Darryl Wills ran right in front of teammate Stuart Rettie for the FM win. (Mark Weber photo)
A slight breeze blew away the rain clouds and sunny skies were the order of the day on Saturday at Palm Beach International Raceway, home of Rounds three and four of the SCCA Eastern Conference Majors Tour. Seven 30-minute timed races were on tap, each paying full points for Eastern Conference competition.
Group one opened the day with Robert Allaer reversing field on Chuck Moran from a week ago in Formula Continental. Moran came out on top twice at Sebring, but Allaer turned the tables in their rivalry with a win in the No. 52 LTD Motorsports Van Diemen RF00/Ford, with Moran’s No. 45 Ski Motorsports Van Dieman RF99/Ford coming second.
James Goughary, near his home town in Jupiter, Fla., grabbed the Formula F checkered flag at his home track with a dominating performance in the No. 72 Van Diemen RF-00/Honda.
Group two’s fendered cars featured two class wins by out of towners escaping the cold weather for Palm Beach. Andrew Longe, from Naples, Fla., was the overall winner and Touring 2 titlist in the No. 02 Trianon/Fall-Line Porsche 997, but Rob May (from Wadsworth, Ill., in the No. 4 Fall-Line Motorsports BMW M3) won in Touring 3 and Cliff Ira (from Kansas City, Mo., in the No. 36 Fira Motorsports Acura Integra) won Super Touring Lite, making their winter trips a success.
The action picked up again quickly after the lunch break. Simon Gregg won his third GT-1 race to open the season in the No. 59 Gregg Motorsports Chevrolet Corvette, but Randy Kinsland and John Yarosz were locked in an early battle for GT-2 supremacy.
Yarosz’ No. 33 Hoosier/Phoenix Chevrolet Corvette led early, but Kinsland’s No. 4 Crossroad Motorsports Corvette moved in front coming out of the final corner and down the front straight to take the point going into Turn 1 on lap 10. Yarosz had fought his way back around on the next lap, and led exiting the final corner when the rear of his Corvette wiggled yet again.
That wiggle on the exit put a tire into the wet grass and shot him back across the track and hard into the front straight wall. Though his day was done, Yarosz climbed from the car safely. On the spin, however, Yarosz clipped Kinsland’s Corvette and flattened a tire. Kinsland came to pit lane the next time by to change the tire, but fell a lap down.
The race fell under full course caution for the tow truck to remove Yarosz’s machine, and ended under yellow with Joe Fitos’ No. 63 Joe’s Black Wallet Toyota Camry inheriting the GT-2 lead and win.
Spec Racer Ford was a repeat of both opening races at Sebring. Cliff White drove his No. 58 Cottage Senior Living SRF off into the distance, ahead of trouble for a flag to flag win his third consecutive victory to open the season.
Behind him, however, there were no fewer than five drivers taking their turn in the runner-up position. Ian Tilbor (No. 82 Picture and Frame Industries SRF), Jim Grey (No. 17 SRF), Thomas Anspach (No. 14 Anspach Racing SRF), Todd Vanacore (No. 19 SEI Motorsports SRF), and Casey McKibben (No. 08 McKibben Motorsports SRF) all battled for the position and ran in second during the race.
Anspach and Vanacore were running together in the battle for second to start the final lap, with Vanacore holding the advantage. The orange and white machine of Anspach had been going deep into the final braking zone to make a pass all race long, but this time was too far behind Vanacore to make it stick. Anspach spun trying to make an exceptional pass for second, and Vanacore was home free.
Had Anspach known what was to come, he probably would have saved his brakes and crossed the stripe third. Vanacore was found to be underweight in post-race tech, as was McKibben, who crossed the line third but ran most of the race without the front body work on his Spec Racer. Each were penalized one lap, giving Grey second and Tibor third. Anspach finished sixth on the final results after the spin.
In Group five, Peter Shadowen’s No. 72 Road N Race Automotive/Hoosier Honda CRX was locked in a race-long battle with Charles Leonard’s No. 14 JB Racing/Hoosier Nissan 200SX. Shadowen started on pole, but was swallowed up at the green flag by a host of GT-Lite competitors, including Leonard. At the start of the second lap, Shadowen was chasing Leonard for both the class and overall lead in the group.
Shadowen was back in front on lap four, but had his mirrors full of the red Nissan. On lap 16 of the 20 lap race, Leonard got a run down the back straight and moved in front of Shadowen under braking, claiming the lead for the second time. The two swapped the lead again twice on lap 18, with Leonard in front entering the final corner with one to go.
At that point, however, the pair had caught a lapped B-Spec car in a tight portion of the course. Shadowen slipped by, and completed the final 2.034-mile with the lead and the win.
In the same group, Mark Weber’s No. 25 Goodyear/Redline Mazda Miata and Gary Johnson’s No. 82 East Tennessee Race Prep MG Midget were locked in a back and forth battle for second place that became a battle for the lead when the No. 51 Northwest Cable Construction/Hoosier Mazda Miata of Ken Kannard fell out of the lead and the race with a broken header. Johnson took the lead on lap 10, but Weber motored past again down the backstraight to take the lead for good on lap 12.
Alex Bolanos took his second consecutive Spec Miata race win following race two at Sebring, this time leaving no doubt after crossing the stripe 1.239-seconds ahead of Forrest Landy for the race win. Bolanos’No. 57 Momo Mazda Miata battled with the No. 39 Adept Studios Miata of Danny Steyn early, but by lap seven Bolanos held a lead he wouldn’t relinquish.
Steyn fell behind Landy’s No. 49 Excitations.com Miata on lap 11 of the eventual 19-lap race, then fell off the podium behind Selin Rollan’s No. 87 Apex Alignment Miata on lap 17. Steyn still turned the fastest lap of the race in 1:34.002.
Keith Grant won overall and in Formula Atlantic in a caution-marred Group Seven, taking a 24-second margin of victory behind the wheel of the No. 40 Mazda/Hoosier Swift 016 in the 19 lap race, but the closest class battle was between a pair of teammates in Formula Mazda.
Darryl Wills’ No. 1 Hillenburg Motorsports Formula Mazda and Stuart Rettie’s nearly identical No. 21 Hillenburg Motorsports machine mirrored each other through the race, each waiting for the other to make a mistake. Neither did, with Wills crossing the stripe just a car length ahead. Rettie got the bragging right with the fast lap, turning a 1:20.233.
Each of the seven race groups hosting the 27 Runoffs-eligible classes return to the track for Sunday’s races, beginning at 8:30 a.m. (EST). Sunday’s races are 25 laps or 40 minutes, followed by victory laps and podium ceremonies.
Live timing and lap notes are available on Sunday at SCCA.com/SCCALive.
Results, grids and more information is available at SCCA.com/PBIRMajors.
Provisional race winners for Saturday’s Eastern Conference Majors Tour
Drivers are listed by Class: name, hometown, and car.
American Sedan: Tom Ellis, Pompano Beach, Fla., Ford Mustang
B-Spec: Ernie Francis, Jr., Dania, Fla., MAZDA2
Formula 500: Russell Strate, Jr., Alden, N.Y., Rocketech R2
Formula 1000: Brett Lane, Ft. Lauderdale, Fla., Van Diemen/Suzuki
Formula Atlantic: Keith Grant, Germantown, Tenn., Swift 016/Mazda
Formula Continental: Robert Allaer, Lithia, Fla., Van Dieman RF00/Ford
Formula Enterprises: Brandon Kennedy, Bear, Del., Formula Enterprises
Formula F: James Goughary, Jupiter, Fla., Van Diemen RF-00/Honda
Formula Mazda: Darryl Wills, Houston, Texas, Formula Mazda
Formula Vee: Donnie Isley, Fletcher, N.C., Agitator 016/Volkswagen
E Production: David Smith, Ft. Lauderdale, Fla., Mazda RX-7
F Production: Mark Weber, Saint Louis, Mo., Mazda Miata
H Production: Mike Miller, Walhalla, S.C., Austin-Healy Midget
GT-1: Simon Gregg, Ponta Vedra, Fla., Chevrolet Corvette
GT-2: Joe Fitos, Loxahatchee, Fla., Toyota Camry
GT-3: Chad Bacon, Kingsport, Tenn., Toyota Celica
GT-Lite: Peter Shawdowen, West Palm Beach, Fla., Honda CRX
Prototype 1: Jacek Mucha, Laval, Quebec, JMS 016 cp/Mazda
Prototype 2: Richard Colburn, Northbrook, Ill., Nostendos
Spec Miata: Alex Bolanos, Miami, Fla., Mazda Miata
Spec Racer Ford: Cliff White, Huntsville, Ala., Spec Racer Ford
Super Touring Lite: Cliff Ira, Kansas City, Mo., Acura Integra
Super Touring Under: Glenn Bocchio, Delray Beach, Fla., Mazda3
Touring 1: Preston Calvert, Potomac, Md., Chevrolet Corvette
Touring 2: Andrew Longe, Naples, Fla., Porsche 997
Touring 3: Rob May, Wadsworth, Ill., BMW M3
Touring 4: Andrew Charbonneau, Boca Raton, Fla., Ford Mustang