Lightning Challenge at NJMP with South Jersey Region of SCCA
First I want to pass along my sincere thanks to all the drivers and crew who chose to spend the weekend racing for $7 horse’s hindquarter trophies and 33 cent kill stickers. I also want to thank the kind folks of the South Jersey Region who treated us like royalty and made us feel genuinely welcome. Special thanks to The SJR Men in Black Tech crew and Meg Meyer in Timing & Scoring who were so accommodating and wonderful to work with.
The drivers of the 2016 Right Coast Series kicked the season off to a spectacular start at NJMP this past weekend with 20 drivers showing up to race with us and putting on a show that had everyone turning toward the track when they were racing. Thanks to the efforts of JD King, the race chairman, this was a combined weekend of SJR regional/divisional racing as well as the single class Right Coast series. Each of the drivers entered in both the regional and the Right Coast portion of the program were able run a 20 minute qualifying session and 75 laps of racing. The 15 lap regional qualifying race and Sunday morning 20 lap regional race featured the same kind of competition described below.
The first Right Coast race of the weekend on Saturday afternoon was classic Formula F with most of the race being contested in two packs of cars changing positions several times a lap. The lead pack consisted of polesitter Ross Devoe, Wayne Nicolette, Max King, Dave Petzko all nose to tail for more than half the 20 lap race distance. The left hander at Turn 7 just beyond the overpass was the scene of numerous "piece of paper between the sets of wheels" passes. It was only a couple of laps before Mike Rand had moved up from his 10th place starting position to join the train. From that point on positions changed with incredibly tight racing and passing, but no contact, for the remainder of the race.
The second pack of Bill Atherholt, Sam Youngman, Chuck VanNostrand, Dave Gernert and Derek Holmes engaged in the same tight, but clean racing. Max King has posted a video on ApexSpeed that does a far better job of showing how many times the lead was exchanged before Reilly got in front of Max with just a hundred yards or so to go. Really, really fun to watch and it made me very angry with myself for not having my own car ready to race yet. The “whoas” and “wows” of the spectators standing with us in the Turn 7 grandstand could be heard almost continuously from start to finish.
Reilly Harris in his Gemini Club Ford set was to be the fastest lap of the weekend and capture the American Pen Company Fastest Lap of the Weekend award at a 1:10.295 with Max registering a 1:10.532 and Ross clocking at 1:10.470. The Formula F podium was Ross Devoe in his VanDieman, Dave Petzko in an 84F Reynard and Bill Atherholt in his Swift DB-1. The Club Ford podium was of course Reilly, Max King is the King family Zink Z-10 and that sneaky old guy, Mike Rand in his trusty Crossle’ 30F.
The real measure of a race can often be found after it is over and I wish you all could have seen the grinning drivers in the impound area!
The regional qualifying race was just as exciting from beginning to end with Ross Devoe prevailing over Reilly Harris and Max King after another real exhibition of close, clean racing mixed in with F500’s and Formula Vees.
On Sunday, the 20 lap regional race was again superbly entertaining. Max King took the overall victory over Reilly Harris and Ross Devoe. There was a really high chance for rain, but JD somehow bribed Mother Nature and the rain held off until about 30 minutes after the second and last race of the weekend for the Right Coast field was completed and the podium ceremony was finished.
The second race was not as closely contested throughout the field, but for the first portion of the race; again, Reilly, Max and Ross were back and forth for the overall lead. Ross eventually began to fade to an eventual 2nd in FF finish due to a bent valve. Reilly drove his Gemini to a 20 car length lead, but about 6 laps from the end Max began to close and took the lead. Those two traded the overall lead several times before Reilly put his stamp on 1st and finished about 8 -10 car lengths in front of Max.
The Formula F podium had Dave Petzko in the Reynard taking the American Pen Company Formula F winner award over Ross Devoe’s wounded VanDieman and a fast closing Ed Callo in his Bowman coming from 11th on the grid to 6th overall and third in FF. The Club Ford Podium was Reilly Harris in the Gemini taking the American Pen Company Club Ford winner award, Max King in the Zink and another podium finish for Mike Rand in the Crossle. The Stonebridge Cryogenics Hard Charger of the Race award went to Chuck VanNostrand who drove from 13 on the grid to a 7th place overall and 4th in Club Ford finish.
Thanks to our great corporate partners, we had some really nice additional awards to present during the weekend. I sincerely hope that our partners do not take offense to criteria that we (well really me) decided to use. Anytime something is left to my discretion; there is good reason to cringe or roll your eyes as I have trouble spelling discretion, let only applying it……………….
That said, many times contingency awards wind up going to the faster competitors and while they are certainly deserving; we thought that perhaps we would try to direct some of the awards to those competitors who might be in the most need of those credits, discounts and services.
So, in addition to the awards that were mentioned above; we presented the following awards to the drivers listed for the reasons/excuses that are also listed. We added some sub-titles to the awards to provide some context to our decisions. Please bear in mind that one of the tenets of the Right Coast is not to take one’s self too seriously and to have some fun racing. So, with tongue firmly planted in cheek; this is all in good fun:
ANZE Suspension Award or Car Most in Need of New Dampers or Damper Service - Shayne Frebert for his multiple spins during the weekend.
CCE Composites Award or Car Most in Need of New Bodywork - ding, ding Shayne Frebert for the misfortune of another spin causing his nose to look as though someone forgot to latch the hood.
Primus Racing Parts Award or I had a Really Rough Mechanical Weekend – Steve Roux whose very cool self-built Wyvern sat forlornly on jack stands all weekend because he had the misfortune to break a stub axle on Friday and did not have a spare. Steve subsequently rented an FA and raced in the regional to a win on Sunday.
Quicksilver Race Engines Award or Car Most in Need of Engine Service – Rookie Tom Venturino who did a fine job in his first race weekend, but seems like he could use a little more snot down the straights.
Williams Racing Developments Hard Fader Award. There is no sub-title needed here. Lee Williams specifically requested that we give his discount certificate to the driver losing the most positions from his grid position. We genuinely appreciate that Lee truly understands the stuff that DUFFUS/Right Coast is made of! - Wayne Nicolette who unfortunately did not finish the final race after a mysterious ignition shutdown.
And, the final award of the weekend; since we had no Historic Ford competitors racing with us, we found ourselves with a very fine pen to award. Sometimes you just get lucky and when you can’t find an answer, the answer finds you.
American Pen Company or Spirit of DUFFUS Award/Because We Thought You Deserve It – Ed Callo for persevering on to the finish of Saturday’s Right Coast race. Ed was feeling poorly, but started the race anyhow and when his vision was partially obscured by some type of gastric fluid; he still kept going and finished the race explaining “that the Rain X on the inside of the shield keeps the puke from sticking”.
Now if that is not enough evidence that you can have fun racing with the Right Coast Formula F Series……………………………………………………