2002 * Event 1
* Event 2
* Event 3
* Event 4
* Event 5
* Event 6
* Event 7
* Event 8
* Event 9
* Event 10
* Bonus * Top 4 * Final Standings
Ellis Gray wins the 2002 Cartek Corvette Challenge Event 8
The 8th and final points event of the 2002 schedule was held on Saturday October 26, 2002.
The forecast was for rain Friday night and all day Saturday. The goal was not only to
compete for an eliminator win, but to also crown a champion for the 2002. The weather
changed quickly and the rain ended early Saturday morning and Old Bridge Township Raceway Park pulled
out the jet dryer to give the drivers a field to settle all positions. The turnout for the
event was 57 cars which is down from previous events but spectacular considering the
dreary looking day.
|Event 8 Winner Ellis Gray
|Bob Trieschmann, runner-up John Panuzzo, winner Ellis Gray
and John Mackey
Ellis Gray was determined to win as he not only raced in the Challenge but also in the
Real Street class. Ellis was on the money going 3 rounds in Real Street and more
importantly winning the 6 rounds needed to become the third Corvette Challenge rookie this
year to win an event. Gray was on his dial tonight running within .01 of his number twice
in the 6 rounds. Gray won the event without the benefit of a bye run. The final put Gray
against seasoned racer and Top 10 hopeful John Panuzzo. As the drivers pulled up to
the tree and staged official realized that Gray's dial was WAY off what it should have
been. So the track officials held the drivers while the dial is fixed. Unfortunately this
lead to an extremely uncharacteristic .957 light for Panuzzo. Panuzzo could not recover
from the poor light as Gray, with a spectacular .547 light, took the win for his first
CCC eliminator win and second overall of his young bracket racing career. Panuzzo, not
sure at the time, had already clinched a Top 8 spot earning a jacket for the second year
in a row.
Ralph Savarese is our Points Champion for 2002
Ralph Savarese came out on top today as the second ever Title Champion. Going into the
event, three drivers had a chance to win the championship. Ralph Savarese came in holding
the number 1 position, with Edgar Perez in second back by 1 point and Rob Farley in third
behind Perez by 2. Farley was in the first pair out on the track for first round. He cut a
fair light at .597 and had the advantage over John Policastro, Saddle River, NJ. Farley's
car did him in for the second event in a row (see Event 7
results here) as he could not run the number and Policastro took the win running
12.966 on a 12.95 dial. Earlier in the day both Farley and Policastro participated in the
morning EFI shootout and each went to the finals in their respective classes (Corvette
Challenge racers had a sweep in the EFI session as Corky Heisler also went to the finals
in his class). Unfortunately neither did win there EFI class. Farley did not advance in
the Championship points title but did earn the Rookie of the Year title.
|2002 Points Champion
|2002 Points Champion Ralph Savarese
Now it is down to Savarese and Perez. Perez can take the Championship by just winning
one more round than Savarese as he held the tie breaker advantage with 2 eliminator wins
this year to Savarese's 1. Savarese hit the track first of the two and showed he was ready
for the title cutting a round best .516 light winning the RT trophy and the round easily
as his opponent only faired a .770 light. Perez now had the pressure on him to keep pace.
It did not look good for Perez as Cliff Shemeley, East Rutherford, NJ, clicked off a .538
light advantage to a .570. But Perez pulled it out running 12.09 on a 12.05 dial and
taking the stripe by .0139.
Round 2 came and it was Perez first on the track this time facing Frank Schear, Lake
wood, NJ. Again the pressure was on Perez as Savarese's 1st round .516 light had earned
him a bye for round two. Schear got the head start with a 13.10 dial and he too was trying
for a spot in the Top 10. He pushed the tree too hard going red with .417. Perez seeing
the red before his tree finish simply took a time shot running 12.10 on a 12.05.
Round 3 and the ladder was set but we would not see Savarese vs. Perez. Instead we
would see Perez, against Chris Young, Carmel, NY. Oh, by the way, Chris happens to be
Savarese's nephew who just bought a beautiful 1994 Quasar Blue Corvette Coupe to race with
his cousin and close friend Panuzzo in the Challenge. Young, a seasoned racer winning
several Import events at Old Bridge
Township Raceway Park, was in a new car and found himself in the spoiler role to try
to help his uncle Savarese. Perez was not having any of that as it was a date with
Savarese that he was looking for and hit the tree with a .557 and packaged that with a
12.056 on a 12.05 dial. Young couldn't pull it through for Ralph. Now it was Savarese who
was feeling the pressure as he would have to win to regain the lead. Savarese would have
to face another Top 10 hopeful in Bob Hollingshead. Bob gave it everything he had but
handed Savarese the win going a very close to perfect .494 light. Savarese took the time
shot running a spectacular 11.789 on a 11.79 dial.
Round 4 and still no Savarese vs. Perez. However, if both drivers win this round, the
ladder would pin them together in the next round. Savarese hit the track first against yet
another Top 10 hopeful Jim Kovitch, Blauvelt, NY. Kovitch put Savarese in a situation he
did want to be when he left the starting with a .046 reaction time advantage. Savarese
dialed down from prior run to 11.78 had to stay in it breaking out with an 11.746 as
Kovitch clinched a Top 10 spot with a 13.244 on a 13.22 dial. The pressure again shifts to
Perez. Perez this time would be pinned up against a close personal friend and fellow club
member of the Corvette Club of Delaware Valley (www.ccdv.com). As the friend asked Perez with help on the dial, Perez had to
respectfully decline this time as it would be too difficult having to face him in this
round. Perez had faced this opponent on three other occasions this year and had been on
the short end all three times. Perez taking the advantage at the tree, .587 to .617 would
have judge the top end. At what had to be the 1300' mark, Perez makes the pass and tiny
tap of the brake was not enough. Perez loses the race by a tiny three thousandths (.003)
running 12.047 on the same 12.05 dial. His opponent, event winner, Ellis Gray finished his
run with a 12.192 on a 12.19 dial.
For the second year the points championship has gone down to the final race (2001 final here) in the late rounds. We look forward to another
great points championship points race next year. However we still have two more non-points
races to run this year yet on 11/2 and 11/9.
Congratulations to the Top 10 finishers
38 drivers came in hopeful of finishing in the Top 10. Aside from personal gratification
for finishing in the Top 10 these drivers also earn cash and prizes (prizes listed here). Only the top 4 drivers were assured of a Top 10
finish so there was to be some racing for the other 6 spots. I will not cover every single
race as you have seen much of it in the preceding paragraphs. The big news is as mentioned
above, John Panuzzo's runner up finish and Jim Kovitch's semi final finish secured them
spots on the Top 10 with Panuzzo in the Top 8 earning a jacket and Kovitch in 9th. The
unfortunate drivers to fall out of the Top 10 were John Mackey and Mike Carr. Of special
note is that Artie Sabatino finish with the same number of points as 10th spot Jack
Schwarzwalder(20) but finishes out of the Top 10 because Schwarzwalder wins the tie
breaker by being in a higher position longer this season. A complete list of the Final Standing for the 2002 season can be seen here.
In the A for effort category, David Hollingshead, Clark, NJ, was scheduled to fly out
of town before today's event. Since David was in the hunt for Top 10 finish, he arrange to
have his flight schedule rearranged so that he can fly out after the event at a whopping
cost of over $700. We applaud David for his effort and though he finished a few spots out
of the Top 10 he did win bragging rights in the family as he finishes 1 point ahead of
Awards for the season will be handed out to the drivers at our first annual Corvette
Challenge Awards banquet. The Banquet will be held on Saturday January 11, 2002 at Freehold Gardens in Freehold,
NJ. Banquet tickets were on sale today and will also be on sale an each of the last
two events of 2002. Should you not be able to make it to track, you can purchase ticket
from John Mackey by contacting him at email@example.com. The plan calls for a 7 PM
cash bar reception followed by a buffet dinner and full awards ceremony. Awards will be
given to the Top 10 finishers and some additional awards will be given out at the event as
well. For those that travel a fair distance, reduced rate rooms have been blocked off for
you. John Mackey will give you the details and costs.
Today's event featured 57 cars making first round. Although the points season is over,
the following two weeks will feature Cartek Corvette Challenge events on Saturday November
2, 2002 and again on Saturday November 9, 2002. Each event will have the gates open at 9
Some statistics from Corvette Challenge Event 8
|(above) dial-in times for 1st round.
Congratulations to the drivers that made the ladder in round 3. Making the ladder means
each driver won 2 rounds. This week's ladder featured 15 drivers of which 5 were in their
first ladder of the season. Again you can see how this series is open to all to win. Good
Cash and Prizes awarded drivers courtesy of our sponsors.
- Event winner Ellis Gray went home with $200 cash and gift certificates for a free
dyno tuning session at Cartek Racing and a $100 gift certificate from Pro Torque and the Event Winner Shore Motorsports sponsored
Trophy. Shore Motorsports is located in Howell, NJ and can be reached at 732-370-2067 or
on the web at www.shoremotorsports.com. Cartek Racing is in Garwood, NJ and can be
reached at 908-317-4496 or on the web at www.cartek.net.
- Runner-up John Panuzzo went home with $100 cash, a $50 gift certificate from Pro
Torque, the "Money Back Runner Up Award" for $20 cash from Boweryboy Racing and the
event Runner-up Vette Doctors sponsored Trophy. The Vette Doctors are located in
Amityville, NY and can be reached at 631-841-0779 or on the web at www.thevettedoctors.com. Pro
Torque, in Bohemia, NY can be found at www.protorque.com or by calling 631-218-8700.
- The two semi-finalist, Jim Kovitch and Vic Gandhi won $50 cash.
- All winners of the first round were awarded a trophy sponsored by CFM Racing. With 57 cars making 1st round Chris Coriell, Frank Schear, (Mr Mojo) and Mike Moran gave out 29 trophies.
- Jesse Azzato, St. Mary's, PA, won the Closest to Dial Award sponsored by
Walden Farms by running a 12.803 on a 12.01 dial. Although Azzato broke out, he still
won as his opponent broke out by more. Unfortunately, Azzato's prize consisting of a
beautiful gift package from Walden Farms filled with low calorie low carbohydrate
products. You can purchase Walden Farms products at local grocery stores or on the web
- Tony Buonassisi, Jamison, PA
(pictured here on left with fellow club members, Ellis Gray and Edgar Perez) won the "Ohh
so Close Award" sponsored by Zaino when he was edged out in the 1st round by the smallest margin of victory.
Of special note, this year Tony now needs only win the Best RT trophy to complete a
sweep for the season of the 1st round prizes having already won the Almost Perfect and
Closest to Dial Award this year. That number is the MOV number on your time slip.
Although he lost in the 1st round by the smallest Margin of Victory of just .0039 earned
him a Zaino starter package
that includes Z1, Z2, Z6, Z7 and a polish pad. Zaino products can be purchased online at www.zainobros.com or at Shore Motorsports
on Route 9 in Howell.
- Corky Heisler, Pittsburgh, PA, won the Almost Perfect Award sponsored by Roybuilt
Racing when he took himself out in the 1st round with the red light closest to .500.
Heisler's light was .497 and for that he earned a $50 gift certificate to the Raceway
Park Souvenir store donated by Roy Johnson of Roybuilt
Racing. Heisler complete the finals sweep of the Corvette Challenge racers in the
morning EFI shootout as he also went to the finals in the his class (slick).
- Ralph Savarese, Mahopac, NY, won the "John Panuzzo Jr. Memorial Trophy" donated by
Team Panuzzo Racing for the best winning reaction time
in the 1st round. Savarese's was quickest on the tree in the 1st round when his RT was
.516 taking the win easily and it earned him a second round bye as well.
Bob Sebrowski's photos | Edgar's pictures
We couldn't do it without our sponsors
The Corvette Challenge gives thanks to all of its supporting sponsors for whom without
this series cannot be possible. Thanks go out to
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