Eric Fischer Takes the Lead Winning First Points Race of 2009
March 21, 2009 - Englishtown, NJ -
Spring is in the air and The East Coast Supercharging Corvette Challenge presented by Yank Racing Converters points season is underway. However, we do start on a sad note. Last week we lost a friend and fellow racer. George Geipel, who raced his 1996 Corvette with us over the past several years, suffered a stroke and passed away on Sunday March 15, 2009. Our thoughts and prayers go out to his wife, Janell and his family. Post your thoughts here.
We had the first points race of the 2009 season and Eric Fischer drove his Fairway Green 1998 Corvette to the points lead by winning the event. It was not without drama however, as when the staging lanes cleared for the first time trial, Fischerís Corvette remained alone with the hood up. He could not get the car started. Drivers stopped to offer help as they pulled around him. First Ellis Gray offers a wrench as it was suspected the battery cable was loose. That did not work. Then Edgar Perez offers his jump box but that did not work; likely because it was not fully charged...sorry. Then a group of racers pushed the car back into the pits and Fischer eventually ends up with a spare battery Ralph Savarese carries for his Corvette. Talk about paying it forward? Last week, Savarese borrows Vic Gandhi's Corvette and takes that to a win and this week Savarese loans a battery and Fischer takes it to the win. Drivers should be lining up at Fischer's car to borrow some of the pay it forward good luck at the next race. And the runner-up for the event? None other than car-loaning Vic Gandhi. Loans of parts and cars are common in drag racing but even more common in the super friendly atmosphere of the Corvette Challenge at Old Bridge Township Raceway Park. The big news for all Corvette Challenge racers was there was time in the day for them to get three time trials. It has been some time since we this and racers were very grateful for it.
Today's event also featured our inaugural Pro 10 Double Index race with racers in either a 10.0 or 10.5 index. Mark Shaw took the win there.
Bob Trieschmann, Vic Gandhi, Eric Fischer, Edgar Perez
Winner Eric Fischer
Photos by Mike Roberts. For over 7,000 Corvette Photos, click here.
50 Corvettes made it to the first round of the first points race of our 10th Anniversary season. Drivers are still getting used to the "call to the lanes" procedure and when the call was made, several came into the wrong lanes and had to realign themselves. Fischer blames Farley for the chaos. The first pair on the track featured drivers on opposite sides of the elapsed time spectrum with Doug Bereczki, '87 Corvette, dialed 14.04 vs. me, Edgar Perez, '99 Corvette, dialed 10.35. That is about the biggest wait you are going see in the series. Bereczki would leave with a .148 light as I sat there waiting roughly 4 seconds and begin the chase with a .101. I never caught him going 10.385 @ 129.43 but I got the win light as Doug's car picked up and ran under with a 14.004 @ 98.02. Surprisingly after last week's barrage of red lights, only four parings were decided by the early leave. Bob Trieschmann suffered the worst. He was only -.001 in his '98 Corvette. He did not have to. His opponent, James Allen, with a 2008 Corvette went .677 green and ran 11.352 on 11.70 dial. The worst of the reds was Shawn Cavanagh who left -.126 red against Jerry Muniz. Jerry would have been tough to beat anyway as he ran dead-on his dial going 11.309 @ 119.89 in "ONEHOTC6" with a .039 light to boot. Muniz is now running on motor what he has run with nitrous and will no longer need the laughing gas to compete in the 11.50 Index coming up in two weeks. He is back! Guess who's back? Back again! No not Slim Shady. John Panuzzo was behind the wheel of his '05 Corvette. After coming to the lanes and having to "re-align" himself he ended up paired with Dave Buddendorff. We will give him a break as he has been out of the scene for some time. Buddendorff would leave first with a 12.904 dial and .132 light and Panuzzo would follow with a 12.15 dial and .082 light. At the top end the light helped Jpee to the win as Buddendorff was closer to his dial but not enough to overcome the light. Paul Thompson, Holliston, Massachusetts racer and tuner on Chris Young's car, brought his own '85 Corvette down today and had a great reaction time of .006 but lost the round. He faced Frank Fiori and sent him to the second round when he broke out running 10.593 on 11.50 dial. That is right, a second under the dial. Rob Farley did not make it out to the line until the tenth pair which was odd as he is normally first. He raced Todd Palano in a '99 Corvette. Palano would dial 13.05 to Farley's 11.34. Palano leaves green with a .148 light to Farley's .024, but could not run the number having an issue down track only running 16.66 giving Rob the win. Gary Hurta had the 2009 ZR1 Corvette back at the track. With so much torque, it is a challenge to get that car off the line on street tires. He left with a .345 on his 11.60 dial. The light did not cost him however as his opponent Joe Signore went .332 and his 11.985 on 11.96 dial, great as it was, was not enough as Gary went dead-on 11.605 in the ZR1 for the win. The loss might have bothered Signore at the time but he went on to win the other class he entered today, Classic Muscle Car vs. Modern Muscle Car. I'd take that trade off, sometimes. Don Peppler Jr., who missed last week's race, was back with his '67 Corvette. He faced last week's winner, Dave Tortolani. Peppler would dial his Corvette with a 13.15 on the window to Tortolani's 10.80. Tortolani got the better light to start, .031 to .095 and took the win as Peppler could not run his number. Another racer who missed last week making his '09 Corvette Challenge debut was Michael Archibald. He had some breakage from earlier testing repaired and was ready to race. He faced Ken Gallassio who misjudged the tree and was .455 greener than he needed to be and failed to move on. Archibald went .072 on the tree and 12.588 on 12.15 dial on the win. Peter LoPresti was dead-on his dial of 12.25 with a 12.259 but his .327 reaction time nearly cost him the round. His opponent, Sheila Murchan, could not run her 12.30 dial and LoPresti would advance to the next round.
Eric Fischer was paired with points rookie Bob Bearn driving an '05 C6 Corvette. Bearn would leave first with 11.70 dial to Fischerís 11.56 dial. Fischer got the reaction time advantage, .123 to .148 and was closer on the dial running 11.598 for the win. Vic Gandhi faced George Chambers in the last pair of the round. Chambers dialed 13.50 and would leave with a .175 light as Gandhi followed with an 11.50 dial and .023 light. Though Chambers ran dead-on, 13.509, Gandhi's 11.534 was good for the win. The reaction time would get him the number one seed on the ladder for the next round. Other drivers who did not advance to round two were Frank Schear, Bill Fischer Sr., Rich Shuleski, John Hadyniak, Ken Tyler (who borrowed a car from Pete LoPresti while his is down), Joe Latona, Ralph Blauvelt, Mike Campbell, Kimberly Rudolf-Turchyn, Bill Young, Gregory Ammon, Gary Hillen and Ed Mowton, Sr.
Drivers were on a ladder this round based on reaction time from the previous round. Right out of the gate, points rookie Artie Chin gives Ellis Gray the rest of the day off. Gray left the tree with .108 light to Artie's .082 and took the stripe by .004 but broke out by .003 doing it. Chin ran 11.777 @ 120.56 on 11.75 dial for the win. We had some reds this round and the closest one was Edgar Perez cutting a -.003 against Rob Farley sending him to the next round where he would be getting a bye run. That round cost me two. Farley ran it out to an 11.379 on 11.34 dial. Ralph Savarese went red but he already had the win when he did because Frank Fiori had gone red against him first. Fiori ran his car dead-on after red going 12.857 on 12.85 dial. Savarese got a break on both ends as he ran under on the free pass going 10.982 on 11.05 dial. Also going out red were Bob Gay with -.071 making Tom Smith a winner and Ken Rammer, -.063 sending James Peins to the next round. Tony Abbruzze would face Gary Hurta in the ZR1. They were both very green with Hurta better .228 to .238. Tony was closer to the dial, 12.951 on 12.93 overcoming the reaction time difference. Hurta went 11.653 on 11.60 holding back the factory beast. Louis Calicchia ,who has made the permanent switch the Silver Corvette usually driven by his son Mike, cut a .021 light but let the win light get away when he went under his dial of 11.35 by only .002. Dave Tortolani took the win Louis let get away going 10.86 on 10.80 dial. Vic Gandhi had a bye run to advance to the next round thanks to his .023 light the prior round putting him in the number one spot. Michael Archibald, Peter LoPresti, Bruce Kopcko Jerry Muniz and James Allan failed to advance this round.
Thirteen Corvette drivers remain. Rob Farley would get the bye run being the number 2 seed on the ladder. He would make the single pass and go -.010 but it did not matter as it was a single and he runs 11.382 on 11.35 dial. Tom Smith, in his 1969 Corvette, would face David Hollingshead with a '78 Corvette. Hollingshead would get to leave first with 13.48 and Smith would follow with a 12.63 dial. Smith would outgun Hollingshead on the tree with a .057 to .152 and take the win with a 12.729 @ 98.41. Anthony Abbruzze would get away with a late light this round again when he survived a .169 tree as Alfred Salanitro would run too quick on his 13.90 dial going 13.813 on the brakes at 84.02 but still too quick. James Peins would run dead-on his dial when he raced Paul Bogdan but did not get the win. He was hurt by the tree as well. His 13.758 on 13.75 was not enough to make up for the .184 light he had to Bogdan's .092. Ralph Savarese lowered his dial this round to 10.99 and still would get to leave first against Dave Tortolani who was dialed 10.80. David got the light .077 to .084 but Savarese was closer on the dial with an 11.011 @ 121.57 to Dave's 10.877 @ 122.86. Vic Gandhi would get a pass to the next round when Artie Chin went -.046 red and he left with his 11.75 dial. Gandhi cuts a .103 and runs 11.588 on 11.50 dial. Eric Fischer would face John Panuzzo this round. Fischer trees him, .024 to .089 and then coasts to an 11.623 on 11.55 dial for the win.
In the quarter final round now and Gandhi starts us off with Smith. Smith leaves first with a 12.63 dial and great .041 light. Gandhi follows with 11.50 dial and .151 light. Both drivers run it out the back door and run out going under their dials. Gandhi broke out by less going 11.477 to Smith's 12.594 and Gandhi was in the semi's. Eric Fischer would run dead on to eliminate Paul Bogdan to get to the next round. Fischer ran 11.597 on 11.59 dial and Bogdan would go 11.547 on 11.50 dial. Next up would be Abbruzze and Farley. Abbruzze has the advantage with a .069 to .093 and takes the win as well as both these drives broke out. In the double breakout, the driver that breaks out least wins and that was Abbruzze with a 12.910 on 12.93 dial to Farley's 11.343 on 11.38 dial. Ralph Savarese had the bye this round and made a very nice 10.982 pass on 10.99 dial and .044 light to compliment.
Round 5 - Semi-final:
Four drivers left and wouldn't you know, Vic Gandhi and Ralph Savarese are paired. These drivers shared Gandhi's car last week as three-time Champ Ralph Savarese broke a rear. Gandhi would leave first with 11.50 dial and Ralph kept the 10.99 dial from the prior round. Gandhi left clean with a .041 but when Savareseís tree lit he was away with a -.001 red. The red advanced Vic Gandhi to his sixth Corvette Challenge final holding a 4-1 record. In the other match, Tony Abbruzze would get to leave first with a 12.91 dial and was away green with a .093 light. Eric Fischer was also away green with a .033 light and 11.58 dial. Eric used the tree advantage to close up the gap at the top end and lit the win light with an 11.648 @ 104.69 and he was on his way to his fifth Corvette Challenge final and a 2-2 record.
Round 6 - Final:
Two of the top drivers this series has to offer will square off for the final. With nine Corvette Challenge finals between the two, it is surprising they have never met in the final. Gandhi would keep the 11.50 dial on the window and Fischer would drop his down to 11.57. We were sure to see a great final. Fischer was away with .048 tree and Gandhi with a .036. Both are capable of handling the top end and both drivers stay in it to the finish. Fischer just one hundredth over with an 11.582 @ 115.67 and Gandhi just 3 hundredths over his dial with an 11.53 @ 116.16. Fischer gets the win light! With that win he becomes the 11th driver in the 10 year 1 month history of the Corvette Challenge to have at least three wins. Congratulations to Eric in joining such an elite group.
Corvette Challenge Points Update
As can be expected, Eric Fischer leaves today with the points lead in the series. His win gets him to 8 points and he holds a 1-point lead over runner-up Vic Gandhi. Semi-finalist Ralph Savarese and Tony Abbruzze are tied with 6 points each. Three drivers are tied for fifth with 5 points each, Paul Bogdan, Rob Farley and Tom Smith. You can still sign up for points for the 2009 season if wish. Many drivers have done very well in the past despite missing a points race so if you want to get in the action, be sure and sign up at the track before the first round of the next race.
2009 Corvette Challenge Standings Corvette drivers page with more driver information
Rookie of the Year Update
Artie Chin starts the season with the points lead in the 2009 Rookie of Year class. His third round appearance today gives him 4 points for the year and a 1-point lead over Bruce Kopcko who made it to the second round today and has a total of 3. They are followed by Bob Bearn and Gary Hillen who each exited the first round today and leave with 2-points each. Also it is not too late to sign up for the Rookie points chase. All you need to do is sign up at Raceway Park before the first round of the next race. Eligibility for Rookie of the Year only requires you have never earned more than one point in the Corvette Challenge series.
Rookie of the Year Standings
Spectrum Equipment Service Gear Jammer Award Update
Tom Smith starts the season as the Gear Jammer award points leader with his great 4 round performance. His total of 5 points leads 4 drivers who are tied with three points. The drivers tied with three points are Gary Hurta, Frank Fiori, Pete LoPresti and Michael Archibald. Same applies for the stick shift drivers. It is not too late to get in on the race. All you need to do is bracket race the hard way, with a manual transmission, and sign up for points and let us know you are driving that stick shift Corvette.
Spectrum Equipment Service once again sponsors the "Gear Jammer of the Year" award, presented at year-end banquet to the racer with most points in their manual transmission
Gear Jammer Standings.
Summary of driver Dial-In times
Awards Handed Out at this Event
Vic Gandhi won the 'Best Winning Reaction Time - 1st Round' plaque presented by Raceway Park for the best winning reaction time in the 1st round. Vic Gandhi was quickest on the tree with the win light in the 1st round when with a .023 reaction time.
Bob Trieschmann won the 'Almost Perfect Award' with a loss in the 1st round with the red light closest to .000 (Almost Perfect). Bob Trieschmann'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.
Gary Hurta won the CCDV 'Closest to Dial Award' by running only .005 off his dial. Gary Hurta was awarded a plaque and free tech card for a future race from Corvette Club of Delaware Valley.
Joe Signore won the 'Ohh so Close Award' presented by Zaino when being 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 suffering a loss in the 1st round by the smallest Margin of Victory, Joe Signore earned a Zaino starter package that includes various Zaino products.
All winners of the first round were awarded a trophy. With 64 cars making this event, we sure gave out quite a few trophies or 1st Round Trophy Upgrade Program credits.
Next Two Races
April 4, 2009 with gates opening at 9:30 AM. This will be our second points race of the year. Race day will also feature the first race of the year for the Pro 8 Shootout and Pro 11.50 Index. Come be a part of the excitement with three classes running on the same day.
April 11, 2009 with gates opening at 9:30 AM. This will be our third points race of the year. Race day will also feature the second race of the year for the new look Pro 10 Double Index. Come be a part of the new format featuring racers in a 10.00 index being joined by racers in a 10.50 index.
Visit the Drag Schedule at www.racewaypark.com to view Raceway Park's schedule for other events and days for test and tuning.
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