LEXINGTON, Ohio (September 21, 2002) -- The Sports Car Club of America crowned one new National Champion and welcomed back two defending Champions at Mid-Ohio Sports Car Course in the first three Saturday races of the Valvoline Runoffs®. Additionally, one gold medal from Friday's races changed hands.
In the Morning opener, Bill Hagerty, of San Diego, Calif., took the Showroom Stock C lead at the drop of the green flag and was never seriously challenged in his Kumho Tire/Gemini Consulting Honda Civic Si to earn his first-ever National Championship. He was later disqualified, giving the win to Joel Lipperini(SEE NOTE BELOW).
"There were seven or eight drivers who could have won today," said Hagerty. "I felt that whoever got in front at the start could stay there and win. [Polesitter] John [Fernandez] got a faster start than I thought he would, but then he missed a shift and I yelled, 'Yes, Yes!'"
Second and third-finishing Erich Heuschele and Fernandez were disqualified for passes under yellow, which promoted Joel Lipperini, of Pittston, Pa., and Gene Harrington, of Louisville, Ky., into the final podium positions.
In the second race of the day, defending Champion Elivan Goulart, of Shelton, Conn., led from the pole in Formula 500 until seventh-starting Calvin Stewart took the point on lap nine. On the 10th circuit, in the most bizarre moment thus far in the Runoffs, Stewart came upon some lapped traffic and a yellow flag situation, forcing him to ease out of the throttle, waving his hand in the process. Right on his tail, Goulart (QRE/Hoosier/Savings Auto Invader) did not have time to react to Stewart's slowing car, and launched over his rear wheels. Stewart was able to continue for three more laps before the damage to his car proved to substantial to continue.
"Calvin [Stewart] had just gotten by me and I drafted him down the straight," said Goulart, age 21. "Then a yellow came out and I did not see it. Calvin slowed and raised his hand. I was surprised and couldn't avoid him. I went way up in the air and came down hard. The car was injured, but it held together."
Douglas Marsh, of Eastlake, Ohio, and Kenny Price, of Dewey, Ill., joined Goulart on the podium. Brian Novak and Rusty Cook completed the top five.
Spec Racer Ford provided the best race thus far in 2002, with polesitter and defending Champion Richard Spicer, of Laurel, Md., emerging triumphant after a fierce, race-long battle with six-time Runoffs Champion Mike Davies. The two swapped the lead four times officially (at the timing line) and another four times unofficially, including a last-lap pass for the win by Spicer.
"Late in the race, I hoped to get a good run on Mike [Davies]," said Spicer, driver of the Hagerman Race Engineering/Spicer Spec Racer Ford. "He was leading, but it came down to how long I could keep my foot down before hitting the brakes in turn seven. The first time I passed him, he re-passed me and I noticed that he took a different line through the esses than I did and carried more speed out of it. So the second time, I altered my line and took a little speed from him so the he could not take me back."
John Black, of Olympic Forrest, Calif., made a late-race pass on Lee Fleming for third, followed by Jeff Beck.
The 2002 Runoffs also had its first winner crowned in the tech shed after the racing was over. Dan Collishaw, of Noblesville, Ind., was declared the winner of H Production in his Precision Peter's Fabrication Austin-Healey Sprite. The original winner of yesterday's race, Bob Weber, was disqualified after his car failed post-race technical inspection.
For complete results, visit www.scca.org. The 39th Valvoline Runoffs continues this afternoon with five races for the Touring One, Formula Ford, GT-2, G Production and D Sports Racer classes.
NOTE: In the final Showroom Stock C results, the car of Hagerty was found to be out of technical compliance and was disqualified. John Haggerty was also disqualified for an on-track incident. Heuschele was penalized one position for passing under yellow, giving the win to Joel Lipperini in the Kumho Tires Honda Civic Si. It is Lipperini s first National Championship. Heuschele finished second, followed by Harrington.