Champions Clash, Farley Wins The Race, Savarese Takes First Place
July 25, 2009 - Englishtown, NJ -
Now past the mid-point of our season, The East Coast Supercharging Corvette Challenge presented by Yank Racing Converters championship battle is heated up with a new points leader, three-time Champion Ralph Savarese, pulling to the lead for the first time this season. Summer made an appearance at Raceway Park today with the temperature near 90 degrees and humidity enough to choke the race cars, keeping the drivers wondering how they would dial their cars for the conditions. Many of the drivers who were holding weather stations showed the density altitude above 3000'. The day was busy at the track with several classes running alongside of us like the Late Model Mopar series and prime parking areas reserved for the Funny Car Reunion to take place the following day but the racers dealt with the inconvenience the best they could because a day of racing has got to be better than a day not racing. Today we also hosted our third Pro 10 Double Index race of the season and we saw a points lead change in that series too. That race is covered in a separate article to be printed on the week of their race.
ECS co-owner Doug Ring, Winner Rob Farley, Jay McCardle, John Panuzzo, runner-up Ralph Savarese and Bob Trieschmann
Winner Rob Farley
Photos by Edgar Perez. For over 7,000 Corvette Photos, click here.
Round 1: 46 Corvettes came out for round 1 of competition in the Corvette Challenge. The first pair on the track featured John Panuzzo and David Fraitag. Panuzzo, who was sharing his car once more with Ralph Savarese, would move to the front of the line to allow time for him to return the car for Ralph to use. He dials his 2005 Corvette at 12.66, proof the heat was a factor as he has a dead-consistent "12.50 car without a class". Fraitag would leave first in a 2003 Corvette dialed 13.329. He was late on the tree with a .612 and Panuzzo would get the win light easily with a .095 light and 12.888 on 12.66 dial. As I scour down the first round results looking for pairings to highlight, I notice that red lights were very limited this race. Instead, we have a rash of late lights. I hope our recent pointing out of the large number of foul starts did not influence drivers in the wrong direction. Hey, if you don't go red once in a while, you are not trying hard enough. How evident is this? Well Gino Spina goes .305 green this round and gets away with a win. He was racing Don Peppler Jr. who tried to slow his 1967 Corvette down at the finish line but could not slow it enough and broke out going 13.426 @ 100.87 on 13.47 dial sending Spina to the next round. Frank Fiori went .160 on the tree but was in the game with his opponent, Dave Buddendorff going .170 on his light. Both good racers with usually much better lights. Fioriís '79 Vette took the win over Buddendorff's '73 Corvette going 13.154 @ 105.49 on 13.08 dial while Dave was off more than a tenth on his 13.50 dial. Kimberly Rudolf-Turchyn was not as fortunate with her .396 light. Doug Bereczki was .054 on the tree and made quick work of Kim's light. But enough about bad lights, let's look some stellar ones. The best of the round went to Ralph Blauvelt with a .002! The light was too much for John Policastro who was at the track for the first time this year. Blauvelt took the win with a 14.312 on 14.10 dial at 88.88 mph in his '88 Vette. Crazy eight's anyone? Our one 2009 ZR1 owned by Gary Hurta scored the second best light of the round with a .014. It was good for a win over Al Salanitro who was not too far off with .065 green. He broke out on the brakes going 13.882 on 13.89 dial @ 93.56. Hurta ran 11.829 on his 11.70 dial at 124.22 in the factory supercharged Corvette. Ken Baranski left .014 of a second after the light went green in his '73 Corvette and ran 14.804 on his 14.77 dial to defeat Paul Bogdan who was .062 and 11.676 on 11.50 dial in his 427 cid 1997 Corvette. The next best light went to Frank Schear who not only went .022 green but ran dead-on his dial of 13.50 going 13.501. While a good racer, Shawn Cavanagh could not over come the .023 package "Mojo" laid on him and he was off to the Pro 10 Index he was running as well today.
It was a tough day to be a points rookie. Four of our five contenders were in the house and in the stands by round 2. Artie Chin was given a spectator pass by Ken Rammer when "KenCan" took both sides of the track with .091 to .170 tree advantage and running 13.051 on 13.50 dial. Mike Bogdan did well on his dial of 12.472 on 12.46 dial but his .309 light left too much of a margin to make up against Rich Shuleski who was headed to round 2. Rookie Gary Hillen left too early and lost his round going -.003 red sending himself to spectator land while eventual event runner-up, Ralph Savarese said "thank you for the time trial" and ran 12.761 on 12.72 dial with a .048 in the same car Panuzzo dialed 12.66. The final rookie Bruce Kopcko just did not have a better package than top 5 driver Louis Calicchia. Louis went .068 to .124 and ran 11.779 on 11.76 dial for Mahopac Lou. Speaking of top drivers...only one of out Top 10 drivers failed to get out of round 1. Ellis Gray was paired against Edgar Perez. A tight race it was for the two C5 drivers but Perez was better at the tree, .071 to .101 and on the dial with a 10.545 on 10.50 to Gray's 11.567 on 11.52 dial. It was not a total lost weekend for Ellis however. He captured his first Index race win the prior night in the Raceway Park 11.50 index class also qualifying number 1 with yet another dead-on 11.50. Our eventual event winner almost did not get out of round 1. He was up against East Coast Supercharging co-owner Chris Coriell. Farley left the tree with a .101 light but was in good shape as Coriell went .170. However Farley could not run his number going 11.982, on his 11.46 dial. Coriell on the other hand could run his dial of 12.20 but ran it just a little too quick. He broke out going 12.188 @ 112.79 sending Farley to the next round.
Other drivers who did not advance were Jay McCardle (also running in the Pro 10 DI) and Gary O'Connell, both by red light. Others included Rich Piccone, Ken Tyler, Ken Gallasio, Tony Abbruzze, Bill Young and Jerry Muniz.
Round 2: With only 23 left for round 2, we would be on a sportsman ladder, (we ladder at 32 cars or less). Ralph Blauvelt would get the single pass with the number 1 seed thanks to his .002 light round 1. He crushed the tree on the single as well going .029 and running a 14.064 on 14.10 dial. The breakout does not cause a loss in a bye run. John Panuzzo would face Dave Tortolani in the first pair out and he dialed 12.72 as the car was losing ET. He would leave with a .105 light while Dave would leave with a .126 on his 11.19 dial. Dave took the win doing a better job on the dial with an 11.21 @ 117.09. Panuzzo would slow to a 12.791 @ 108.55 on the loss. Dave and Panuzzo have a long history of racing each other, and Dave leads the series 6-0 since the infamous "re-run". Ken Baranski cut the best light of the day with a .001 coupled with a dead-on 14.775 on 14.77 dial. That is a .005 package and one to be proud off. Ken Rammer was the victim of the .005 package and was done for the day. So you think a .005 package is good? How about a margin of victory of only .0002! Yes 2 ten-thousandths of a second is the slim margin of victory Gino Spina took over Edgar Perez. After years of describing the "Farley Slide" I decided to try one when I took a .047 to .073 advantage to the stripe and jammed the brake in "the box" In an epic fail, Spina got ahead of me. Hey! NEVER GIVE UP THE STRIPE!!!!! That is going on the inside windshield of my car. A .001 light is great but only on the positive side. Anthony Cupolo went -.001 allowing Gary Hurta to make a free pass and check his dial of 11.70. He found that he can run under that going 11.687 but still gets the win because Cupolo went red before he broke out. Michael Archibald is on a tear having runnered-up in the last race and cuts a .007 light this round to end Frank Schear's day. Arch ran 12.225 @ 113.39 on 12.12 dial while Schear broke out on his 13.50 dial running 13.476. David Hollingshead, who is having a very consistent season holding 5th place in the standings without making it to one final, kept his winning ways this round. His '78 was up against Tom Smith's '69 Corvette. He used a .073 to .188 tree advantage to advance to the next round running 13.877 on 13.78 dial. The current points leader, Eric Fischer, was up against Louis Calicchia this round. The trees were close with Fischer slightly better, .104 to .108. The dials were close too. Calicchia was 11.76 and Fischer 11.79. With the tree difference, these guys should have been face-to-face the entire track. Fischer had the lead and hit the brakes but too late, too soft, too bad, he broke out giving the win to Calicchia. Fischer was 11.780 on the 11.79 dial at 108.10. This leaves the door open for a points lead change. Savarese, the "Mahopac Express", took the controls of the "Somers Local" and would attempt to derail Bob Trieschmann. Four championships in this pair with Ralph holding three and Bob one. Trieschmann ran closer to his dial but Savarese got the win with the tree. Ralph was .077 green with a 12.832 on 12.78 to Bob's .120 and 12.988 on 12.96 dial. I would bet, no doubt, there was a nose-drop or two up at the top end. Rob Farley would pair with James Peins this round. The Farley Slide is better left to, who else, Farley, and he executed perfectly this time. He took the win with a .044 to .096 tree advantage and an 11.501 @ 104.15 mph on an 11.48 dial. Pein's 14.316 was great on his 14.30 dial but just not enough. Rich Shuleski advanced over Doug Bereczki as did Frank Fiori over Peter LoPresti.
Round 3: Mike Archibald led us off this round with a .004 light and 12.198 on 12.16 dial in his 1968 Corvette with 327 cid motor. While Rich Shuleski, 1996 Grand Sport, ran closer on his dial, 11.584 on 11.57, it was his .058 light that was not enough against Arch's light. The dial on the "Somers Local" kept going up. It was at 12.78 now with Savarese behind the wheel. He took a .063 to .150 advantage at the light over Gary Hurta in the ZR1. On top of the late light, Hurta had some trouble running his 11.70 dial and Savarese took the win running 12.882 @ 95.41. Dave Tortolani overcame a reaction time deficit by going dead-on his dial to take the win over Louis Calicchia. His 11.192 on 11.19 dial combined with Calicchia's breakout 11.743 on 11.79 was good for he win. Rob Farley got to pull the slide again, this time on Spina....hey wait, didn't I try that and fail? Farley was in trouble when Spina treed him .023 to .065. However Spina could not run his 12.65 dial going 12.772 and Farley crossed at 104 mph again with a win light after taking the lead. Ken Baranski, after cutting the great lights, had one get away. He was out the hole with a .359. That was fine for Frank Fiori who was out with a .250 but a nice lead of a tenth despite his own late light. Fiori took the win running 13.331 on 13.14 dial. Ralph Blauvelt faces Hollingshead in the final pair of the round. Both cut nice green lights with Blauvelt .070 and Hollingshead .082. That and a better ET prediction got Blauvelt the win going 14.168 on 14.10 dial.
Round 4: Three pair left and Blauvelt would lead us off alongside Archibald. The tree belonged to Blauvelt .038 to .082. He dialed his car up to 14.15 and then proceeded to run dead-on 14.155 @ 95.18 to take the win while Archibald broke out going 12.139 on 12.16 dial. Savarese was up next against Tortolani. He laid into the tree with a .008 with a 12.80 dial on the window. Tortolani was off with a .090 and 11.19 dial. He chased Savarese down but broke out doing so and Savarese was on the way to the final because he was getting a bye next round. Rob Farley would face Frank Fiori next. Treed again was Farley as Fiori, dialed 13.12, would leave with a .036 light. Farley would dial down to 11.35 this round and leave with a .083 light. At the top end, Farley had the opportunity to take the lead, which he did and held it as Fiori was .115 off his dial allowing Farley to make up the RT disadvantage and take the win to move to the semi-final.
Round 5 - Semi-final: Farley would face Ralph Blauvelt in the semi-final round for a shot at meeting Savarese in the final. Blauvelt would dial 14.15 and would be away with great light, .034. Farley would leave with an 11.35 dial and as soon as he gets out with a .081 light (tree'd again?), we could hear serious tire spin and see window shaking in the convertible from severe tire shake. It was so bad Farley later stated his sun visor came loose and was smacking him repeatedly on the helmet. Blauvelt saw Farley was not going to catch him and got on the brakes. However it was too late. He was on a breakout pass and broke out going 14.119 on 14.15 dial and had lit the trailing Farley's win light. As mentioned, Savarese would get a bye into the final. He picked up this bye opportunity by taking out number 2 seeded Gary Hurta in round 3. He would make a soft pass just to get the round in the books and was on his way to meet Farley in the final!
Round 6 - Final: Let's play the numbers game. There are lots of numbers to look at for this final. Five; The number of championships that are coming to the starting line. Three for Ralph and two for Rob. That is more than half of our championship titles since we first started counting points in 2001. Only Trieschmann, Joe Blass and Jeanne Linke have denied these two in the past. Eighteen; the number of points races since Rob Farley last won 2007 Event 9. 38: the number of Corvette Challenge finals that these two have appeared in, including Top 4, Top 16 and non-points races but not including any index classes. 24 for Savarese. 14 for Farley. Three: the number of Corvettes Savarese has used this year. Four; the number of times these two have faced each other in a Corvette Challenge final with this being the fifth. Score is Farley 3, Savarese 1. 1,744...the number of "I"'s and "Me"'s this article would have if Rob was writing it. One; damn good race we are about to see.
Farley goes right, Savarese left. As they pull for the burnouts, Farley has trouble. He backs up and does it over again. Those in the stands thought Farley may have been "done" over this maneuver but that turned out to be not the case. No gaming on the tree here. Savarese in at 12.80. Farley chasing at 11.36. Savarese is out and green, .022. Farley follows and is green, .017. Farley runs him down and at the finish line and it is Farley with the win! He runs a tighter package going 11.379 on the 11.36 dial @ 115.90. Savarese runs 12.825 @ on the 12.80 dial @ 109.15. After the race, Savarese confessed that he tightened it up a bit too much, allowing Farley to sneak on by for the win.
As finals go, this is one we look forward to. If we cannot have a new driver in the final, we enjoy seeing our two winningest drivers in the final. Savarese is still the career leader with 18 wins and the only one in double digits. Farley follows him with 9 total wins. While on the topic, next in line is John Panuzzo. He is third overall with 6 wins. Though he has not won since 2005, his car continues to win with Linke and Savarese. Fourth on the all time list is Edgar Perez with 5 total and his last win in 2008 coming after four years without one. Tied for fifth on the all time list with four apiece are Eric Fischer (with two coming this year), John Hadyniak and Vic Gandhi. More numbers; in 107 events we have had 48 different winners. If you want to know who, visit http://www.corvettechallenge.info/allwinners.php
Corvette Challenge Points Update
Ralph Savarese, three-time champion of the Corvette Challenge, has moved to first place in the standings on the strength of his runner-up finish. This is the first time Ralph has led the points this season. His total of 26 is two better than the incoming points leader Eric Fischer. Eric lost in round 2 today opening the door for Savarese to pass him which he did. If they end up tied, Fischer currently holds the first tiebreaker having won two events but it is a little early to look at that as there are still four points races left. Louis Calicchia holds third place in the points 4 behind Fischer at 20 total. Rob Farley moved into fourth place, the all important forth place, with his event win. His points total of 19 is the same as David Hollingshead but his event win breaks that tie and gives him forth place. These four drivers will be invited by Raceway Park to race in the 29th ANNUAL P.C. RICHARD & SON ALL AMERICAN JET CAR NATIONALS at Old Bridge Township Raceway Park, Englishtown, NJ. The event will be held on Wednesday night, August 5, 2009. Racers will get free entry, a payout, trophies and a chance to watch one of the greatest Motorsports spectacles in the nation. If you can make it out, it is a show worth attending. Visit www.racewaypark.com for more info and pricing for tickets. Now back to our points standings. Hollingshead holds fifth place with his 19 points and is followed in sixth by Bob Trieschmann with 18. It is the same 18 that Michael Archibald has but Arch is seventh as Trieschmann has a lower power point ranking (smaller negative number). Dave Tortolani holds eight with 17 points. Two drivers have 16 but with the tiebreaker, Ellis Gray gets credit for ninth position and Doug Bereczki tenth.
2009 Corvette Challenge Standings Corvette drivers page with more driver information
Rookie of the Year Update
Tough day for our Corvette Challenge rookies as you may have already read. Four of our Rookies attended today and all four were done after round one. The Rookie points standings do not change after today's race. Gary Hillen comes in and goes out the points leader now with 13 total points. Bruce Kopcko follows in second place down by one at 12 total. Artie Chin holds the third position for the season with 9 points while Mike Bogdan is in forth with 6 total points. Bob Bearn did not make today's event and rounds out the Rookie class in fifth with 4 points.
Rookie of the Year Standings
Spectrum Equipment Service Gear Jammer Award Update
We have a new points leader in the Gear Jammer's award chase. Michael Archibald had his second successful race in the series and combined with Don Peppler Jr.ís first round exit, now holds the top position of Corvette shifter. Arch now holds a three point lead over Pepp, 18 to 15. Tom Smith scored two points today to move into sole possession of third place. He has a total of 14 points trailing first by 4. Gary Hillen sits in fourth position with 13 points and Pete LoPresti follows with 12. Each exited round 1 today.
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
Ralph Blauvelt won the 'Best Winning Reaction Time - 1st Round plaque presented by Raceway Park for the best winning reaction time in the 1st round. Ralph Blauvelt was quickest on the tree with the win light in the 1st round when with a .002 reaction time.
Gary Hillen won the 'Almost Perfect Award' with a loss in the 1st round with the red light closest to .000 (Almost Perfect). Gary Hillen's light was 0.005 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.
Frank Schear won the CCDV 'Closest to Dial Award' by running only .001 off his dial. Frank Schear was awarded a plaque and free tech card for a future race from Corvette Club of Delaware Valley.
Mike Bogdan won the 'Ohh so Close Award' presented by Zaino when being edged out in the 1st round by the smallest margin of victory of .0146. That number is the MOV number on your time slip. Although suffering a loss in the 1st round by the smallest Margin of Victory, Mike Bogdan earned a Zaino starter package that includes various Zaino products.
All winners of the first round were awarded a trophy. With 57 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
While not a Corvette Challenge, don't forget that August 1, 2009 is the annual Corvette Show & Go at Raceway Park. The once-a-year event for Corvettes features not only drag racing, but also the largest Corvette Show of it's kind and a chance to race the orange cones on the autocross course. New for this year, those who wish to compete for cash can enter a special class called Index Madness with $20 of the $50 entry fee going to a cash payout, gamblers style. The Index Madness class is Pro Dial style .500 pro tree race where drivers must chose an index (dial) in half second intervals. So if you run a couple of 12.44's in time trials, you may chose a 12.50 index. Eliminations will be mixed in indexes meaning a 12.50 index car may race a 10.50 index car with the tree handicapped like a bracket race. Check out the flyer for the Show and Go at http://www.corvetteexpress.com/showngo2009.pdf
Corvette Challenge is back August 22, 2009 with gates opening at 9:30 AM. This will be the seventh and last points race to determine the top 2 drivers that will go to the NHRA Division 1 Bracket Finals to represent the Corvette Challenge and Raceway Park at the NHRA Division 1 Summit ET Finals. The event will be held on the weekend of September 24-26, 2009 at Maple Grove Raceway. This is a National competition and a very prestigious honor and for the first time in 2009, Raceway Park will send 2 Corvette Challenge drivers. Race day will also feature the fourth 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.
Corvette Challenge returns October 10, 2009 after skipping September with gates opening at 9:30 AM. This will be our eighth of ten points races of the year. Race day will also feature the fourth race of the year for the Pro 10 Double 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. 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