Rob Farley Wins Third Championship Convincingly Winning Third Time This Year
November 21, 2009 - Englishtown, NJ -
In one of the most gritty, dramatic performances seen in our series, Rob Farley overcame a 10-point mid season deficit to capture his third East Coast Supercharging Corvette Challenge presented by Yank Racing Converters Championship winning his third race in the last four of the season. He did it while also racing in three other races on the same day. He made the season turning move in round three when he faced, then points leader, Eric Fischer, and took the win blocking Eric from clinching the title and putting himself in position to capture the Championship. Farley needed to win two more rounds and for those two rounds the tension was huge in the stands as racers, family and fans watched along the wall. There were other titles clinched as Gary Hillen completed his first season capturing the Rookie of the Year title while Michael Archibald captured the Gear Jammer's title in this season finale for the Corvette Challenge. 48 racers entered the first round of the finale of the Corvette Challenge with another 18 entering the Pro 11.50 and 2 in the Pro 8 Shootout for a total of 68 entries.
This article will focus on the Corvette Challenge while the Pro 8 Shootout and Pro 11.50 Index will be covered under separate articles.
48 Corvettes made the first round call and Jerry Muniz and Frank Schear were first to the starting line. Both drivers were looking to move up in the points standings and it showed in their reaction times. Schear went .011 off the tree but Muniz was even better at .008. Jerry was better on the other end of the track as well going dead-on 11.507 @ 111.31 mph on his 11.50 dial. Schear could not run his 12.90 number going 12.988 and thus was the first racer to be done for the season. That's a very impressive .015 package for Muniz, and Fischer had wished that Jerry would have had an opportunity to use it on Farley. Three drivers came into the race with a shot at the season points title. It was over for one, three-time Champ Ralph Savarese, in round 1 however. He was up against Tom Smith. Ralph, in his familiar Black C4, dialed 11.11 and Tom, in the Blue C3 would dial 12.71. Smith was one his way with a great .032 green and when it was Ralph's turn to leave he lit the red light losing the race and hope for a fourth title in the Corvette series. The light was only -.034. Still the champ gave us a great season running several different Corvettes and winning rounds in all of them. Thanks for the season Ralph. Nine of the 24 pairings were decided by that ugly red with Savarese being just one of them. The closest of them all was when Sheila Murchan launched her "shedevil" Corvette red by -.001. Rob Petyo was on the other side and took that win to the next round. Dennis Kazimir was just off too when he went -.003 red on his 14.04 dial to Anger Management's Tommy Michalkowski, who went red as well but his did not matter since Kazimir was first. The worst of the bunch was Peter LoPresti's -.194 red that sent Vic Gandhi to the next round. Here is an interesting tidbit about LoPresti who drives a 2008 Z06. While in the lanes Pete tells me he lives 90 miles door-to-gate from the track. I say the car looks great and still smells brand new. He says, it has about 1800 miles on it, roughly 10 round trips to the track. No joke; it has only been to the track. The other drivers suffering the red eye flu are Artie Chin, -.013, Ralph Blauvelt, -.024, David Tortolani, -.080, Dave Buddendorff, -.010 and one driver we did not get a name for. But let's look at some great lights now. Ellis Gray cuts a .016 against Dr. Ron Leader, yeah I said, Ronnie was there. Not only was he there but he rips a .040 against El and then runs closer on his dial going 11.522 on 11.50 in the Silver Z06, often not seen in pictures and today might be no different, sorry Ron. El went 11.536 on his 11.49 dial on the loss. Doug Bereczki, running a million classes, at least that is how track announce Walter Frey put it, started his day with a .014 green light and a win over Nicky DeRosa who went .197 green which Doug handled beautifully going 14.205 on his 14.15 dial for the win. Gene Paterno was back in his Silver C5 and did not miss a beat. He goes dead-on 11.508 on his 11.50 dial @ 111.79 taking the win over Ray Sztabnik who was good but not good enough with a 13.072 on 13.00 dial and .089 green light.
On his way to the win, Rob Farley would meet Bob Bearn round 1. Farley was late with a .132 light but Bearn kept him in the game going .113. Farley could not catch him so he let him take the stripe having a feeling Bearn would break out which he did. Bearn goes 11.811 on 11.90 dial while Rob goes 11.474 on 11.39 dial. Bob Gay, our eventual runner-up, was the benefactor of Artie Chin's red light and was on his way to the next round with a 12.052 on 12.02 dial and .035 green light. Our points leader entering the event, Eric Fischer would face Rich Shuleski. Both drivers cut .102 lights leaving only .05 seconds apart, with Fischer dialed 11.55 and Shuleski 11.50. Fischer was closer to the dial going 11.593 to Shuleski's 11.555. That was just a .0128 margin of victory.
Other drivers who did not advance were Tad Archambault, John Milewski, Frank Fiori, Bob Sebrowski (in his C5), Paul Bogdan, Michael Archibald, Scott Rittenhouse and Neil Vernarelli
Down to 24 Corvettes we were on a ladder. Vic Gandhi and Lloyd Mackay would lead us to starting line this round. Mackay, driving a 1966 Corvette, would be the quicker dialed car with an 11.40 to Gandhi’s 11.50. Gandhi took the tree advantage .040 to .072 and took the win light when Mackay broke out trying to hold off Gandhi who was .04 over his dial. Talk about blunders, there is a new one every time out. We don't often here about them but here goes. It was me and let this be a lesson for you. Up against Tom Smith, he leaves first with his 12.58 dial. I wait to follow with my 11.36 dial, not a typo, it was 11 as I was running in the 11.50 class also. I see the light flash and I thought I left well but never caught Smith and he takes the win light. I get my slip and went .572 green, again, not a typo. I am puzzled how I can feel I left well and then run 11.287 meaning nothing was wrong with the car. It felt more to me like an .072....bingo! The only explanation is when I focused on the light to leave, I must have focused on the green instead of the third yellow. In the zone, I see no color, only flash. So there, that is my story and I am sticking to it. Watch your lights racers. Thousands of passes does not exempt you from blunders. Louis Calicchia went death by red when he went -.001 to Anthony Cupolo. No wait that is Vincent Cupolo. Yes Anthony's brother. He has a 1980 Corvette and was out to have some fun with his brother and his other brother and his father. Did I mention they all have Corvettes? It will be nice to see four or five Cupolo's one day in the field. David Hollingshead cut the best light of the round going .004 in the win over Rob Petyo when Rob went -.007 red. Still Hollingshead would have been tough to beat as he followed the great light with a dead-on 13.497 on 13.49 dial. Come backer Gene Paterno advances when Gary Hillen goes -.068 red. Former champ Bob Trieschmann breaks out this round allowing Ken Tyler to advance to the next round. Kyle Surgent had issues with his car so Bruce Kopcko got a competition single when Kyle did not make the call. Kopcko then proceeds to go dead-on 12.668 on 12.66 dial.
Finalist Bob Gay advances this round eliminating Gary Hurta with a .037 tree and 12.049 on 12.03 dial at 102.10 mph. Rob Farley would face his dentist, Dr Ron Leader, and Leader goes .097 green to Rob's .137 green but then cannot run his 11.50 dial going 11.709 while Farley slides to round three with an 11.524 at 97.5 mph on 11.41 dial. Eric Fischer keeps pace holding his points lead when Tommy Michalkowski breaks out against him. It was close race with Fischer going .126 green and 11.595 on 11.54 dial and Tommy just under his 11.55 dial going 11.536 on better .099 light.
It is getting late in the rounds and Eric Fischer just has to go a couple more rounds to lock in his first Corvette Challenge Championship. Rob Farley is running out of rounds and if only he can put fate in his own hands and face Fischer, he can get one more burden off his shoulders and go to work on trying to capture his third Corvette Challenge Championship. Fate, as they say, has a way of working its way out. The ladder points to a Fischer v. Farley match up in this round. Since Farley was still running in three classes, we would wait for them to be the final pair. First Anthony Cupolo faces Gene Paterno and he crushes the tree with a .003 light while Paterno is a little off with a .116. Paterno then proceeds to break out going 11.456 on 11.50 dial and Cupolo advances. Then Bob Gay crushes the tree with a .032 light and goes on the to the win when Bruce Kopcko lights his win light after he lights the red leaving. Gay goes 11.987 on the freebee pass with a 12.00 on the window. Then Tom Smith continues the beating on the tree when he goes .027 versus another Cupolo, Vincent, Anthony's brother. Vincent's 1980 Vette is dialed 10.30. Smith, dialed 12.53 had the head start and was near perfect going 12.547 and Cupolo breaks out giving Smith the win. The tree was whipped again when Ken Tyler rips a .027 light but then has trouble running his 12.25 dial only running 12.581. Those stick shifts are hard to handle some times. Doug Bereczki then breathes a sigh of relief as he got away with a .194 light winning the round as Tyler was too far off the prediction. Good thing the season is over with the beating the tree is taking. Then there were just two Corvettes left for the round. It was David vs. Goliath. Okay so Fischer is not really David, having held the points lead most of the season but Farley was certainly looking like Goliath. Farley came in on a tear having won two of the last three Challenges and entering four classes and going rounds in three of them. If he did not have to read his weather station and write down his numbers in his logbook, he likely would not have taken his helmet off. Still it was Fischer who was in control of his own destiny and would be Champion with this round win. The drivers stage with Farley in his familiar right lane and Fischer in his familiar left. Fischer dialed 11.54 would leave first and Farley would follow with an 11.37 dial. He would take the tree advantage going .071 to Rob's .096. The two cars go up the track side by side, Eric in his dad's '01 White C5 and Farley in the '98 Radar Blue Pace car. Everyone in the stands holds their breath and when the cars reach the finish line, Farley gets the win light. Fischer had gone under his dial by three thousandths of a second. Farley watched as Fischer took the stripe but did not get the win light. Fate had worked itself out, at least for Farley, and it was he who now had a shot to take the title away from Fischer who still leads at this point by a one round and owned the tiebreaker over Farley.
Six racers left. Bob Gay continues his dominance on the tree going .016 against Anthony Cupolo who went .048 to counter. Tight race for the '85 Vette run by Gay but he comes out the victor with a 12.004 on the 11.97 dial while Cupolo goes 11.392 on his 11.35 dial. David Hollingshead left green with a .029 and then takes the win light going 12.591 on 13.50 dial in his 1978 Brown Corvette over Tom Smith in the Blue 1969 Corvette. Smith's .062 and 12.632 on 12.53 dial was not enough to advance. Then comes Rob Farley and Doug Bereczki. As much as I try not to write these articles in first person, I have to more than once this time. Doug comes to me and asks if I have any gas in my truck as his car sputtered last pass and it low on gas. I normally do carry some but did not bring any this time as my tank was full and did not anticipate needing any. Raceway Park gas station was closed already. So I go trailer to trailer looking for fuel. Finally, I stop at the trailer that Steve Wells came in, which he borrowed as his is being modified for the Corvette he just bought, and low and behold, he has a 5 gallon jug. I drive it down to the lanes as they are pulling the CC class. Doug and I try to get the gas in but in the rush we probably spilled just as much as we put in but was enough to get the car to the line. Now Rob needs to win this round and the next to win the Championship. He goes in and lights two bulbs and waits for Doug to get in. Just then he realizes the dial is not correct. Rob is running 11.50 and brackets and has both numbers on the car. In the brackets he wanted an 11.37 but the board showed his 11.50. He backs out and gets the time correct before Doug lights any bulbs as he backed off when Rob did thinking something was wrong. Now they are ready and Doug goes in and leaves on his 14.14 dial. He is off .131 green. Farley cuts his best light of eliminations going .025 on the 11.37 dial. He gets to the finish line and slams the brakes as he has a good lead thanks to the light. The car then goes left, then goes right and Farley regroups the car and takes the win light. Bereczki breaks out going 14.127. That was a close call for Rob at the top end.
Round 5 - Semi-final:
With three Corvettes left, Bob Gay got the bye run by his position on the ladder. Again, he crushes the tree going .017. He dialed down from his earlier dial to 11.98 and runs an 11.998 @ 113.03. And now the Championship hangs in the balance. They are tied in points at the moment with Fischer holding the tiebreaker. With Eric Fischer, his dad Bill and brother Bill Jr. hanging on the wall along with everyone else nervously awaiting the outcome of the race. Rob's wife Linda is sitting in the stands with the two kids blowing good luck kisses at daddy's car. Rob Farley takes to the line with an 11.35 dial. David Hollingshead is the one man left that can stop him and clinch it for Eric. Hollingshead is off with a .106 light on the 13.58 dial. Rob follows with a .048 dial. The advantage on the tree gave Rob an opening he would not let get away. In classic Farley Slide style, he goes across the finish line with an 11.361 @ 111.48 mph and the win light. With that light, he takes the points lead and the Championship for 2009. What a fantastic finish to our points season. It is not every year we have such a nail biter though it has happened several times in the past. Rob Farley had done what he and about 70 other drivers set out to do, win the Championship. But it was he who found himself 10 points back at mid season and was able to make up the gap by completing what he was about to do, winning 3 of the last 4 races.
Round 6 - Final:
After recapping the last round it is hard to build up some drama for the final round. One would wonder why Farley would even show up for the last round having just clinched his third Corvette Challenge Championship. But he did and Bob Gay was waiting for him. Having a stellar day on the tree, Bob was looking like he might become our newest first-time winner. After reading some of his prior lights, the .054 he cuts here just looks slow. But Farley was back in the 100's with a .114 so Gay still has a shot. Farley dialed down to 11.32 while Gay kept the 11.98. Gay is way out in front and Farley goes for the slide letting Gay take the stripe and the breakout while he took the win with an 11.349 @ 115.10 for Farley as Gay ran under his dial going 11.921 @ 113.99. That was it for the Corvette Challenge's 11th season. We could all now pack it up, head for some steaks and beer and get ready for next year....okay we have to pat Farley on the back for a while. You cannot deny that what he did today was simply amazing. Not only did he win the title, the race and the Corvette 11.50 race and title, but he also runnered-up in the GM EFI bracket race to another familiar name, Ralph Savarese who went out round 1 in our race today. He was human only in the GM EFI 11.50 race where Jerry Muniz delivered the blow when both drivers cut identical .046 lights but Jerry was 11.51 to Rob's 11.55. Jerry went on to win that one that class, ironically preventing Steve Wells from taking the GM EFI 11.50 Championship and locking it up for Rob Farley. Congratulations go to Bob Gay making it to his second Corvette Challenge final despite coming up a bit short in his second try. He was the runner-up to Dave Tortolani in 2006 Event 4. You will get 'em next time.
This was Rob Farley's 16th final and has an 11-5 record in them. He has 11 semi-final finishes to go with those finals. Bob Gay was in his second final and is now 0-2 in Corvette Challenge finals. Gay also has one semi-final finish
Corvette Challenge Points Update
We came into this final race with three racers having a shot at Championship in 2009. Of course only can be Champion and in 2009 it is Rob Farley. In gritty performance where he faced points leader Eric Fischer in round three and got the win to make it possible for him to go on and make up the points he needed to capture his third Corvette Challenge Championship. In a drama filled day in which Farley enter four classes, winning two and was runner up in another and closed the deal not only on this championship but three others, the Corvette 11.50, the GM EFI 11.50 and the GM EFI brackets to go with his Friday night 11.50 Index Championship for a total of five for the year at Raceway Park. Simply amazing. He adds another title to the list of Corvette Challenge champions and joins Ralph Savarese as three time Champions. Previous Champions are Rob Farley (2009, 2006, and 2004), Ralph Savarese (2007, 2005, and 2002), Jeanne Linke 2008, Joe Blass 2003 and Bob Trieschmann 2001.
For the second year in a row, our points season has been cut to only 9 races instead of 10 due to rainouts. Despite our best efforts to make them all up, we fell short one weekend again. Let's not let this overshadow the season had by our points runner-up and often author, Eric Fischer. He held the points lead most of the season on the strength of two early event wins. He went out in round 1 only once this year and ironically it was his Dad that took him out. He finished in second with 34 total points using his Dad's car for most of the season when Eric's broke. Ralph Savarese finishes the season in third with 30 points and one event win. Louis Calicchia finishes in fourth place with 20 points and an event win. Bob Trieschmann finishes firth with 28 total points. The top 10 is rounded out by David Hollingshead, Ellis Gray, Paul Bogdan, Doug Bereczki and Michael Archibald.
2009 Corvette Challenge Standings Corvette drivers page with more driver information
Final Rookie of the Year Update
Congratulations to our 2009 Rookie of the Year, Gary Hillen. Hillen did it the hard way driving a 2008 Corvette Z06 shifting his way to a total of 18 points for the season. He came in to the final race of the season with a three-point lead and though he exited round 2, he had enough to hold off rookie runner-up Bruce Kopcko who finished the season with 16 points. Hillen joins previous rookie of the year winners, Jeanne Linke 2008, Chris Haase 2007, Devon Bole 2006, Bob Korreck 2005, Rick White 2004, Chris Young 2003 and Rob Farley 2002 (yes that Rob Farley). To see list by year of all rookies, visit www.corvettechallenge.info/rookieoftheyear.php. Hillen will be picking up his Rookie of the Year trophy and $150 at the season ending banquet January 30, 2010, (see info below). As stated Kopcko came in second and it might have been different had he been able to make the three races he missed. Artie Chin finishes in third place with 13 points. Bob Bearn finishes in fourth with 7. Mike Bogdan finishes the season in fifth as he missed the last four races while he was caring to family needs with his new born baby. I have spoken to at least four drivers who intend to enter the series points chase next year and contend for Rookie honors. Please do join them if you have never earned points in the Corvette Challenge series, you are eligible.
Rookie of the Year Standings
Final Spectrum Equipment Service Gear Jammer Award Update
Congratulations go to Michael Archibald who wins top gear shifting honors wrestling the title from the winner in the previous three years, Don Peppler Jr. "Arch", who attends all the races with his dad, finished with a total of 23 points with his best performance being a runner-up in event 6 where he came up short against three-time champ Ralph Savarese. This award was implemented in 2006 and had never been one by anyone but Mr. Peppler Jr. Now that has changed. Now Archibald has a Gear Jammers title to with his 2007 Event 3 win. He also finished 10th in the points standings overall. Tom Smith finishes as the runner-up, as he did last year, with a total of 21 points. His best race of the year was the final when we went to the quarter finals and he won the event, would have captured the title. Maybe next year. Archibald will pick up a trophy and $250 and Smith a Trophy and $100 courtesy of Spectrum Equipment at the annual banquet on January 30, 2010 (see info below). Rookie of the Year winner, Gary Hillen finishes third overall this season with his 18 points. Three-time Gear Jammer winner Don Peppler Jr. finishes fourth this year with 16 total points.
You are all welcome to come celebrate the season and recognize our class Champions and top performers at our annual banquet.
The banquet will again be held at the Crown Plaza in Monroe. To purchase tickets contact Edgar Perez for a paypal address or snail mail address to mail a check. We must have a final head count a week before the banquet. The important information is below.
Saturday, January 30, 2010
6 to 11 PM
Crowne Plaza - Monroe
390 Fosgate Drive
Monroe Township, NJ 08831
609 655 4775
Cost is $45 per individual payable to Edgar Perez (email or PM me for address). Food will be similar to last year.
A cash bar will be open for those who wish to buy me a drink ;)
I have negotiated a block of 10 rooms at a rate of $80 for the night. I can get more if we use them all. You must call guarantee a room. The group name to use when calling is "Raceway Park-Corvette Challenge".
All year-end payouts, jackets, trophies (including first round upgrade trophies for our bracket class) and awards will be given out at the banquet. We will again feature door prizes, raffles, giveaways and the ever popular auction. If you wish to donate items for the banquet, and thank you for those who have already, please contact Edgar Perez.
Awards Handed Out at this Event
Jerry Muniz won the 'Best Winning Reaction Time - 1st Round plaque presented by Raceway Park for the best winning reaction time in the 1st round. Jerry Muniz was quickest on the tree with the win light in the 1st round when with a .008 reaction time.
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 -0.001 and was awarded a plaque from Old Bridge Township Raceway Park recognizing the effort put forth to try and capture a perfect light but just slightly red.
Bruce Kopcko won the CCDV 'Closest to Dial Award' by running only .004 off his dial. Bruce Kopcko was awarded a plaque and free tech card for a future race from Corvette Club of Delaware Valley.
Ellis Gray won the 'Ohh so Close Award' presented by Zaino when being edged out in the 1st round by the smallest margin of victory of .0031. That number is the MOV number on your time slip. Although suffering a loss in the 1st round by the smallest Margin of Victory, Ellis Gray earned a Zaino starter package that includes various Zaino products.
All winners of the first round were awarded a trophy. With 68 cars making this event (combined Corvette Challenge and Pro class(es)), we sure gave out quite a few trophies or 1st Round Trophy Upgrade Program credits.
Next Two Races
Our 11th season has come to close and we look forward to starting our 12th season in 2010 as well as putting the exclamation point on 2009 with our 2009 Top 16 Gamblers race. We are very excited to bring the series back next year. Please keep an eye out on our home page, www.corvettechallenge.info and the , the Drag Racing section of The Corvette Forum and your email for news, updates and polls.
Visit the Drag Schedule at www.racewaypark.com to view Raceway Park's schedule for other events and days for test and tuning. Come out and race or just enjoy the racing action.
As always, we couldn't enjoy our passion for racing without the tireless efforts of our coordinators - Edgar Perez, Bob Trieschmann, Dennis Kazimir and Rob Farley. We'd be reduced to time shots only without our sponsors - many thanks for the continued support of