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2003   *  Event 1   *  Event 2   *  Event 3   *  Event 4   *  Event 5   *  Event 6   *  Event 7   *  Event 8   *  Event 9   *  Event 10   *  Event 11 * 2003 Standings

Joe Blass wins the 1st Event of 2003 East Coast Supercharging Corvette Challenge

Event 1 Winner Joe Blass (center)
Event 1 Winner Joe Blass (center) is flanked by John Mackey and Bob Trieschmann on the left and Runner-up Mike Erickson (immediate right) and Dennis Kazimir.
After the long hard winter we suffered in the Northeast, many wondered if we would be able to get our first event off on March 22, 2003. Oh but spring finally made and brought us bright sunny skies and temperatures close to 70. But the day was most bright for Joe Blass who took his first East Coast Supercharging Corvette Challenge eliminator win and for runner-up Mike Erickson who made it to his first final. For Blass it was his first Corvette Challenge Eliminator final as well. Erickson would get to start with a 12.80 dial against Blass' 12.20. Erickson left a little too early going red .495 giving the win to Joe Blass. Blass drives a 1995 Doug Rippie Motorsports (DRM) 383 450 package Black 1995 Corvette Coupe. After working through some problems over the last few years the car is finally running very well. Hard work and obviously some luck along the way helped out. Blass won 7 rounds without the benefit of a competition bye which means he had to earn them all. The car spent the day dialed low twelves in weather that was not great for racing. Blass was taken by surprise by the $250 cash payout he earned and after words said, "I would like to thank my wife, Jeanne as she is the most supportive woman I have ever known". She pit crews for Joe and including help getting the Vette in the trailer. Friend Peter Hoffman, who has five Corvettes of his own, also helped out with the Blass team pit duties.

Joe Blass lives and breathes Corvettes. He has 3 Corvettes in his stable. In addition to his DRM 450, he also has a 2000 Torch Red Fixed Roof Coupe with a The Vette Doctors Rx 450 package and a 2002 Electron Blue Z06 which he is beginning to add modifications to now. The 95 is the one he "loves the most" as it is the one that is most consistent and brought him his 1st Corvette Challenge win. Blass is a member of the First Capital Corvette Club, Kingston, NY named after New York's first Capital. To support the Corvette hobby Joe owns Superior Roofing, Saugerties, NY,which is a commercial and industrial roofing company serving NY and NJ.

Joe previously won the eliminator in the 1999 East Coast Show & Go and was runner-up in the 1997 Lebanon Valley Corvette Day.

Mike Erickson and his 99 Corvette Runner-up Mike Erickson has been to a few events in the past but has never had the success he had today. Mike made it to his first final. Mike's 99 Silver Corvette is easily recognizable with the graphics package on the car. Mike is an avid road racer as well and has made the trek to numerous road courses including the infield course at Pocono International Speedway. What is more amazing about that is that Erickson's C5 is a automatic transmission car proving to all Corvette enthusiasts that even A4's can handle the "twisties". Unfortunately for Mike he left just a little early on the tree with a .495 light. His package would have been deadly as he ran just .03 over his dial. Erickson would to gives thanks to "the Corvette Challenge for bringing together a bunch of great corvette people". In addition his Corvette is sponsored by Intrepid Improvements, his business, which supports his racing activities.

The Return of the Quick 4

The Vette Doctors Quick 4 sprang into action for the first time this season as well in good old fashioned heads-up racing. The outlook for a 9 second field came a lot closer to reality today. Unfortunately our difficult winter meant many of these cars were getting their first runs of the year and many more did not get finished in time. The Vette Doctors co-owner, Carmen Melillo along with a second Vette Doctors prepared C5 owned by Kenny Sforza made it into the Quick 4 qualified 2 and 3 respectively. The number 1 Qualifier was Keith Brownlee and #4 qualifier Tommy Michalkowski. Complete details of Quick 4 Race 1 for 2003 complete with eye opening videos here.

Other Notables for this Event

The 2003 first time points racers we call "Rookies" got off to a fine start with Joe Signore, North Wales, PA, finishing the furthest with a 4th round appearance. This year, we have 26 Rookies competing for the Rookie of the Year award.

The East Coast Supercharging Corvette Challenge Club Challenge Club got off to a roaring start with the Corvette Club of Delaware Valley taking the lead, led by points rookie, Joe Signore's 4th round appearance. 8 CCDV drivers had 1st round wins.

The war in the Gulf had an impact on the Corvette Challenge as two of our racers could not make this event because of their homeland support duties to our troops and country. We hope to see a quick end to the war and you guys back racing with us.

Romolo Cifelli Remembered

Procession in memory of Romolo Cifelli At 11:30 am today, racers paid the final track respects to dear friend Romolo Cifelli who passed away in a fatal crash just a few short weeks away. In a procession led by close personal friend and fellow racer and sponsor, Mark Ramos, Old Bridge, NJ, in a "Missing Man" formation, Corvette driver proceeded up the return road of the racetrack where Romolo spent many weekends. Friends and family members of Romolo's were allowed to partake in the procession by riding along with others. It was a fitting farewell to Romolo who is gone but will forever be remembered and missed.

It was a record breaking day for the Corvette Challenge in its fifth season. For the first time over the Corvette car count rose above the "Century" mark. 101 Corvettes made it out to this event. It was a joyous and momentous moment for all when the announcement came over the loudspeaker announcing the 101 cars.

Today's event featured 96 cars making first round with record 101 tech cards sold. Our next race will be on April 5th at 3 pm.

Some statistics from Corvette Challenge Event 1

Time # % Ladder for Event 1 featured Artie Sabatino, Tony Abbruzze, Mike Carr, David Hollingshead, James Finnessey, Joseph Blass, George Esposito, Joe Signore, Bob Hollingshead, Mike Erickson, John Panuzzo, Steve Row
10 2 2%
11 10 10%
12 30 31%
13 43 45%
14 10 10%
15 1 1%
Total 96 100%
(above) dial-in times for 1st round.

Congratulations to the drivers that made the ladder in round 4. Making the ladder means these drivers got down to the final 16 or less of the event. This week's ladder featured 12 drivers. 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 Joseph Blass went home with $250 cash and the winner trophy.
  • Runner-up Mike Erickson went home with $125 cash and the runner-up trophy.
  • James Finnessey was the sole semi-finalist and won $60 cash.
  • All winners of the first round were awarded a trophy sponsored by United Racing. With 96 cars making 1st round United Racing gave out 48 trophies or 1st Round Trophy Upgrade Program credits.
  • Bill Wilson on the rightBill Wilson, Colombia, MD, won the "John Panuzzo Jr. Memorial" trophy and $50 cash presented by Team Panuzzo Racing for the best winning reaction time in the 1st round. Wilson was quickest on the tree in the 1st round when his RT was .502 taking the win when his opponent broke out.
  • Ohh so Close Award of Zaino productsBill Driber, Burlington, NJ won the "Ohh so Close Award" presented by Zaino when he was edged out in the 1st round by the smallest margin of victory of .0091. That number is the MOV number on your time slip. Although he lost in the 1st round by the smallest Margin of Victory, Driber earned a Zaino starter package that includes Z1, Z2, Z6, Z7 and a polish pad.
  • Norman Benton, Easton, PA won the "Almost Perfect Award" presented by Marotta Racing when he took himself out in the 1st round with the red light closest to .500. Benton's light was .499 and for that he earned a $25 Tech Card gift certificate usable on a future to Raceway Park courtesy of Lenny Marotta and Marotta Racing .
  • Steve Row, Gaithersburg, MD won the "Closest to Dial Award" Trophy presented by Boweryboy Racing by running a 12.167 on a 12.15 dial for a being off by only .017.
  • Mike Erickson also earned, as the highest finishing LS1 powered car, a Racing Cooler plenum cooler presented by Racing Cooler. The Racing Cooler allows you to keep your intake cool without use of watery ice bags.

East Coast Supercharging Corvette Challenge helps Toys for Teens & Tots and Monmouth County Independent Girl Scouts

The 50/50 raffle was held at the track and the racers and spectators hopeful of winning the money while helping out a worthy organization put together $306. The winner received $153 while the other $153 was donated to the St. Peters church in Jersey City to Sister Grace for the Toys for Teens & Tots fund from the East Coast Supercharging Corvette Challenge. We thank Jaymie Shuleski for making the rounds to collect the money. The 50/50 will be held at each of the ECS Corvette Challenges this year. Please see Jaymie or Mariana in the staging lanes if they do not find you first. You do not have to be a Corvette Challenge racer to participate. Raceway Park officer, Tim Blair, thanks the Corvette Challenge racers and their fans for supporting the Toys for Teens & Tots. To date we have donated $153 to the organization. Thank you for your continued support.

Thanks to all who help out Monmouth Council Independent troop Girl Scouts by purchasing Girl Scout cookies. The funds earned will be used for trip by the girls in the future that is yet to be planned.

Corvette Challenge Multimedia

Edgar's Pictures | Mike Goodwin's Pics | Pat O'Brien'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 East Coast Supercharging | United Racing | The Vette Doctors | Team Panuzzo | Spectrum Voice & Data | Simple Man | EnviroLution | CCDV | Mufflex Performance | CFM Racing | Tortolani Racing | Boweryboy Racing | Marotta Racing | RMS Racing | Pro Torque | Zaino Bros | Perez Web Design |



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