Round Two of the SCCA Mid-States Majors Tour closed with a thrilling Spec Miata race, capping a BFGoodrich Tires NOLA Super Tour weekend that ran to rave critical reviews.
SafeRacer Club Racing drivers went out of their way to praise the NOLA Motorsports Park’s 16-turn, 2.75-mile circuit throughout the weekend, many here for the first time.
Sunday’s schedule featured a full slate of 17-lap races.
Formula F began the day in a race that no one seemed to want to win. David Livingston’s No. 85 ThermaMasters Swift/Ford spun in the race’s first corner and fell to the back of the field, but regained his composure and knocked off some fast laps and he aimed back to the front.
Saturday winner Bill Kephart’s No. 37 Vestial 10F/Honda spun on lap six in a battle for the lead with Wesley Cunningham’s No. 33 Over Fifty/MSR Houston/Honda Swift DB-6, handing the lead to Cunningham. With no one around, Cunningham stretched his lead to as high as 11 seconds until, on lap 11, he spun and fell back to third.
At that point, Livingston was back in front, ahead of Meg Sauce’s No. 10 Sportscar Performance Swift DB-6. Livingston and Sauce both spun again on lap 14, and just like that, Cunningham was back in front.
With a second chance at the top spot, Cunningham pulled away to the checkered flag, followed by Kephart and Livingston on the podium.
The Group Two race featured a fast and tight Formula Atlantic race that was derailed early when opening lap contact damaged the right rear suspension on Saturday winner Conner Kearby’s No. 56 GK-Motorsports/K-Hill Swift 016 and brought out a full course caution.
Father Gaston Kearby took over the lead following the restart in the No. 69 GK Motorsports/K-Hill Swift 016a, but spent the last half of the race with his mirrors full of the No. 70 Martini/Coors Light Swift 014a. Cooper could close to the rear of Kearby’s car, but with no way around, had to settle for second by just 0.786-second.
Darryl Wills swept the Formula Mazda weekend in the No. 1 Hillengburg Motorsports Formula Mazda, as did David Grant in Formula Continental (No. 59 Polestar Motor Racing Spectrum 014z), Jack Donnellan in Prototype 2 (No. 6 Kechi Energy Lola 598), and Tim Reinke in Formula Enterprises (No. 50 Formula Enterprises).
Charlie Vehle got an early challenge in the American Sedan race, as the No. 57 CH4 Resources Ford Mustang of Thomas Hines won the drag race to turn one, and held the lead on the opening lap. Vehle’s No. 50 Ford Mustang moved back to the lead on lap two, and then cruised to an easy weekend sweep when Himes pulled off track with mechanical issues on the front straight.
Matt Blehm moved his Super Touring Under-winning No. 48 Nissan 240SX around Cliff Ira’s Super Touring Lite-winning No. 36 Fira Motorsports Acura Integra late in the race for the overall second position, but neither driver was challenged in class on their way to weekend sweeps.
Zach Monette resumed his rivalry with David Fershtand in the GT-1 race on Sunday, following a tight duel during Saturday’s race. Monette’s No. 199 Optech Jaguar XKR got the jump on the No. 70 Fershtand Race Prepared Chevrolet Corvette at the green flag, and moved into the lead.
The two chased each other hard around the 2.75-mile circuit for 14 laps, with Monette in the lead. Heading into turn 13 on the lap 15, Fershtand braked very late, sliding to the inside and into the lead.
With Monette still on his bumper, the pair made a fantastic – and brave – move through the esses at NOLA, which should be a one-line portion of the track. Both cars split a pair of GT-2 and GT-3 machines to make the move, and drove to the one-to-go board.
On the last lap, Monette ran hard up the inside into turn one, but wasn’t close enough to make a pass. A similar move under braking in turn two was too much, and Monette’s Jaguar spun – giving Fershtand a free pass to the finish. Monette recovered to finish second.
Stan Czacki moved his No. 00 Whitehead/DGI/SchaafAuto Acura RSX Type-S around Luis Rivera’s No. RPM Motorsports Mazda Miata at the start, and stayed there until lap six, when Rivera found his way around. That was a short lived arrangement, as Czacki was back in front a lap later. Czacki held on the rest of the way for the win.
James Rogerson celebrated his birthday by running away from the H Production field in his No. 66 Hoosier/MSR Houston/Over 50 Motorsports Honda Civic, jumping away at the start and keeping in front of the field to the finish.
On Saturday, Denny Stripling drove his No. 4 Lightspeed Motorsports Spec Racer Ford away to a blowout victory. On Sunday, Keith Verges was determined that wouldn’t happen.
Verges did his part, moving away from the green flag in tandem with Stripling and taking the lead for the first time with a hard-braking maneuver in the No. 69 Apex Driving School SRF entering turn one.
Stripling moved back in front in the back half of the course on lap 11, then watched it disappear again on lap 13 with yet another turn one pass.
Verges wasn’t finished yet. For four laps, he kept the red and white machine of Stripling behind him, weaving through the twisty circuit but unable to break free. Verges was practically mistake free over the final laps, however, and stayed in front by 0.353-second at the finish.
Spec Miata was a four-car train in the last half of the race, left to be decided between Craig Berry’s No. 29 Berry Marble and Granite/East Street Racing Miata, Voytek Burdzy’s No. 4 Advanced Autoparts Mazda Miata, and the No. 51 Boots Transportation Miata when Tom Brown’s No. 27 Advanced Autoparts/Custom Wireless Miata experienced a mechanical issue on lap 14.
Burdzy held the point on lap 16, protecting the inside into one as Berry looked for a way around. It didn’t work in turn one, but it set up a pass in turn three and gave Berry’s black and green machine the lead with one to go.
Searching hard for an opening, Burdzy’s last shot at the win was under braking in turn 13. Burdzy locked up his brakes and couldn’t get close enough for a pass, with Berry, Burdzy and Ferranti crossing the stripe in order for the podium.
The Mid-States Conference returns to action March 15-16 at Eagles Canyon Raceway in Decatur, Texas, with Rounds Three and Four of the 12 race season.
Results and more information from the BFGoodrich Tires NOLA Super Tour from NOLA Motorsports Park is available at SCCA.com/NOLAMajors.
Provisional race winners for Sunday’s BFGoodrich Tires NOLA Super Tour, Round Two of the Mid-States Conference Majors Tour at NOLA Motorsports Park. Drivers are listed by Class: name, hometown, and car.
American Sedan: Charlie Vehle, Danbury, Texas, Ford Mustang
B-Spec: Joe McClughan, New Braunfels, Texas, MAZDA2
Formula 500: Timothy Friest, Leavenworth, Kan., KBS Mk VII/Rotax
Formula Atlantic: Gaston Kearby, Corpus Christi, Texas, Swift 016
Formula Continental: David Grant, Germantown, Tenn., Specturm 014z
Formula Enterprises: Tim Reinke, Conroe, Texas, Formula Enterprises
Formula F: Wesley Cunningham, Houston, Texas, Swift DB-6
Formula Mazda: Darryl Wills, Deer Park, Texas, Formula Mazda
Formula Vee: Stevan Davis, Danielson, Ga., Racer’s Wedge SB-1/Volkswagen
E Production: Jesse Prather, Topeka, Kan., Mazda MX-5
F Production: Eric Prill, Topeka, Kan., Mazda Miata
H Production: James Rogerson, Pearland, Texas, Honda Civic
GT-1: David Fershtand, Fort Worth, Texas, Chevrolet Corvette
GT-2: Don McMillon, Texarkana, Texas, Chevrolet Corvette
GT-3: William Gonzalez, Houston, Texas, Mazda RX-7
Prototype 2: Jack Donnellan, Chickasha, Ok., Lola 598