Majors Champions Crowned During HPT Invitational Finale
TOPEKA, Kan. (July 16, 2012) – The inaugural Champions of the new SCCA Club Racing Majors program were crowned this past weekend in the Midwestern heat at Heartland Park Topeka.
The double points race weekend was the third, and final, Invitational event for the pilot program of the new Majors initiative. Combined with the three doubleheader weekends in conjunction with the BFGoodrich Tires SCCA Super Tours in the Southwest, Midwest and Rocky Mountain Divisions, the 12 races made up a Championship for the 10 Invitational classes.
In addition to a beautiful trophy, each class Champion received a GoPro HERO2 camera, courtesy of GoPro.
Group One was comprised of the three Production classes, and the weekend was swept by the No. 34 Jesse Prather Motorsports/Mazdaspeed/Carbotech/Hoosier Tire Mazda MX-5 of local ace Jesse Prather. Prather topped pre-event Championship leader Rick Kosdrosky’s No. 77 Kosmic Entrps/Over Fifty Mtspts/Hoosier/Summit Racing Caterham 7 both days, clinching the class Championship with his fifth win of the season on Sunday.
In Sunday’s race, Prather slowed on the final lap, allowing teammate and F Production leader, Eric Prill to close up for a Le Mans-style formation finish followed by a side-by-side victory lap.
Prill won his eighth and ninth Majors Championship races of the season in the No. 7 Jesse Prather Motorsports/Hoosier/OS Giken/Hawk Mazda Miata. Kyle Baker (No. 57 Mazda Miata) finished second on Saturday, while Rick Harris (No. 8 JPM/Hoosier/Red Line Oil/Hawk/Holiday Canopy Mazda Miata) came from the back of the grid to finish second Sunday after skipping Saturday’s race.
Of note, Mark Weber, who won the Sunday qualifying race in his No. 25 Goodyear/Red Line/ESCP Mazda Miata, completed his 498th and 499th races as an SCCA Club Racing driver. Weber’s 500th race will coincide with his 50th class start at the 2012 SCCA National Championship Runoffs® at Road America in September. While this year’s Runoffs will be the 49th, Weber has accumulated his start total by running multiple classes throughout the last 25 years.
In H Production, Rob Horrell was in contention Saturday for a potential Championship-clinching victory in his No. 90 Horrell Group Architects Austin-Healey Sprite until an oil leak forced him to pit lane with a lap to go. Bob Eichelberger (No. 27 Goodyear/Red Line/ESCP/Design Racing Austin-Healey Sprite) took the Saturday win over Jack Schulz’s No. 75 Automotive Archeologists MG Midget.
Schultz won the Sunday H Production race, but Horrell’s runner-up finish netted him the series Championship by seven points over Schulz.
Russ Lindemann clinched the Formula Mazda Championship Saturday with his fifth-straight win from the pole in the No. 16 Rocky Mountain Tire & Auto Star Mazda. He added a sixth win on Sunday and was the only driver to finish all 12 races in the Championship in any class. Gary Phillips (No. 3 Swan Racing Star Mazda) and David Vanhooser (No. 08 Star Mazda) split the runner-up finishes Saturday and Sunday, respectively.
Megan Sauce clinched the Formula F Championship in her No. 10 Sportscar Performance Swift DB-6. She was the lone starter on Saturday. Frank Chambers arrived for Sunday’s race as Sauce was headed home after a mechanical problem. Chambers won Sunday’s race in his No. 47 Chambers Engineering Swift DB-1.
Race Group Three for Spec Racer Fords featured great racing throughout the field. Up front, Scott Goolsbey, Brian Schafer and Grayson Strathman were the ones to beat. Schafer won Saturday’s pole, but it was Goolsbey who took a 1.5-second win in his No. 79 Lindell Motorsports entry. Strathman won Sunday’s qualifying race in his No. 19 Monster Energy car, but Goolsbey again took the win, this time by 4.0 seconds over Strathman.
The two protagonists in the SRF Championship did not attend the finale, meaning Denny Stripling captured the title after scoring five wins earlier in the season.
The Spec Miata Majors Championship was defined by a pair of four-race win streaks. Matt Reynolds surpassed Craig Berry, who sat the weekend out, on the strength of his run of four-straight to close out the season with his No. 74 Reynolds Brothers Racing/Race Engineering Mazda Miata, including both races at Heartland Park. Bruce Bettinger finished second on Saturday, while Jim Wheeler was the runner-up on Sunday in his No. 20 Hoosier/Willwood Brakes/KC Raceware Mazda Miata.
Tom Kraft was the lone Super Touring® Under entry on the weekend, and set a new track record of 1:54.711 en route to the win on Saturday in his No. 43 Kraft Imports/Maximum Promotions Mazda Miata. While not in attendance, Joe McClughan was named the STU series Champion, after winning three races early in the season.
Saturday’s Group Five featured arguably the best battle of the weekend, with Formula Vee drivers Charles Hearn, Bill Johnson and Lisa Noble trading the lead lap after lap throughout the first half of the race. Suddenly, it was Hearn by himself. Johnson made a bid for the lead inside of Hearn in Turn 10, but he and Hearn made contact and Johnson spun, collecting Noble in the process. All three continued, with Hearn out front with what appeared to be a comfortable margin. As the laps progressed, Hearn’s pace slowed and he ultimately fell back to third, with Johnson taking the win in his No. 42 Portable Work Tools, Inc. Vortech.
The third-place finish in his No. 37 Irion Filtration/Noble Racing/Goodyear/Hearn Contractors Vortech was enough for Hearn to clinch the season Championship.
On Sunday, there was far less drama, and Noble, who was runner-up in the Championship, cruised to her first win of the season in the No. 7 Littlefeat.net Vortech. Johnson finished second, 14 seconds behind.
Topeka’s C.J. McAbee had previously clinched the Formula 500 Majors Championship at High Plains Raceway, but capped off his nine-win season by sweeping the Heartland Park Topeka races and even set a new track record of 1:40.240 with his No. 15 A.J.’s Import Garage/Hoosier Tire A.J.’s 2012 car in Sunday’s final race, despite 100 degree temperatures. Timothy Friest (No. 86 XTRacing/RodEndSupply/Mobile Reasoning KBS Mk VII) finished second both days to move into second place in the season-long Championship.
In addition to the season long and race awards, several special awards were presented at the race weekend including:
SCCA Enterprises Rising Star ($50 cash to the highest-finishing driver having never participated at the Runoffs): Morgan Petty (F500, Saturday and Sunday), Bruce Bettinger (SM, Saturday and Sunday), Brian Schafer (SRF, Saturday and Sunday), Frank Chambers (FF, Sunday), Kyle Baker (FP, Saturday and Sunday), Ralph Lindow (HP, Saturday and Sunday), Brett Whitney (EP, Saturday and Sunday), Bill Lauer (FV, Saturday)
SafeRacer Promoter of the Event ($100 certificate): David Vincent (F500)
SafeRacer Gift Certificates ($50 value, drawing at banquet): Jim Cote Jr. (SRF), Frank Fisher (FP), Mark Weber (FP), Bob Eichelberger (HP), Brett Whitney (EP), Brian Haupt (EP), David Vincent (F500), C.J. McAbee Jr. (F500), Chuck McAbee Sr. (F500)
Noble Enterprises ($100 drawing in FV): Bill Lauer
Alpine Litho-Graphics ($60): Frank Chambers (FF, drawing), Megan Sauce (FF, longest tow)
Competition Data Systems ($250 Gift Certificates drawing): Matt Reynolds (SM), Tom Kraft (STU), Frank Chambers (FF), Ken Tripkos (SRF), Gary Phillips (FM), Frank Fisher (FP), Ralf Lindow (HP), Bill Allman (EP), Morgan Petty (F500) and Mike Lauer (FV)
Elite Engines ($200 certificate): Megan Sauce (FF) and Frank Chambers (FF)
Special Recognition (Participated in all six weekends): Russ Lindemann (FM), Lisa Noble (FV), David Vincent (F500)
2012 SCCA Majors Class Champions (Pilot Program)
EP: Jesse Prather, Topeka, Kan., Mazda MX-5
F500: Charles (C.J.) McAbee, Topeka, Kan., A.J.’s 2012
FF: Megan Sauce, Arlington, Texas, Swift DB-6
FM: Russ Lindemann, Longmont, Colo., Star Formula Mazda
FP: Eric Prill, Topeka, Kan., Mazda Miata
FV: Charles Hearn, Houston, Texas, Vortech FV
HP: Rob Horrell, Memphis, Tenn., Austin-Healey Sprite
SM: Matt Reynolds, Fair Oaks, Texas, Mazda Miata
SRF: Denny Stripling, McKinney, Texas, Spec Racer Ford
STU: Joseph McClughan, New Braunfels, Texas, MAZDA6