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2004   *  Event 1   *  Event 2   *  Event 3   *  Event 4   *  Event 5   *  Event 6   *  Event 6   *  Event 7   *  Event 8   *  Event 9   *  Event 10   *  Event 16   *  Event 11 * 2004 Standings

John Panuzzo Victorious in 2004 Debut

Harry Widelitz

A new season among us, nearly one hundred Corvettes drove into Old Bridge Township Raceway Park on March 13th including many new racers and seasonal veterans. All drivers have entered the 2004 season with a clean slate and hope of challenging defending champion, Joe Blass, for this year's top honors. With a car count of 89 prior to the first round, our defending champion had a daunting task ahead of him to challenge for the East Coast Supercharging Corvette Challenge win. Among those interested in challenging Joe Blass were Rob Farley, who had a title run in the middle of 2003 but whose luck fell short late in the running, and Ellis Gray, who has quickly become one of the most consistent racers in the Corvette Challenge.

Event 1 Ladder
The man who would become victorious at the end of the day would be Sheriff John Panuzzo, who runs a red 1996 C4. John began the day paired with Vic Gandhi, who handed him a -.012 foul, clearly showing that the new LED's got the best of him. In the second round, he was to face Daniel Swadis Jr., who ran 13.847 on a 13.83 dial-in. Luckily for John, a reaction time advantage by eight hundredths helped secure his victory. After bettering James Peins, John found himself in the fourth round paired with Mr. Trophy Marathon himself, Ellis Gray. Ellis, late off the line, had his work cut out for him and broke out with an 11.97 in the midst of playing catch-up. After defeating Al Conner the next round, John received a bye run into the final. His match in the final would be Staten Island, New York's George Esposito in the 1998 silver Corvette. Though at a disadvantage off the line, a double breakout resulted in a four thousandths of a second margin of victory to the red 'vette.

George Esposito has probably shown the most improvement in the past year. A first time winner at last year's ninth event, George capped off the 2003 season finishing fifth in the Corvette Challenge points. In the second round, he was encountered with a scare as opponent Michael Conway's 10-second Corvette lost control but was saved and kept off the guardrails. Esposito found himself advancing to the finals by winning in two double breakouts and overcoming John Hadyniak's 11-second 'vette. In the final, Panuzzo ran closer to dial than him in his third double breakout race of the day.

Defending champion Joe Blass found himself on the trailer after one round when he broke out running 12.01 on a 12.08 dial-in. Another notable was that the East Coast Supercharging Corvette Challenge runner up Ralph Savarese had no car to race due to it being in the shop. Bob Trieschmann loaned his silver 1985 to a grateful Ralph. 2003's Rookie of the Year, Chris Young, was in the same trouble as Ralph, and Artie Sabatino allowed Chris to run his blue C5. Corvette Challenge regular Don Peppler Jr. from Neptune was one of the many pulling double duty with the Challenge and Street Wars, and was the only Corvette victorious in Street Wars, winning the 13-second bracket. John Mackey, who suffered transmission problems but still managed to go many rounds, broke a dog bone a week ago. Without the help of Keith Valone, that 1996 red 'vette would still be in pieces in Brick, NJ. Last but definitely not least among the notables, Aaron Askenback married over the off-season and we offer him congratulations.

With many new faces joining us, 2004 has finally gotten underway. After today's action, it appears that this year will be the most competitive it has ever been for the East Coast Supercharging Corvette Challenge.

Today's event featured 88 Corvettes making first round.

Other Awards Handed Out at this Event

  • Event winner John Panuzzo went home with $250 cash, a $100 gift certificate from Pro Torque and winner trophy.
  • Runner-up George Esposito went home with $125 cash, a $50 gift certificate from Pro Torque and runner-up trophy.
  • Semi-finalists included Ryan Maddox and who won $60 cash.
  • Joe Signore 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. Joe Signore was quickest on the tree in the 1st round when his RT was .002.
  • Sheila Murchan won the 'Almost Perfect Award' with a loss in the 1st round with the red light closest to .000 (Almost Perfect). Sheila Murchan's light was -0.002 and was rewarded a trophy from Old Bridge Township Raceway Park recognizing the effort put forth to try and capture a perfect light but just slightly red.
  • Ralph Blauvelt won the 'Closest to Dial Award' by running only .003 off his dial. He was awarded a trophy from Old Bridge Township Raceway Park.
  • Ohh so Close Award of Zaino productsFrank Fiori won the 'Ohh so Close Award' presented by Zaino when she was edged out in the 1st round by the smallest margin of victory of .0076. That number is the MOV number on your time slip. Although he lost in the 1st round by the smallest Margin of Victory, Frank Fiori earned a Zaino starter package that includes Z1, Z2, Z6, Z7 and a polish pad.
  • All winners of the first round were awarded a trophy sponsored by United Racing. With 88 cars making this event, United Racing gave out quite a few trophies or 1st Round Trophy Upgrade Program credits.

Next race

We race again on April 3rd, 9 AM. The day will feature for the first time ever The Vette Doctors Pro 8 Shootout where the eight quickes cars will do battle in heads-up pro-tree racing. Visit http://www.racewaypark.com to view the schedule.

East Coast Supercharging Corvette Challenge helps Toys for Teens & Tots

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 $262. The winner received $131 while the other $131 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. The 50/50 is held at each of the ECS Corvette Challenges. To date we have donated $131 to the organization for 2004. Thank you for your continued support.

Corvette Challenge Multimedia

Pictures

Pictures by Erin and George - Hi res available

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 | Marotta Racing | CCDV | Mufflex Performance | Quick Time Performance | Neverlift Racecraft | SLP | Furnakit.com | CFM Racing | Tortolani Racing | Anger Management Racing | FINEST RACING | Pro Torque | Zaino Bros

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