Majors Invitational Concludes Exciting Saturday of Racing at TMS
FORT WORTH, Texas (May 5, 2012) – The first-ever SCCA Club Racing Majors Invitationals races ran Saturday, the first half of a doubleheader weekend as part of the Parts Plus Grand Prix of Texas at Texas Motor Speedway.
The first race group, featuring Formula Mazda and Formula F kicked off the day with a fierce battle at the front of the field between polesitter George Jackson, of Richmond, Texas, and Allan McCallum, who started from the rear of the seven-car class. Jackson and McCallum ran side-by-side and traded the lead over the first several laps. On lap 10, McCallum began to experience problems exiting Turn Three, a problem that would ultimately lead to his retirement from the race.
From there, Jackson was able to cruise in his No. 16 Formula Mazda to a 16.384-second win over Dave Zavelson’s No. 86 Unfair Advantage Motorsports entry. Russ Lindemann finished third in the No. 76 Rocky Mountian Tire and Auto entry. Jackson also was named the SCCA Enterprises Rising Star of the Race for being the top finishing driver having never competed at the National Championship Runoffs®.
Wesley Cunningham, of Houston, Texas, led flag-to-flag in his No. 33 Loeb Motorsports/Over 50 Motorsports Honda Performance Development Swift Honda. Meg Sauce drove her No. 10 Sportscar Performance Swift Ford to second place and Bruce Cerveny brought his No. 5 Piper Honda home third, earning the $50 SCCA Enterprises Rising Star Award.
Race Two for Spec Racer Ford was a barnburner. Keith Verges started first in his No. 69 Apex Driving Academy entry and led the opening 17 laps of the 19-lap contest, but never by more than a couple of car lengths. Second place changed hands numerous times between Rick Bellew, Chris Funk, Robey Clark and Denny Stripling, with Stripling finally separating himself from the group in his No. 4 Lightspeed Motorsports entry. Stripling made his initial move to the front with two to go, but Verges retaliated and took the position back. The two ran side-by-side on the final lap through the last two corners and onto the front straight. As they crossed the stripe, the electronic timing loop picked up Verges as the first car by 0.004-second, but Stripling, of McKinney, Texas, was actually in front by no more than a foot. Race finishes are visually confirmed, as timing transponders may be mounted in different parts of a racecar.
Both drivers were excitedly reminisced the final laps after the race, not knowing themselves who was in front at the stripe.
Bellew returned after a year’s absence from racing to score a satisfying third-place finish. Scott Monroe earned the SCCA Enterprises Rising Star award after finishing fifth, a prize he promptly paid forward to fellow competitor Doug Azzarito, who finished sixth.
Race three had the potential to be an epic battle at the front for the Super Touring® U win between polesitter Toby Grahovec’s turbocharged BMW Z4 convertible and Joe McClughan’s ex-World Challenge MAZDA6. It never materialized though, as Grahovec slowed at the start with a mechanical issue. From there, McClughan, of New Braunfels, Texas, was able to run away to a victory over David Koller’s Pontiac Solstice GXP. Matt Blehm finished third in his Nissan 240sx and was named the SCCA Enterprises Rising Star of the race.
In Spec Miata, polesitter James York ran wide in Turn three, falling outside of the top 10 and allowing Craig Berry, of Tyler, Texas, through for the lead in his No. 29 US Granite Mazda Miata. Berry was able to methodically pull away, and teammate Jim Drago came home on top of a race-long battle for second place in his No. 2 East Street Auto Mazda Miata. Matt Reynolds started ninth but moved his No. 74 Reynolds Brothers Racing Mazda Miata up to finish third.
Michael Ross finished fourth in his No. 22 Philips Race Prep Miata and was named the SCCA Enterprises Rising Star of the Race award.
Race Four featured a close finish in Formula Vee and a runaway win in Formula 500.
C.J. McAbee, of Topeka, Kan., kept his perfect Majors Championship season alive, winning his fifth-straight race in Formula 500 driving the No. 15 A.J.’s Import Garage A.J.’s Special. Behind him, the battle for second was tight, with Jack Walbran fighting back to finish second in his No. 67 Mitchell Racing Scorpion. He passed teammate Joe Palmer’s No. 8 Mitchell Racing Novakar, and the pair ran nose to tail for the closing laps.
Charles Hearn, of Houston, Texas, had the Formula Vee race under control until his No. 37 Irion Filtration/Noble Racing/Goodyear Vortech VW began to run out of gas. That allowed Dwight Calkins, who was never far behind all race, past and into the lead with his No. 87 CPC Protoform. But Hearn was able to get enough fuel to the engine to make a charge and get side-by-side with Calkins at the finish line, where Hearn surged to the win. Lisa Noble, who started second in her Littlefeat.net Vortech VW but fell back to fourth after running out of room racing with Calkins and into the grass on the front straight, fought back to finish third.
Duke Waldrop, who finished seventh in Formula Vee, was the SCCA Enterprises Rising Star of the Race.
The final Invitational race of the day for the Production cars followed the trend of the day, with a fierce battle up front between the Caterham 7 Americas of Rick Kosdrosky, of Granbury, Texas, and 18-year old Andrew Robertson, of The Woodland’s, Texas. The two ran side-by-side, passing and re-passing for the lead until Robertson spun with just a few laps to go allowing Kosdrosky to pull away in his No. 77 Kosmic Enterps/Over Fifty Motorsports/Hoosier/Summit Racing. That allowed Paul Pineider, who was waiting in the wings as the two leaders battled, through and into second in his No. 74 PFACPA.com/Mazdaspeed/Goodyear Mazda RX-7. Mike Halbrook snuck past Robertson at the finish of the race to claim third in his No. 75 Caterham 7 America. Robertson was named the SCCA Enterprises Rising Star of the Race.
Dr. James Smith, of Alvin, Texas, captured the F Production win in his No. 62 Over 50 Motorsports Honda Del Sol, followed by Robert Vick’s No. 92 Acura Integra.
The action picks back up Sunday morning with a 10-lap qualifying race to set the grid for the second half of the Majors Invitational Doubleheader. For more information, please visit www.scca.com/majors.
FORT WORTH, Texas – Class winners from Saturday’s SCCA Club Racing Majors Invitational Championship races, part of the Parts Plus Grand Prix of Texas at Texas Motor Speedway with class, driver, hometown and car.
E Production, Rick Kosdrosky, Granbury, Texas, Caterham 7 America.
F Production, James Smith, Alvin, Texas, Honda Del Sol.
Formula 500, C.J. McAbee, Topeka, Kan., A.J.'s 2012.
Formula F, Wesley Cunningham, Houston, Texas, Swift Honda.
Formula Mazda, George Jackson, Richmond, Texas, Star Formula Mazda.
Formula Vee, Charlie Hearn, Houston, Texas, Vortech.
Spec Miata, Craig Berry, Tyler, Texas, Mazda Miata.
Spec Racer Ford, Denny Stripling, McKinney, Texas, SCCA Spec Racer Ford.
Super Tour U, Joe McClughan, New Braunfels, Texas, MAZDA6.