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2008   *  Event 1   *  Event 2   *  Event 3   *  Event 4   *  Event 5   *  Event 6   *  Event 7   *  Event 8   *  Event 9   *  Event 10 * 2008 Standings

Joe Latona wins ECS CC Event 1 Warm-up in heads-up match!

By Eric Fischer

March 15, 2008 - Englishtown, NJ - We got our 10th season of The East Coast Supercharging Corvette Challenge presented by Yank Racing Converters and Gear Star Transmission underway today to the tune of a light turnout but that did not stop us from racing. Turnout was hindered by storm forecasts prior to and proceeding our event but luckily we were able to finish the event without any rain. Some other "big guns" were missing too. Rob Farley, whom I don't think has missed an event in 30 years, had to skip this event (and the top 16) due to a family medical emergency. The track just wasn't the same without the Easter egg car and its "very intense" driver missing from the 1st spot in the lanes. What a relief for us racers, as we now could use two staging lanes instead of the one single file lane that typically piles up behind Rob! Rob we are all wishing your family well.

Also missing was our very own coordinator, Edgar Perez (aka Big Papi, or "Big" for short) who was home nursing a leg injury. As dedicated as Big is, you know he had to be hurting in order to miss our first event of 2008. His presence was surely missed, and we all should take a moment to recognize the monumental effort that Edgar puts into this series. Whether he is taking pictures, shooting video, securing sponsors, writing articles, or updating the website, Edgar is the workhorse that truly is the backbone of our series. Get well soon, Big!

Some other drivers were missing from the race, most notably about 30 of our regulars were no-shows! No doubt they were scared off by the rain and/or weren't too concerned about missing a non-points race. But with over 100 drivers signed up for points, we expect a full turnout for Event 2, our first points race of 2008.

The drivers that did attend got to try their hand at the newly implemented Autostart system. Beginning with the first race of the 2008 season, all East Coast Supercharging Corvette Challenge and the Pro classes will be on Autostart (Pro classes have always been on autostart) and the Raceway Park starting line official will no longer hold the tree for deep stagers. Post-race reports indicate that the racers who don't ordinarily deep stage didn't really notice much of a difference at the tree, and noted that courtesy staging was the continued norm. Those that do deep stage reported that their routine was a bit thrown off by the auto-start system, some stating that they opted to shallow stage instead, and others stating that they felt rushed when deep staging. It will take some practice, but those that deep stage will need to learn to do what Kazman calls the "Deep Stage Slide" - that is to go from no prestage light on to fully deep in one swift motion. That's not to be confused with the "Farley Slide"; that's a whole 'nother move that takes years of experience to perfect and is NOT for beginners.

Now let's get on to the race results:

Round one: 29 vettes made the call for first round, 8 of which were 1st round losers (ahem "runner-up's") from the Top 16 race. Thank you e-town for allowing the Top 16 runner-ups to participate in the bracket race. The first pair out was Frank Schear in his '93 taking on Tom Smith in his '69. Schear got the hole shot advantage .062 to .151, both drivers break out but with Schear breaking out less running a 13.174 on a 13.20 @ 102.01. Tony Abbruzze showing no signs of rust from the long winter cuts an .032 light and runs a 12.973 @ 100.00 on a 12.94 to take the win over Ken Gallassio. Tony Buonassisi did his job at the tree cutting an .038 light, but gives it away when he breaks out running a 12.701 @ 102.64 on a 12.73 to Latona's .153 light and 10.890 on a 10.86. Next up is Bill Fischer Sr. vs John Panuzzo, the two oldest active drivers in drag racing squaring off for what is always an exiting round. With a combined age of 190+ years, neither had a stellar light but Fischer Sr had an 0.055 RT advantage which was enough to carry him through to the win running on the brakes an 11.607 @ 114.35 on an 11.60 to Panuzzo's 12.989 @ 106.83 on a 12.92. Next up Ken Baranski comes up just a little too short with a losing MOV of .0035 to Jerry Muniz in a double breakout race. Ron Higgins, sporting borrowed CCW "drag pack" wheels from Tommy Michalkowski, was "Almost Perfect" with a -.009 red light running an 11.79 on an 11.72 but handing the win to Raymond Sztabnik of Clarksburg, NJ. Higgins is turning up the wick a bit to be competitive in the 11.50 index this year and he will be glad to know that with Tommy's borrowed tires he was pulling the front wheels about 6" off the ground! Eric Fischer and Bob Trieschmann were next to pair off and both were first round losers in the top 16 meaning that one of these two would unfortunately go home with two first round losses. The battle of the '98 C5 odd ball colors, "Fairway Green" vs. "Medium Pearl Purple", the race was decided at the tree as there was not much Trieschmann could do to overcome Fischer's .009 light. Fischer takes the win running 11.82 @ 110.33 on a 11.74 to Trieschmann's .095 and 13.024 on a 13.00. Randolph Lane takes an easy win over Gary Hurta due to Hurta's 2.985 second RT. Yes 2.985 seconds! I believe Hurta's highly unusual RT resulted from confusion at the line when he noticed after staging that his dial-in was wrong. His dial-in was 14.55 when it should have been 11.55, but since he had already staged it was too late to change it. This is a reminder folks to always check your dial-in before you light the pre-stage bulb because once you light that bulb, it can't be changed. Ellis Gray, the burnout king, pummels the tree with an .011 and coasts to an 10.961 @ 114.48 on a 10.86 to take the win over Alfred Salanitro. Frank Fiori and James Kovitch both advance as both of their opponents went red. Worth noting is that Jay McCardle in his ECS prepped Nassau Blue 2000 Coupe was stealthfully running deadly consistent 10.16's, running 10.167 on a 10.17 during his red light loss to James Kovitch. Jay is no doubt tuning the car up for the 10.00 index and looks to be a strong contender. The lucky recipient of the bye round was Shawn Cavanagh who chopped down the tree with an .007 taking the honors of the best winning reaction time away from Eric Fischer and handing him the number one seed for round #2.

2008 Event 1 Ladder

Round two: First pair out, Frank Schear goes red, giving Joe Donnelly the opportunity to tune up his car for the 11.50 index. Donnelly has been making steady progress, each time out his car gets faster and more consistent and today he was consistently running 11. teens. Jim Kovitch drives around Joe Signore's .005 light and takes the win with a better package running a 13.774 @ 98.13 on a 13.75 to Signore's 12.446 on a 12.32. Joe Latona gets a chance to check his dial-in when Ron Leader goes red, running it out the back door Latona runs an 10.876 @ 123.46 on a 10.86. Tony Abbruzze gets off the line a better reaction time by .095 and gets the win when Ken Tyler slows to a 13.065 on a 12.20. Ellis Gray beat up on my Dad, Bill Fischer Sr. (even though I told him not to) and takes the win when Fischer Sr. couldn't run the number. Then in a heads-up race Eric Fischer takes on Jerry Muniz both dialed in at 11.78. Fischer gets the hole shot advantage with an .068 light to Muniz's .134 and Fischer takes the win with an 11.839 @ 104.62 to Muniz's 11.907 @ 113.72. Cavanagh gets the bye run because of his awesome first round .007 light, and runs right on the money 10.974 @ 125 on a 10.96.

Round three - quarterfinals: 50% of round three was decided by the dreaded red-light. Jim Kovitch and Tony Abbruzze both advanced when their opponents Cavanagh and Donnelly went red. Eric Fischer's .022 light was sure to have an easy win over Joe Latona's .208 but unfortunately Fischer misjudged the stripe, breaking out running a 11.77 @ 108.66 on an 11.79. Latona ran an 10.863 @ 123.45 on an 10.86. Next up Randolph Lane gets the hole shot advantage over Ellis Gray, but breaks out running a 12.917 on a 12.97. Ellis ran an 10.855 @ 125.17 on a 10.86. Let's keep score here: Latona: 10.863; Ellis: 10.855.

Round four - semifinals: Down to the final four. Ellis gets the hole shot advantage over Jim Kovitch running an 10.859 @ 122.17 on a 10.85. Latona gets his best reaction time of the day cutting an .018 light and running out the door to a 10.864 @ 123.72 on a 10.85 for a win over Tony Abbruzze's .104 and 12.938 on a 12.95 package. Tally: Latona: 10.864; Ellis: 10.859.

Round five - the finals: The battle of the 10.80 cars. C5 vs. C5, Artic White vs. Pewter, LS1 vs. LS2, A4 vs. A4, the kid vs. the veteran multi-time event winner. Each car running back to back 10.80's: 10.86's for Latona and 10.85's for Gray. Recognizing the nearly equal and consistent performance of both cars, Latona and Gray negotiated in the lanes. Latona reflects on their conversation: "I felt that our cars were very equal.... and that it would come down to the tree. We both decided that a 10.50 dial would totally eliminate the chance of a breakout or any top end games. We just wanted to run all out best on the tree, first to the line wins." So the decision was made and both dialed in at 10.50 for a heads up race. Ellis did his usual long smoky burnout and both cars approached the line. The tree came down and a slight reaction advantage went to Ellis with a .113 to a .122. But shortly thereafter the race was effectively over when Ellis spun. Latona picked up the pace a little running it out to a 10.814 @ 123.51 to Gray's 11.174 @ 124.91. Congratulations to Joe Latona on his first Corvette Challenge win. Latona states, "I would like to include my congrats to Ellis and his car. He was great all day and it was a shame he spun in the final. I really wish he didn't spin, [I] would have liked to have seen the outcome... perhaps we will have a grudge match one day." Both racers would like to thank their tuners for setting up their cars to be consistent, reliable and fast.

Just a quick note. One of our racers, Randolph Lane, will be missing some time this year to get a much needed, prolonged surgical procedure. We wish Randy well in the proceedure and a speedy recovery. To personally wish Randy well, please visit The Corvette Forum

Awards Handed Out at this Event

  • Shawn Cavanagh won the 'John Panuzzo Jr. Memorial' trophy presented by Team Panuzzo Racing for the best winning reaction time in the 1st round. Shawn Cavanagh was quickest on the tree in the 1st round when his RT was .007.
  • Ron Higgins won the 'Almost Perfect Award' with a loss in the 1st round with the red light closest to .000 (Almost Perfect). Ron Higgins's light was -0.009 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.
  • Bill Fischer won the CCDV 'Closest to Dial Award' by running only .007 off his dial. Bill Fischer was awarded a trophy and free tech card for a future race from Corvette Club of Delaware Valley.
  • Ken Baranski won the 'Ohh so Close Award' presented by Zaino when being edged out in the 1st round by the smallest margin of victory of .0035. That number is the MOV number on your time slip. Although suffering a loss in the 1st round by the smallest Margin of Victory, Ken Baranski earned a Zaino starter package that includes various Zaino products.
  • All winners of the first round were awarded a trophy . With 36 cars making this event, we sure gave out quite a few trophies or 1st Round Trophy Upgrade Program credits.

Next Two Races

March 29, 2008 - Our 2008 points season gets underway and the Cartek Racing Pro 10.0 class also kicks off with their first race of the season. Look to these pages for the 2008 schedule soon.

Visit the Drag Schedule at to view Raceway Park's schedule for other events and days for test and tuning.

April 12, 2008 - The second pointes race of the season for Corvette Challenge bracket races. Also, we will have the return of the American Racing Headers Pro 8 Shootout and the first official points race for The Vette Doctors Pro 11.50.

As always, we couldn't enjoy our passion for racing without the tireless efforts of our coordinators - Edgar Perez, Bob Trieschmann and Dennis Kazimir We'd be reduced to time shots only without our sponsors - many thanks for the continued support of

Corvette Challenge - East Coast Supercharging | Yank Racing Converters | Team Panuzzo | Corvette Club of Delaware Valley - CCDV | Spectrum Equipment Service | The Blair Family | Simple Man | QTP - Quick Time Performance | Carroll's Rod & Racecraft | Kooks Custom Headers | CFM Racing | Tortolani Racing | Anger Management Racing | | | Romar Fabrication | Zaino Bros | Pro Torque | Perez Web Design

Pro 8 Shootout - American Racing Headers | Carroll's Rod & Racecraft | PM Construction

Pro 10.0 Index - Cartek Racing | J&M Motorsports | Best Western, East Brunswick, NJ | ECSracing | M & B Performance

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

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