BUTTONWILLOW, Calif. (April 9, 2008) - For the first time this year, Cal Club national competition returned to Buttonwillow Raceway Park as teams wrestled for a 2008 Runoffs qualifying position under perfect weather conditions.
This was the second Cal Club double National of the year, as California Speedway hosted the first event this past January. There was no shortage of talent as this double was one of the best National events in sometime for the Southern Pacific Division.
There were several moments throughout the weekend which were amusing, but scary as well. Two full- course black flags flew on Saturday and one full-course black flag fell on Sunday.
The first black flag waved in the first race of the weekend, when two Spec Racer Ford's wound up stacked two high. Marty Williams carried the weight of Robert Breton's No. 51 entry. Both Williams and Breton walked away from the incident.
On Saturday, believe it or not, two dogs found their way onto the racing circuit and officials were forced to black flag the race and go into dog rescue mode. Cal Club emergency specialists used hot dogs to bait the animals, then used their tow trucks to chase them to safety.
Nancy James brought out the final black flag of the weekend as her Stohr DSR became a breathing fireball shortly after accepting the green flag. She quickly parked it on track next to a flag station then escaped danger. Cal Club emergency again responded and saved her car from major damage. James was not injured and officials quickly cleaned up the mess and racing resumed.
Formula Vee, as usual, was hotly contested with Colin Cross’s Caracal on top of the podium both days. Saturday he narrowly defeated the Anduril of Brian McCarthy and Sunday his closest challenger was Marjorie Lundberg’s Caracal.
Alex Schuttle dominated Formula Ford in a Swift DB6 with a two-second per lap advantage over his competition. Saturday his rival was Ethan Shippert in a Van Diemen Rf97K and Sunday his closest challenger was Ed Erlandson’s EuroSwift SE-1, but Schuttle was in a class of his own.
Formula Mazda action was intense and full of emotion on Saturday, when Jamie Sloan defeated pole winner Mike Anderson. The two put on a stellar show, racing wheel-to-wheel the entire race with Sloan leading the final six laps. Post-race altercations on track and in pit lane stripped some body work off of Anderson’s car and both were called to the tower where the Steward of the Meet listened to their points of view. Amazingly, neither was penalized. Sunday, Anderson race unchallenged to victory ahead of Sloan in second position.
A monkey wrench was thrown into the Formula Atlantic race Saturday, when pole sitter Dan Selznick and Brian Johnson were taken out in the first corner of lap one as a car starting farther back on the grid slid through the corner, making contact with several other competitors on his way. Johnson was out, but Selznick was able to battle back to the front in his Swift 014 after several laps. Keith Lively and Paul Marciano’s Swifts held the top two spots. Selznick moved into second, but slid to back third with three laps to go. When the checkered flew Lively crossed the finish line first, but was disqualified for being under weight. Marciano was handed the win and Selznick moved up to second. Selznick was on his game on Sunday and set all the marks before capturing the win ahead of Lively, Marciano and Johnson.
2007 Spec Racer Ford National Champion Mike Miserendino battled Lee Fleming both days to tally two wins in SRF. Saturday Miserendino led every lap to secure victory over Fleming by just 0.66-second. Fleming stepped it up Sunday and controlled the race pace for 10 of the 16 circuits. Fleming led when the one to go sign was displayed, but came up 0.35-second short at the finish line.
David Ferguson Van Diemen RFS-03 defeated Doug Ota to capture the S2000 win on Saturday after leading every lap. Ota stepped it up Sunday in his Swift DB2 and secured the win ahead of Joe Moran and John Ostlund’s Carbirs in second and third positions.
After winning both National races at California Speedway earlier this year, Mark Drennan was able to capture both Spec Miata wins at Buttonwillow in dominant fashion. Drennan's only challenger was Justin Hall, who was credited for leading one lap Saturday and three laps Sunday. Hall tallied a second on Saturday and eighth on Sunday.
Michael Lewis schooled GT-1 with a dominant performance in his Jaguar XKR, leading the field to victory Saturday and setting a new track record on the final circuit of the race. Andy Porterfield’s Chevrolet Camaro finished second ahead of Rich Sloma’s Corvette. Lewis continued his dominance with another win Sunday as Sloma and Porterfield were down on laps each with different problems in second and third positions.
Evan Gardner tallied two GT-2 wins in a Mazda RX-7 as he fought off a hard charging Wolfgang Maike in who also captured two victories driving a Toyota Paseo in GT-3. Jim Hargrove’s Honda Civic was hooked up and collected both wins in GT-Lite as Cal Club favorite Bill Gilcrease struggled with transmission problems all weekend, entering a DNF on Saturday and a fourth on Sunday after he successfully limped his Mini to the checkered.
A great battle evolved out of E Production as Bob Neal, Wayne Graham and Aaron Downey each vied for a win. Neal succeeded with a win in his Mazda RX-7 on Saturday and Downey’s Mazda RX-3 secured the top spot on the box Sunday. Graham tallied second on Saturday and was in contention for a win on Sunday, but spun and finished third in his Mazda RX-7.
San Francisco H Production hot-shoes, Neil Verity and Mike Cummings put on a good show Saturday and finished first and second ahead of Cal Club pilot Craig Bryant in third. Sunday, Gary Wittman’s Austin Healy Sprite made the grid and put on a spectacular show as he battled Cummings’ Sprite and Verity’s MG B for the win. It was a three-car battle for much of the race. When the checkered flew, Cummings collected the win over Wittman by a scant 0.43-second and Verity filled the podium in third.
Camaro pilot Bill Shepergerdes collected two A Sedan wins by defeating fellow Camaro driver Aaron Bailey, who tallied a pair of second-place finishes.
Richard Crites raced his Honda Civic SI to a pair of wins in SSB as did Bill Hagerty in SSC, driving a Chevy Cobalt.
Cal Club's final 2008 National is scheduled at Buttonwillow Raceway Park, May 17-18. See www.calclub.com for more info, or www.scca-sopac.org for a full Division schedule.