Todd Buras leads a line of Spec Miatas on Saturday at Sebring.
(Dave Green photo)
The opening round of the 2013 SCCA U.S. Majors Tour ran under sunny skies on Saturday at Sebring International Raceway, with 28 drivers taking wins at the BFGoodrich Tire Super Tour. Saturday's races were just the first of the doubleheader weekend, with drivers scoring points in both the Eastern Conference Majors Tour and the SafeRacer National Series.
The last outing of the day provided the most on-track fireworks, as 51 Spec Miatas took the green flag for a 13-lap race. The draft and Sebring's long straights are a great combination for the class, and while Todd Buras' No. 156 East Street Racing Mazda Miata led the field from the start, it wasn't going to be a breakaway.
Buras, from Melbourne, Fla., led a pack of as many as eight cars that included the No. 39 ADEPT Studios/ROSSINI Engines Miata and the No. 67 Jeffy Boy Auto Club Miata of eventual podium finishers Danny Steyn and Andrew Charbonneau, for most of the race, with the positions behind the leader changing throughout the early stages. A full course caution came out on lap six, bunching the field and giving each of the drivers a chance to catch their breath.
Steyn took the lead briefly on lap seven after green flag racing resumed, but Buras moved back to the front shortly after with a push from Patrick Sandlin's No. 58 Community Mortgage Miata. Chip Van Vurst, back behind the wheel after battling health issues throughout 2012, moved into the lead himself with three laps to go with an over/under move that started on the outside of turn one and was completed through turn three.
An aerodynamic shove from Buras moved Steyn back to the front and Buras to runner-up entering Turn Seven, and when the two emerged from the final corner side by side, there was only a drag race to the checkered flag remaining. Buras' got his bumper in front of Steyn's at the checkered flag for a 0.04sec win.
Celebrating the first of what could eventually be many SafeRacer National Series wins was 17-year-old Dillon MacHavern, of Charlotte, Vt. MacHavern's No. 29 Heritage Automotive Ford Falcon spent the early stages of the GT-1 race chasing Simon Gregg's No. 59 Gregg Motorsports Chevrolet Corvette, and it appeared that the defending SCCA Pro Racing Trans-Am Series champion had the race in hand.
Moving around slower cars, Gregg spun in the hairpin, and came to pit lane with a flat left front tire. MacHavern moved to the lead on the spin, and Gregg fell all the way to fourth while the youngster raced to the win, despite his cool suit failing to work the entire run.
The Spec Racer Ford field opened the day with Franklin Futrelle, of Augusta, Ga., topping the last two class National Champions to the checkered flag. It was only a 0.340-second margin of victory when Futrelle crossed the stripe in front of Cliff White's No. 58 Meco Inc. Spec Racer Ford, with Brian Schofield's No. 61 PM Racing Spec Racer Ford in third.
Group Five's results for the winged open-wheel cars and sports racers remain provisional overnight. Three full-course cautions shortened the race, with the final bringing out the checkered flag as well. David Grant's No. 40 Hoosier Tire Swift 014.a/Toyota led the majority of the Formula Atlantic race, but was passed on the final lap by three cars and fell to fourth, with Jimmy Simpson's No. 01 Racepro Motorsports Swift 008/Toyota crossing the stripe first. That race remains under protest and results will be finalized on Sunday morning.
Five volunteers were awarded $100 in a door prize at Saturday's BFGoodrich Tires Participant Party. Paula Hildock, Craig Zeigler, Ron Gentry, Barry Peel, and Nancy Digh took home cash, while Spec Miata driver Daniel Moen won a set of BFGoodrich Tires for either his race or street car from the Official Street Tire of the SCCA.
Each of the six race groups hosting the 28 Runoffs-eligible classes return to the track for a final 15-minute qualifying session at 8 a.m. (EST) on Sunday, followed by 13-lap or 40 minute races.
Links to live timing, audio, final results and more information are available at SCCAMajors.com.
Provisional race winners for Saturday's BFGoodrich Tires SCCA Sebring Super Tour at Sebring International Raceway. Drivers are listed by Class: name, hometown, and car.
American Sedan: Jeffrey Werth, Silver Spring, Md., Chevrolet Camaro
B-Spec: Robbie Davis, Irving, Texas, Mini Cooper
C Sports Racing: Jacek Mucha, Laval, Quebec, Swift JMS 01
D Sports Racing: Greg Bell, Ottawa, Ont., Stohr WF1/Suzuki
Formula 500: Cory McLeod, Charlotte, N.C., Red Devil F500/Rotax
Formula 1000: Tom Beattie, Longwood, Fla., Elan Dp-04/Suzuki
Formula Atlantic: Jimmy Simpson, Indianapolis, Ind., Swift 008/Toyota
Formula Continental: Christopher Miller, Edina, Minn., Van Diemen/Ford
Formula Enterprises: Scott Rettich, Camden, N.J., Formula Enterprises/Mazda
Formula F: John Benson, Dade City, Fla., Swift DB3/Ford
Formula Mazda: Carson Weeder, Winter Haven, Fla., Star Formula Mazda
Formula Vee: Steven Davis, Danielsville, Ga., Racer's Wedge/VW
E Production: Greg Ira, Plantation, Fla., Datsun 240Z
F Production: Curt Zitza, Crawfordsville, Fla., Porsche 912
H Production: Terry Boylan, Lakeland, Fla., Honda CRX
GT-1: Dillon MacHavern, Charlotte, Vt., Ford Falcon
GT-2: John Kachadurian, Chicago, Ill., Porsche GT3 Cup
GT-3: Stephen Lustig, Chester, N.J., Acura Integra
GT-Lite: Peter Shawdowen, Loxahatchee, Fla., Honda CRX Si
Spec Miata: Todd Buras, Melbourne, Fla., Mazda Miata
Spec Racer Ford: Franklin Futrelle, Augusta Ga., Spec Racer Ford
Sports 2000: Bart Wolf, Elkhart Lake, Wis., Carbir CS2/Ford
Super Touring Lite: Andrew Charbonneau, Delray Beach, Fla., Mazda Miata
Super Touring Under: Jim Taggart, Cary, N.C., Lotus Exige
Touring 1: Charles Rodholm, Parkland, Fla., Chevrolet Corvette
Touring 2: Albert Nocerine, Forty Fort, Pa., Ford Mustang
Touring 3: Brian Kleeman, Baltimore, Md., Nissan 350Z
Touring 4: Ed Zabinski, Walker Drive, Ga., Ford Mustang