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2010 SARRC Invitational Challenge

Over the weekend of October 9-10 the BK Racing Team traveled to Roebling Road Raceway outside Savannah with one mission in mind – return the coveted SARRC GTA Championship trophy to its rightful home north of the Okefenokee Swamp.

Short story – despite the best efforts of the driver to mess things up the team prevailed and we are the 2010 SARRC GTA Champions!

And, for those who care, here’s the longer story.

The GTA class first became eligible for SARRC points in the 2006 racing season. That year Steve Magowen and I arrived at the annual SARRC Invitational Challenge (SIC) tied in points, so we knew whichever one of us finished ahead of the other would be the first-ever SARRC GTA Champion. We had one of the best races I’ve ever been in and I was fortunate to cross under the checkered flag 0.218 seconds (less than two car lengths) ahead of Steve. I also set the GTA track record on lap fourteen (of fifteen) at a 1:16.553 only to have Steve break it on the final lap with a 1:16.502. I wrote at the time that it was the most intense fifteen laps I’d ever spent in a race car and I have no reason to revise that even today.

In 2007 we repeated as GTA champions, but it was a very ugly victory. After qualifying third in class and tenth overall a rocker arm backed off during the race and left us running on (maybe) six cylinders. I wasn’t sure where I needed to finish in order to secure the championship, but I stayed out on the track (and out of people’s way) despite being over twenty seconds off the pace. It ends up our seventh place finish of the eight GTA cars was enough to win the championship by five points over Wayne Quick!

Our 2008 season was cut short by a wreck at the green flag at Road Atlanta in July and we sat out the 2009 SIC while repairing Cuervo after a wreck at Turn One (on lap one) at Mid-Ohio on August 1 of that year. The GTA title both those years went to South Florida’s Tony Amico in hard-fought battles with Jeff Bailey and Hollywood Graham.

This year I managed to keep from wrecking the car during the summer months and we carried a 23 point lead into the championship event. Unlike 2007 where I had no idea what we had to do, this year I calculated that if we finished in at least sixth place it didn’t matter what anyone else did. And since only six GTA cars showed up at Roebling, that essentially meant that if the driver didn’t screw up we’d be the first three-time SARRC GTA champions.

Qualifying is always a crapshoot but particularly so at Roebling because it’s so hard to pass anywhere but on the front straight. Harriett & Data helped me find a pretty clean spot during the first 20-minute session and I put down a solid but unspectacular 1:15.8 lap that was good for third in GTA and twelfth of the 29 cars in the session. The six GTA cars sorted out thusly: 

PIC

OA

Car No.

Color

Name

Best Lap

1

6

18

Yellow

Kurt Roehrig

1.13.984

2

7

7

Black/Red/Yellow

Hollywood Graham

1.14.050

3

10

57

Red

Butch Kummer

1.15.791

4

12

32

Black/Green

Bill Porter

1.16.461

5

14

21

Red

Randy Walker

1.16.728

6

15

95

Red/White

Jim Matheson

1.18.973

The V8 Stock Car series likes to have two races per weekend, so for the Big Noise group the afternoon’s fifteen minute session becomes a ten lap race instead. Finishing order in that race means nothing in determining grid order for the championship race, but if you turn a faster lap during that race then you CAN move up in the grid order. The track generally slows down as the day gets warmer plus there’s the added chance of getting caught up in someone else’s mess, so Jim and I both opted to sit out the second session on Saturday. It ends up that was probably a good idea because Kurt & Hollywood got together in Turn Four and I could very well have been in the middle of that. I’m not saying it was a bad wreck, but Kurt’s LF tire left a mark on Hollywood’s windshield(!) and every body panel except the roof was damaged on the #7 car. Amazingly both cars finished the race plus Hollywood set a new GTA record (which must be set during a race, not a qualifying session) at a 1:15.144. Some of the cars did improve their times and Kurt was moved to the back of the GTA field due to initiating the contact with Hollywood in Turn Four. Here’s how we lined up for Sunday: 

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OA

Car No.

Color

Name

Best Lap

1

6

7

Black/Red/Yellow

Hollywood Graham

1.14.050

2

11

57

Red

Butch Kummer

1.15.791

3

13

21

Red

Randy Walker

1.16.344

4

14

32

Black/Green

Bill Porter

1.16.461

5

15

95

Red/White

Jim Matheson

1.18.973

6

16

18

Yellow

Kurt Roehrig

 no time

The team discussed our approach to Sunday’s race during a focused strategy session at the Shell House on Saturday evening. Data would call the green and give me lap times from the front straight while Harriett would station herself between Turns Three and Four to report any “changes in track conditions” that might occur. We’re coming around Turn Three at over 125 mph, so it’s GOOD to know if somebody is sitting crossways to the track at the entrance to Turn Four! Data would let me know when we completed lap ten (thus making us an official finisher) and we’d decide what to do from there. All the driver had to do was not run off the road or into anyone and we’d be partying in downtown Metter on the way home on Sunday night. <g>

I got a pretty good start and passed two GT-2 cars into Turn One, so I was ninth overall and second in GTA as we finished lap one. I had a pretty good run on Bob Mayer’s STO Corvette and was feeling a little racy at that point, but when Bob moved right to defend his position into Turn One it brought me back to the task at hand. I was still in second place and could see Hollywood just in front of Bob as we finished lap two, but I didn’t need to be racing anyone at that point. I waved the two GT-2 cars (Bob Humphreys and Richard Smith) plus Kurt by on lap three, then put the Barry Manilow tape in the 8-track and set Cuervo on cruise control. Randy caught up with me on lap four so I waved him by the next lap, I waved Kurt by again (apparently he got tagged in the rear while checking up for traffic in Turn One and did some auditioning for a John Deere commercial) on lap eight, then let Bill go by on lap ten. That left me fifth in class and thirteenth overall at that point.

I turned the wick up a bit after completing lap eleven and being sure we had secured the title. I maintained about a two second gap to Bill but then got caught in some traffic coming onto the front straight that he got by cleanly. I turned my best lap of the race on lap 14 while catching my buddy Jeff Bailey, then the next lap through Turn Three I almost lost it and had to put two wheels in the dirt to save it. I thought there was some trash on the track (left over from the incident that had Richard Smith sitting on TOP of the tires close to the paddock fence) but after the race we found out Jeff was puking rear end lube. Regardless, I backed off and cruised home.

It ends up I had missed a pretty exciting race. Harriett was busy telling me about cars off the track and spinning so I knew there was a lot of action going on, but I did my best to have a leisurely Sunday afternoon drive. Hollywood took the GTA win with Bob Mayer, Bob Humphreys, and Kurt within three seconds of him. Randy held on for third in GTA but had Bill only .3 seconds back. Kurt came from the back twice to finish second in class and broke the day old GTA track record as well. All six GTA cars finished on the same lap and were separated by less than fifty seconds overall. That’s not a big deal for Spec Miatas (well, other than everyone finishing), but it speaks well for the competitiveness of our class. The final order at the checkers:

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OA

Car No.

Color

Name

MOV

Best Lap

1

6

7

Black/Red/Yellow

Hollywood Graham

--.---

1.16.072

2

9

18

Yellow

Kurt Roehrig

2.449

1.15.042

3

10

21

Red

Randy Walker

10.335

1.16.298

4

11

32

Black/Green

Bill Porter

0.287

1.15.476

2

13

57

Red

Butch Kummer

9.269

1.16.293

5

15

95

Red/White

Jim Matheson

16.040

1.18.315

After everyone made it through Impound the final point totals were tallied up. There will be six GTA awards given out at the SEDiv Awards Banquet at Jekyll Island in January, but the top ten after the dust settled follow:

10

Mark Tcherkezian

North Carolina

ASA

53

9

Preston Fowler

North Carolina

ASA

57

8

Bobby Reuse

Alabama

LMS

68

7

BJ Holley

Georgia

LMS

81

6

Hall Robertson

Florida

LMS

105

5

Jim Matheson

Georgia

ASA

118

4

Bill Porter

South Carolina

LMS

138

3

Kurt Roehrig

North Carolina

LMS

152

2

Tom Graham

Florida

ASA

161

1

BK Racing

Georgia

ASA

164

The next event for BK Racing is the ARRC by GRM at Road Atlanta the weekend of Nov 4-7. We’ll have two qualifying sessions on Friday (the second on being a 6-lap V8StockCar race) and the 20-lap Championship race (also the V8SC Finale’) on Saturday, then those that want to get to head home on Sunday. We’ve averaged over twenty GTA cars at the ARRC the past three years, so it really ought to be a good show. What I CAN guarantee is that we’ll loaded for bear and I will NOT be waving people by as I try and cruise to a finish! <g>

As always, if you want any information about our upcoming events just let me know.

Remaining Events on our 2010 Schedule:

  • Nov 5-7         ARRC by GRM, Road Atlanta, Gainesville GA
  • Nov 13-14     Roebling Track Trials, Savannah GA

See y’all at the track…