SCCA Western Conference majors awards first trophies at Auto Club

A total of 225 cars, a historic high for this event, took green flags during the seven race groups.

SCCA Western Conference majors awards first trophies at Auto Club

Fontana, Calif. (January 18, 2014) – The SCCA Western Conference Majors Tour awarded trophies on Saturday at Auto Club Speedway in Round One of the season long championship. A total of 225 cars, a historic high for this event, took green flags during the seven race groups.

The 30-minute timed races were run in 80 degree temperatures under sunny skies, with no full course cautions throughout the day.

The day opened with a runaway win by Brandon Aleckson in Formula Enterprises, driving the No. 33 Dan’s Upholstery/Hoosier Tires Formula Enterprises, but was highlighted by a two car battle in Formula Vee.

Terran Swanson, Charlie Turner and Dennis Andrade started the race locked nose to tail in their Volkswagen-powered machines. Swanson’s No. 86 Toad Hall Enterprises/Swan Tech Graphics Mysterian M4 and Turner’s multi-colored No. 25 TMM/Noble Racing/Hoosier Vortech 01 traded the lead, while Andrade looked content to stalk in the early stages of the race behind the wheel in the No. 87 D & D Racing Vortech Caracal.

Race action
Race action

Photo by: Emily Rogers

On lap seven, however, Andrade spun in turn seven, a hard right hander through the infield. That left Andrade and Turner to continue to swap the lead.

And swap the lead they did, nearly every lap. Swanson looked to be faster through the infield section of the track, but Turner took advantage of the long, fast NASCAR oval and zipped past on the laps when he fell behind.

As the time limit ticked down, Swanson had the lead at the most important stage –the start of the last lap. Swanson held off Turner through the infield and up onto the banking in the lead, with enough room to hold it to the checkered flag. Both drivers pumped their fist across the finish line after an impressive performance.

Spec Racer Ford was a two-car battle between a pair of the west coast’s best drivers in the class. Mike Miserendino moved his No. 11 MBI Racing Spec Racer Ford to the front before diving to the infield, and led a crowd of four drivers – including Todd Harris, Steve Fogg and TJ Acker - around the circuit.

Acker’s No. 62 machine spun on lap four, leaving him to wait for a line of traffic to pass and separating Fogg’s No. 21 Lisa, Alex and Emily Racing/Pro Drive machine from Miserendino and Harris in the battle for the win.

That left Miserendino and the No. 24 Pro Drive Racing Spec Racer Ford of Todd Harris to dice it out. Miserendino held the lead as time wound down, and took the one to go sign in front. Harris challenged on the banking, pulling alongside the hometown driver, but Miserendino led through the transition into the infield. The veteran swung just wide again as the pair exited the infield to cut off a drafting opportunity, and stayed in front to the checkered flag.

The drafting continued after lunch in Spec Miata, and this time it influenced the race winner. Clement Lee and Elliott Skeer got in front of the field and ran nose to tail for most of the race, swapping the lead on a couple of occasions but pairing up in front of the 33 car field.

At the one to go board, Lee’s No. 33 RM Autosports Spec Miata crossed the stripe in front with Skeer’s No. 77 Rush Motorsports Miata on his bumper. Skeer used the tow through NASCAR one and two to take the lead under braking as the pair dove through the left-right complex into the infield. Skeer held on through the long back straight and led the duo onto the banking and the run to the checkered flag.

The pair made light side to side contact on at least two occasions as Lee’s red Miata moved to the outside of Skeer’s bright yellow car. Lee pulled slightly ahead just before the line, winning by a nose and 0.035-second.

Two of the fastest Prototype 1 cars in the country make their homes in the Western Conference, and Saturday’s race didn’t disappoint from the drop of the green flag.

Lee Alexander sat on the pole in his No. 48 Factory 48/APE Raceparts Stohr WF-0, and as the pace car pulled to pit lane led the field onto the banking very slowly. The field bunched up closely, and when the starter displayed the green flag, Chris Farrell got the jump on the outside in the No. 58 C&M Manufacturing/ GDR Engines/Hoosier Tires/Stohr Cars Stohr WF-1.

Beginning on lap four, Alexander moved to the outside through the banking on three consecutive laps before finally getting around Farrell and into the lead. Farrell came back quickly, moving in front on lap 10, but Alexander held the inside line and reentered the infield section of the road course still in front.

With two to go, the pair encountered heavy traffic from other classes, and Alexander was able to gain some breathing room. The traffic again came into play on the final lap, with Farrell backing out to the finish and Alexander winning by a misleading final tally of 32 seconds – setting up a sure showdown during Sunday’s race.

The GT class battle focused on GT-2 and GT-3 in the early stages.

GT-2 featured two very different machines, with the power of the No. 47 SRT Viper ACRX of Michael Von Quilich taking the early lead over the No. 01 Main Straight Racing/Michelin Porsche GT3 of Tom Wickersham. Wickersham pulled into the lead on lap eight, then kept his Porsche in front for the rest of the way to the checkered flag.

In GT-3, Mike Henderson’s No. 21 Mazda/Red Line Oil/Goodyear Mazda RX-7 led early on, but faced a stiff challenge from Wolfgang Maike’s No. 15 Toyota/Red Line Oil Toyota Paseo. Maike shadowed Henderson, and on lap 12 tried to take advantage and move to the lead down the backstraight. Maike spun in the transition from the right to the left hander, which Henderson just avoided, and Henderson was able to continue to the checkered flag unabated. Maike recovered to finish second.

In the Touring group, William Brinkop led the field from the Touring 1 pole and held the early lead in the No. 78 TC Design/Synergy Motorsports/Abel Chevrolet/Hoosier Tire Chevrolet Corvette, powering around the banking and through the infield portion of the course through the race’s early laps. Just past halfway, Jim Tway’s No. 08 P.A. Construction/Alvaka Networks/Valerie Schluter Realty Chevrolet Corvette slid past Brinkop and into the overall and class lead. The two ran in tandem and equally spaced to the checkered flag, but Tway had enough to keep Brinkop in his mirrors and take the win.

That same group gave Wickersham his second win of the day. His Touring 3 No. 4 Main Straight Racing/BFGoodrich Tires Honda S2000 was challenged on a couple of occasions by the No. 8 BF Goodrich Tires/Knight Transport/Specialty Vehicle Logistics Ford Mustang of Scotty White, but each time White closed the gap, Wickersham turned up the wick to climb back in front.

Jesse Heitman won the F Production race in Group Seven, taking the lead in the No. 47 Maz-Toy Auto Recycling/Jesse Prather Motorsports Mazda Miata with a brilliant pass in traffic. Heitman was running third overall and second in class when overall leader Rylan Hazelton’s No. 49 Driving Ambition/BFGoodrich Tires/HPD/Comptech Honda S2000 and then FP leader Rick Harris’ No. 8 Jesse Prather Motorsports/Hoosier/V8 Roadsters/Miata Cage Mazda Miata came up on a lapped car on lap seven.

Hazelton checked up moving around the lapped car, and Harris went into the back of Hazelton. Heitman seized the opportunity and swung past both cars and into the overall lead. Hazelton eventually moved back to the overall top spot, and Heitman got breathing room in class when Harris fell out of the race with mechanical difficulties.


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