NOVEMBER 4, 2013

What a great first year it was with the F600 Challenge. Chris Ross had this to say about our final race of the year:

Wow! What an incredible weekend and wrap up of the inaugural season of the F600 Challenge. Weather started out great on Thursday for the test day with about 1/2 of the field participating. Thursday night the rain moved in making for a very wet 1st qualifying season. About 1/2 the field went out for qualifying and the other half took a gamble that the rain would clear out by lunch time for a dry afternoon Q2. The wet weather in Q1 unfortunately claimed the car of George Fox when the tail got away from him under braking going into turn 10a. The car went off track backwards drivers left and hit a concrete barrier on the inside of 10a. The rear frame of the car was bent ending George Fox’s weekend early. The weather did clear out by lunch time and we had a dry track for the afternoon qualifying session. George Bugg had to leave the track at lunch time to make it home in time for his son’s football game so he was unable to hit the track for Q2 and would have to stand on his wet Q1 time. Jason Fitzpatrick also elected not to run Q2 and spend the time fixing a suspension issue. The other 8 F600’s hit the track for a dry qualifying session. Clint McMahan took both class and overall pole with a 1:32.3 with the new Scorpion chassis. Matt was not far behind trying to take the fight to Clint for the final points battle.

The final grid for Saturday’s split start was:

  1. Clint McMahan
  2. Matt Strand
  3. Fred Edwards
  4. Chris Ross
  5. Tom Edwards
  6. Ted Simmons
  7. Ken Van Horn
  8. Jason Fitzpatrick
  9. George Bugg
  10. Carl Maier

After a long morning group 5 came down to the grid for the start of the race after lunch. We were held on grid for a long time and warned about a Trans Am car dumping the entire contents of his engine 1/2 the length of the back straight away right on the racing line all the way down into 10a. The track did their best to clean it up, but it was a mess. With the split start the F600 Challenge was able to take the lead behind the pace car with 10 cars ready to take the green flag. Unfortunately, pole sitter Clint McMahan had an engine issue and pulled off immediately before the back straight and took his car back to the paddock. As the pack came onto the back straight it quickly became apparent that the oil on the track was worse than we feared. There was no way to take the normal racing line through 10a. There was just enough room to squeeze by the start of the oiled track at the kink on the far left. This let you get down the back straight away without having to risk crossing the oiled track and coating your tires before the braking zone. As you approached 10a you could move back to about center track for the braking zone. This was going to really hamper passing attempts into 10a for all except the most daring moves. As we came down the hill the green flag dropped and the race was on. I got a great start was was able to slide by Fred on drivers right coming onto the front straight. I had a bit of a run on Matt too, but not enough to get by cleanly by turn 1 so I tucked in behind him. Matt quickly started pulling a gap on me so I just concentrated on running clean consistent laps. It didn’t take long though before the familiar orange car of Tom Edwards was filling my mirrors. We went most of the race with the gap between us opening and closing. The first double yellow came out early into the race to remove George Bugg’s car from the rumble strips at the entrance of 12 due to a suspension failure which ended his race. This closed up the gap between me and Matt, but he had just lapped an FV when the double yellow came out so that would complicate the restart and give Tom right behind me an advantage. The green flag was thrown pretty early coming down the hill and Matt pulled away and luckily for me the FV stayed drivers left and let me slide by on the inside starting the accordion battle with Tom again. This went on for a bit longer when another double yellow came out due to a FC that spun out and high sided the car on the apex curbing drivers left at the start of the Esses. This again put me on Matt’s tail and Tom on mine. The restart was clean with another fairly early green flag. I quickly had a pair of the leading FF on my tail. Not wanting to hinder their battle or risk getting taken out I pointed them by as we approached the front straight. Not sure who was driving it, but it was a beautiful red Fit powered car that went flying off the track at full speed drivers left in turn 1 just in front of me. Car threw up a huge debris cloud ultimately hitting the wall with just a couple of laps to go. Fortunately the driver was unhurt. I fully expected another double yellow due to the location of the FF, but they let us finish the race. Right behind the two FF were one or two FC’s which Tom had let by. This ended up giving me a little bit of breathing room for the last couple of laps to finish the race cleanly in 2nd place and Tom in 3rd place to round out the podium. Jason Fitzpatrick and Carl Maier both pulled into the pits early. Jason had a suspected bearing failure on the jack shaft. I’m not sure what the issue was with Carl. Overall this was the most fun I have ever had racing. I have met some really great friends running the F600 Challenge and look forward to next year. We have a great schedule put together for next year and it looks like we will have around twice as many cars competing next year.

Race Final Results:

  1. Matt Strand
  2. Chris Ross
  3. Tom Edwards
  4. Fred Edward
  5. Ted Simmons
  6. Ken Van Horn
  7. Carl Maier
  8. Jason Fitzpatrick
  9. George Bugg
  10. Clint McMahan