SEBRING, Fla. (Jan. 8, 2008) – The start of the 2008 Sports Car Club of America Club Racing season was officially underway with nearly 250 cars taking part in Central Florida Region’s Winter Vacation National at Sebring International Raceway.
Race Group One was a 20-car strong Spec Miata field, with Henry VanVurst starting on pole. VanVurst would lead all but one lap of the 13-lap affair to take the win. Jim Drago briefly took over the lead early in the race and would finish second, 1.899 seconds behind VanVurst. Drago also set the fastest time of the race, a 2:38.914 (83.819 mph).
Group Two was composed of the Production and Showroom Stock classes, as well as Touring 3, D Prepared and GT-Lite. Driving a Datsun 240Z Greg Ira went flag-to-flag in E Production, as did Tim Pitts in H Production at the wheel of a VW Golf. Harold Fleshcer took over the F Production lead in his Austin-Healy Sprite from the Mazda Miata of Paul Kullman on the opening lap, then proceeded to pull away for the win. In DP, Eddy Cao’s Plymouth Neon ACR passed six cars in the opening lap, including the Dodge Neon of DP polesitter Christopher Childs, who spent the rest of the race reeling in Cao. The last lap was a photo finish, with Childs taking the win by 0.007-second.
Michael Scornavacchi continued to show the same speed that won him the Showroom Stock B pole at the 2007 Runoffs, winning SSB in a Pontiac Solstice by more than 16 seconds over the MINI Cooper S of Robbie Davis. Mark McCaughey scored the Showroom Stock C win driving a Toyota Celica, taking over the lead early from Luke Russell in a Honda Civic Si.
Mike Wheeler earned the T3 win driving a Chevy Cobalt, with GT-L winner Paul Mevoli not far behind in a Nissan Sentra.
In Group Three, Ken Tyrrell’s Stohr dominated D Sports Racer with a victory margin of nearly one minute and Marc Walker went unchallenged for the S2000 win in a Fox-Lola. Defending Formula Ford National Champion John Robinson II set fast lap by nearly two seconds, but was unable to catch the Swift of Jeremy Treadway that claimed the FF victory. In Formula 500, Bob Berman’s Invader snatched the lead from Jim Elder on lap two and never looked back, taking the win by 44.541 seconds. Formula Vee was a much tighter affair with Jeremy Grenier’s Womer and Donald Schanche’s Vortech battling for the lead. Schanche officially took over the lead on lap four, but Grenier snatched it right back. Grenier managed to hold off Schanche for the remainder of the race to take home the win.
More winged cars took the course for Group Four, where fourth-starting Ahsen Yelkin got a great start in Formula Atlantic, taking over the early lead in a Swift. After a brief two-lap caution period, Yelkin began to fall back, giving way to FA polesitter Michael Mallinen and Jacek Mucha. Mallien’s Swift would go on to win by 22.486 seconds. John Robinson bounced back from his earlier FF upset to win Formula Continental and set a new track record with his Swift in the process. Formula Mazda polesitter Franklin Futrelle spent most of the race being chased by two-time FM National Champion Jim Goughary Jr, but when Goughary dropped out of the race on lap eight, it was smooth sailing to the checkered flag and a new FM track record for Futrelle. Matthew Inge collected the Formula Enterprises victory, George Levien won Formula 1000 in a Stohr and V. Calderon set a new track record in his Van Diemen en route to the C Sports Racing win.
Group Five ushered in the high-horsepower machines. In GT-1, 2006 National Champion Phillip Simms was untouchable in his Jaguar XKR, going flag-to-flag for the win and setting a new track record along the way. Steve Spiers was equally impressive driving a Nissan 200SX in GT-3, running away with the win and a new track record. It was also a flag-to-flag win in GT-2 for Mitchell Pagerey and his Porsche 911 GT3 Cup. John Yarosz looked to have Touring 1 in the bag, qualifying his Chevrolet Corvette more than two seconds ahead of his nearest competitor Jerry Onks. Yarosz maintained his lead as Onks battled with Robert Kahn for second. However, shortly after setting a new track record, electrical woes slowed Yarosz to a crawl, handing the lead over to the Corvette of Onks, who would take the T1 win. Charles Guest (Pontiac Solstice), Kimberley Braswell (Chevrolet Corvette) and Tom Ellis (Ford Mustang) were also winners in Touring 2, B Prepared and American Sedan, respectively.
The final race of the day, Group Six, featured 53 Spec Racer Fords. While the field shuffled behind him, polesitter Brian Schofield maintained his lead from flag-to-flag, including a lap five restart after a brief caution period. The defending SeDiv SRF Champion and runner-up at the 2007 Runoffs, began 2008 with a win, 2.421 seconds ahead of Matthew Inge.
The Southeast Division Club Racing season continues, Jan. 12 – 13, with a Double National at Homestead-Miami Speedway, hosted by the Florida Region. Click the “events” tab for more information.