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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

Event 8 Winner Ellis Gray
Bob Trieschmann, runner-up John Panuzzo, winner Ellis Gray and John Mackey
Bob Trieschmann, runner-up John Panuzzo, winner Ellis Gray and John Mackey
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.

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

2002 Points Champion
2002 Points Champion Ralph Savarese
2002 Points Champion Ralph Savarese
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.

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 brother Bob.

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 johnmackey@corvettechallenge.info. 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 AM .

Some statistics from Corvette Challenge Event 8

Time # % Ladder for Event 8 featured Matt Cornelison, David Hollingshead, Al Conner, Chris Young, Vic Gandhi, Ralph Savarese, Aaron Askenback, Ellis Gray, Jim Kovitch, John Panuzzo, Edgar Perez, Mike Erickson, Bob Hollingshead, Art Sabatino, Mike Boniface
10 1 2%
11 5 9%
12 22 39%
13 22 39%
14 7 12%
Total 57 100%
(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 job drivers.

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 at www.waldenfarms.com.
  • Ohh so Close Award of Zaino productsTony 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.

Multimedia

Bob Sebrowski's photos | Edgar's pictures

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