F600 Challenge: 2019 Round #1 Road Atlanta
It rained all day Thursday and Friday morning then got cold so the qualifying times for the class were slower than usual. Perennial hot shoe, Clint McMahan, was the one to beat as he had the fastest overall qualifying for the whole race group (F5, FF, FV) at a 1:31.2 but drama usually follows Clint around and it was no exception for this weekend. Eric McRee qualified 2nd with a 1:34.8, followed by Jeff Delong, 3rd at a 1:35.1, then Craig Laprade and Jack Walbran.
On Saturday, while handily building up a big lead overall with a fast lap of 1:30.7, on the 3rd lap, under very heavy braking into Turn #10A (slowing down from over 140 mph), the upper left front A arm rod end snapped, instantly losing brake force on the left front corner, causing Clint to hit the concrete barrier on the right side, collapsing the RF suspension and sliding along the wall into the gravel trap. Fortunately, the body work was only scratched up. A little deja-vu (sp?) here as Clint snapped the right front upper rod end while leading on the first lap into the bus stop at the 2015 Daytona Runoffs (See the F5 race video for this). Meanwhile, way back at the very end of the race group, after dramatically spinning on the pace lap (sounds familiar from the 2017 Indy Runoffs with Clint – see this video), the 2nd qualifier, Eric McRee, was flying through traffic to catch up to the front runners. Just before the race ended due to the time limit, Eric had gained the lead and won, which he was not expecting, from all the way in the back. Finishing 2nd was Jeff Delong in an uneventful run, for him; Craig Laprade finished 3rd followed by Jack Walbran.
Clint and Dan, his father, worked well into the night replacing both sides of the front suspension along with checking everything else on the car. Clint was able to run the cold Sunday morning hardship lap with no trouble so he would be able to start from the pole again for the Sunday race. For the Sunday race, again, Clint jumped to the lead but this time Eric was able to stay on his tail and both set their fastest race times in the low 1:31's as the weather was finally beautiful. Yet again, drama struck as Clint slowed after several laps allowing Eric to take the lead and win for the second time this weekend. Clint later said that something in the drivetrain had broken causing him to slow and finally pull into the pits. The rest of the field finished with Jeff Delong taking 2nd place for the second day, followed by Jack Walbran and Craig Laprade.
The series points standings are as follows:
- Eric McRee 24
- Jeff Delong 22
- Craig Laprade 20
- Jack Walbran 20
- Clint McMahan 16
Our next race, round #2, is at Virginia International Raceway, April 12 – 14.
We are very thankful for our valued sponsors who have made this series possible:
Metalloid Corporation of Sturgis, Michigan (www.metalloidcorp.com )
Hoosier Racing Tire ( www.hoosiertire.com )
Solo Performance Specialties (SPS) (www.soloperformance.com)
Pegasus Auto Racing Supplies (www.PegasusAutoRacing.com)
Hawk Performance ( www.hawkperformance.com )
Winding Road Racing (www.WindingRoadRacing.com )
The Formula 600 Challenge Series was developed to help promote an affordable open wheel formula car class to showcase talent without large financial race budgets. There are no paid staffers and one hundred percent of all sponsorship monies and product goes directly to the drivers in our series mostly as a tow fund payment for each race. The Formula 600 open wheel cars use a 600cc motorcycle engine and a six-speed sequential transmission revving up to 15,000 rpm with speeds in excess of 140 mph. The sound of these cars is likened to F1 cars.
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