Andrew Longe leads his race group just after the green flag. (Mark Weber photo)
Round Four of the SCCA Eastern Conference Majors Tour saw flag-to-flag action under warm, sunny skies at Palm Beach International Raceway on Sunday. Less than two weeks into the new, many drivers are already halfway to their best eight finishes used to score Conference Championships. Sunday’s seven race groups featured 25-lap races around the 11-turn, 2.034-mile circuit. In all, 196 entrants participated in the weekend.
Dominating for the second consecutive day and moving into a draw in the Formula Continental point race was Robert Allaer in the No. 52 LTD Motorsports Van Diemen RF00/Ford. Allaer joined James Goughary’s Formula F No. 72 Van Diemen RF-00/Honda and Russell Strate’s Formula 500 QRE/Hoosier Rocketech R2 in weekend sweeps.
Donnie Isley swept Formula Vee in the same group, but his psychedelic decaled No. 30 Agitator by Brookshire Agitator 016/Volkswagen didn’t move into the lead until the final series of corners. Isley rode behind the similarly painted No. 22 Protoform P2 of Laura Hayes until the last corner, using the draft down the backstretch and popping to the inside under braking to take the lead. Isley held a slim gap to the finish to win by just 0.126-second.
Andrew Longe drove his No. 02 Trianon/Fall-Line Porsche 997 to an early lead in T2, and then used traffic mid-race to help stretch his advantage on the way to a second-consecutive win. Rob May earned his weekend sweep in the No. 4 Fall-Line Motorsports BMW M3 with a mirror full of Ricardo Flores’ No. 10 Gary Yeomans Ford Ford Mustang for the last half of the race. May didn’t flinch, even through traffic, and took the checkered flag.
Andrew Charbonneau’s No. 69 Ford Mustang swept T4, and Glen Bocchino (No. 12 Team I-Moto MAZDA3) and Cliff Ira (No. 36 Fira Motorsports Acura Integra) matched that in Super Touring Under and Super Touring Lite, respectively.
Both Simon Gregg’s GT-1 No. 59 Gregg Motorsports Chevrolet Corvette and Chad Bacon’s GT-3 No. 18 CB Motorsports Toyota Celica raced away for weekend sweeps, while Randy Kinsland earned a GT-2 win that he was robbed of through incidental contact and a flat tire on Saturday in the No. 4 Crossroad Motorsports Chevrolet Corvette.
In Touring 1, Joe Aquilante’s black No. 32 Phoenix/Hawk Chevrolet Corvette chased the bright red No. 77 Phoenix Performance Chevrolet Corvette of Saturday race winner Preston Calvert through the early stages of the race, closing the gap through traffic and making a bold move entering turn four on lap 20 to gain the lead. Once in front, Aquilante edged ahead with quicker lap times to the top step of the podium.
Cliff White continued his run of dominating Spec Racer Ford performances to open the season. White ran unchallenged to a 9.473 second margin of victory in the No. 58 Cottage Senior Living SRF for his fourth win of the young season.
While Peter Shadowen was driving the No. 72 Road N Race Automotive/Hoosier Honda CRX to an overall and GT-Lite win, Mike Miller was working his way through the H Production field for his second win of the weekend. Miller was third early in the No. 64 Comptune Austin-Healey Midget, but moved around Tim Pitts’ No. 11 Performance Tuning Volkswagen Golf. Miller got some extra breathing room when the No. 07 Red Line Oil Triumph Spitfire of early leader Andrew Wright fell out of the race. Miller cruised home for the win through the second half of the race, maintaining his gap over Pitts.
Like Miller, Ernie Francis, Jr. stayed ahead of the swale to snag his second B-Spec win of the weekend. Francis started on the class pole and kept the No. 9 Breathless Performance MAZDA2 in front, flag to flag for the win.
Alex Bolanos stretched his Spec Miata winning streak to three in the No. 57 Momo Mazda Miata, but the race for second place couldn’t have been closer literally.
The fight for position pared down to the No. 39 Adept Studios Miata of Danny Steyn, Selin Rollan’s No. 87 Apex Alignment Miata, and the No. 174 BSI Racing Miata of Andrew Carbonell running nose to tail. On the final lap, Steyn protected the inside down the back straight, but Carbonell squared off the corner and dove to the inside through the final long right hander and quick flick back to the left to enter the front straight. Exiting the final corner side-by-side, the two were in a drag race to the checkered flag.
How close was it? The electronic timing system scored Steyn and Carbonell in a dead heat. Visual confirmation gave the nod to Steyn by inches in the photo finish, with Carbonell settling on the podium and Rollan less than a car length behind in fourth.
Keith Grant, driving the No. 40 Mazda/Hoosier Swift 016/Mazda in Formula Atlantic, was one of five drivers to race ahead of their class for the second-consecutive day to take wins in the unofficially named “wings and things” group, the last race of the day.
Following an opening corner spin and contact that ended Stuart Rettie’s day in the No. 21 Hillenburg Motorsports Formula Mazda for the first full course caution period of the day.
On the restart, Grant left behind a four-car battle for second in the Formula Atlantic class, with Gaston Kearby’s No. 69 GK Motorsports Swift 016 eventually finishing ahead of Bruce Hamilton’s No. 06 K-Hill Motorsports Swift 014 and Lewis Cooper’s No. 70 Martini/Coors Light/Polestar Swift 014a for the position.
Darryl Wills’ No. 1 Hillenburg Motorsports Formula Mazda, Brandon Kennedy’s No. 14 Osinga Construction Formula Enterprises machine, Jacek Mucha’s No. 07 Phoenix/Innotech Mazda JMS016 in Prototype 1, and Richard Colburn’s No. 97 Nostendos Protoype 2 machine joined Grant as double winners in the group.
Round Five and Six of the Eastern Conference SCCA Majors Tour continues at Road Atlanta for the BFGoodrich Tires Atlanta Super Tour, March 21-23. The Western Conference SCCA Majors Tour opens next weekend, January 17-19, at Auto Club Speedway.
Results, grids and more information from Palm Beach International Raceway is available at SCCA.com/PBIRMajors. More information on the U.S. Majors Tour can be found at SCCAMajors.com.
Provisional race winners for Sunday’s Eastern Conference SCCA Majors Tour at Sebring International Raceway:
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: Alastair McEwan, Cary, N.C., Pheonix F1k
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: Ken Kannard, East Troy, Wis., Mazda Miata
H Production: Mike Miller, Walhalla, S.C., Austin-Healy Midget
GT-1: Simon Gregg, Ponta Vedra, Fla., Chevrolet Corvette
GT-2: Randy Kinsland, Whittier, N.C., Chevrolet Corvette
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 Bocchino, Delray Beach, Fla., Mazda3
Touring 1: Joe Aquilante, Chester Springs, Pa., 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