BELDING, Mich. (August 24, 2014) – The 2014 SCCA Northern Conference Majors Tour wrapped on Sunday at Grattan Raceway with 25-lap races in six groups. The season-long championship battle counted the best eight of 12 races available on the schedule, with a handful of point races coming down to the final stop on Sunday.
Sunday highlights included:
Group 1: Battles through the field marked the first group of the day and sealed Championships in three classes.
Up front, Jonathan Start’s strategy of stretching the lead early in the No. 51 Kalin Construction/Hoosier/Carbotech Dodge Viper before the tires went away worked early as he climbed away from Tom Patton. Start was up more than eight seconds after lap seven and tried to maintain the gap when Patton’s No. 50 Hoosier Tires/Red Line Oil Sunbeam Tiger started chipping away.
On lap 17, Patton tried to go to the outside of Start through the final corner and up the front straight, but lost momentum and fell back just slightly. On lap 21, however, he finally fought his way through, taking over the lead with four laps to go and holding it to the finish. The win clinched the GT-2 Championship for Patton.
The GT-1 title went to Tom Stanford, who swept the weekend in the No. 20 Pote-Stanford Reporting Chevrolet Camaro. Stanford chased Robert Hofmann’s No. 06 B.C. Motorsports Chevrolet Camaro until lap nine, when corner workers started to report fluid leaking from Hofmann’s Camaro. He pulled to pit lane on lap 11, and his crew dumped his cool suit bucket – sending him back onto the track but well behind Stanford.
Joe Kristensen earned his second win of the weekend in GT-3, driving his No. 4 Acura RSX to a dominating win, just feet from lapping second-place Michael Cyphert at the finish. Kristensen had his hands full with Paul Young’s No. 79 Young Racing/Hoosier Tire Ford Probe early, but an overheating issue forced Young to slow and then pull to pit lane before the finish. Young was in conservation mode, as he could have potentially captured the season title. When Cyphert reached the halfway point necessary to score points, he clinched the title in his No. 76 Toyota Motorsports/TRD/RedLine/Hoosier Toyota Celica.
Ed Hosni battled a miss in his No. 17 Lasco Ford/Hoosier Tire/Steeda/Ford Racing/Edelbrock Ford Mustang, talking the lead on lap four, and then falling back to the clutches of the No. 28 KMS Autosport Ford Mustang of Scott Schweitzer on lap 12. Hosni’s miss came at high RPM, and he spent the next several laps figuring how to shift to maximize his lap time. That, coupled with a corded left front tire on Schweitzer’s Mustang that slowed him in the right hand corners, allowed Hosni to pull to the rear of Schweitzer at the finish, but out of time to challenge for the lead.
Group 2: Three groups provided three thrilling races in Group Two, with one high-pressured win clinching a class title.
Early on up front, the Formula 500 machines of Calvin Stewart and Brian Novak diced with the Formula F machines of Russell Ruedisueli and Max Mallinen for both class titles and the overall lead.
Ruedisueli, who needed a weekend sweep to take the Conference Championship coming into the weekend and nailed down the first part with a win on Saturday, got a boost on lap 11 when Mallinen’s No. 10 Spectrum 014H pulled to pit lane with a flat tire.
Mallinen pulled off just before a one-lap full course caution to remove the No. 21 Metalloid Corp. Falcon .5 of Ryan Barth, who spun midway down the front straight and tapped the wall in an odd incident. The scene was covered with a local yellow for cleanup, but then went full course caution for the lap to remove the safety vehicles from the track. Even with the yellow, Mallinen returned to the track essentially one lap down as the field went back to green.
That gave Ruedisueli the room he needed to drive his No. 20 Van Diemen RF-99 to the race win and the Championship, backing off late in a sportsmanlike gesture to let the dueling Formula 500 machines settle their class race.
Stewart started his No. 7 Novakar Novakar Blade F600 from the rear of the field after missing Saturday’s race, but had caught up to the leaders by the lap seven incident. Once even with Novak’s No. 13 Hoosier/NovaRace/AiM NovaKar J360, the pair swapped the lead several times. The pair went back and forth, with Stewart the first to the one to go sign. Novak looked in a couple of corners, but didn’t have a way around Stewart, who crossed the stripe just 0.219-second in front.
Formula Vee was just as thrilling, with four cars in the pack from start to finish. Jeff Loughead, Charles McCormick, Brandon Abbott and Andrew Abbott swapped the position all race long, many times racing two by two or three-wide up the front straight, even with faster class cars working through.
McCormick’s No. 90 RSE Incorporated Vortech CM1 needed the lead, as mechanical troubles were switching his car off through the “bowl” complex of the track temporarily. With the rest of the pack behind him, he could keep them there and bunch them up. If he was behind, he had to use the draft up the front straight to catch back up.
That happened on the final lap. Andrew Abbott’s No. 25 Hoosier/Linamar/McLaren Performance Technologies/Vector Racecars Vector AM-1 led, with McCormick and Loughead’s No. 18 Hoosier Tire/LL Loughead, DDS Vortech CR04 in tow. McCormick got a great run up the hill into the final turn, and at that point, Abbott was a sitting duck.
McCormick drafted by, popping out just before the finish to take a 0.023-second win by less than a half car-length.
Group 3: Brake line issues cost Sam Halkias a weekend sweep in E Production, and nearly unfortunately decided the GT-Lite race as well just before lunch. Halkias, after a hard-fought Saturday win in the No. 6 Catawba island Marina/Halkias Performance Services Triumph TR6, looked to have the E Production race under control. Halkias led the opening 20 laps, then saw it all evaporate.
Shedding parts, Halkias ran off course trying to scrub speed, then reentered just in front of GT-Lite leader Joel Hipp. Hipp’s No. 44 Austin Healey Mini spun to avoid Halkias, but kept his car running and rejoined still in the class lead.
With Halkias off course, Lance Loughman’s No. 20 5:01 Motorsports Datsun 240Z was able to grab the E Production win he just narrowly missed on Saturday.
Greg Gauper (No. 15 Rana Mort Racing/King Motorsports Honda Civic), John Walker (No. 9 Walker Racing MG B) and David Daughtery (No. 8 Nissan/Hoosier/Carbotech/Enkei Nissan Versa) swept the weekend in H Production, F Production, and B-Spec.
Group 4: Justin Hille walked his No. 48 Hilltrux/Roush Mazda Miata away from the Spec Miata field on Saturday, and for a while on Sunday, it looked like it may happen again.
Unfortunately for Hille, the tandem of Voytek Burdzy’s No. 41 Advanced Autosports Mazda Miata and Michael Novak’s No. 9 Roush/Caldwell Race Prep worked well together to shake Seth Rowley and run down Hille on lap 12.
Burdzy moved to the lead with a draft and out braking maneuver into turn one to start lap 15, and when Novak spun in turn six, the race was down to Burdzy and Hille. Hille took the lead back on 16, but Burdzy took control on lap 19 and was able to remain in front. On his final lap, Burdzy held a two car length advantage, and held the distance for the win. Hille and Rowley’s No. 08 Great Lakes Motorsports/Rowleys/Service Pro/HAWK Miata completed the podium.
Group 5: On Saturday, Tyler Theilmann clinched the Formula 1000 championship on Saturday despite running just off the pace in second place and promised the Northern Conference crowd at dinner that he planned to represent them well at the SCCA National Championship Runoffs at Mazda Raceway Laguna Seca in October.
On Sunday, he proved that he could.
Thielmann drove his No. 6 SO Bright LLC JDR-012 around Nicho Vardis’ No. 00 Vardis Racing/Hoosier Tire/AiM RFR F1000 on lap 15, then passed Michael Mallinen’s No. 71 Swan Motorsports/Mazda Motorsports Development Swift 016/Mazda on lap 17 for the overall lead. In front, Thielmann set a new track record in class and left Vardis behind to win.
Thielmann’s day almost ended on the opening lap, when Ralph Provitz’ No. 38 V2 Motorsports/George Dean Racing Engines/AIM Staudacher S08 checked up to miss Mallinen going into turn five and spun. Thielmann just brushed the end plate of Provitz’ wing, knocking it off and ending Provitz day before it could begin. How close was it? Thielmann didn’t know he hit him following the race.
With the oil light on, Mallinen pulled off on lap 24, but had enough of a gap to still be declared the winner in Formula Atlantic – his second of the weekend. Conference Champion Dale VandenBush ended his Formula Mazda season with a win in the No. 12 Lake Effect Motorsports Formula Mazda.
Group 6: For the second consecutive day, Scott Rettich rode away from the Spec Racer Ford field for the overall win to end the Northern Conference season, winning by 30.858 seconds in the No. 17 Alliance Autosport/PDI Communications Spec Racer Ford.
The back and forth battle was for the final two podium spots, as Adam Gottleib’s No. 0 Flat Black Racing SRF swapped positions Dudley Fleck’s No. 81 Elite Autosport SRF all race long. Each driver used lapped traffic and slower classes to influence the race, with Gottleib finally caught out in the closing stages and falling to third.
Daniel Bender clinched the Touring 4 title with a win in the No. 10 Bravo Trailers/BFGoodrich Tires/Autobarn Mazda Mazda MX-5, and David Daughtery achieved his goal of finishing out his Runoffs qualifications with a weekend sweep in Touring 3 in the No. 05 Nissan/Hoosier/CarboTech/Enkei Nissan 370Z. Aaron Kaplan’s second place finish in the No. 18 Kaplan Racing Systems BMW M3 added to his point total in the already clinched title fight.
Tim Selby held off a late charge from the No. 13 Mazda RX-7 of Marty Doane, taking Super Touring Lite on Sunday in the No. 78 Mazda Miata.
That concludes the Northern Conference Majors Tour season, with only the finale in the Mid-States Conference at Heartland Park Topeka, August 30-31, remaining.
More information from the Northern Conference finale at Grattan, including race results, can be found at SCCA.com/GrattanMajors.
Belding, Mich. - Provisional race winners from Sunday’s SCCA Northern Conference Majors Tour Round 12 from Grattan Raceway. Drivers are listed by Class: name, hometown, and car.
American Sedan: Scott Schweitzer, Lake Orion, Mich., Ford Mustang
B-Spec: David Daughtery, Fortville, Ind., Nissan Versa
E Production: Lance Loughman, Lake Zurich, Ill., Datsun 240Z
F Production: John Walker, Richland, Mich., MG B
H Production: Greg Gauper, Hubertus, Wis., Honda Civic
Formula 500: Calvin Stewart, Novi, Mich., Novakar Blade F600
Formula 1000: Tyler Theilmann, Kiel, Wis., JDR-012
Formula Atlantic: Michael Mallinen, Liberty Lake, Wash., Swift 016a/Mazda
Formula F: Russell Ruedisueli, Rochester, Mich., Van Diemen RF-99
Formula Mazda: Dale VandenBush, Green Bay, Wis., Formula Mazda
Formula Vee: Charles McCormick, Clarkston, Mich., Vortech CM1/Volkswagen
GT-1: Tom Stanford, Orland Park, Ill., Chevrolet Camaro
GT-2: Tom Patton, Hamilton, Ohio, Sunbeam Tiger
GT-3: Joe Kristensen, London, Ontario, Acura RSX
GT-Lite: Joel Hipp, Norwalk, Ohio, Austin Healey Mini
Prototype 1: Jim Cain, Hartland, Mich., Staudacher S12
Prototype 2: Richard Colburn, Northbrook, Ill., Nostendo
Spec Miata: Voytek Burdzy, Shiller Park, Ill., Mazda Miata
Spec Racer Ford: Scott Rettich, Columbus, Ohio, Spec Racer Ford
Super Touring Lite: Tim Selby, Sheboygan, Wisc., Mazda Miata
Touring 1: John Buttermore, Wolverine Lake, Mich., Chevrolet Corvette
Touring 2: Rich Rigda, Saginaw, Mich., Chevrolet Camaro
Touring 3: David Daughtery, Fortville, Ind., Nissan 370Z
Touring 4: Daniel Bender, Northbrook, Ill., Mazda MX-5