April 4, 2009 - Englishtown, NJ -
The season is moving fast for The East Coast Supercharging Corvette Challenge presented by Yank Racing Converters with our third race in the books, but not faster than the winds we endured today. The winds were forecasted to be 30 mph with gusts up to 50 mph. With the winds being tough to deal with at the top end of the quarter mile, Raceway Park made the decision to run all classes only to the eighth mile. As you read this article, keep in mind the numbers will look odd for this 1/4 mile racing series. This has happened in our series once before, in last year's last race. The wind and the threat of half-track racing kept some of the faithful away but I could not think of anything else I would rather be doing than racing so I will take it.
In a theme that may be becoming all too common for three-time Champion Ralph Savarese, he broke the car's rear and had to jump into another car. All too common to other racers, it did not slow him down as he took it to a quarter final appearances. The big story for the series was Ellis Gray returning to the winner's circle for the first time in seven years. Even bigger than that was the all Corvette Club of Delaware Valley (CCDV) final as both Ellis Gray and runner-up Doug Bereczki are members. CCDV is the sponsor of our Closest to Dial Award which gives the driver closest to their dial in the first round, without breaking out a tech card for a future event. Good deal for/from the club.
Today's event also featured two of our heads-up classes. Our Pro 8 Shootout and Pro 11.50 returned for the 2009 season for the first time today. The events are covered separately.
Edgar Perez, Doug Bereczki, Ellis Gray, Bob Trieschmann
Winner Ellis Gray
Photos by Artie Chin. For over 7,000 Corvette Photos, click here.
42 Corvettes made the call to first round today which included a pair of drivers sharing the "Panuzzomobile". Since the owner John Panuzzo, 2005 Lemans Blue Coupe, was sharing the car with Savarese, he was allowed to run first. He faced Frank Schear, 1993 Torch Red Coupe, in the round. Panuzzo was dead-late on the tree giving Schear a .096 to .211 tree advantage. Both drivers broke out but Frank broke out least going 8.297 on 8.31 dial allowing Panuzzo to focus on the team owner role with Savarese still to drive the car. Jerry "Boogieman" Muniz, 2005 Black Coupe, would face Paul Bogdan, 1997 Silver Coupe, and took the win with a dead-on run 7.383 on 7.38 dial while Bogdan would breakout. Our classic father-son battle happened again when Bill Fischer Sr. took son Eric Fischer to school on the tree. Senior cut a .008 light to Eric's .082. Even a dead-on run of 7.431 on 7.43 by Eric was not enough to make up as dad took the win with a 7.438 on 7.40 dial. What does it mean to go dead-on? Well a driver can only predict their elapsed time to the hundredth, like a 7.43. The timing system gives us numbers to the ten-thousandths but in drag racing, there is no rounding so when a driver runs the number to the hundredth it is considered dead-on for having the ability to predict to the hundredth of a second. So when we say a driver is dead-on with a number it is the number for the thousandth which the printed results and the scoreboard shows. Occasionally someone does it with a zero. Gary Hillen, 2008 Black Coupe, did it with a zero this round. It was coupled with a .051 light to take the win over Ron Higgins who broke out on the pass. The even more amazing thing about Hillen's dead-on pass is he did it with a 7.40 dial which happened to be today's 1/8 mile index for the Pro 11.50 index race he was also participating in. Tony Abbruzze lost a close one. He was paired with Louis Calicchia. Tony took the tree advantage .029 to .049. Louis, dialed 7.40 ran 7.419 to take the win as Tony broke out by .001 on his 8.30 prediction.
Don't you hate it when you cut a .004 light and come up on the losing end? That happened to Mike Campbell today who happened to face eventual winner Ellis Gray. Campbell must have thought he had it in the bag when Gray got around him at the finish line with a .051 light and a dead-on 7.419 on the 7.41 dial. That is a .02 margin of victory. Doug Bereczki had a stellar package this round to end Ken Rammer's day. Bereczki, driving the red 1987 C4 Corvette cut a .029 light and ran 9.906 on 9.08 dial advancing to the second round.
Unlike the first points race of the year, we only had four racers go red round one. The worst was Shay LaScalla who left before the tree was activated probably bumping in and having the car roll out on her. Rich Shuleski, driving the '96 Grand Sport, also went red allowing Don Peppler Jr. in his '67 to advance. The other two drivers, we do not have driver information for unfortunately. Other drivers who did not advance were John Hadyniak, Shawn Cavanagh, James Peins, Ken Tyler (again in Peter LoPresti's car), LoPresti himself, Raymond Sztabnik, Rob Petyo, Artie Chin and Bill Young.
We were left with 21 cars to go on the ladder for round 2. Bill Fischer's .008 light round 1 would get him the top seed and a bye run. Best light of the round was .032 and went to two drivers with two different results. Jerry Muniz cut a .032 but immediately spun the tires losing the advantage he had over Edgar Perez, 1999 Torch Red Coupe, (me) allowing me to advance to the third round. The other .032 went to Gray. He nailed Rob Farley with it as Farley went .089 on the tree. However, it came down to a double breakout and Gray took the win going 7.395 on 7.40 while Farley went 7.325 on 7.34 dial. With all the wind today it was surprising that we did not have our fist re-run until the last pair of the second round. Gary Hillen and sponsor Russ DeLibero had to have a rerun when a leaf blew through the timing markers before Russ could reach the finish line. DeLibero took the win when Hillen went red and he was on the way to the third. Joe Latona and Dave Tortolani, also a sponsor, left near identical on the tree with Latona .117 and Tortolani .119. Tortolani took the win when he went 7.092 on his 7.00 dial as Latona was off the pace running 7.567 on 7.24 dial. Doug Bereczki breathed a sigh of relief as his worst light of the day, .166, did not result in a loss. His opponent, Don Peppler ran much quicker than his 8.73 dial going 8.662 for the breakout. Bereczki was helped by his 9.094 on 9.08 dial. Watch out for David Hollingshead, who took last year off and is starting this year on a tear. His .062 to .070 reaction advantage over Frank Schear put him in position to take the win and advance. He ran 8.776 on 8.72 dial for the win. And speaking of great starts, former Champion Bob Trieschmann is keeping pace this year as well. He used an 8.179 dead-on run and .090 light to force Ralph Blauvelt to break out running 8.826 on 8.86 dial. Other drivers calling it a day this round were Louis Calicchia, Dave Buddendorff and Rob Zona (testing a friend's Corvette).
Now with 11 cars left, Doug Bereczki would get the bye from the ladder as the number 2 seed. He was first on the track for the run and cut a .061 light and ran 9.017 on 9.08 on the free test pass. Bob Trieschmann would face Dave Tortolani next. Tortolani dialed 7.01 and ran 7.027 but it came after a -.014 red. The red gave Bob T the win and a free pass as he went 8.165 on 8.17 dial without it hurting him. Ralph Savarese who earlier grenaded his rear end (second of the year) and was now trying to grenade John Panuzzo's racing Kimberly Rudolf-Turchyn. Ralph took the win when he took a .131 tree to her .185 and ran 8.178 on his 8.10 dial. David Hollingshead then drove his 1978 Corvette to a win over Russ DeLibero. Dave took a .043 to .205 starting line advantage and was able to slow the car for the win running 8.986 on 8.73 dial. Next up I would face Bill Fischer in his White 2001 Corvette. He would leave first with 7.40 dial and treed me with a .030 light. How do I know, I watched him do it meaning I was dead late going .174 and to top it off, spun the tires off the line. Never did catch him as he went 7.422 on that 7.40 dial. The final pair was Ellis Gray in the 2000 Pewter Coupe and Al Salanitro in the 1995 White Coupe. Al would leave first with the 8.80 dial and .032 reaction time. Ellis was in trouble when he left on his 7.38 dial with a .090 light. However, "Nitro" broke out handing Gray the win. Al ran 8.743 on 8.80 dial while Ellis ran 7.410 on the 7.38.
Now we are down to six Corvettes. Losers of this round would earn some cash so this is a money round. First out were Bereczki and Trieschmann. Bereczki dialed 9.03 and left with a.099 light. It was good enough to have an edge over Trieschmann dialed 8.82 and out of the shoot with a .133 light. Bereczki again was right around his dial with a 9.055 while Trieschmann, on the chase, broke out going 8.168, by two-thousandths. The next pair was Ellis Gray and Ralph "Hey can I drive your car" Savarese. Savarese would leave with a .065 light on his 8.08 dial. Ellis followed with a .053 and 7.38 dial. It does take some stellar numbers to knock out the three-time champ Savarese and Ellis delivered with a dead-on run going 7.389. Savarese's 8.090 was not enough and Gray advanced to the semi-final. The final pair was David Hollingshead and Bill Fischer. Hollingshead left first and green with 8.72 dial and .115 light. Fischer followed with 7.40 dial but a -.145 light. Hollingshead saw the win light and backed it way down.
Round 5 - Semi-final:
Three to go and Ellis Gray's day was looking great as he picks up the bye run into the final. He was pumped and took the free pass cutting a .011 light and running 7.361 on 7.38 dial. He was ready. Doug Bereczki would face Dave Hollingshead for the other spot in the final. Doug would leave first with a 9.02 dial. Dave would follow with an 8.82 dial. Bereczki took the tree with a .076 to .117 advantage. Both driver times were off and both appeared to have traction issues but it was Bereczki with the win on a 9.412 run.
Round 6 - Final:
As mentioned, Ellis Gray was in the midst of a long drought from having a golden sticker you get when you win in the Corvette Challenge. His finals record going in was 1-2 having won 2002 Event 8 and last appearing in a final in 2008 Event 1. Doug Bereczki however, had yet to capture a Corvette Challenge win and had only one appearance in 2006 Event 6. Incidentally, Gray recently had surgery on his ankle and is seen walking the pits in a very large boot. He puts on a sneaker to race. Bereczki would dial his C4 Corvette up a bit to 9.05 from his last run. Gray would dial down from his last run to 7.35. If we look at our how drivers did with their dials, Doug was 100% on with his adjustment, he ran dead-on with a 2, 9.052. Gray however, would have done better not making a change as he ran 7.382, which would have been dead-on had he kept the dial from the prior round. However, the race was won on the tree when Gray laid down a .028 which Bereczki could not recover from as he went .067. Announcer Walter Frey predicted a great race and a great race we did receive as the win went to Gray by .009 of a second. So Ellis ends the 7-year drought and brings home the golden sticker. Bereczki will have to wait for another day. Gray becomes the 18th driver to have won 2 or more Corvette Challenge events. Gray was very grateful for the help he received from Rob Farley in working the EFI Live software many drivers of C5 Corvettes are using to tune their "throttle-by-wire" cars for index racing. It is now common to hear drivers talking about throttle percentages they are running to slow their cars for indexes. Gray was running at 60% throttle for this race.
Corvette Challenge Points Update
The points chase tightened up today with Ellis Gray taking the event win and the points lead. He gained 7 points for his 6-round win and now totals 10 for the season and sits on top with the tie-breaker having the event win. In second place is Ralph Savarese whose quarter final appearance brings him to 10 points as well. Last event winner, Eric Fischer falls to third after his dad took him out round 1 and he sits there with 9 points and his event win breaks the tie there. David Hollingshead holds fourth place with 9 points of his own. Today's runner-up Doug Bereczki has sole possession of fifth place in the points chase with 8. Five drivers are tied for sixth with 7 points each. Anthony Abbruzze, Rob Farley, Vic Gandhi (who did not make today's race), Al Salanitro and David Tortolani are the five drivers.
2009 Corvette Challenge Standings Corvette drivers page with more driver information
Rookie of the Year Update
Artie Chin came into today with the Rookie points lead and despite a first round loss, leaves with the lead. His total of 5 points puts him 1 point up on Gary Hillen who picked up a few today to move into second place with 4 points. Bruce Kopcko and Bob Bearn did not make today's race and hold third and fourth places respectively with 3 for Kopcko and 2 for Bearn. Mike Bogdan, another one of our sponsors, joined the points chase today but lost first round and leaves with 1 point and in fifth place.
Rookie of the Year Standings
Spectrum Equipment Service Gear Jammer Award Update
Tom Smith came in the leader in the Gear Jammer category and leaves the leader despite losing round 1. He has a total of 5 for the year thus far. Don Peppler Jr., three-time winner of this category made a move up to number 2 today and trails by 1 having 4 total. Three drivers are now tied with 3 points for third place. Gary Hillen, Peter LoPresti and Michael Archibald are the three with three.
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.
Awards Handed Out at this Event
Bill Fischer won the 'Best Winning Reaction Time - 1st Round' plaque presented by Raceway Park for the best winning reaction time in the 1st round. Bill Fischer was quickest on the tree with the win light in the 1st round when with a .008 reaction time.
4917 won the 'Almost Perfect Award' with a loss in the 1st round with the red light closest to .000 (Almost Perfect). 4917's light was -0.018 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 Hillen won the CCDV 'Closest to Dial Award' by running only .000 off his dial. Gary Hillen was awarded a plaque and free tech card for a future race from Corvette Club of Delaware Valley.
John Panuzzo won the 'Ohh so Close Award' presented by Zaino when being edged out in the 1st round by the smallest margin of victory of .0010. That number is the MOV number on your time slip. Although suffering a loss in the 1st round by the smallest Margin of Victory, John Panuzzo earned a Zaino starter package that includes various Zaino products.
All winners of the first round were awarded a trophy. With 60 cars making this event, we sure gave out quite a few trophies or 1st Round Trophy Upgrade Program credits.
Next Two Races
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.
May 9, 2009 with gates opening at 9:30 AM. This will be our fourth points race of the year. Race day will also feature the second 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.
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