West Coast Club Racers complete BFG Super Tour at Buttonwillow
SCCA Club Racing's best drivers from the West Coast had their day in the spotlight Sunday, racing for class wins and bragging rights at Round Four of the BFGoodrich Tires Sopac SCCA Super Tour, held at Buttonwillow Raceway Park.
Nearly 130 drivers competed for wins in 24 classes, broken out into five race groups. Of those 24 classes, half of them broke the existing track record at the 3.1-mile circuit.
Reigning National Champion and Super Tour winner in the GT-1 class, Michael Lewis, of Poway, Calif., dominated race group one in his Jaguar XKR, setting the fastest lap ever officially turned at Buttonwillow's 25A CCW configuration at 1:42.399 (108.985mph). After setting the time early in the 16-lap, 49.6-mile race, Lewis went into cruise mode, but still nearly lapped the entire field.
While E Production, F Production and Super Touring U winners Aaron Downey (Corona del Mar, Calif.), Brian Linn (Hermosa Beach, Calif.) and Marc Hoover (Shingle Springs, Calif.) ran to dominating wins, GT-3 and GT-Lite both saw lead changes.
Mike Henderson, of El Cajon, Calif., was on the GT-3 pole in his Mazda RX-7, but it was the similar car of Jose Rodriguez, of San Leandro, Calif., who jumped to the lead at the start. Henderson, the 2010 GT-3 National Championship runner-up, was able to move back to the lead entering Grapevine Corner and then sped away to a 10-second victory.
Bill Gilcrease, of Costa Mesa, Calif., moved past GT-Lite polesitter John Bower's Nissan Sentra early in the race and worked up to nearly a five-second lead. Bower's late-race charge resulted in a new track record of 2:06.212 (88.423mph) and allowed him to take the lead in traffic on the final lap. Gilcrease was not finished though, and used his Austin Mini Cooper's brakes to dive underneath the Nissan in the Grapevine corner to reclaim the lead and take the win.
Track records also went to Downey's Mazda RX-3 in E Production, with a 2:00.412 (92.682mph) and Linn's Mazda Miata in F Production, with a 2:04.779 (89.438mph).
The record book will show that Lewis has the GT-1 track record, but his time as the overall course record holder was short lived, as Group Two winner Lee Alexander dropped the D Sports Racing track record to a 1:41.159 (110.321mph). Alexander, of Las Vegas, Nev., recently acquired his Stohr WF-Zero from previous record holder Michael Scully, and went flag to flag for the win for the second-straight day.
Formula 1000 looked to be a great battle between polesitter and two-time SCCA National Champion J.R. Osbourne, of Greenwood Village, Colo., and Saturday's winner and track record holder Canadian Nicholas Belling. While Belling took the lead early in his RFR F1000, he tangled with another car and fell out on lap four, giving the lead to Osbourne. He went on to victory, setting a new track record of 1:44.395 (106.902mph) in the process, but admitted that Belling was the "class of the field" while on the podium.
C Sports Racing and Formula Atlantic featured tight battles and new track records as well. Don Simons, of Las Vegas, Nev., edged Dave Tweedie, of Riverside, Calif., for the CSR win by 0.484sec. Simons set a new record of 1:46.435 (104.853mph) in his Radical PR06. Chris Emanuel, of Huntington Beach, Calif., won Formula Atlantic over Randy Cook, of Palo Alto, Calif., but it was Cook that got the track record of 1:47.698 (103.623mph). Emanuel drove his Pro Star Mazda to a 0.832sec win.
Les Philips, of Bakersfield, Calif., Steve Brown, of Ontario, Calif., and Edward Guenther, of Paradise Valley, Ariz., each scored class wins in Formula Continental, Formula Mazda and Sports 2000, respectively. Philips set the FC track record with a 1:49.861 (101.583mph).
As expected, Group Three for Spec Miatas featured a tight battle at the front between Saturday's race winner, 16 year-old Tyler Vance, of Ladera Ranch, Calif., and Sammy Valafar, of Las Vegas, Nev. Polesitter Valafar took the lead early, but Vance was through to the point halfway through the race. Valafar watched Vance work his tires and was able to get back to the front on lap 11. Unlike Saturday, there would be no last-lap pass for Vance into the lead and Valafar took the 0.819sec win.
Roy Benedetti, of Laguna Niguel, Calif., took the overall and Touring 1 win in Group Four, driving his Chevrolet Corvette to a 2.242sec victory. Benedetti was locked in a battle with Oli Thordarson, of Trabuco Canyon, Calif., for much of the event until Thordarson encountered mechanical problems in his Chevrolet Corvette.
The expected battle between the Honda S2000s of Sage Marie and Tom Wickersham for Touring 3 never materialized, as Wickersham pitted as the green came out with a brake problem and Marie, of Huntington Beach, Calif., was able to cruise to victory.
Other Group Four winners included Aaron Bailey, of Shasta Lake, Calif., in American Sedan; Brian Husting, of Irvine, Calif., in Showroom Stock C and Tom Brecht, of Escondido, Calif., in Touring 2.
Jason Isley, of Coto de Caza, Calif., set a new H Production track record en route to victory in his Toyota Yaris with a 2:10.683 (85.397mph). Likewise, Lee Niffenegger, of Santa Clarita, Calif., set a new Showroom Stock B mark of 2:10.079 (85.794mph) in his Honda Civic Si.
In the final race of the weekend, Jeff Sakowicz, of Sonoma, Calif., consistently clicked off laps at the front of the field to win Formula F by 5.631sec over Ed Erlandson in his Van Diemen Ford.
T.J. Acker, of Saugus, Calif., started first in Spec Racer Ford and went flag to flag for the win, unlike Saturday's race, where he spun early and had to run through the field for the victory. Acker topped multi-time National Champion Mike Miserendino, a late arrival, who missed qualifying and started from the back of the 11-car pack, by 8.160sec.
The Formula Vee race looked to be one of the best of the weekend, until leaders Ron Wake, Dennis Andrade and Brian McCarthy encountered traffic that broke off the lead battle. Wake, of Lafayette, Calif., took the win in his Mysterian, over Andrade by 13.316sec.
Jeff Jorgenson, of San Francisco, Calif., was the lone Formula 500 entry, but that didn't deter him from being motivated enough to set a new track record of 1:57.855 (94.693mph) in his Novakar JJ10.
The BFGoodrich Tires SCCA Super Tour next travels across the country for the Great Lakes Super Tour, June 10-12, at Mid-Ohio Sports Car Course.
Image: Aaron Bailey en route to the American Sedan victory over Chris Qualls at Buttonwillow. D.E. Baer Photo.
BUTTONWILLOW, Calif. - Class winning drivers from Sunday's BFGoodrich Tires SCCA Super Tour event from Buttonwillow Raceway Park, with class, driver, hometown and car. All races were 16 laps, 49.6 miles in length.
American Sedan, Aaron Bailey, Shasta Lake, Calif., Pontiac Firebird
H Production, Jason Isley, Coto de Caza, Calif., Toyota Yaris
Showroom Stock B, Lee Niffenegger, Santa Clarita, Calif., Honda Civic Si
Showroom Stock C, Brian Husting, Irvine, Calif., Chevrolet Cobalt
Touring 1, Roy Benedetti, Laguna Niguel, Calif., Chevrolet Corvette
Touring 2, Tom Brecht, Escondido, Calif., BMW Z4 M Coupe
Touring 3, Sage Marie, Huntington Beach, Calif., Honda S2000
Spec Miata, Sammy Valafar, Las Vegas, Nev., Mazda Miata
C Sports Racing, Don Simons, Las Vegas, Nev., Radical PR06
D Sports Racing, Lee Alexander, Las Vegas, Nev., Stohr WF-Zero
Formula Atlantic, Chris Emanuel, Huntington Beach, Calif., Star Pro Formula Mazda
Formula 1000, J.R. Osbourne, Greenwood Village, Colo., Stohr F1000
Formula Continental, Les Phillips, Bakersfield, Calif., Mygale SJ04
Formula Mazda, Steve Brown, Ontario, Calif., Star Mazda
Sports 2000, Edward Guenther, Paradise Valley, Ariz., Swift DB-5
E Production, Aaron Downey, Corona Del Mar, Calif., Mazda RX-3
F Production, Brian Linn, Hermosa Beach, Calif., Mazda Miata
GT-1, Michael Lewis, Poway, Calif., Jaguar XKR
GT-3, Mike Henderson, El Cajon, Calif., Mazda RX-7
GT-L, Bill Gilcrease, Costa Mesa, Calif., Austin Mini Cooper
Super Touring U, Marc Hoover, Shingle Springs, Calif., Mazda Miata
Formula 500, Jeff Jorgenson, San Francisco, Calif., Novakar JJ10
Formula F, Jeff Sakowicz, Sonoma, Calif., Van Diemen
Formula Vee, Ron Wake, Lafayette, Calif., Mysterian
Spec Racer Ford, T.J. Acker, Saugus, Calif., Spec Racer Ford