Friday, June 23, 2017

2010 Round 2 - Lime Rock Park

A great weekend at LRP - have to agree that this track eats up cars and equipment. Seems like the Road Race Center of the East puts on the most wrecks. Track was pretty quick and the weather was excellent. Great to see so many folks out - lotta drivers there watching whilst their cars are getting finished/fixed.

Pro IT was a slugfest. I never drove so hard to finshish last - that'll tell ya how tough these guys are. In the true sense of competition it was a race to even get the car in line to get to grid for a decent start. Andy B won that battle and had his car in line three groups before the Pro IT qualifier. Then when it was time to grid - no Andy! Fortunately somebody moved his car for him so he was 4th and Matt, Doc and I all told Andy to blow past us down pit lane so he could grab some clean track for his ITA Miata - we all sorta wanted to see if he could take pole over all the S and R guys...he almost got it and had fourth.

Top Ten was

ITR Nimkoff - 1:00.9
ITS Henderson - 1:01.2
ITS Driscoll - 1.01.3
ITA Bettencourt - 1.01.745
ITR Phillips - 1.01.756
ITR THiele - 1.01.8
ITR Fox - 1.01.85
ITS Rooke - 1.01.9
ITR Brealt - 1.0196
SM Jessberger - 1.02.4

The Autotecnic guys proved you don't need to be at the front of the grid to grab a good time - they were mid pack for qualifiying and still started up front.

A bunch of us put on sticker tires for the race. I took off my tires and thought that they looked pretty damn good but I was worried they had about 15 heat cycles and that they'd give up after 25 laps in what looked to be a 40 lap race.

The start at the front was pretty clean but I hear there was some major pushing and shoving going into T1. Hendo got a little loose in Big Bend and I was able to get by him and Andy got pinched in the mix. Some Miatas got waxed at the uphill, think one of them was Nick Leverone, so we took four laps under caution. That put the grid at Nimkoff, Driscoll, Phillips, Henderson, Thiele, Fox, Brault, Rooke - hard to be sure - I just remember that all of these guys were all over me like dents on a Miata.

On the restart Hendo got an insane launch and was able to drive past me and Nimkoff. I did a total Banzai Ben on Nimkoff into T1 got some major air under the right tires but managed to hold on and make a clean pass (thanks Rob for not launching me into the weeds). By turn three it was Driscoll, Henderson, Phillips, Nimkoff. For about ten laps I was able to keep up with the Autotechnic BMWs but then I began to fade. Nimkoff made several attempts to pass but I was able to hold him off by driving the line but my handling problems got worse and Rob was really putting on the heat and forced me into running wide at West Bend. He then took us side by side into the downhill and I should have let him go and tucked in. Instead I ran wide into the marlbes and barely held on, watching Rob Nimkoff drive off. I dropped it back to third to get back going and found myself half a straight behind with a swarm of BMWs all over me. From there on I just dropped like a rock with really greasy tires. I was so pissed in the car wishing I had not switched to stickers and wondering why these R6s gave out so bad.

All I can say is I made every one of you dudes work to get around me! I haven't driven in my mirrors this much ever and that forces a guy into mistakes - I'll blame it on the tires. Thanks to all the drivers who ran me clean - all the passes were spot on good judgement moves - just great driving and lots of respect while pushing to the max. Fred Fox got on my bumper and then disappeared - I heard he went off and hit the wall, don't know where but I hope he and the car are OK.

There were many car parts on the track and some pretty bashed up cars. The leading SM driver, Ron Jessberger was hit in the rear under FCY so hard that it snapped the rear and he had to park it. Munroe and Thiele banged some bumpers - Rob Thiele is forever cursed to having a repaint on something after every race!

My hat has to go off to Rob Driscoll - that man is overall winner for both of the Pro IT races so far this year and he's not got a scratch on the car and looks cool as a cucumber out there. Looking like a champ buddy. Only guy I know who might ruffle you would be Kip but the talent up here in the NE has scared him off - where are you Kip? I need another Porsche to help out against all these Bimmers!!!

So I got from 5th and 2nd in class to 3d and 1st in class, then dropped to 8th and last in class. My only saving grace is second fastest time of the day. Rob Nimkoff had FTD - wonder if it was the track record for ITR. Great Run Mr. Nimkoff! Driscoll only got you by .6 secs at the line - no mistakes, well done!

Top Ten Finishers:

ITS Driscoll 1.01.3
ITR Nimkoff 1.00.8
ITS Henderson 1.01.2
ITS Rooke 1.01.077 (eight to fourth - nice)
ITR Brealt 1.01.3I (ninth to fifth - nice)
ITR Munroe 1.01.7 (11th to 6th - nice)
ITR Thiele 1.01.35
ITR Phillips 1.01.004
ITA Cefalo 1.02.18
SM Harding 1.02.69

Winner in ITB Ken Hubbard 1.04.3

This was a great event and it ran well with the National. Tons of fun and lots of spectators. The autobody economy is thriving!

2010 Round 1 - New Hampshire Motorsports Park

Getting ready for the first race of the season is one of my favorite things to do. Over the cold winter months most racers spend their time in unheated garages tweaking and tuning, developing the chassis or optimizing the air/fuel ratios for that last few ponies that might help with a better start or final dash for the finish. The racing game is played 50% off the track – all that planning makes a massive difference in who wins and who doesn’t.

Of course experience doesn’t necessarily mean you get smarter. All that planning can go awry if your eye for detail misses even the smallest item – more on that later…

Round 1 of the TeamDI Pro IT Series was kicked off at New Hampshire Motorsports Park on April 10th running in tandem with the Granite State National races. Pro IT had a solid turnout and the top drivers were mostly in attendance. I left New Jersey that Friday and drove up in the new/used Monster Home 37 foot class A motor coach.  It was the first long haul trip and I was a little concerned how it would tow the race car trailer up the mountainous New England terrain. Thankfully it towed great and what a nice thing to chill out in since it was windy and rainy. Anybody looking to kick back and warm up at the track – come on over.

Saturday turned out to be good weather. It was sunny, but cool air and lots of wind. Pro IT was group 1 for qualifying, then a second qualifier after lunch – then the race at the end of the day. I was also running the Granite State STU race Sunday with some vague aspirations of going to the Runoffs later this year. The first ProIT qualifier was packed with some drama for a few unfortunate ITR drivers. First was a black flag all for trouble with timing and scoring. Then there was some carnage. One particular car seemed to create havoc for a number of other drivers during the day – this car spun in front of two top ITR racers and did not lockup the brakes and came back across the track at the uphill following turn 3. Rob Thiele braked hard to evade the spinner and was unfortunately hit by Rob Nimkoff who did all he could but was unable to avoid contact. Both ITR BMWs were badly damaged and Nimkoff had to park for the rest of the weekend. Thiele was able to continue racing but with the rear of his car so smashed he could watch the racetrack through the holes in his rear deck lid. Otherwise qualifying went fairly well.

At the drivers meeting several folks joshed me that I had no times and I thought they were joking. Unfortunately I learned it was true, not only did I have no time but my name wasn’t even on the qualifying sheet! Terry Hanushek, one of the Chief Stewards quickly calmed me down and said not to worry. He was right when 20 minutes later a fellow came to the drivers meeting and indeed they had my time, ITR pole and third overall! Things were looking good.

The second qualifier went well and without any drama. I was able to better my time by a few tenths but Russ Jones was able to knock me off third overall so the race grid for the top 10 of 28 qualifiers was:

ITS - Glen Lawton – 1:14.827

ITS - Rob Driscoll – 1:15.041

ITS - Russ Jones – 1:15.375

ITR - Ben Phillips – 1:15.399

ITR - Robert Brault – 1:15.650

ITS - Jeff Henderson – 1:15.650

ITS - Matt Rooke  - 1:16.060

ITS  - Robert Blake – 1:16.113

ITR - Ann Lamport-Hammittee – 1:16.191

SM - Steve Gorriaran – 1:16.330

Race Time! Conditions were still good. I thought the grip was moderate, not excellent. It wasn’t warm enough for optimal grip and the track was green from the 24 hours of rain the day before. The start was paced by Rob Driscoll on the pole but the big player was Rob Brault. He blistered to the front with a bold move, dicing between several cars to move from 5th to take the lead into turn 1. I believe his quote was, “I was at full pucker threading it through the slot…” Going into turn 3 I was hard on the brakes and got a little loose over the rumble strips and lightly tapped the right rear of Glen Lawtons ITS RX7 and gave my left fender a small crease. Glen held the spot and we charged up the hill. On the second or third lap we came around the tree house turn and saw a small grassfire and debris on the track. And lots of oil! Turns out the same car that had caused some carnage in the first qualifier also got tangled up with Windell Holmes ITA car and then drove back to pit on the race line, oiling down the track. Windell had to retire with major damage.

Following Glen Lawton into turn 12 he got sideways on the oil and managed to hold onto a huge tank slapper and not spin, but this allowed me to line up and motor by him for second place overall behind Rob Driscoll. After the full course caution Rob Driscoll paced the field for the restart. Here’s a brilliant move (or maybe I’m just guessing) when Rob slowed down and let the pace car get way ahead, he then slowly applied power and then really nailed it before 12. Caught the field napping and he had all of us by 8 car lengths before turn 1 AND eliminated my shot of getting him on the start with my greater torque. Glen pursued me most of the race and got alongside me several times into turn 1 and 2 on the NASCAR banking – he was ferociously quick there but couldn’t quite get me by turn 3. I was a bit of a wuss going into 1 and several friends remarked I was braking too hard into that corner. From my point of view it was not worth the risk to push up into the marbles there and get my tires full of debris. But I know I’m leaving some time on the table there.

Eventually I got close to Driscoll, right on his bumper a few times but I was never able to get the pass off turn 12 where I could use my power. I’d lose ground to him from 12 to turn 3. Then I’d make it back until turn 12 where Rob had a great out corner he’d pull me by several car lengths and I was unable to use the power to get around him. Great driving and an example of getting on the gas earlier making the difference.

The rest of the race was solid driving with a few spins but no major trouble that I could see. Glen Lawton had to retire with a blown CV joint. Rob Driscoll was dominant and took the ITS and overall win with a 1:15.136 Matt Rooke was racing Jeff Henderson hard for 2nd in ITS and was able to make the pass on the last lap  – Jeff ran solid and took third in ITS. There was a great battle with Nick Leverone taking first in SM with a 1:17.529 over Steve Gorriaran second and Jeff Harding third. ITA saw Anthony Ruddy take the win with a 1:18.449 over Jack Hall second and Matt Rowe third.

Then the ITR results – remember that comment about not getting any smarter after racing for 10 years? Well, I took the ITR win and second overall and man, let me tell you, I was pumped! But after we parked in impound several buddies pointed to my car which had about 5-6 guys from tech standing around it. Uh Oh! That’s not a good sign. Later I learned that Topeka had asked that tech inspect air intakes. My intake system was modified to have a big scoop that goes into a large oval air vent in the front of the car. The stock intake has a scoop to the air vent in the front and IT rules permit modification of the airbox. Tech asked if this was the stock location that I was picking up my air and I said, “Sure is – take a look at my friend Brian Bagnall’s 968 parked over there by impound.” (I actually sold Brian his car.) The airbox modification and scoop were 100% legal however; the stock 968 had a small grill over the air vent. My car did not. We all know that we must have stock bodywork so I was done – I hadn’t noticed it before. It was also identified after some very, very careful inspection and comparison to Brian’s car that the vent area had been modified to allow my larger scoop to fit. The work appeared stock – it was performed by the gentleman who I bought my car from – he’s a plastics engineer that had developed the air scoop and gave me the plastic injection molds for the scoop when I bought the car. No excuse – bodywork cannot be modified. The irony was that tech said that without the comparison to Brian’s car (which I directed them to) they probably would have been OK with what they saw. But I’m glad that this stuff was identified now rather than the end of the season. Heck, this is only the sixth time out with the car.

In any event I was very disappointed but also very appreciative of how this was handled. The staff in tech and the stewards was totally professional and very clear about what was happening, my right of appeal and how the overall process worked. To me it was black and white – those infractions were justly identified and as a penalty I was moved to last in class. It could have been worse with a DQ, loss of championship points and penalty points against my license. So while that was a tough lesson I have no ill feelings other than disappointment over losing the win (and the cashL). I was able to find the little missing grill for $10 on eBay and rivet some metal back where it had been modified to fit the big scoop. I look forward to presenting my car to tech at LimeRock Park with these issues corrected for round 2 of the Team DI Pro IT series. All are welcome to take a look.

The winner of ITR was Robert Brault with a 1:15.073 and fastest time of day followed by Anne Lamport-Hammitte second and Rob Thiele with his wounded BMW third.

The grid is already fully registered for the TeamDI ProIT race at Lime Rock Park on May 15th – it’s going to be a blast!


BMW Awarded SCCA Racer Robert Thiele BMW Sports Trophy For Second Consecutive Year

Robert Thiele scored 11th place in the global BMW privateer driver competition, and was the only US driver in top 25 award ranks. 2010 SCCA ProIT Series season starts April 10th, 2010 at New Hampshire Motor Speedway, Loudon, NH..  (Location, March DAY), Robert Thiele, from Cambridge, Massachusetts, was awarded a BMW Sports Trophy for the second year in a row finishing 11th overall in BMW's 2009 competition. This is a nice addition to the BMW Sports Trophy he was awarded  for 25th place in 2008. Robert Thiele raced successfully in SCCA (Sports Car Club of America) with his BMW 325is celebrating a second place in the TeamDI Pro IT Series, with a second place in the North Atlantic Road Racing Championship (NARRC) and a Championship win in the New Jersey Road Racing Series (NJRRS).

The top 25 BMW privateer drivers were honored by BMW Motorsport Director Mario Theissen and BMW works drivers at the annual Sports Trophy event and celebration in Munich on December 5th, 2009. Other 2009 BMW Sports Trophy winners included Colin Turkington, who won this season's British Touring Car Championship (BTCC) in a BMW 320si WTCC and ranked first place overall, Swedish Touring Car pilots Richard Goeransson (second) and Thed Bjoerk (third), BTCC driver Robert Collard (fourth), as well as last years overall winner, World Touring Car championship (WTCC) privateer Franz Engstler (fifth).

Just like 2008, Robert Thiele was the only representative from the USA to be awarded a 2009 Sports Trophy. Thiele's teammates from the BMW racing team Auto Technic in New Milford, Connecticut, scored impressive 35th (Jeff Henderson) and 49th (Rob Driscoll) places in the global competition underlining the team's successful track record.

Other USA contestants in the top 50 included Matthew Bell (KONI Challenge)26th, Seth Thomas (Speed World Challenge) 32nd and Chris Gleason (KONI Challenge) 46th. At the 2009 Sports Trophy Awards Ceremony in Munich, BMW also followed the tradition to release details of the forthcoming year's motorsports programs. For 2010 BMW will intensify its involvement in GT and touring car racing and continue to focus on the growing BMW Sports Trophy program.

The BMW Sports Trophy 2010 information has been released on the BMW Motorsport website and applications for the current season are now open. Robert Thiele commented, "The BMW Sports Trophy program and BMW's support for privateer racers are outstanding. I am honored to receive a BMW Sports Trophy for the second year in a row and again become part of a field of drivers who demonstrated their performance in a diverse range of racing series in the US, Europe, Asia and South Africa. I hope that more drivers in SCCA and other US racing series become aware of this outstanding free program and participate in 2010."

Robert Thiele was represented at the awards ceremony in Munich by his father Gunter Thiele due to a scheduling conflict. Robert Thiele's son, Maximilian, was born November 30th, adding another future BMW racer to the team.

2010 Kumho Tire Contingency Program

To participate in the 2010 Kumho Tire Contingency Program, please download/print the following forms and submit them to the addresses provided.

2010 Kumho Contingency Award Application

2010 Kumho Contingency Waiver and Release Form

Competitors can obtain contingency decals by emailing their shipping address to This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.

2010 Hoosier Tire Contingency Program

Program Guidelines

MANCHESTER, CT (March 29, 2010) - Hoosier Tires East, Inc in cooperation with Northeast Racing Enterprises, Inc. is pleased to announce that we will be offering a contingency program for the Pro IT Series in 2010. We understand the importance of supporting grassroots racing by offering a contingency program. Tires are one of the largest expenses to a competitor and by offering a program to earn discounts on future tire purchases is beneficial to the competitor as well as the distributor.

1st Place - $100.00 Discount off your next purchase of 4 tires* (minimum 4 cars in class)

2nd Place - $ 50.00 Discount off your next purchase of 4 tires* (minimum 6 cars in class)

3rd Place - $ 25.00 Discount off your next purchase of 4 tires* (minimum 8 cars in class)

*Up to two race results may be applied for credit per set of 4 tires purchased.


In addition to the compliance with the applicable competition rule and regulations in effect at the time of the event, the following Hoosier Contingency Award Guidelines must be adhered to.

Hoosier Racing tires must be used on all four wheel positions of car.

To participate in this discount contingency program all race tires must be purchased from Northeast Racing Enterprises, Inc. or Hoosier Tires East, Inc. Copies of the official race results should be submitted at the time of next purchase. All discount awards must be claimed by December 15th of the same year in which the award was earned. No registration is necessary to take part in this contingency program.

Hoosier decals must be visibly displayed on both sides above the tires and on the front of the race vehicle. No competing tire decals should be visible on the race car. A Hoosier patch must be sewn on the competitor’s uniform. These items will be supplied by Northeast Racing Enterprises, Inc. and Hoosier Tires East, Inc.

For more information please contact:

Bob Smart @ Northeast Racing Enterprises, Inc. (518) 622-0329

Brian Brown @ Hoosier Tires East, Inc. (860) 646-9646

PLANET MIATA Recap of Round 6 & 7 of the TeamDI pro IT Series at NJMP

Arrival and FridayPractice

The PLANET MIATA Team was back to NJ Motorsports Park for the TeamDI Pro IT Series Round 6 & 7.  The best place to start this story is with the weather. We arrived Thursday night in a light rain and by Friday morning several inches of rain had fallen. The Rain collected to a depth of several inches at the entrance to the track, it was up to he middle of the hub caps on the car. The kids gave me an old Saturn station wagon to drive  this week and I didn't want to get stuck, so I was real careful not to stall the thing out in the water. The place we parked the race trailer was on fairly high ground, but by Saturday the paddock where we were was OK but the rest of the place was a sea of mud.

The first practice session of Friday was fun, with lots of rain falling, lots of water on the track and lots of cars spinning off the track into the mud. The track became treacherous because oil that was also on the track from cars leaking oil tried to mix with the water. When they say oil and water don't mix they are right, especially on a race track.In the first practice I was the first one to hit the water/oil and did I take a wild ride, I  flew off the track on a corner and rode the grass for at least 70 yards until I got the car somewhat straight. The cars were  skating around so much  that if you were in your street  car you would pull over and walk.


The TeamDI Pro IT Round 6 Race on Saturday was a mud feast! There was mud all over the place, even inside of the car.  The race started in the rain and then as the track began to dry out, some of the cars slid off the tack in the wet spots,  The mud flew as the cars came back on the track.  Mud was all over the cars, the windshield and with some cars having a side vent for air the mud came thru the air duct on to your helmet visor making it that much harder to see( I'm talking about me).  Many of us went out on rain tires (these tires have deep grooves to push the water out of he way) while other drivers used race tires ( these tire are smoother so as they heat up they have more grip), but in the rain they are tough because they are bald and can't get rid of the water on the racing surface. All the time you gain with rain tires when it is raining you lose if the rain stops and the track dries guessed it, that's exactly what happened, the rain stopped and the guys on race ties gained space, but lost most of it when the track dried.  I started 9th and finished 9th. gaining several spot during the rain and losing them all when the rain stopped, but it was fun while it lasted. Marc blew the ITA field away,In ITA ,his class, he was so far out front...the race was a run away. I knew he put on one heck of a show as many fans after the race came to the trailer to ask who  driver of double zero car .  When I asked why, they chimed in that guy must have been a dirt track racer...he had the car sideways all the time. Marc is one of the best drivers in the rain. {mutlithumb}

After the race on Saturday the cars looked like they came from a mud bog...that's where people run their trucks thru the mud on purpose and get so dirty you can't tell the color...well we could see the color but our cars looked ugly. Patch and I went over to the Volkswagen compound...we shared the track with a Volkswagen series( more on that later) and they were kind enough to allow us to use their pressure washer, we washed my car, than Marc's car, than a young fellow Eric Gebhardt car, then Nicole Coopers car. I started washing cars when I was a kid in a gas station( which is next to my law a Mini Mart)  more than 55 years ago and it looks like I haven't stopped.  

I don't know if  ever explained what the TeamDI Pro IT Series was all about. The idea was conceived by Bob Zecca and Darrell Anthony.  It consists of full race season schedule held a different tracks in th Northeast. The eligible cars are Improved Touring cars and Spec Miata's. The drivers race for points and money. The drivers are the best around, and they have to be. The cars are all different with a wide horsepower spread and a wide speed difference. To put 50 cars on one track in one race with those variables, the drivers have to be the best...and they are. I have raced for so long, in so many different cars, on so many tracks I can tell the difference. These guys the the best, there is so little contact, so much courtesy, so much respect, and they race hard and try like heck to be the best and win. It's a joy and a lot of fun to race in the TeamDI Pro IT Series.

The races this weekend were sponsored by the South Jersey AFL-CIO Building Trades and comprised of the TeamDI Pro IT Series, the VW TDI Cup, a Historic Stock car series, and an ARCA race which is a starter series of NASCAR  drivers. The VW TDI cup are all young drivers who pay almost $45,000 to Volkswagen to drive the cars, plus they are responsible for all the damage they cause to the car, plus all their travel expenses. This was a great opportunity for SCCA to show it's stuff.  There were thousands of people there to watch they and got to see regular cars compete, Nissans, Mazda's, BMW's, and Volkswagens. The people were not disappointed as the Saturday race was run in the rain and then in the Sun on Sunday...and neither were the racers disappointed as they all like big crowds.  


The race started at 9:00  AM sharp. The organizers of the event gave each of us an American flag to waive for the first of two pace laps (this weekend was the 8th anniversary of 9-11) .The weather for a change was beautiful, the track dry and the crowd large for that time of day. As the field formed for the green flag,all eyes are on the starter high above the track in the starter's booth, as he waived the green flag every car is accelerating, the cars were 4 and 5 wide as we came to the first corner, some cars going in excess of 90 MPH at this point, then all you see is a sea of brake lights, some tire smoke and everyone getting in line to make the turn,all 50 cars made it without an incident. a few hundred yards later after climbing a small hill there is a second right hand turn, that is blind and off camber, meaning the road falls away from you. The cars at this point are still bumper to bumper, literally. The track then straightens out, you're in 4th gear now at full power going a little over 100 MPH, you go down a slight hill, then make a slight right turn called a kink, from here the road goes slightly down hill to a dip in the road then up a slight hill to a much slower corner. The cars are still all bunched together as you turn right along a set of bleachers to screaming fans(at least you hope their screaming...we were as we watched other races Saturday). You then brake hard for a sharp left hand turn , then a right turn, then another right hand turn. Depending on the traffic around you, your're shifting from 4th gear to 3rd gear then back to 4th gear, then back to 3rd gear if necessary, at least in our Spec Miata's you have to shif that many times.. At  this point the track turns sharply right, and I I  mean sharply, then sharply left and I mean sharply (we call this turn the octopus), others call it the Jersey Devil. Whatever they call it, the turns are tough because they lead to the longest acceleration zone. The acceleration zone is a few "S" turns and then a sweeping right turn down the front straight. That's a Lap on the Thunderbolt track in New Jersey.

Three of the PLANET MIATA team members had problems in this race . Marc got punted off the track and bent the rear fender. During a pit stop, Patch, the crew chief, had to pull the fender away from the tire. Marc finished second in class only nine seconds behind the first place car in his class. Marc also established a new track record during the race. After some 20 or so laps my transmission  jammed in 5th gear at the end of the front straight so I pulled in an escape road. I knew immediately I was done for the day.  Joe Diminno,  one of our team mates, pulled behind me as his car was over heating. The race went on for many more laps. Matt Rooke of Ridge Speed Racing beat Bob Driscoll of Autotechnic by a mere 2 seconds to win in the ITS class! Remember there were six different classes running all at the same time in this race. Bill Ball edged out Bob Nimkoff for the ITR class win. In Spec Miata (SM) it was Nick Leverone over Chris Kellett and Brian Cates. Brian's son was also racing that weekend at NJMP in the VW TDI Cup. In ITA it was Tim Kvana over a fast charging Marc Cefalo by 9 seconds. Ken Hubbard dueled Raymond Blethen IV for the ITB win, and Brian Heun won ITC  


At the end of the TeamDI Pro IT races on Saturday and Sunday there was a "Hot dog social" put on by the group. It was fun to get together and socialize for awhile. Darryl Anthony, Terry Hanushek, Brian Holtz of SCCA along with Bill Etherington all helped. Special THANKS to Bill Etherington for teching our cars Friday in the rain. We all thank you Bill. The best cook of the day was JD King, one of the race chairmans for the race. He even had his mom eating his cooking! Walt Huber and I had a review of his writing for the South Jersey SCCA newsletter appropriately called  POLE POSITION. Walt's column is called "Huber's HASH." He writes really well, not only is it informative but entertaining as well.

Planet MIata is back with the TeamDI pro IT Seris for the the final two rounds on October 16-18 at NJ Motorsport Park. Marc and some of the team will go to Road Atlanta in November while I do duty at the SEMA show in Las Vegas.

Cars, Cars, I can't get enough!

2009 Round 7 - New Jersey Motorsports Park

Sunday morning broke overcast but dry. There was no morning practice and all cars were gridded by 8:45 for the 9AM start. In honor of those who lost their lives on 9/11 every car made a pace lap with an American flag flying to show our respect and remembrance of our fallen comrades and heroes. The memories of Joe Deluca and Linda Gronlund who were longtime SCCA members, drivers and volunteers were on the minds of many during that parade lap.  Joe and Linda were both on Flight 93 where the passengers selflessly took heroic action that saved hundreds, if not thousands of lives.

A second warm-up lap was followed by the green flag. Eric King was on the pole in his ITS Mazda RX7 and had performed an outstanding qualifying effort in miserable conditions. I again started 46th with a new driver, Bill Ball running alongside me in an ITR M3 BMW. Bill took off and never looked back charging to the front to win ITR and nearly take the overall win, finishing 2nd to Matt Rooke in the Ridge Speed Racing ITS Mazda RX7. I finished 9th overall and 5th in class, passing 37 cars. I did have one off in the NJ Devil turn; the decreasing radius right hander is not a place to attempt an outside pass unless you wish to continue straight off the course for the wall!

Huge compliments to the drivers in the TeamDI Pro IT Series. There was not one major incident throughout the weekend and despite some incidental bumps and bangs, nobody had any major damage.  The series had a fantastic podium celebration on both days using the professional NJ Motorsports Park podium. Awards also included the beautiful Erin DeHaven, "Miss TeamDI," who presented the trophies and handed out TeamDI Pro IT programs to the onlookers. The end of the day festivities had just as much Champaign flying as the victory celebration by Patrick Long, Winner of the ARCA Re/Max race held only hours later.

Overall this had to be one of the most incredible race weekends I’ve attended. From the muck and mire on Friday to the victory celebrations Saturday and Sunday, right down to the ARCA race complete with flybys by stunt planes pluming smoke over the crowds of thousands – what an outstanding TeamDI Pro IT series event! I personally had some fun when I saw Matt Rooke and John Hansworth (who took a third place in ITS this weekend) standing before a huge grandstand packed with fans, waiting for the start of the ARCA race. I bellowed to the crowd that before them was the overall winner of the TeamDI Pro IT race and let’s give him a cheer! The stands responded with a hearty cry for Matt as he waived his cap to the fans! Congratulations to all the drivers, teams and sponsors.

2009 Round 6 - New Jersey Motorsports Park

It was a wet Friday morning qualifying for round 6 and 7 of the TeamDI Pro IT racing series.  It was raining hard as the cars took the grid for practice and it continued to rain throughout the day turning the paddock into a muddy quagmire. But that didn’t slow down the competition! The day was filled with great on track action by both the drivers in the TeamDI Pro IT series and the Jetta TDI Cup drivers also practiced and qualified in the wet. I will point out that no TeamDI Pro IT cars came in on the tow trucks while at least 3 or 4 TDI cars came in with heavy damage.

During the TeamDI Pro IT qualifying there were several interesting incidents that bear mentioning. The most spectacular was Ray Blethen coming into turn 1 in his ITS Porsche 944S and erupting into a fireball that stretched 20 feet behind the car! A rod bearing failure put a hole in the block of his 2.5 liter four cylinder causing the flames. Fortunately Ray was fine and parked the car safely out of the way for the rest of the session. The oil in turn 1 made for some excellent entertainment for those of us watching and many drivers got to experience what ice racing must feel like with many cars dancing through the rain and oil, fighting to keep it on the asphalt.

Saturdays practice was wet and I felt I had to take to the track. I hadn’t qualified as I didn’t have rain tires and none were available for sale at the track that fit my rims. Everybody behaved during the practice despite the wet and all cars were ready for the race. Nick Leverone was on the Pole with his SM Miata and proceeded to set a blistering pace while the rain drizzled. About halfway into the race the skies cleared and a dry line began to form. I had started in 46th position and had not worked my way through many cars, fighting the wet. Then a full course caution flew and bunched up the field. That and the dry line allowed me to spend the second half of the race running down cars to finish 12th overall and 3rd in ITR. Attrition in my class earned me the podium and I made no mistakes on the track. Matt Rooke in the Ridge Speed Racing ITS Mazda RX7 was the overall winner and took the lead from Autotechnic's Rob Driscoll with three laps to go in a hard fought and clean battle.

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