Hoosier Super Tour COTA 2023: Saturday Notebook

The Hoosier Racing Tire SCCA Super Tour took to its second of 10 race weekends, with the series heading to Circuit of the Americas (COTA) in Austin, Texas, for a packed double-header weekend on Feb. 11-12, 2023. Some 287 entrants registered for the event, including numerous SCCA National Champions and series regulars, like Michael Lewis, Danny Steyn, Charles Russell Turner, Chip Romer, and more.

Saturday’s races took place on COTA’s 3.41-mile, 20-turn circuit, with each race being 25 minutes or 10 laps in length, whichever occurred first.

Touring, Super Touring, and GT-3
Group 1 left the grid in a split-start formation, with Touring 2, 3, and 4 racers in the first group. T2 driver Mark Boden started on the pole and held the inside into Turn 1, with third place T2 qualifying driver Scotty B. White driving to the outside of Boden by Turn 1. Starting lap 2, Boden held a solid lead over White, with the two of them pulling a healthy gap on third overall, Madison Aust. In T3, the early battle was Todd Clarke leading Ross Murray, while in T4, Sergio Zlobin set a commanding lead early on.

“It’s always fun to be out here at COTA with SCCA,” Boden said after winning the T2 race. “Thanks to Hoosier and the whole SCCA Super Tour – it’s the second one of the year and the third win of the year for the Fall-Line Porsche. The Hoosier tires are great – these were the qualifying tires and they had a heat cycle on them, and they’re still going happy.”

The second grouping included GT-3, Super Touring Lite, and Super Touring Under, with the field led by GT-3 powerhouses Tony Rivera in an RX-3 and Michael Lewis in an RX-7. It didn’t take long for Lewis to gain the point in GT-3, with STU driver David Fiorelli and Danny Steyn in STL opening gaps to the rest of their classes. While Fiorelli and Steyn were solidly in control of their races, Rivera was determined to regain the top spot in GT-3, which he did within a few laps; then he set to placing a sizable margin between himself and Lewis. By the end, Lewis would drop to third, with Joe Kristensen finishing in second.

“I just could not find a gear at the start – rev limiter, rev limiter, rev limiter,” Rivera said of those opening laps of the GT-3 race. “And then I got such a bad aero push when I was right behind [Lewis] before the tires came in that I couldn’t do anything with it. It was just turn the wheel and the car would go straight. But once the tires came in, it was good to go.”

Spec Racers
Charles Russell Turner led the field to the green in Spec Racer Ford Gen3, with Denny Stripling, Dave Ogburn, Bobby Sak, Liam Snyder, Grant Vogel, and more in hot pursuit. Within a few laps, the front grouping set to challenging each other, with Ogburn and Stripling poking their noses to the inside of Turner, and by lap four, Stripling made the move stick.

On the final lap, Ogburn challenged Stripling for the lead into Turn 12, with the race turning into a four-car battle by Turn 16 and Turner taking the point and leading the 42-car field to the checker, followed by Stripling, Snyder, Ogburn, and Vogel.

Production, B-Spec, and GT-L
Group 3 featured a split start, with E Production, F Production, H Production, and GT-Lite taking the first green, with a 10-car B-Spec field a little further back for their own green flag.

Sam Henry had scored the FP (and overall) pole, but Michael Lewis was only a few tenths back in his GT-L car. Those two spent the opening moments of the race fighting for the overall lead, allowing second-place FP qualifier Perry Simonds to keep pace. Time up front in GT-L didn’t last long for Lewis, though, as an issue left him sidelined after lap one, putting Luis Rivera in the lead.

In EP, Joey Rainey ran flag to flag at the front, chased by Joe Rainey and Bryan Heitman. Neil Verity dominated HP qualifying – a trend he continued during the race, winning his class by more than seven seconds.

In B-Spec, Steven Pounds earned the pole position followed by Conner Kelleher, Clay Keep, and Thomas Pendergrass. After the green, it didn’t take Kelleher long to jump to the front of the field, although Pounds, Pendergrass, and Keel peddled hard to stay tucked in behind. Still, the charge of the B-Spec race came from Kent Carter, who started last on the grid and worked his way to third place by the checker.

“It was a great race, I had a lot of fun,” Pounds said after the race. “Conner and I teamed up, we kind of executed our strategy and it worked out. It’s a big change from last year – I had a lot of struggles last year. [It was] a lot of fun this year. It’s a great group to race with.”

Fast Formulas and Prototypes
Group 4’s race involved Prototype 1 and 2, plus Formula Atlantic, Formula Continental®, Formula Enterprises 2™, and Formula X, with FE2, FC, and FX in the second grouping of a split start.

Chip Romer claimed the P1 and overall pole, leading the field to Turn 1. Locked brakes and wild action resulted in one formula car stalling at the top of the hill, desperately attempting to move their vehicle before the second group took their green flag. Luckily, the stalled car began rolling, allowing the second set of cars to charge up the hill with no issues.

Nearing the half-way point of the race, an incident in the esses called for a full-course caution, regrouping the pack for a two-lap shootout. That dash resulted in a last lap, last turn battle in P1, with Chip Romer beating Jim Devenport to the checker by 0.25sec. And in FE2, Charles Russell Turner’s and Adam Jennerjahn’s strong runs ended one lap short, with Darryl Wills standing victorious.

Other winners in the race group were Lucian Pancea (P2), Jimmy Simpson (FA), Trevor Russel (FC), and Ashlyn Speed (FX).

Spec Miata
With 37 qualifiers for the Spec Miata race, and drivers like Tyler Quance, Nick Leverone, Brett Kowalski, Danny Steyn, Jim Drago, Sam Craven, Travis Wiley, Frankie Barroso, Taylor Ferranti, Lee Thomas, and Alex Stanfield making up the top 11 – all qualified within one second of the polesitter – this was set to be an incredible race.

An exciting opening corner put polesitter Quance wide on corner exit followed by Kowalski, with the two shuffling into the pack with Drago taking the early lead. This being Spec Miata, no lead is secure until the checker flies, so after 10 laps, it was Kowalski standing atop the podium, followed by Quance just 1.107sec back.

“It was a good time race,” Kowalski said from victory circle. “It was down to the wire at the beginning. I broke off for a little bit, and after I broke off, I just tried focusing and staying poised and not losing it, and it worked out.”

The Final Two
The last run groups of the day included Formula F, Formula Vee®, and Formula 600 in Group 6, with GT-1, GT-2, GT-X, American Sedan, and Touring 1 in Group 7.

Group 6 race winners were James Weida (F600), Myles Rowe (FF), and Zachary Whitston (FV).

Group 7 experienced a brief full-course caution early on, but by the checker it was Dane Smith (GT-1), Tony Ave (GT-2), Jon Field (GT-X), Phillip Waters (AS), and Paolo Salvatore (T1) standing atop their respective podiums. Of those, Salvatore found himself in a significant three-way battle for the T1 win, claiming the position by just 0.486sec over Clark Nunes, with Mark Boden another 0.26sec back. GT-1 was another nailbiter with Michael Lewis on a late-race tare – he came up 0.286sec short of Smith at the line.

“It was extremely close,” Smith acknowledged after the GT-1 race. “I tried to…put some distance between me and Lewis and Thomas Herb, and I did, but then I used up all my tires, and they were on me like bees on honey right at the end.”

Catch the Action Live (and On Demand!)

This racing action can be viewed live online at SCCA.com, as well as on SCCA’s YouTube channel and Facebook page. Coverage involves up to 12 cameras positioned around the racing circuit thanks to DriversEye Live, with racing commentators Brian Bielanski and Gregg Ginsberg calling the action.

Once the day’s races begin, viewers can rewind at any moment, or view the day’s races in their entirety at a later time or date.

Sunday’s (Feb. 12, 2023) Hoosier SCCA Super Tour races at COTA will begin at 10:55 a.m. Central time, with the event’s race schedule available here.

Race Winners

Below are the provisional race results for Saturday’s Hoosier SCCA Super Tour at Circuit of the Americas, with Class: Name, Hometown, Car.

American Sedan: Phillip Waters, Grand Prairie, TX, Chevrolet Camaro
B-Spec: Steven Pounds, Cypress, TX, Mini Cooper
E Production: Joey Rainey, Gilbert, AZ, Mazda MX-5 Cup
F Production: Sam Henry, Republic, MO, Mazda Miata
H Production: Neil Verity, Grey Forest, TX, MG MGB
Formula Atlantic: Jimmy Simpson, Cicero, IN, Swift 016/Mazda
Formula Continental: Trevor Russell, Tucson AZ, Van Diemen
Formula Enterprises 2: Darryl Wills, League City, TX
Formula F: Myles Rowe, New York, NY, Mygale
Formula Vee: Zachary Whitston, Austin, TX, Protoform P2
Formula X: Ashlyn Speed, Mansfield TX, Formula Mazda
Formula 600: James Weida, West Lafayette, IN, Scorpion, W1
GT-1: Dane Smith, Fayetteville, AR, Chevrolet Corvette
GT-2: Tony Ave, Maiden, NC, Nissan 350Z
GT-3: Tony Rivera, Oceanside, CA, Mazda RX-3
GT-Lite: Luis Rivera, Angleton, TX, Mazda Miata
GT-X: Jon Field, Nashville, TN, Radical SR10
Prototype 1: Chip Romer, Lake Havasu City, AZ, Elan DP02
Prototype 2: Lucian Pancea, San Antonio, TX, Stohr
Spec Miata: Bret Kowalski, Las Crices, NM, 1999 Mazda Miata
Spec Racer Ford Gen3: Charles Russell Turner, Montpelier, VA
Super Touring Lite: Danny Steyn, Fort Lauderdale, FL, Mazda MX-5
Super Touring Under: David Fiorelli, Coppell, TX, Ford Mustang
Touring 1: Paolo Salvatore, San Antonio, TX, Ford FP350S
Touring 2: Mark Boden, Buffalo Grove, IL, Porsche 997.1 C2
Touring 3: Ross Murray, Marina del Rey, CA, Ford Mustang
Touring 4: Sergio Zlobin; Houston, TX, Mazda MX-5