May 9, 2009 - Englishtown, NJ -
The East Coast Supercharging Corvette Challenge presented by Yank Racing Converters produced its first repeat winner of 2009 in Event 4 today. The skies were cloudy at the start of the day but the sun was shining at the end on our racers. It could have been because we shared the stage with the special 8.50 Index race in memory of Leo Barnaby, a sponsor of our series for several years under the name of Neverlift Racecraft, to benefit his young daughter Jenna. Racers were given decals today commemorating the event and if you did not get one, see me at the next race. Eric Fischer drove his Green C5 Corvette to his second final of the year and took his second win defeating Shay LaScalla, who was in her first Corvette Challenge final ever.
Today's event also featured two of our heads-up classes. Our Pro 8 Shootout and Pro 11.50, where racers competed in their second race of the year, were also held today. Our two CC finalist also competed in the 11.50 class. The events are covered separately.
AMR team members, Marshall Brown, Rob Petyo, David Hillen, Runner-up Shay LaScalla, AMR Tommy Michalkowski and Winner Eric Fischer
Winner Eric Fischer
Photos by Edgar Perez. For over 7,000 Corvette Photos, click here.
53 Corvettes made the call for first round of the Corvette Challenge. John Panuzzo was up first against Jerry Muniz. Panuzzo was sharing his Corvette once again with Ralph Savarese who's Corvette is done breaking rears; it is getting a solid axle. Jpee was out first with a 12.64 dial and .100 light and Muniz followed with a .199 light and 11.85 dial. Both drivers did a better job with the dial than the light. Muniz was dead-on going 11.857 @ 115.11 on 11.85 dial while Panuzzo broke out losing the match with a 12.637 @ 107.77. Today was another one of those days where we can call it a "red light" special. Eleven total matches were decided by the red lights. That is 40% or nearly half the races. Every once-in-a-while we get a lot of reds. The closest to perfect of the bunch was the first of the round belonging to Dave Harris with a -.003. His red gave the win to Tom Smith and a free pass to round 2 when he too went dead-on with a 12.953 @ 108.83 on 12.95 dial. Good break for him as he went .277 on the tree. Louis Calicchia cut a .011 light and ran 11.746 on 11.73 though he already had the win when Mike Bogdan went -.004 red. Bill Fischer Sr. suffered the fate of the red as well when he went just -.007 red against Don Peppler, Jr in his 1967 Corvette. Not all of the reds were close however. The worst of the reds was a -.080 recorded by Pete LoPresti in the C6 Z. His red sent James Peins to the next round. Pro 10 regular David Shen joined us in the Challenge as a result of not qualifying for the Pro 8 Shootout. He was running both Corvette Challenge and Pro Dial Dash today. He dialed his 1965 Corvette at 10.15 and 10.15 he ran with a 9 and with a .082 light to boot. He took out John Hadyniak who had to jump out of the staging lanes to change a tire that had a valve stem break when he was checking his pressure. Hadyniak was off on his dial a bit running 11.687 on 11.61. David Tortolani and Dave Buddendorff had a nice race when they both slayed the tree. Buddendorff was better with a .020 to Tortolani's .033. In the end however Tortolani's 11.273 on 11.25 dial got him the win as Buddendorff went 13.491 on 13.38 dial. From the best pair of lights to the worst we go. The next race we look at was a classic case of each driver saying, "no, after you". Gino Spina's .406 was made to look good only by Kimberly Turchyn's .449. Kim got the last laugh however as she took the win in her 1993 convertible with a tighter package with a 14.113 on 14.01 dial to Gino's 12.915 on 12.75 dial. The quickest dial of the round went to Chris Young, who was also competing in the Pro 8 Shootout. His dial would be 9.993 for the round and would have to face his uncle, Ralph Savarese. Ralph was one of those red lights as he left -.034 on the tree and he Young advanced to the next round.
Our eventual winner, Eric Fischer, still upset from the first round "pummeling" by his Dad in the last race, got his day off to a great start when he defeated Alfred Salanitro. Fischer would put together a package that was tough to beat. He went .034 on the tree and 11.803 on 11.79 dial. Nitro had a respectable pass but not enough to defeat the soon to be points leader, Fischer, with a 13.867 on 13.79 dial with .061 light. Shay LaScalla, started her run at the final vs. Neil Vernarelli in the '57 Corvette. LaScalla cut a .126 light but Vernarelli helped her out with a .145. He also did not run his number going 14.025 on 13.70 dial. LaScalla was on the way to the next round with an 11.639 on 11.51 dial having learned the lesson to let up with the big lead.
The other drivers that got free tickets to the observatory were Bob Bearn, Ralph Blauvelt, Shawn Cavanagh, W Tad Archambault, Rob (what the .139 light??) Farley, Rich Shuleski, Ellis Gray, Sheila Murchan, Ray Sztabnik, Rob Petyo, Artie Chin, Gary O'Connell, Gary Hillen and yours truly, Edgar Perez.
Louis Calicchia's first round reaction time earned him the number 1 seed on the ladder and since we were uneven this round he received a bye run. He was first on the track and cuts a .059 light and runs 11.782 on the 11.73 dial on the free pass. The next four pair out were decided at the tree with red lights. Joe Signore drove his 2007 Corvette to a 12.461 on 12.45 dial but it did not matter as he went -.013 red. Jerry Muniz took the win going dead-on 11.908 @ 114.25 on the 11.90 dial with a .085 light. Tony Abbruzze lit the red giving Paul Bogdan, Tony ran an impressive 13.183 on 13.16 dial but the -.008 red ended his day. Next it was Gary Hurta's turn to light the red in his LS9 Corvette. Hurta left -.059 red giving Bob Trieschmann the win in the round. Bob ran 12.970 on 12.96 dial and caught a break with his .153 light. The fourth red was lit by Joe Latona who went -.040, he must have been very anxious to get to that family picnic that he was late for. He lit the win light for Ron Higgins in the C4 Corvette who went dead-on 12.085 on 12.08 dial. Finally we have a pair with no red! Ken Tyler, dialed 12.44 would leave first on Dave Tortolani dialed 11.26. Tyler had it wrapped at the tree with a .015 to Tortolani's snoozing .231. As I go up and down the pairs, it is amazing all the stellar numbers. For example, Shay LaScalla cuts a .016 light and runs 11.542 on 11.52 dial to take the win over Michael Archibald in his C3. Then right behind them Tony Buonassisi cuts a perfect .000 light giant eventual winner Eric Fischer. Unfortunately he could not run the 13.05 dial going 13.17. Fischer overcame the perfect light with a .040 light of his own and 11.842 on 11.82 dial to take the win with a closer .060 package. In the final pair, Chris Young did not know he had a tire going flat and when he launched the car did not leave clean. He had to get out of it to get control and Kimberly Turchyn went on to take the win but Young was able to drive it back to the trailer where he found only 2 lbs of pressure in the tire and a hole the size of a pencil. Ken Rammer, Doug Bereczki, Russ DeLibero Tom Smith and Tommy Michalkowski also exited this round.
An even 14 racers are left for this round. David Hollingshead continued his strong performance this year when he ousted Frank Schear this round. He took the reaction time advantage but both drives broke out and Hollingshead did it by less going 12.856 on 12.87 dial. Don Peppler Jr. took the win with a .118 light and 13.359 on 13.57 dial while Ken Tyler broke out trying to catch him. Louis Calicchia used a .122 light and 11.808 pass on 11.76 dial to defeat Paul Bogdan. Shay LaScalla nailed a .013 light and slowed the car down when she looked up and saw Ron Higgins had gone red and lit her win light. Eric Fischer took the win this round with a leisurely .142 light after watching Kimberly Turchyn leaving late with a .412 light. That's one advantage of being the quicker car. The next two pair was decided by red light. James Peins went -.086 red followed by David Shen going -.094 and sending Bob Trieschmann and Jerry Muniz to the next round respectively.
Seven left and Bob Trieschmann would draw the bye run. He was last on the track and made a 12.982 pass on 12.96 dial. Shay LaScalla saw David Hollingshead, dialed 13.85, go red and relaxed on the tree with .145 but it did not matter, the win was hers. Up next Calicchia cuts a .023 light to Peppler's .043 but then proceeds to break out going 11.758 on 11.78 dial. Peppler goes on to the win with a 13.591 on 13.55 dial. "The Boogieman", Jerry Muniz were out next. Jerry was having a stellar day going rounds in the 11.50 index in addition to the brackets. In the lanes back from his last 11.50 round win Jerry spotted the 11.80 dial on Fischer's car and proceeded to write 11.80 on his car. Then he pointed to Fischer and said, "Heads up, baby! Me and you!!". Fischer agreed and said, "Game on!". But his bracket day would end when he broke out going 11.796 on 11.80 dial. Fischer took the win while going 11.855 on 11.80 dial and having the better light, .044 to Jerry's .084.
Round 5 - Semi-final:
Down to the final four. Shay would face Trieschmann in the first pair. Bob, dialed 12.96 would leave first and was in trouble from the get-go with a .154 light. Shay would follow with an 11.54 dial and .004 light. Shay was able to take the win thanks to the light. Eric Fischer would face Peppler next and Peppler would leave with a 13.55 dial and .027 light. Fischer was in trouble with a .074 light. Eric ran him down and took the win however. Pepp could not run the number. Fischer's 11.864 run on 11.84 was good for the win.
Round 6 - Final:
Now to size up the final, Beauty and the Beast. While it is not say Eric is a beast but he sure has been beating up on all comers this year. As the runner up of the 2008 top 16, and winner of the the first points race of the year and after finishing fourth in points in 2008, Fischer is one of our top drivers and is on a hot-streak. Fischer was in his sixth final holding a 3 and 2 record thus far. Shay on the other hand, a rookie last year, was in her first Corvette Challenge final. She did make it to the final in the first 11.50 race of the year but this is her first Challenge final. The cars are matched pretty evenly with Fischer getting the head start with an 11.84 to Shay's 11.54. Fischer's Green Corvette is off green with a .056 light and LaScalla follows shortly with a .121. She did all she could going dead-on 11.545 @ 118.97 mph. It was not enough. Fischer ran nearly identical to his previous pass going 11.863 @ 111.91 on the brakes. So you can put our first multi-event winner in 2009 in the books. Fischer takes back the points lead on the strength of today's win. With that win Fischer becomes the 6th driver in the 10 year 3 month history of the Corvette Challenge to have at least four wins. Congratulations to Eric in joining such an elite group. The other 5 in alphabetical order are: Rob Farley, Vic Gandhi, John Panuzzo, Edgar Perez, and Ralph Savarese
Corvette Challenge Points Update
With his second win of the season, Eric Fischer brings his points total to 16 for the season and an all important tie breaking two event wins. The lead is three points over David Hollingshead 13 points. Ellis Gray, who came into the race with the points lead, falls to fourth with 11 points and an event win. The win breaks the tie with 11 points with two other drivers. Three-time Champion, Ralph Savarese fell from second to fourth scoring only 1 point today to bring his total to 11. Both Gray and Savarese went out first round today. Former Champion, Bob Trieschmannís semi-final appearance brings his total to 11 and is tied with Savarese
2009 Corvette Challenge Standings Corvette drivers page with more driver information
Rookie of the Year Update
None of this year's rookies were able to exit round one today. Rookie points leader Artie Chin holds a 1-point lead over Gary Hillen with 6 points to Gary's 5. Bob Bearn and Bruce Kopcko remain tied with 3 points each. Mike Bogdan rounds out the rookie class with two points.
Rookie of the Year Standings
Spectrum Equipment Service Gear Jammer Award Update
The semi-final appearance leapfrogged Don Peppler, Jr to the points lead in the Gear Jammers chase, a title his is only person to win in our series. His 5 points total gives him a total of 9 and a two-point lead over Tom Smith who came in the leader and leaves in second place with a total of 7 points. Ken Tyler and Michael Archibald remained tied with 6 points each while three drivers are tied with 5.
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
Louis Calicchia won the 'Best Winning Reaction Time - 1st Round' plaque presented by Raceway Park for the best winning reaction time in the 1st round. Louis Calicchia was quickest on the tree with the win light in the 1st round when with a .011 reaction time.
David Harris won the 'Almost Perfect Award' with a loss in the 1st round with the red light closest to .000 (Almost Perfect). David Harris's light was 0.003 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.
Tom Smith won the CCDV 'Closest to Dial Award' by running only .003 off his dial. Tom Smith 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 .0103. 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 75 cars making this event, we sure gave out quite a few trophies or 1st Round Trophy Upgrade Program credits.
Next Two Races
June 6, 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 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.
July 11, 2009 with gates opening at 9:30 AM. This will be our fifth points race of the year. Race day will also feature the third 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