Northern Conference, Touring 4
Greg Vandersluis, of North Olmsted, Ohio, had a very smooth championship run in 2013. One reason for that was the early discovery of a seemingly small problem that could have mushroomed throughout the season.
“We were testing the car at Mid-Ohio when we noted a transmission leak coming from the output seal,” Vandersluis said. “We thought it was just a seal, however the more I pondered on the idea, we decided to err on the side of caution and pulled the whole transmission out of the car to inspect. Thank goodness we did. We found that the bell housing was cracked from one side to the other and there were even a few missing transmission bolts. The previous owner probably did an emergency transmission change at the track at one point or another.”
After heading a potential disaster off at the pass, Vandersluis completed a hard-fought title run.
“The thing I really enjoy about the SCCA Majors Tour is it’s more challenging to succeed versus the division championships,” Vandersluis said. “When you’re doing well, and have the competition right on your heels, you need to attend every race within your specific conference. If you miss a single race, you can fall behind the eight-ball quickly and may not get the opportunity to make those points back up in time. So, each and every race counts.”
Vandersluis ran each of the Northern Conference races, except for the June Sprints held at Road America. Through eight starts, he recorded wins in each of those races while driving the No. 93 Carbotech/BFGoodrich/Ford Racing Ford Mustang. Those wins came at Michigan International Speedway, Mid-Ohio Sports Car Course, Gingerman Raceway and Gateway Motorsports Park. In addition, Vandersluis was a five-time polesitter.
While Vandersluis may have made his title-clinching performance easy, he made sure to complement the skill and resolve of his competition.
“One memorable moment was beating Mike Scornavacchi at the BFGoodrich Super Tour Series races at Mid-Ohio,” Vandersluis said. “It was not easy. He raced me fair and square and each chance I thought I could set up a pass, he defended. We raced each and every lap like it was our last. We did not hit, rub, bump or scrape each other at all. Totally clean racing the whole time. This type of racing is what sets SCCA apart from the rest.
“You may think the Northern Conference Touring 4 class was lightly attended or the competition was easy. When you are racing tooth and nail with former SCCA National Champions such as Mike Scornavacchi and Mark McCaughey the competition is plenty stiff.”
Vandersluis made sure to thank some special people, without whom the 2013 Northern Conference Championship would not have been possible.
“I need to start off with thanking my family,” Vandersluis said. “Sometimes they may think I’m crazy with my expectations and where I want to take my racing career. However, they still support me.
“You can find my father Gary taking care of the mechanics side of the car. He has been a true asset in my racing. I admire his automotive knowledge and his willingness to wrench away countless hours at a time. He enjoys it and finds the greatest joys in it when I do well. My Aunt Caryn has to be the best in the business when it comes to nutrition. She always plans out the weekend with delicious and healthy lunches of mass quantities for the crew.
“I would also like to thank all my friends. They know how much racing means to me and they support me. However, they also know that this racing bit takes a great deal of time and ‘hang out’ time doesn’t happen often. You guys are the greatest.
“I’d like to thank all the SCCA workers and volunteers that make this possible for me to live my dream. Without you none of us would be racing.
“Lastly, I need to thank the people who provide me with all kinds of good stuff, my sponsors: Carbotech Brakes, BFGoodrich Tires, Summit Racing Equipment and Ford Racing.”