Friday, June 23, 2017

The 2011 Season's Final TreadZone Pro IT Series Race at Watkins Glen

The TreadZone Pro IT Series held their last race of the season at Watkins Glen over the Columbus Day weekend. The weather was perfect, cloudless days, with low humidity and cool breezes.  The racing was the same, almost perfect. The PLANET-MIATA Team was there in full force. Marc Cefalo the leader and fastest driver on the team, Nicole Cooper his girlfriend and the only women member of the team,

Joe Iannuzzo, who has come back to racing after a years sabbatical, Dave Bacaris and Kenny Williams, and then me, "the commander" the oldest member of the team, in fact maybe the oldest active driver in the series.  For many years Joe Iannuizzo also know as Joe I and Me came to the Glen for the Last Chance Enduro, we are accustomed to the easy and early ride from the Pocono mountains of Pennsylvania to the Finger Lakes region of New York .In years past the Enduro was held on Saturday afternoon with Regional Races held on Sunday...This year it was the reverse, the regional races were held on Saturday and the Enduro was held on Sunday, along with a TreadZone Pro IT Series race. The PLANET-MIATA Team decided that they would run only in the TreadZone Pro IT Series Race (at the end of this race report you'll know why I had to leave early). The ride to the Glen was uneventful with heavy fog most of the way, remember it's early October, but you could see the MUD line from the recent flood that devastated all of the Susquehanna river basin, from upper New York State all the way to the Chesapeake bay, there were some places where the water was 10-12 feet over route 17. Tropical Storm Lee was the reason for the destruction of thousands of homes and businesses in its path.

The TreadZone Pro IT Series found great success in holding one day races with 30 minutes of qualifying in the morning and a 45 minute race in the afternoon. If that changes then you may see a substantial drop in the entrants. This weekend there were only 35 entrants for the TreadZone Pro IT Series race, when in the past there have been as many as 57.




Watkins Glen International Raceway has been described by many people over the years; Let me give you my view. The race track sits high above Seneca Lake (the longest but not the biggest of the Finger Lakes). The rolling hills of the vast farmlands with the fall foliage in bloom allow you to appreciate nature at its best. The race track itself was home for years of the United States Grand Prix, but that series is but a faded memory to the Glen.

NASACAR still races at the Glen but what is know as the short course. NASCAR does not use the section of the track known as theBOOT. The Boot gets its name from the configuration, looking at it on paper it in the shape of a boot. The Glen has some great elevation changes, you are either going up hill or down hill for most of the track .There is a section called the carousel, a sweeping right hand turn, that taken at the maximum speed will tighten your grip


Watkins Glen race track is a much different track from the drivers view than from a spectator's. There are no less than 18 flag stations a driver depends on to know what if anything important or dangerous is on the track ahead.

The front straight is slightly down hill as you approach the first turn, it is level until just pass the flag station, which is at the start finish line. On drivers left of the first turn is the 1st flag station, a quick glance will tell you if any flags are showing what's ahead.

The first turn is  on a down hill slope and also sharp at just under 90 degrees, it is one of the more important corners as it leads to the longest straightaway, in a Miata it is taken in third gear. If you take the corner properly the car will drift left toward rumble strips on the left side of the turn. Years ago there was a large gravel trap which caught cars that were going too fast and were capable of total loss of control and might run into the tire wall behind the trap Now the trap is gone and the area is paved so that racing cars can use the area to gain control and continue on racing...In the past if you ended up in a gravel trap you were stuck and had to be pulled out..

The “S's” as they are called are a series of slight S turns  that go from the end of the first turn up to what is commonly called the "Bus Stop". Some call the configuration the “Inner Loop". The 2nd flag station, drivers right, is just before the first S, Immediately as you turn right to go up hill you see the 3rd flag station on drivers left then as you climb to the next S a slight left turn you can see the 4th flag station on drivers right, this is the narrowest part of the track, the fencing along both sides of the track appears to give a tunnel effect, your car should be screaming at this point. Once past the narrowest part of the track is the 5th flag station on drivers right from there you have a clear view to the "Bus Stop". You are going very, very fast at this point. Just as you approach the "Bus Stop"  you come to a very important breaking zone, it maybe  the most important breaking zone on the track, as you approach the "Bus Stop" you see  the 6th flag station  on drivers left. The "Bus Stop is a right, left ,  another left, then a right turn, as you leave that area the 7th flag station is on drivers right . Coming next is a sweeping right hand turn called the" Carousel" in a Miata it is taken at full throttle, in the middle of this sweeping turn you  see the 8th flag station on drivers right, centrifugal force is pulling the car to your left, but you want it to go right..

The "Boot" is the fun part of the track and that's next...Just a reminder NASCAR does not use this part of the track.  As you leave the "Carousel" the track goes slightly downhill into what is referred to as the "laces" of the "Boot"  a sharp left hand down hill turn, the 9th flag station is on drivers right, as you ascend  the downhill turn the track straightens out and the 10th flag station on drivers right . You are still going slightly  down hill for a  short distance to the 11th flag station on drivers left, immediately you make a climbing 180 degree right turn, in the middle of this steep hill is the 12th flag station on drivers left, this steep climbing hill is called the "Toe of the Boot"  . Once up the hill, the track  levels of as you pass  the 13th flag station is on drivers left, Immediately you must brake for as sharp right turn at 90 degree  that is also slightly downhill, with the 14th flag station on drivers left. Once past this turn, you climb another hill to a left hand turn, the 15th flag station is on driver’s right, at the top of this hill the track goes left. As you make this blind turn you see the 16th flag station on drivers right From here it is full throttle in a Miata to a sharp right turn with the 17th flag station on drivers right, this turn if taken right cuts a lot off your lap time, then you must break for the final right turn with the final flag station # 18 on drivers left. From here it’s down the front straightaway to the start finish line this could be counted as the 19th flag station....THAT A DRIVERS VIEW OF A LAP ON THE LONG COURSE AT WATKINS GLEN...

There are many drivers who will read this and feel I missed something, if I did it was not intentional. I did the best I could.  .


Qualifying was uneventful as the BMW's and the Porsche's along with the RX7's headed the front of the field with the Miata's, that nifty little car that has produced the largest numbers of entries in all type events. The Miata's being the largest group 17 in all.

THE TreadZone Pro IT Series RACE

The race was a whole different story. Sunday morning at 8:30 AM the show started as the cars lined up on the FALSE GRID. At the glen it's an area along the track where all the cars are lined up according to qualifying times, with fastest first and the rest following.  The very first lap claimed Drew Manna in an RX/7 he spun in the boot and also Robert Thiele in a BMW. Four laps later Dan Jones was out in his BMW, turned out to be a $1.50 part that put him out. Six laps later the track claimed Demetrius Mossaidis in his Honda. On the 12 lap Joe Iannuzzo our team mate lost the exhaust system and was also out of the race. On lap 15 the next driver out was Abdulrab Aziz in a BMW, set the track record the day before, and the last driver out before getting the checkered flag was Charles Tanck. The rest of the 26 remaining drivers finished the race. That is a tribute to the driving and the courtesies extended to fellow drivers. This my fourth year driving in the series and even with prize money on the line everyone act responsibly...Its the best series in amateur SCCA racing and everyone should come and drive with us ...I guarantee you won't be disappointed.

Now for the rest of the race:

Rob Driscoll in ITS,  won overall in a BMW 323 with Jeff Henderson was second in ITS in the same type car, Jeff set a new lap record, talk about two guys being first and second, their SCCA drivers licenses are one digit apart, Rob's ends in 680 and Jeff's ends in 679 and they come from the same town, Brookfield CT.

Robert Beede won in the ITA class with Bruce Perry in second place in that class.

John Weisberg won in Spec Miata, with Marc Cefalo second. These two guys are the best of friends on and off the track, yet as John put it "Marc battled with me right till the end".

Robert Nimkoff won in ITR with Abdulrab Aziz second.

Michael Tinis won in ITB setting a track record with Steven Noake second followed by Rob Foley.   

NOW FOR THE REASON I DID NOT RUN IN THE ENDURANCE RACE For me it was a great time, My wife and I have been cleaning up from the recent floods that affected not only our home and the mansion we own next door( 5 feet of water on the first floor) , but also both of my office buildings( 3 feet of water on the first floors)...This was the second break I took to come racing to the glen from shoveling mud from the flood...I broke away for the FUN ONE in Mid September .I personally want to thank everyone who expressed concern and offered help. Just for the record I save some of my furniture from my home because SCCA race car drivers helped as the water was coming up sidewalk to them I will be forever thankful. As a final note, we're doing fine; we live with one of my sons, operate our law offices out of a closed Catholic High School and still occasionally go ballroom dancing.   Just so you know its not all bad, Bette and I took off last Wednesday to go shopping  for the local food pantry, it helps people who can't afford food to be able to eat, we deliver meals on wheels, so this was the other end of providing food for the needy.   Until next year....  I love you all. Mike Cefalo  

Today before you say an unkind word - Think of someone who can't speak.

Before you complain about the taste of your food - Think of someone
who has nothing to eat.

BE SAFE GO FAST HAVE FUN,                                     
Love the “Commander" Mike Cefalo

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