SCCA Racers Wrap High Plains Majors

James Stiehr leads the Formula F pack at High Plains Raceway. (Rupert Berrington photo)
James Stiehr leads the Formula F pack at High Plains Raceway. (Rupert Berrington photo)
James Stiehr leads the Formula F pack at High Plains Raceway. (Rupert Berrington photo)

BYERS, Colo. – Round eight of the SCCA U.S. Majors Tour Mid-States Conference Championship went off without a hitch Sunday in the Colorado Region SCCA May Daze event at High Plains (Colo.) Raceway.

The day included five 18-lap, 45.9-mile races.

Race One

Group One looked like a longer version of Saturday’s sprint race, with Denny Stripling, of McKinney, Texas, going flag-to-flag for his fourth Mid-States Conference win of the season in the No. 4 Lightspeed Motorsports SCCA Spec Racer Ford.

While Stripling took an 11.293-second win, the battle for second place was fierce for the majority of the 18-lap race. Keith Verges, of Dallas, Texas, was rarely more than a half second clear of Bixby, Okla.’s Richard Stephens. Stephens made his move on the final lap, taking second place, but only to see Verges draft back past between Turns Three and Four in his No. 77 Apex Driving Academy entry. Stephens was able to get his No. 56 Dalrymple Racing Services SRF alongside once more as they entered the Prairie Corkscrew, but Verges was able to hang on to the position.

As with Saturday, polesitter Matt Reynolds, of Fair Oaks, Texas, dominated Spec Miata in his No. 71 Reynolds Brothers Racing/Jesse Prather Motorsports Mazda Miata. Keith Slankard, of Lafayette, Colo., finished second, followed by Russell Lindemann, of Longmont, Colo.

Race Two

Group Two had a split start, with the Touring 2 cars taking the green flag first, followed by the small bore Production, GT and Touring cars. Natha Waldbaum, of Omaha, Neb., got the jump on polesitter Mike Pettiford to take the lead, but Pettiford, of Louisville, Colo., was back out front by the time the first lap ended.

Similarly, as the second group took the green, second-starting Mike Halbrook, of Coppell, Texas, took the lead in Turn One with his No. 75 Caterham 7, but Matt Reynolds, fresh off his Spec Miata win, was able to move to the front on the straightaway heading to Turn Four.

Both Pettiford and Reynolds would not be challenged again for their respective class wins, but what was in doubt was the overall win. Pettiford led for 17 laps and 10 corners, as Reynolds finally put his No. 71 Reynolds Brothers Racing/Jesse Prather Motorsports Mazda Miata in front of Pettiford’s No. 42 GO 4 IT Racing Schools/Hoosier Tires/Hawk Chevrolet Corvette. He held on the final three turns to take a 0.713-second win. Reynolds broke his own class track record in the process, turning a best time of 1:58.842.

The best battle of the group was the race-long scrap for Touring 4, which was won by Stan Czacki, of Truth or Consequence, N.M., in his No. 00 Whitehead/DGI/SchaffAuto/BFG/HPD Acura RSX-S over the Pontiac Solstice of Lakewood, Colo.’s Daniel Kalvar.

Other winners, repeating their Saturday efforts, included: Aurora, Colo.’s Bill Hingston (No. 08 Little Bill Racing/Mazdaspeed Mazda Miata); Conifer, Colo.’s Jonathan Goodale (No. 04 Mazdaspeed/Hoosier/ Mazda MX-5); and Aurora’s Jerry Oleson (No. 81 Austin Healey Sprite).

Race Three

Group Three polesitter James Stiehr, of Evergreen, Colo., had an shifting issue at the start of the race, jumbling the Formula F pack, allowing Reid Hazelton, of Burlington, Wisc., and Rick Payne, of Mission, B.C., past. Hazelton’s lead in the No. 23 Van Diemen/Honda was short-lived as he went off in the Prairie Corkscrew later that lap, allowing Stiehr to re-take the lead. Stiehr sped away in his No. 5 Carpe Metam Racing/Morgan Adams Fnd Piper DF5/Honda to take his second-straight win. Bill Kephart, of Colorado Springs, Colorado, earned his third-straight Majors podium finish, taking the runner-up spot in his No. 37 Vestal 10F/Honda. Littleton, Colo.’s David Loken completed the podium, and Hazelton fought back to finish fourth.

Timothy Friest, of Leavenworth, Kan., took his sixth Formula 500 win of the season, and fourth-consecutive, in his No. 36 Hoosier/XTRacing/RodEndSupply KBS Mk VII. Jack Walbran and David Vincent completed that class podium. Bob Neumeister, of Pubelo, Colo., swept the Formula Vee weekend in his No. 94 Hoosier Tire Vortech/VW. Tyler Hunter and Lisa Noble completed Sunday’s top three.

Race Four

Race Four featured a pair of runs from the back of the pack. After changing classes from GT-2 to GT-1, Robert Prilika, of Castle Rock, Colo., lined up last on the grid in his No. 25 Porsche of Colorado Springs Porsche 997 GT3 Cup. In the opening six laps, he sliced through the entire field to take the overall lead and cruise to victory.

While Prilika was last on the official grid, John Gary, of Grapevine, Texas, entered the course as the field had nearly completed its pace lap, his clutch having failed. Gary used all 18 laps in his No. 79 Pinnacle Autosports Chevrolet Camaro to catch GT-2 leader Jim Valdez, of Denver, and pass his No. 27 Valdez Motorsports BMW on the final lap for the win.

Pettiford, who earlier won Touring 2, led overall and in Touring 1 until Prilika moved to the point. One lap later, Pettiford brought his No. 41 GO 4 IT Racing Schools/Hoosier Tire/Hawk Chevrolet Corvette into the pits with terminal mechanical issues.

Touring 3 had the most exciting race, with polesitter Jason Ott, of Littleton, Colo., coming under fire at the start from teammate Jim Leithauser, of Westminster, Colo., and Derek Kulach, of Albuquerque, N.M. The latter two ended up off course in Turn Three after Kulach and American Sedan leader Jim Wheeler made contact. Ott was able to build a gap on the Touring 3 field and take his sixth-straight Conference win to remain perfect in his No. 09 BimmerHaus/Hoosier Tire/Alpine Motorsports BMW Z4M Coupe. Leithauser and Kulach recovered to complete the podium.

Wheeler continued in the American Sedan lead until he suffered a flat tire, handing the lead over to Kim McDonald, of Grand Island, Nebraska, in his No. 29 Kim’s Auto Repair Services/Herman Plumbing Pontiac Firebird.

Anthony Simmers, of Boulder, Colorado, scored his second win of the weekend, taking Super Touring® Under in his No. 45 Volkswagen GTI. Robert Maples and John Harms completed the STU podium.

Race Five

The final race of the weekend saw Kirk Kindsfater, of Eaton, Colo., lead flag-to-flag in his Prototype 1 class No. 32 RillTech Speads RS11/Suzuki.

Barry Gilbert, of Englewood, Colo., took the Formula Continental® win in his No. 3 Van Diemen Ford after early leader and Saturday winner Doug Stout had an off. Chuck McConica, of Longmont, Colo., took the P2 win in his No. 02 McConica Citrus Radical ProSport after early leader Bruce Gurney had a mechanical issue.

Jose Gerardo (Formula 1000), and Jon Surbeck (Formula Enterprises) scored uncontested wins.