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Savarese Makes it Three Out of The Last Four in Event 7

By Edgar Perez

August 14, 2010 - Englishtown, NJ - After being eliminated in the semi-finals at the last race following two consecutive wins, Ralph "The Mahopac Express" was back on "rails" in the East Coast Supercharging Corvette Challenge presented by Yank Racing Converters. While the temperature was not as hot as our last race, Ralph’s Corvette was. He was not only collecting time slips with win arrows pointing at his lane but also running with seized radiator fans and the car running hot; literally. Forty-four Corvettes entered the Corvette Challenge bracket class today. Many of the racers doubled up running one of our other Index classes and with our Index only entries, we totaled 70 entries for the day. In addtion, some of our racers also entered classes such as GM EFI, EFI 11.50 and Real Street. Our final was filled with something "Old" with the "Express" in yet another final, and also featured something "new" with first time finalist Adam Brandt. Of course there was something borrowed and lots of blue (wedding theme to be tied in later). Weather could not have been nicer for an August day with a recorded high of only 80 degrees, low humitdy and a high barometric pressure contributing to a density altitude of 1283 feet per the statistics on

Round 1

Round 1 got started when John Panuzzo faced off in his Blue C6 against rookie Russ DeLibero in the Black C5. DeLibero, dialed 13.56, would get the tree advantage with a .020 against Panuzzo who left with a .072 green. Panuzzo would get the win when Russ broke out and he went dead-on his dial running 12.692 @ 110.92 on the 12.69 dial. Panuzzo was one of three drivers that went dead-on this round. Another, Rich Shuleski, did it against Ken Rammer. Shuleski ran 11.485 @ 116.60 mph on 11.48 dial which helped him get the win over Rammer who drove his Corvette to a 12.949 on 12.93 dial but a .168 to .148 tree disadvantage hurt him. The best of the three was Frank Schear who went 13.160 on 13.16 dial to eliminate Ralph Blauvelt to advance to the next round. The closest match of the round involved a couple of C6's owned by Mike Campbell and Jerry Muniz. It was a double-breakout decided by .0256 seconds. Campbell would get the win when he went 12.595 on 12.67 dial to "Boogieman's" 11.400 on 11.50 dial. Top 5 racer Ken Tyler recently had hip replacement surgery but was still at the track driving an automatic C4 on borrowed from friend Peter LoPresti. Tyler would face Tony Abbruzze. Tyler, dialed 14.45, would move first but moved too early as he lit the red light giving Abbruzze the win before he could leave on his 12.96 dial. Incidentally, Abbruzze would leave red as well but already had the win light. It is First or Worse in racing and that is why he got the win. Our most recent event winner, Vincent Cupolo would go up against Rob Farley. Dialed 11.41 to Cupolo's 10.13, Farley would leave the starting line first. He trailed at the tree with .056 to .044. At the top end, where we have grown to expect the Farley slide, Cupolo left no room for it as he was on a 10.140 pass and Farley went across the finish line running too quick with an 11.296 @ 119.10. We had quite a few red lights this round with 14 of the 44 racers lighting the red. Five of the 14 however, came against other red light opponents so despite having red lights Anthony Cupolo, Peter S. LoPresti, Andrew Volponi and Gary Hillen would all advance to the next round as their opponents went red first (in addition to Abbruzze). Calling it a day with traffic tickets for running the red light were Al Salanitro, Shawn Cavanagh, Frank Fiori, Tom Smith, Ellis Gray, Eric Fischer, Ken Baranski and Ken Tyler already mentioned. One day I am going to do a red light analysis to see what we average as it seems we have a fair amount at every race. Adam Brandt was the benefactor of Eric Fischer's -.006 red. It came in handy as Adam was off the line with a .235 light though he did run 12.113 @ 115.87 on 12. 10 to advance.

Of course reds are not the only way to get invited to an early dinner and the following drivers got just that with green lights; John Policastro, Paul Bogdan, Ralph Blauvelt, Greg Errion, Rick Steinberg, Mark Fielbs, Artie Chin (sporting a new supercharger under the hood), Edgar Perez and John Weitzel.

Runner Up Group Winner
Runner-up Adam Brandt Group Hartman, Savarese, Brandt and Edgar Perez Winner Ralph Savarese
Photos by . For over 7,000 Corvette Photos, click here.

Round 2

The "Mahopac Express" would race Doug Bereczki this round. He would have to wait just over three seconds at the line as Bereczki would leave first with a 14.35 dial to his 11.10 dial. Both drivers registered .059 reaction times so the better predictor this round, or the one that dares to "lift/push" at the top end would get the win. With a 14.371, just .021 over the dial, you usually have a win coupled with the .059 light but not against Ralph who hit the dial dead-on with a one running 11.101 at 115.99 for the win. Bill Fischer Sr. would also take the win this round with a dead-on-on pass. His 11.588 was dead-on his 11.58 dial and was good for the win over Tony "Father of Anthony S., brother of Vincent and the first Corvette Racing" Cupolo who ran under his 11.51 dial running 11.478 @ 116.6. Only two red lights this round and they were in the same match. Wayne Fisher would face Donald Peppler Jr. and they were the first pair out. Peppler dialed his '67 Corvette in at 13.3 to Fisher's 11.5. Peppler was off red with a -.017 to light Fisher's win light. Fisher, dialed 11.50, went -.021 shortly after with the win light on his side of the track. Adam Brandt would be paired with Frank Schear this round in the Torch Red C4. Schear nailed the tree with a .016 with a 13.16 dial. Brandt would follow dialed 12.10 with a .255 light. As Schear approached the finish line he saw he had the lead and applied the brake. It was not enough as he broke out running 13.128 @ 100.40 mph. Brandt was a winner with a 12.14 on the 12.10 dial. This round also spelled the end of the day for a few other racers; Tony Abbruzze, Vincent Cupolo, Todd Paiano, Mike Wright, Ray Sztabnik, Ron Higgins and Mike Campbell.

2010 Event 7 Ladder

Round 3

In this round there were no red lights and no dead-on passes. We kind of get spoiled don't we? Brandt would get us started against Bob Trieschmann. Trieschmann’s 12.62 would get him the head start to Brandt's 12.10. Brandt would get tree advantage here with a .079 to .105. He carried that lead and was able to close the gap at the top end running 12.235 @ 115.95 while Trieschmann broke out running 12.589. Rich Shuleski was up next, having a stellar day going rounds both here and in the 11.50 Index he went on to win. This round he would race Wayne Fisher. A .015 light to .354 gave him really good odds of advancing. And that he did running 11.541 @ 110.05 on 11.46 dial. Fisher broke out running 11.389 on 11.50 dial. Good day for Wayne going a couple of rounds. John Panuzzo was next against Peter LoPresti. Panuzzo lights the tree up with a .035 light leaving LoPresti in a hole with a .153 tree. Sure enough Panuzzo was able to take the win with a 12.726 @ 97.27 mph on 12.69 dial. Panuzzo was also going rounds in another class, GM EFI brackets, which also went on to win. Bill Fischer Sr. would get the win over Louis Calicchia when Louis broke out running 11.627 on 11.64 dial. Fischer Sr.'s tree advantage of .108 to .168 likely had a lot to do with that break out. His 11.607 on 11.58 dial helped too. Our first and only perfect light of the day came next with Gary Hillen at the wheel. His victim was Mark Fielbs who went .235 green and broke out while Hillen took the win. With an uneven number of cars, the number qualifier, Ralph Savarese got a bye run this round. He chose to sit it out with the heat building up on his motor from the seized fans.

Round 4 - Quarter-Final

We are down to six Corvettes. Savarese would face Fischer Sr. first. Fischer Sr. would leave first with an 11.58 dial and .051 light. Savarese leaves next with a better .006 light and 11.08 dial. Oh so close for Fischer who managed to get Ralph to breakout but only by .001 which was not enough for the win as he broke out by more. Savarese would advance. Adam Brandt would face Shuleski this round. Brandt was out first with 12.11 and .113 light. Shuleski, dialed 11.46, would lose the tree battle with a .232, his worst of the day. Even a dead-on run of 11.468 was not enough for Shuleski to make up the tree different and Brandt was going to the semi final where he had a bye into the final. Gary Hillen and John Panuzzo would be the last pair. Panuzzo dialed 12.69 to Hillen's 11.50. it was over at the hit for Panuzzo as he went -.052 red giving Hillen the win. Hillen took it easy running 14.725.

Round 5 - Semi-Final

Gary Hillen, driving a Z06, was up against Ralph Savarese. As the lights dropped, Hillen traveled only a few inches as something let go in the Z. Ralph went on to the collect the win and ran 11.318 on 11.08 dial @ 92.95 mph. As mentioned, Brandt got the ladder bye into the final. He chose not to make the pass and waited for Ralph to return for the final.

Round 6 - Final

For the second race in a row we have David and Goliath scenario. "David" being Adam Brandt, in his first Corvette Challenge final with a car he recently started to race. The White C5, tuned by himself, has over 200,000 miles on it! He faces a Goliath, named Ralph Savarese who has 200,000 "quarter" miles on his Corvette. All kidding aside, The Mahopac Express is no stranger to the final having won 2 of the last three Corvette Challenges and three overall Championships. Brandt would race out of the right lane and leave first with a 12.12 dial. Savarese would keep the 11.08 dial in the left lane. Savarese won the tree battle with a .083 to .104. Brandt fell short of the dial on the car however and Savarese would get around him and take the win with an 11.244 @ 97.44. Brandt would run 12.358 @ 115.17. Congrats to both drivers, Ralph on keeping the focus and crushing the class with three out of four finals and Adam for his steady driving and working his way to his first final in the series.

Corvette Challenge Points Update

The three-time Champ Ralph Savarese now has a commanding 13-point lead over three different drivers with a 33 point total. With four races left, they need to average 3.25 more points per race to catch him. Time to start the hunting guys! Ralph's 3 wins will also break the tie against anyone right now. In second place is rookie Vincent Cupolo with 20 points and 1 event win. He is followed by Ellis Gray and Rob Farley who are truly tied with 20 points each. Louis Calicchia was able to take over the fifth position from Ken Tyler who lost first round and is now sixth. They each have 19 points but Louis breaks the tie with an event win.
2010 Corvette Challenge Standings
Corvette drivers page with more driver information

Rookie of the Year Update

Only three of our rookies were able to make it out today with point leader Vincent Cupolo adding to his points lead scoring 2 points today. The other two, Russ DeLibero and Greg Errion did not advance from round 1. Cupolo now leads DeLibero by eight points, 20-12. DeLibero will be driving his 10.50 Index car in the brackets for the rest of the season. To date, he has been bringing two Corvettes, one for Index and one for Brackets. Look for Russ to make a move as he is all over running dead-on 10.50s in the Index class and will be bringing that experience to the bracket class. Peter Huff holds on to third despite not making today's race (congrats to his sister getting married, woohoo wedding theme tied). Rob Petyo and Marc Marsico continue being tied for 4th with 5 point though Greg Errion now has five as well and is poised to advance at the next race.
Rookie of the Year Standings

Gear Jammer Award Update

The only think that can slow down the Gear Jammer leader is taking away his gears. Ken Tyler just had hip surgery and while still recuperating, was behind the while of a C4 with an automatic transmission on loan from friend Peter LoPresti. That is the sprit on Ken’s part to still come out and race so soon after surgery. Tyler driving an auto opened the door for Gary Hillen to make up some ground on him. Hillen, now in second position, trials Tyler by 6 points with the five he picked up today going to the semi-finals. Tyler leads 19-13. We now have four drivers with 9 points each trailing the two. Michael Archibald did not make it out today and remains the same with 9. Frank Fiori, Don Peppler Jr. and Peter LoPresti now all have 9 for the season as with as they picked up 1, 2 and 3 points today respectively.
Gear Jammer Standings.

Awards Handed Out at this Event

  • Ralph Savarese won the 'Best Winning Reaction Time - 1st Round plaque presented by Raceway Park for the best winning reaction time in the 1st round. Ralph Savarese was quickest on the tree with the win light in the 1st round when with a .002 reaction time.
  • Ellis Gray won the 'Almost Perfect Award' with a loss in the 1st round with the red light closest to .000 (Almost Perfect). Ellis Gray'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.
  • Frank Schear won the CCDV 'Closest to Dial Award' by running only .000 off his dial. Frank Schear was awarded a plaque and free tech card for a future race from Corvette Club of Delaware Valley.
  • Jerry Muniz won the 'Ohh so Close Award' presented by Raceway Park when being edged out in the 1st round by the smallest margin of victory of .0256. That number is the MOV number on your time slip. Although suffering a loss in the 1st round by the smallest Margin of Victory, Jerry Muniz earned a plaque from Raceway Park.
  • All winners of the first round were awarded a trophy. With 70 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

Before we look at the next two races, our Top points drivers will be invited to the PC Richard & Son All American Jet Car Nationals on Wednesday, August 18, 2010. Congratulations to the following qualifying drivers, Corvette Challenge; Ralph Savarese, Vincent Cupolo, Ellis Gray and Rob Farley, Pro 11.50; Eric Fischer and Ellis Gray, Pro 10.50; Stephen Wells and Tommy Michalkowski, Pro 8 Shootout; David Harris and David Shen. Our next full race is Saturday August 21, 2010. We then skip the month of September due to other events on Raceway Park's schedule and resume our season on October 16, 2010. These will be our 8th and 9th races of the season open to all Corvette racers. For more information about the schedule visit You can discuss the series on , the Drag Racing section of The Corvette Forum where you can find news, updates and polls.

Visit the Drag Schedule at 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 and Dennis Kazimir. We'd be reduced to time shots only without our sponsors - many thanks for the continued support of our sponsors;

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