If the car counts and competition at the first of 11 Hoosier Racing Tire SCCA® Super Tour weekends is an indicator for the competition to come for this SCCA property, then we are in for one heck of a race season that will be capped off with potentially record fields at the SCCA Runoffs to be held at Indianapolis Motor Speedway.
With approximately 400 entries across 28 classes for the first-ever Hoosier Racing Tire SCCA® Super Tour held at Sebring International Raceway in Florida, there was exciting racing throughout both race days – Saturday and Sunday. Mazda’s were largely dominant in the classes in which they competed. On Saturday, Mazda racers racked up 11 wins. On Sunday, they claimed 10, repeating in all but one class.
Saturday’s Spec Miata race showcased a field of 76 cars, the most of any class. Alex Bolanos grabbed the early lead, chased by Selin Rollan, Jim Drago, Danny Steyn and Todd Lamb. After the contest’s halfway point, Bolanos, Drago and Lamb managed a three-car breakaway at the front. As time ticked down, Bolanos and Drago found themselves in a side-by-side battle at points around the track. Neither driver gave an inch right through the final corners, but Drago emerged victorious in his No. 2 East Street Racing/ Hoosier Mazda Miata.
“I started fourth, but knew I had to catch Alex quick because he’d been fast all weekend,” Drago said. “His car started to go away a little bit before mine, and I got around him. But he started pressuring me again. It was a great race. I feel like I raced against four or five of the best drivers in amateur racing.”
“I had some very fast drivers behind me and they were in my mirrors the whole time,” Russell said. “On the last lap, I knew Ayers was faster in some areas and he was going to get by me on the front straightaway. But coming out of the hairpin, I had a run on him and stuck my car in there and held him off.”
Mazda pays contingency to the top four finishers in Spec Miata – one more position this year than in year’s past. In addition, Mazda is adding a random draw called, “The Spec Miata Super Tour Participation Bonus” for $100 to one Spec Miata competitor who did not earn contingency in each of the Super Tour Spec Miata races throughout 2017. In the case of Saturday, starters 5-76 were eligible. The recipient of The Spec Miata Super Tour Participation Bonus $100 award goes to the 25th place finisher – Lee Thomas. Lee will need to submit his claim to Mazda Motorsports for the $100 contingency. Congratulations and thank you for your support, Lee.
In Saturday’s Touring 3, a class that is seeing considerable growth in 2017, saw 8 cars take the checkered, with Todd Lamb taking leading the way in his 2016 Mazda MX-5 Cup car and Luis Gavignano standing on the final step of the podium, also driving a MX-5 Cup car.
GT-3 and Formula E were among some of the most highly contested classes over the weekend. In GT3, Bill McGavic, driver of the No. 69 No Mo Money Race Engineering Mazda RX-7, took the win Saturday and Sunday. But both victories came after a fight with Richard Smith, also driving a Mazda RX-7. In Formula E, a series gaining lots of momentum as both Mazda and SCCA Enterprises are injecting new value and support into the series, the young guns put on quite a show all weekend. On Saturday, it was Flinn Lazier who took the checkered. But on Sunday, Quentin Nelson was the first across the line. For those who are interested in watching the top young drivers compete, add this to class to your watch list.
“Richard and I had the same great battle over the two days,” McGavic said. “Today, he got held up and I managed to pull a gap on him before I spun in Turn 17, hit the tires and stalled the car. I backed up the car, stalled it again, got it started and took off after Richard. I ran him down after he got held up again in traffic, and I got the win.”
In more than just GT3, Mazda racers were dominant, taking home wins both days. In another formula class – Formula Mazda – Carson Weeder from Winter Haven, FL took the checkered both days. In Formula Atlantic, young gun Spencer Brockman piloted his Mazda-powered race car to both wins, running both fast and consistent laps. In F Production, Ken Kannard was superb all weekend, driving near flawless laps and super lap times, taking two victories. In GTL, another Mazda driver, Dr. Michael Kamalian (pronounced: Chameleon), took both wins. In P1, Mazda driver Jacek Mucha took home both wins. In T4, Don Knowles was hooked up all weekend, taking dominant wins both days.
In STL, Mazda’s took home both wins, but by different drivers. On Saturday, Danny Steyn took the victory; but on Sunday, it was fellow Mazda competitor Nick Leverone who stood on the top step. Look for both of these racers to contend for a National Championship at this year’s SCCA Runoffs.
Of course, Spec Miata – with a field of more than 70 cars – added to Sunday’s show. When the race started, Alex Bolanos, Jim Drago, Todd Lamb, Selin Rollan, Michael Carter and Danny Steyn where at the front and separated themselves from the rest of the field fairly quick. That crew hung together for the first half of the race. But as the laps dwindled, the pack of six cracked apart and Bolanos, who finished second on Saturday, stretched out a bit of a lead, an advantage that was never given up as he went on to win in his No. 57 Autotechnik/Amazon/Biostem/Apex Alignment Mazda Miata.
“I really worked hard last night and changed the setup a little bit,” said Bolanos who is affectionately known as the Cuban Missile. “With 70 cars behind you, everything has to be right. So, we put new rubber on, worked on the suspension, and we nailed it. It’s so hard to win one of these things. It takes so many people.”
The winner of the $100 participation bonus for Spec Miata goes to the 16th place finisher – Erik Stearns. Congratulations and thank you for your support, Erik.
The next Hoosier Super Tour race weekend takes place March 4-5 at NOLA Motorsports Park in Avondale, Louisiana.
For more on Mazda’s contingency awards, go here.