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John Panuzzo Wins The First Vette Doctors Pro 11.50

by Rob Farley

Qualifiers - The Vette Doctors Pro 11.50 Index presented by Russ DeLibero-Emerald Financial Resources
PosNameETMPH
1  Frank Eckert 11.510 106.42
2  Ron Leader 11.534 121.17
3  Shawn Cavanagh 11.566 117.34
4  Rob Farley 11.591 116.98
5  Joseph Latona 11.630 114.29
6  Doug Ring 11.655 136.68
7  Gene Paterno 11.723 115.51
8  David Tortolani 11.730 115.06
9  Ellis Gray 11.740 108.6
10  John Panuzzo 11.759 114.71
11  John Hadyniak 11.768 106.69
12  Mike Hoffman 11.775 118.77
13  Bill Fischer 11.811 114.09
14  Mike Calicchia 11.874 115.8
15  Nicholas Pluta 11.939 115.21
16  Eric Fischer 11.960 112.41
17  Louis Calicchia 11.964 117.29
18  Gary Hurta 11.968 117.84
19  Rich Shuleski 12.025 99.94
20  Chris Haase 12.049 112.85
21  705 12.180 106.08
22  Paul Bogdan 12.221 111.21
23  Bob Rosenberg 13.393 105.5
04/26/08 - Englishtown, NJ - The first Vette Doctors Pro 11.5 Index presented by Russ DeLibero-Emerald Financial Resources, race was scheduled for April 12, 2008. Due to a rain out, The event was rescheduled for April 26, 2008. Twenty three drivers were in attendance for first Vette Doctors Pro 11.50 race on April 13. When the announcement was made last year about this class being added to the 2008 Corvette Challenge Series, The feedback was overwhelming. Many racers have been waiting patiently over the winter to participate in this class.

For today's Corvette Challenge bracket results click here.

Qualifying

Setting the pace from his first pass was Jack Eckert. Jack ran an 11.510 in his ECS tuned 2003 Limited Edition ZO6. With 23 drivers trying to qualify, They knew they would need to step it up to qualify. At the end of the first qualifier, there were four Corvettes in the 11.5's. The reaction times during the two qualifying sessions were very competitive. With the ladder made from April 12th race, there were four alternates ready to fill any vacant spots. Two racers were not able to make race. Louis Calicchia took Dave Tortolani's position and Gary Hurta filled in for John Hadyniak. We were allowed one time shot on 4-26-08. All the drivers took full advantage of this to practice on the .500 pro tree. Here we go; first call for round 1 of The Vette Doctors Pro 11.50. Everybody was already in the lanes waiting anxiously for first round. Some said that they have been waiting over three years for this moment. Moments before we were told to get in our vehicles, John Panuzzo was running around getting tips from Jeanne Linke and Dennis Kazimir. This is funny a site to see if you have never seen it before.

Round 1

The first pair of Corvettes to start the new class was Gene Paterno (7) in his silver 2002 C5 up against Nick Pluta (15) racing his 1999 Corvette. The reaction times were almost identical; Nick had a 5 thousandths head start. Crossing the stripe first was Gene with an 11.925 to Nick's 12.443. The next pair had our first alternate Louis Calicchia racing Eric Fischer. Louis (number 8) had everyone talking in the lanes about his reaction times. Louis had sub-teen reaction times. Eric (16) knew he had to drill the tree. Eric was a little late on the tree and tried to make it up on the top end and broke out by .019.

Our next racer was Mike Calicchia (14). Mike was following in his father's foot steps with reaction times. Mike hit the tree hard against Doug Ring (6). Doug broke out trying to close the gap at the finish line. Mike was also trying to keep it a tight race to the end, but both drivers broke out and were disqualified. Not only did each loose the round for breaking out, they are also penalized. The drivers that break out will have 20 points deducted from their points total. Most, if not all, the drivers forgot about this rule. The next pair of racers was our second alternate Gary Hurta (11) racing Shawn Cavanagh (3). Shawn was racing his 2003 Supercharged C5 against Gary's 2006 Z06. Shawn had the starting line advantage over Gary while both drivers crossed the stripe with just .040 separating them. Gary ran an 11.802 to Shawn's winning 11.849.

The next driver in round one had the best reaction time of all the round one racers was Joe Latona (5). Joe knocked down the tree with a .033 against the driver that had the closest to the index ET. Bill Fischer Sr. (13) was a little late on the tree but ran a 11.528 to Joe's 11.650. With the win going to Joe for his starting line advantage. The margin of victory was so close for this race. Next pair of Vettes, one of them is called an Easter Egg, was Rob Farley (4) and Mike Hoffman who (12) in his 2002 yellow Corvette. Mike gave the starting line advantage to Rob. Rob was able to cross the stripe first allowing him to move forward to round 2.

The last two racers of round one have many wins racing on a Pro Tree. John Panuzzo (10) decided to only race in The Vette Doctors Pro 11.50 with Dennis Kazimir's 1998 Corvette this year while his 1996 Corvette will be driven by Jeanne Linke in the Corvette Challenge bracket races. John's opponent was Dr. Ron Leader (2) who was the 2007 National Corvette Challenge Pro 11.50 Champion. John had a .075 light to Ron's .217. This would have been a great race to watch if Ron did not have mechanical problems. Our next pair was the last two racers of round 1. The number one qualifier Frank (Jack) Eckert has set the pace for everyone by qualifying with an 11.510. Frank had mechanical problems in the staging lanes allowing Ellis Gray (9) to receive a competition single. Even though Ellis had a competition single, he could be disqualified if he would run quicker than 11.50. Ellis was very conservative and ran 15.198.

Runner Up Group Winner
Runner-up Ellis Gray Coordinator Rob Farley, Gray, Linke, Panuzzo, Dennis Kazimir Winner John Panuzzo
Photos by Edgar Perez. For over 5000 Corvette Photos, click here.

Round 2

Round 2 had 7 Corvettes returning. The first pair to the starting line was Shawn Cavanagh against Gene Paterno. This was a race to the finish line with both drivers not knowing who won or even crossed the finish line first. Both drivers had to look at the wall to see who had the win. Gene ran an 11.536 to Shawn's winning 11.539 but it was Shawn with the win on the strength of a better reaction time. Next to the line was John Panuzzo with a competition single because Mike Calicchia broke out prior round. John went easy on the tree to make others think he was not on his game. John ran 11.892 at 79.80 mph advancing him to round 3. John did ask me many times about the rule on a bye run. My reply to John was that "it has not changed since the last time you asked me, You can still be disqualified on a bye run."

The next racers to battle it out in round 2 are Ellis Gray and Joe Latona. Both drivers knowing that both vehicles run identical ET's would make this a reaction time race. Joe Latona was off the line first and never looked back. Joe ran a 10.819 at 123.81 mph to Ellis Gray's 13.843 at 83.42 mph. This breakout cost Latona 20 points as the drivers agreed to have Joe run it out as a test for the Corvette Challenge he was still in contention in. They obviously forgot about the penalty. The next pair of racers had excellent reaction times during qualifying. Louis Calicchia had a .017 to Rob Farley's .034 light during qualifying. Both drivers are staged and the lights flashed. Louis is off first with Rob giving chase. Rob crossing first with an 11.283 to Lou's 11.427. Both drivers are disqualified and penalized for running under the index.

Round 3

Ellis Gray returns for round 3 in his 2000 pewter Corvette to race Shawn Cavanagh racing his ECS tuned 2003 Corvette. With both Corvettes capable of running under the index, this was going to be a race to watch. Both drivers were making adjustments during the day to be competitive. Shawn was off the line with a .068 light. Shawn had a one-tenth advantage on Ellis on the tree, but Ellis was able to drive around Shawn at the top end for the win with an 11.802 @ 109.34 11.927 @ 100.91, both on the brakes. Round three had one driver on the ladder with a competition single. It was John Panuzzo again. This allowed John to fine tune his skills on the tree and also to see if Dennis Kazimir's 1998 Corvette was still able to run the number. John knocked down the tree with a .047 and ran a 12.263. John was able to run the car to thousand foot mark to determine if the car was still competitive. If John ran under the 11.50 Index, he would have been disqualified and he knew that after asking a out a thousand times.

Final Round

The final round had John (Mr. Comp Single) Panuzzo up against Ellis Gray. Both drivers were in the staging lanes discussing there racing strategies against each other. John's conversation with Ellis must have left Ellis dazed and confused. Ellis left late on the tree giving John a huge starting line advantage. John had a .048 to Ellis Gray's (Mr. Sleepy) .260. This was a great race all the way down the track. Ellis tried to push John out but the old man (John) came through with the win. Both drivers did a great job by making this a fun race to watch.

I would like to thank Edgar Perez and Raceway Park for allowing me the opportunity to develop and coordinate this class. I also need to thank all the racers that came out to support this class.

Discussion Forum

Awards and Payouts Today

  • Winner John Panuzzo earned a payout of $160 in addition to the winner trophy
  • Runner-up Ellis Gray earned a payout of $80 in addition to the runner-up trophy
  • Semi-Finalists Shawn Cavanagh earned a payout of $40
  • Number 1 Qualifier Frank Eckert received a plaque for his 11.510 qualifying run
  • Joe Latona received the Best Reaction Time plaque for the best winning reaction time in the first round at .033

2008 Points Standings

Panuzzo starts the season on top of the points chase with 112 points. Shawn Cavanagh is second with 76 and Ellis Gray is third with 72. Lots of penalties in this race and one no-show for first round means several drivers are lucky to get away with qualifying, tech and stage points in this race. This will surely be a tight class and one to watch.
Rank Name R1 R2 R3 R4 R5 Wins Rounds Avg Qual
1. Rob Farley 35 149 263 381 495 4 17 11.567
2. John Panuzzo 112 187 220 251 284 1 6 11.687
3. Paul Bogdan 10 103 154 248 282 0 8 11.777
4. Shawn Cavanagh 76 113 165 175 231 0 7 11.691
5. David Tortolani 13 51 127 159 211 0 4 11.597
6. Gene Paterno 53 85 117 174 189 0 2 11.649
7. Eric Fischer 11 62 72 127 184 0 3 11.776
8. Bill Fischer 31 41 51 82 140 0 2 11.894
9. Ellis Gray 72 106 116 126 126 0 4 11.841
10. Mike Calicchia 11 42 76 110 110 0 0 11.700
11. Ron Leader 37 69 100 100 100 0 0 11.677
12. Anthony Cupolo 0 10 20 96 96 0 2 11.794
13. Joseph Latona 34 44 62 93 93 0 2 11.790
14. Joseph Donnelly 0 33 84 84 84 0 2 11.678
15. Nicholas Pluta 31 41 51 82 82 0 0 11.945
16. Gary Hurta 30 40 50 60 60 0 0 12.636
17. Jerry Muniz 0 10 41 53 53 0 0 11.667
18. Frank Eckert 38 48 48 48 48 0 0 11.879
19. Thomas Sabolevsky 0 36 46 46 46 0 1 11.620
20. Rich Shuleski 10 20 20 20 20 0 0 12.362
21. Robert Zona 0 10 20 20 20 0 0 14.890
22. Ron Higgins 0 0 0 0 12 0 0

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Pro 11.50 Index - The Vette Doctors | Russ DeLibero Emerald Financial Resources | Wild Rover Racing | DeFelice Chevrolet Parts .

Next Race

The next Pro 11.5 race of 2008 is May 31, 2008 with the gates opening at 2:30 PM for the evening session. Just about any Corvette with small mods can get into this heads-up pro tree class so be sure and check it out. Don't miss the tight racing action if you are not ready to participate.

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