Ruckh, Technical Compressor Services Camaro: 1.21.943

. 1st GT1 (13th OA) - Chris Evans, South Bend Limestone Camaro: 1.22.529

. 4th GT2 (16th OA) - Mike Attaway, ATCO Demolition Camaro: 1.24.844

. 8th GTA (29th OA) - Greg Burgess, Hip Pocket Challenger: 1.38.364

. 2nd SPO (31st OA) - Jim Smith, Bud Monte Carlo: no time (taking no chances)

. dns SPO - Dave Melley, Mad Metals Monte Carlo: no time (blown engine)

. dns SPO - Tony Stefanon, Catfish Racing Camaro: 2(differential issues)

. dns GT1 - John Hellmers, Oldsmobile Cutlass: no time (electrical issues)

I watched Sunday’s race from the same place and this time the field was strung out so badly the pace car stayed out rather than the field getting the green. A yellow ASedan was late getting off Grid and held up all the cars behind it, and running the short course did not allow time for the back of the pack to catch up. The field was formed up better and got the green second time by, and here’s a video of the first few laps from Chris Durbin’s fourth place car: https://vimeo.com/362058876

As they came by me the first time it was Andy leading with Al on his bumper, then Mark followed closely by Jared, Chris (Durbin), Randy, Tyler, and Mike (Longo). Chris assumed fourth place next time by and Mike got past Tyler, but the order at the front pretty much stayed the same until lap 12. Farther back Dick and Danny were have a great battle for the lead in GT2, Chris Evans was running a solid race in GT1, and Jim Smith locked up the SPO championship just back taking the green. Mike Attaway came in after on one green flag lap, so obviously his electrical issues had not been rectified.

As the leaders came into my sight finishing lap 12 it was Andy still leading by about two seconds, then Al with Mark in CLOSE pursuit. Al backed off slightly entering Turn 11 while waiting to see what a lapped car was going to do, and Mark went for the inside in an attempt to pass. I remember thinking, “This is NOT going to end well!” at the time.

Sure enough, Al turned into the apex and Mark tagged the #7 car behind the RR tire causing both of them to spin. Al was able to continue but before Chris got by in to take second overall, first in GTA. Mark’s car, in the meantime, was stopped on the outside of Turn 11 with a broken LF suspension, so his race was over at the point. The race continued two more laps with a local yellow covering Turn 11, then went FCY at the end of lap 14. Al was able to close the distance to Chris and was hoping they’d be able to settle duel under green, but the stewards determined time would expire before they could clear the track, so the checkers came out after one more lap.

At that point, the order was:

. 1st GT2 (1st OA) - Andy Trought, Winfield Farms Camaro: 1.16.636

. 1st GTA (2nd OA) - Chris Durbin, Hawk Performance Monte Carlo: 1.17.975

. 2nd GTA (3rd OA) - Al Rowland, Superior Trailer Camaro: 1.17.096

. 3rd GTA (4th OA) - Jared Hincher, Morgan Lumber Camaro: 1.18.133

. 4th GTA (5th OA) - Tyler Wilson, Revolution Electric Grand Prix: 1.18.922

. 5th GTA (6th OA) - Randy Walker, Walker Properties Camaro: 1.18.993

. 6th GTA (7th OA) - Mike Longo, 7 Oil Co. Grand Prix: 1.19.329

. 2nd GT2 (8th OA) - Dick Ruckh, Technical Compressor Services Camaro: 1.20.514

. 3rd GT1 (10th OA) - Chris Evans, South Bend Limestone Camaro: 1.21.359

. 2nd GT2 (12th OA) - Danny Lowry, Beech Island Porsche GT3 Cup: 1.20.054

. 1st SPO (24th OA) - Mark Mercurio, Champion Brands Oils Camaro: 1.17.372

. 2nd SPO (25th OA) - Jim Smith, Bud Monte Carlo: 1.28.048

. 7th GTA (27th OA) - Greg Burgess, Hip Pocket Challenger: 1..38.034

. 4th GT2 (28th OA) - Mike Attaway, ATCO Demolition Camaro: 2.06.485

. dns GTA - Bob Davis, Aqua Pro Pools & Spas Impala: no time (left early)

. dns SPO - Dave Melley, Mad Metals Monte Carlo: no time (blown engine)

. dns SPO - Tony Stefanon, Catfish Racing Camaro: 2(differential issues)

. dns GT1 - John Hellmers, Oldsmobile Cutlass: no time (electrical issues)

Despite some frayed nerves and “animated” conversations it was a pretty memorable Finale weekend with excellent racing. As stated before, the 18 V8RRS entries were the most ever and the host region appreciated the show we put on. This year we crowned six season champions and four of them were finally decided on the track at this event:

. GT1 – Chris Evans

. GT2 – Andy Trought

. GTA – Chris Durbin

. SPO – Jim Smith

Those decided earlier were Dainton Brooks in AS and Chip Bozeman in T1, with Dick Ruckh winning the $2500 PitBoxes.com lottery.

Already looking forward to 2020!

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