Amy's blue #50 Camaro is just part of the Aquilante arsenal.
The Aquilante Family Shows Up to Race
Joe Aquilante of Phoenix Performance is a well-known and somewhat legendary figure in SCCA racing. Not only is Aquilante himself a regular competitor at the Runoffs, his son Andrew won a pair of championships this weekend in both GT2 and T1.
“It's a great honor to win at the 50th here at Road America, one of the most prestigious road courses in America, " Andrew says.
But it's not just a father and son show in the Aquilante pit. Joe's nieces Amy and Beth Aquilante are also on track this weekend in the American Sedan class. Amy earned an eighth-place finish, while Beth had to retire with a mechanical issue after a single lap.
To further extend the family, Amy's boyfriend Kurt Rezzetano drove in the Touring 2 class and brought home a second place finish in that race. Rezzetano is also a Phoenix Performance employee.
“We really enjoy being here together,” Joe Aquilante says.
Racers Pitch in to Fix Damaged Car
Mike Kramer is the 2003 Showroom Stock C national championship in a Saturn (LEFT) – It was the first time a Saturn had ever won a championship in anything. As a past champion, Kramer received an invitation to come back and race in this year's 50th anniversary SCCA Runoffs.
“We got ready for the first practice like everybody else did, but it was a combination of me making a mistake and running over the curbing when the tires weren't up to temperature, breaking a tire bead, and the car flipped and we came down on the right side and then landed on the wheels. That's when my week really started, Kramer says.
At first glance Kramer's T3 class Saturn Ion looked like a lost cause. The windshield was shattered, the A-pillar and roof line on the right side were crushed, and the chassis was visibly bent.
“The guys you know come around to ask how they can help, and these are guys with their own programs to run. Then the next thing I know, someone says y'know, the Spec Miata guys do this all the time. Crash damage is their middle name. So this happened on Monday, and Tuesday morning I'm trying to figure out how to get the car fixed to the point I can hang body panels on it, and these guys I don't even know show up. They dropped what they were doing, and not only did they come over here, they came over with tools, and they came with the idea and intent that they were going to fix this thing,” Kramer says.
It was Chris Haldeman, Brian Wisler, and John Phillips who came to Kramer's rescue. With their help, the team was making final adjustments to the car on Friday, with every hope of making Sunday morning's T3 race.
“This is something you only see in Club Racing. There's a bond there. People go out of their way to make sure you can be in the race. I'm just really grateful for the guys I didn't know, but I'll remember them for the rest of my life,” Kramer says.
E Production Racers Look for a Close Race
One of the toughest challenges of SCCA's Club Racing program is to equalize the performance potential for widely disparate cars. They must be doing a decent job, because the top 6 qualifiers for Sunday's E Production race have all delivered qualifying lap times within 8/10ths of a second of each other.
Apart from every one of these cars being rear wheel drive, they couldn't be more different. The polesitter is Aaron Downey in a rotary-engine, solid-axle Mazda RX-3 – a car many would think better suited to vintage racing than all-out SCCA Runoffs competition in 2013.
Just 2/10ths behind Downey is former MX-5 Cup series champion Jim Daniels in a Miata (RIGHT), and 5/100ths behind Daniels is Matt Reynolds, also in a Miata. Fourth place is occupied by Greg Ira in a Datsun 260Z. Fifth place is Chris Dryden in a BMW Z3, and sixth is three-time national champion Jesse Prather in a third-generation Mazda MX-5.
“This is a race that could be decided on one missed shift. We're making our lap times in different places. Matt Reynolds and I are doing it in the corners and the other guys are doing it in a straight line,” Daniels says.
The E Production race begins at 1:00 PM Central time on Sunday.
• Follow all the Runoffs action live via online Timing & Scoring here: http://www.sccahost.com/sccalive/
• For detailed coverage of the 50th SCCA National Runoffs, go to scca.com/runoffs. The races can also be seen live Sept. 20-22, on www.SpeedcastTV.com.