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ARRC – Nov. 9-11, 2001

The first events I ever saw at Road Atlanta were the SCCA National Championship races in November of 1971. That weekend was then known as the American Road Race of Champions and featured the best amateur drivers from all over the country in a "winner-take-all" race to determine the National Champion in each class. That event, now officially titled the Valvoline Runoffs, moved to the Mid-Ohio Sports Car Course in 1994. To fill an obvious void, Atlanta Region resurrected the ARRC name and began hosting "winner-take-all" championship races for non-National classes in November of 1994. Since we chose not to take the B.K. Racing Corvette to Mid-Ohio for the Runoffs, we decided the ARRC would become the final event of our 2001 racing season. Thirty years after seeing my first race at Road Atlanta, I was actually racing in the American Road Race of Champions on those same hallowed grounds.

Since the ARRC is for classes not eligible for National championships, we had to modify the car somewhat to make it illegal for GT-1 (and thus legal for Super Production). Since the rules will allow 13" wide rear wheels next year instead of the current maximum of 12", we bolted on a set to see if the performance increase was worth the extra 50 pounds they would require. By being underweight for GT-1, we were now eligible for the basically unlimited SPO (the "O" stands for "over 2000 cc") class.

We ran along with the ITE and TCC classes in the sixth of seven groups that qualified on Friday and raced on Saturday. Given the "run whatcha brung and hope you brung enough" nature of the class, there was a wide variety of vehicles that made up the seventeen SPO cars (of 31 total) that took to the track the first day. Although I spun coming out of Turn Five on lap 4 and then had the muffler come loose near the end of the first session, we still managed to run faster than we did last June and took the pole position. The starting grid:

Pos

No.

Driver

Make

Best Lap

1

57

Butch Kummer

Corvette

1.30.884

2

8

Joe Hooker

Grand Prix

1.31.383

3

29

Bob Humphreys

Grand Prix

1.34.457

4

51

Brandon Collins

Monte Carlo

1.35.518

5

19

Michael Seivers

Monte Carlo

1.37.734

6

34

David Barr

Panoz GTS

1.38.485

7

35

Charles Cawley

Panoz GTS

1.38.988

8

20

Charlie Moseley

Corvette

1.39.102

9

49

Dan Shaver

Pontiac Sunfire

1.39.903

10

4

Brian Haupt

Monte Carlo

1.39.921

11

16

Bob Mayer

Ferrari 355

1.40.261

12

6

Kemp Heumann

Datsun 240-Z

1.41.299

13

33

John Sturm

Porsche 911

1.41.390

14

18

Meredith Haupt

Monte Carlo

1.41.615

15

97

Dainton Brooks

Mustang

1.44.989

16

0

Dale Caldwell

Rotary 510

1.46.444

17

9

Dennis Rigdon

Camaro

no time

In talking with Joe Hooker it became evident he was more concerned about the guys behind him than with catching me (he had used soft qualifying tires the first session and knew they wouldn’t last 20 laps, so he changed back to the harder compund for the race). As we prepped the car for the race the mindset changed from "find the ragged edge" to "don’t blow it". It musta worked.

Although I led from the start, it took four pace laps before we saw the green flag waved. Seems that Dan Shaver was warming the tires on his Pontiac just after leaving pit road, lost it and hit the wall just past Turn One. All I knew is that the crew was telling me that we were NOT going green, then I got around to Turn Three and saw Dan’s disabled car parked in an impact zone. We continued under caution for three more laps while the emergency crews cleared the track.

Once we got the green, I jumped into the lead at the first turn and never looked back. After I got some distance on Joe the race was fairly uneventful and I concentrated on staying out of trouble and working lapped traffic. Both those tasks were helped immensely by having Marshall Aiken (2001 SARRC CFC champion) with a radio in Turns 6 & 7, Duane Neyer with a radio at 11, then crew chief Mike Eakin on the front straight. They were my "eyes" and let me know if something was happening on the track or if I was catching particularly slow traffic. And with the Shafer Enterprises Kool Shirt working flawlessly my ride was something akin to a drive around I-285 (albeit at twice the posted speed limit). All I was missing was the Boston CD!

Bottom line is that we led every lap, set fastest race lap at a 1.32.051 (although the on-board computer and the crew had me in the 31’s three different times), lapped all but the second place car and finished with a 1:03.632 margin of victory. I think the transponders may have some problems since Joe hung with me for the first few laps before he ran out of brakes on lap 7 (so I know he had a better lap than listed), but the official results follow:

Pos

No.

Driver

Make

# Laps

Best Lap

1

57

Butch Kummer

Corvette

20

1.32.051

2

51

Brandon Collins

Monte Carlo

20

1.36.237

3

20

Charlie Moseley

Corvette

19

1.39.128

4

19

Michael Seivers

Monte Carlo

19

1.38.713

5

34

David Barr

Panoz GTS

19

1.38.907

6

16

Bob Mayer

Ferrari 355

19

1.38.402

7

4

Brian Haupt

Monte Carlo

19

1.40.592

8

18

Meredith Haupt

Monte Carlo

19

1.40.226

9

33

John Sturm

Porsche 911

19

1.41.238

10

6

Kemp Heumann

Datsun 240-Z

19

1.42.125

11

97

Dainton Brooks

Mustang

18

1.45.805

12

9

Dennis Rigdon

Camaro

16

1.41.763

dnf

29

Bob Humphreys

Grand Prix

9

1.35.341

dnf

0

Dale Caldwell

Rotary 510

8

1.44.833

dnf

35

Charles Cawley

Panoz GTS

8

1.41.756

dnf

8

Joe Hooker

Grand Prix

7

2.13.178

dnf

49

Dan Shaver

Pontiac Sunfire

0

no time

 

Harriett got to ride with me on the victory lap, I was interviewed over the PA in victory circle, I got to spray champagne on the podium and I even got interviewed for an article in SportsCar (the SCCA’s national publication). I remembered to thank my sponsors and crew, but what I forgot to do was get them around the car for photos. I guess that means we’ll have to do this again.

See you at the track…