The 2017 Right Coast Formula F Series (RCFFS) presented by American Pen Company closed out its season at Road Atlanta this past weekend on a mostly high note. We would like to sincerely thank the folks from the Atlanta Region of the SCCA for including us in the American Road Race of Champions (ARRC) program. Next, we would like to thank the American Pen Company for their season long presenting sponsorship of the Right Coast series. Also, for supplying us with some really, really cool new pens to present to the podium finishers of this season finale.
This was a very significant weekend for Right Coast both in terms of good racing and in the plans for the 2018 season and beyond. So first, some racing…
The Friday qualifying sessions for the ARRC championship race saw 22 FF and CFF drivers plus 5 F5 drivers take times. Andy Brumbaugh in his Van Diemen Honda FF took the pole with Cliff Johnson in his Piper Honda FF three tenths behind in second. Stuart Jackson (Van Diemen Ford FF), Sam Lockwood (Spectrum Honda FF) and Chris Smith (Van Diemen Honda FF) rounded out the top five.
Steve Brooks (Van Diemen Ford CFF), Dave Petzko (Spectrum Honda FF), Phil Kingham (Zink Ford CFF), Steve Roux (Wyvern Honda FF) and Greg Rice (Reynard Honda FF) completed the top ten. Dave Harmison (Royale Ford CFF), Don Baggett (Crossle’ Ford CFF), Craig Laprade (F5), Mike Rand (Crossle’ Honda CFF) and Wayne Nicolette (Lola Ford CFF) were the next five.
Derek Holmes (Swift Ford FF), Kevin Brumbaugh (Crossle’ Honda CFF), Shayne Frebert (Van Diemen Ford FF), John Mark Gray (Zink Ford CFF) and John Walbran (F5) were 16th thru 20th. Doug Fisher (Zink Ford CFF), Jeff DeLong (F5), George Bugg (F5), me (Royale Ford CFF) and Sam Eyer (Zink Ford CFF) were 21st through 25th. Mo Makki (F5) and Tim Voth (Van Diemen Ford FF) rounded out the field.
The ARRC championship race on Saturday was fabulous! I got to witness the last lap and a half of the battle for the Club Formula F (CFF) win. John Mark Gray, Doug Fisher, and I had a really fun race. We three went back and forth for positions 6 thru 8. It was huge fun and when Steve Brooks and Phil Kingham came up to lap us they went by with barely the length of a nose cone between them. As they approached the turn in point for Turn 1 going into the last lap, Phil poked his nose out to the right. Steve tapped the brakes and Phil took the lead. They continued, nose to tail, until they got to Turn 7 and headed up the straight. Steve got by Phil some place between 7 and the finish line, but I can’t tell you the details.
As I turned into 7, I realized that I had lost a little pace paying attention to their race and had forgotten my own! Doug had done a nice job of closing the small gap between us and by the time we turned into Turn 10A; he was right on my gearbox. I had to move to the left a bit after we turned under the bridge to make sure he had enough room to make the final corner, but I was lucky enough to finish just ahead of him with John right behind us.
I believe that Mike Rand, Wayne Nicolette, and Dave Harmison had the same kind of fun as they went at one another for third through fifth places. It is a little harder to write more of report when one is sitting behind the wheel instead of standing at a fence, so that is about all I can relate first hand. Hopefully the other drivers who have not already done so will jump in and detail their races.
Andy Brumbaugh (FF) won from the pole, followed by Cliff Johnson (FF) who came all the way from Stillwell, Kansas to race with us. Then the Club Formula F winner was Steve Brooks followed by Phil Kingham (2nd in CFF), Dave Petzko (3rd in FF), Greg Rice (4th in FF), Mike Rand (3rd in CFF), Wayne Nicolette (4th in CFF) and Dave Harmison (5th in CFF). Next was me (6th in CFF), Doug Fisher (7th in CFF), John Mark Gray (8th in CFF), Sam Eyer (9th in CFF) and Tim Voth (5th in FF) rounded out the cars running at the finish. Mechanicals shortened the race for the rest of the field except for Shayne Frebert who had spun and contacted the wall between Turns 1 & 2.
On Saturday afternoon we held our final social gathering of the season. We reported some news for 2018 and beyond which you will see in our next posting. We also presented the second annual Spirit of DUFFUS Award. This unique award is given to someone who participates in our series, but it is not limited to drivers. We try and select a recipient who demonstrates the qualities of sportsmanship, concern for fellow competitors, and a never say die determination to make the race. This season’s recipient is Shayne Frebert. Shayne only raced in the series once, at Road Atlanta on this weekend. However, at various points in the season; Shayne would appear at the track, usually with parts taken from his own race car. He would proceed to help some other driver get their car repaired so that they could race in the next session or next day. Derek Holmes and Brandon Lavender benefitted from Shayne’s willingness to dismantle his own car, so their cars could race the next day.
So, please congratulate Shayne on this award (even though it is a very large horse’s ass trophy) because it signifies that he is truly one of us and that he demonstrates the qualities we would like all our fellow competitors to exhibit.
As for Sunday, you will not see my trying to “put lipstick on a pig”, the Sunday feature race was pretty ugly! Under that pigskin were a few good battles which were interrupted by the full course cautions which had their root causes in the slippery verge and wet grass. Road Atlanta is a very fast track and the topography places some extreme loads on our cars. When the conditions are not ideal, and you get a little off the line there can, as we saw, be some dire consequences. Fortunately, no one suffered any significant physical injury and, so I will focus on the more positive aspects of the weekend.
But to recap; the Sunday morning qualifying session was foggy and damp. When we all looked at the track we were considering the risk versus reward of taking a qualifying time. Right Coast racing is very competitive, but at the last race of the season with a damp, challenging track and the promise of dry weather at race time; many of us really did not want to take to the track.
As Right Coast is a for fun, non-championship series, we considered simply using the best time from the previous day’s ARRC race to set the grid. The only problem with that is that there were two drivers who could only join us on Sunday and it seemed unfair to place them at the back of the grid. Joel Haas and Graham Earley were the two Sunday only drivers and we would like to thank them for making the trip to support this event. They had both come a long way to join us for one day and we wanted to give them an opportunity to qualify.
So, we proposed a solution which all our drivers agreed to. We agreed that anyone who went out in the wet qualifying session would occupy the front portion of the grid based upon their best lap in the session. Those who chose not to go out would be gridded next by their best time from Saturday’s ARRC race.
Only six drivers chose to make qualifying runs. Sam Lockwood (FF) took the pole followed by Wayne Nicolette (CFF), Greg Rice (FF), Joel Haas (FF), Steve Roux (FF) and Graham Earley (CFF).
When the spray had settled and the yellow flags were put away we had a new set of race winners. Congratulations to Dave Petzko and Phil Kingham who were the winners in FF and CFF respectively. The finishing order was as follows: FF was Dave Petzko, Joel Haas, Steve Roux, Derek Holmes, and Tim Voth. Greg Rice and Sam Lockwood were not running at the finish. CFF was Phil Kingham, Steve Brooks, Mike Rand, Dave Harmison, Kevin Brumbaugh, Doug Fisher, me, Sam Eyer, and Graham Earley. John Mark Gray, Wayne Nicolette, and Don Baggett were not running at the finish.
Once again, we would like to sincerely thank all our drivers for making the trip to Road Atlanta to support this event. This was very significant for our series and their presence had a hugely positive effect on our hosts, the Atlanta Region. Please watch for our next posting where will report some significant good news for the series.