Laguna Seca, Ca - A field of 13 muscle cars set out on the initial race of the 2009 Historic Trans Am Racing Circuit on a beautiful day at the Laguna Seca raceway.
It would be a day of fast but safe laps, with historic Trans Am lap times dropping early and often and high drama at the finish.
As the green lights flashed, 3 of the 13 drivers stalled their cars on the grid, while Rick in the #8 Firebird timed the start perfectly and leaped into the lead. Rick would duel with the eventual race winner, Street Martin for several laps until Martin pulled away when Rick suffered mechanical issues.
The high point of the race would occur after Street Martin had already cinched the checkered flag. An aggressive duel of late braking caused a four car incident in the final corner of the race. A possible podium finish evaporated for one driver and a driver who fought for the lead most of the day would see his finish position drop after being spun by one of the duelers in the chaos.
Working through the finish order:
Street Martin in the Mr. Yuk adorned bright green #76 Dodge Challenger took advantage of clean air and a clear track to attack the track in a tactically clean fashion, leading all 4 laps and posting an Average Race Speed of 110.671mph, shattering the previous record of 91.83mph.
Finishing in second place was Dan M. in the #33 Red White and Blue AMC Javelin. Dan not only captured second place but also achieved the "Sunoco Hard Charger" award for moving up 11 positions from Start to Finish. He used an endurance setup and ran the race with a zero stop strategy.
Third place: Tony L. in the #26 Pontiac Firebird. Tony also used a zero stop strategy to capture the final podium position.
Fourth place went to Robert L. in the #15 Black on Yellow Boss Mustang, who achieved the "Flowmaster Speed" award for posting the fastest lap of 117.408mph beating the previous record of 113.01mph. Robert used the final blistering lap and high drama in the final turn of the race to sling shot into the points from a 10th place start.
Fifth place and final points paying position went to Chris B. in the #1 Blue on White Chevy Camaro. Chris matched Robert with an improvement of 6 positions from Start to Finish.
Sixth place would go to Rick F. in the Firebird. After running up front for the first half of the race, mechanical difficulties caused him to limp home trying to hold off the hard chargers from behind. Being spun entering the final turn, his faltering engine could not match the muscle of Robert and Chris coming down the final straight.
In Seventh place, Wes H. in the #14 Mercury Cougar. Wes overcame a stall on the grid and a mid race Spin to hang onto the tail of the field and slingshot through the last hairpin to grab a few positions.
Eighth place went to Dave I in the #9 Green on Blue AMC Javelin. Dave was severely limited by brake damage in the later half of the race forcing him into a long day of very careful tire stewardship.
In Ninth place: Mark Donohue in the #6 Yellow on Blue Chevy Camaro. Mark's day also started poorly when he stalled his car at the start. He hung on to be competitive for the last few positions but a costly spin in the last turn, sealed his fate.
The final finisher, Swede Savage in the #42 Rainbow on Blue Plymouth Barracuda was an afterthought most of the race after a very costly mid race stall leaving his pits.
The "MOPAR Hard Times" award went to Bob K. in the #3 Silver on Red Mercury Cougar. Bob's Eliminator was running strong also using an endurance setup and a zero pit strategy. He had a top 5 finish locked and a shot at the podium when Kenny Ryan got into his rear entering the final hairpin. Ryan was dueling with Chris B for the final points position and an overaggressive duel of late braking into the hairpin between Chris and Ryan ended the day for both Bob and Ken.
In a similar fashion, Sam Posey also managed a DNF when he slipped across the sand and slammed into the inside lane tire wall after getting into the back of Rick entering the final turn.
The Circuit now moves to Watkins Glen for the second race of the five race series. 3 new drivers: Jay Lee Hooker, Stig Mifune and Zach Petty will join the field bringing the starting grid to 16 racers. Can Street Martin work from the back of the grid to get into the points? Can Dan M. do it again from the back of the grid? Will Bob K. run Kenny Ryan into the tire wall in Turn 1 or stay focused on the race?... Stay tuned!
I'm happy I didn't crash (see ANY other SC race that I've participated in) although I did have several spins.
I hope to have my Sunoco/Penske Camaro at least in the points at The Glen
Just keep me away from the dice