Rains Influence SCCA Mid-States Majors
DECATUR, Texas – The rains had gone away, but then came back again on Saturday at Eagles Canyon for round three of the Mid-States Conference U.S. Majors Tour in time to postpone the final race of the day.
Five of the six race groups ran 25 minute timed races on the afternoon under a mix of sunshine and spring storms. The Formula F, Formula 500, and Formula Vee race will run at 8 a.m. on Sunday morning, followed by the regularly schedule warm-ups and Sunday races.
The largest group of the day was the opener, and the field watched Matt Reynolds’ E Production No. 71 Reynolds Brothers Racing/Jesse Prather Motorsports Mazda Miata walk away for the overall win, with Steven Coleman’s Touring 2 No. 25 RaceAwayCancer Ford Mustang in second overall.
Both the F Production and the H Production race winners inherited victory following bad luck. James Rogerson’s No. 66 MSRExperience/Over 50 Racing Honda Civic right front tire went flat, erasing his sizeable lead and handing that title to Randall Smart’s No. 109 Fiat X19. Bill Hingston’s No. 08 Little Bill Racing/Jesse Prather Motorsports Mazda Miata F Production lead evaporated in a literal puff of smoke and the loss of a transmission down the back straight, handing the race win to Paul Jensen’s No. 88 Hoosier Tire Mazda Miata.
The rain began to fall as the Spec Racer Ford field sat on grid. Too late to change tires, the field tiptoed around the 2.55-mile circuit in the pouring rain.
The No. 4 Lightspeed Motorsports Spec Racer of Denny Stripling and the No. 69 Apex Driving Academy Spec Racer Ford of Keith Verges were the first to the fast right-handed turn nine, drifting sideways through the turn on the opening lap and setting the tone for the race.
Gary Glanger’s No 18 Busybody Fitness Equipment machine took the lead on lap two through the wet, but that went away with a spin of his own in turn nine. Stripling spun on lap four and fell back to fourth, and on lap five, Darryl Wills’ No. 2 Hillenburg Motorsports machine moved to the lead.
Wills and Verges slowly worked away from Stripling and Glanger, with the latter two swapping positions at least one more time when Verges spun again through the fast, downhill turn four. While Wills held the lead over Verges while the rain stopped to the checkered flag, Stripling moved back around Glanger for the final podium position.
While the rain ended before the start of the big bore Group Three race, the wet track left drivers with decisions to make. The top three qualifiers of the GT-1 class chose slicks as their race tire, while the top qualifying GT-2 machines elected to use treaded tires.
While it seemed like a key decision to make, it turned out not to matter. Gregg Rodgers moved his GT-2 No. 33 Pinnacle Autosports Chevrolet Camaro to the front of the field on the start, no doubt boosted by a late green flag and his treaded tires. Rodgers moved well out in front through the early stages of the race, while GT-1 competitors David Fershtand (No. 05 Fershtand Race Prepared Chevrolet Corvette) and Tom Smith (No. 62 Alpha Clea Chevrolet Camaro) battled through the wet track.
Even on the rain tires, Rodgers continued to pick up his pace through the mid-point of the race, but the slicks and horsepower of the GT-1 machines thundered into the overall lead on lap eight. Smith had lost the lead to polesitter Fershtand on lap four, but had stolen it back just before the pass for the overall lead.
With Fershtand filling his mirrors, Smith kept the lead to the finish and took home the top trophy. Rodgers stayed in front of his class competition for the win.
The STU battle was decided on the final lap after Rogerson, whose hard luck cost the early H Production race, and Matt Blehm battled back and forth. Rogerson’s No. 1 MSRExperience/Over 50 Racing Pontiac Solstice ran off track on the final lap, opening the door for Blehm’s No. 48 Hawk Performance/BFGoodrich Tires Nissan 240SX to take the checkers.
Brian Wisler ran away from the Spec Miata field on the dry track, leaving a pack of seven cars behind to settle the podium positions. Wisler’s No. 59 XFactor Racing Miata moved 7.751-seconds ahead of the field to claim his victory.
With Wisler gone, a line seven deep chased each other around the track. The line of cars disappeared from race controls view on the final lap, and emerged spaced out and in a different order. E Production winner Reynolds moved his No. 74 Reynolds Brothers Racing Miata to the head of that line, followed by Craig Janssen’s No. 32 Miata and Verges’ No. 61 Apex Driving Academy Miata.
Wills got his second win of the day, this time in Formula Mazda, but it was even more treacherous than his Spec Racer Ford run. The rain started to fall midway through the race, after Wills have dropped his No. 1 Hillenburg Motorsports Formula Mazda to sixth overall and fifth in class on the opening lap.
Wills climbed back through the field as the rain started to fall, slicing around Eagles Canyon and extending his lead. By the finish, however, the rains were hard enough that each car was in survival mode. Wills dropped 10 seconds, then 20, and finally a full 50 seconds slower than his quickest lap on the final race laps to the checkered flag.
The postponed Group Six race will open Sunday at 8:00 a.m. at Eagles Canyon Raceway, followed by the round four races as scheduled. The Sunday weather forecast calls for cooler but dry temperatures in the area.