Rain Can’t Slow SCCA In California

Edward Erlandson (8) leads Mike Lewis (7) and Dave Zurlinden during SCCA Majors Tour Formula F competition Saturday at Auto Club Speedway in January (Dennis Baer Photo)
Edward Erlandson (8) leads Mike Lewis (7) and Dave Zurlinden during SCCA Majors Tour Formula F competition Saturday at Auto Club Speedway in Fontana, Calif. (Dennis Baer Photo)

FONTANA, Calif. – Rain fall dogged those at the BFGoodrich Tires SCCA Super Tour presented by Porterfield Brakes through Friday’s practice sessions and even Saturday morning qualifying, but when the green flag flew on the opening round of the Western Conference Majors Tour event at Auto Club Speedway, the sun was shining and the track was drying.

The day got underway with the Spec Racer Ford class and an early-race lead from polesitter Mike Miserendino. The four-time National Champion’s No. 11 MBI Racing machine pulled out to an early lead, but suddenly seemed to lose power down the back stretch and slowed.

Todd Harris, then running in second-place, whipped his No. 4 Pro Drive Racing/HMS Spec Racer Ford into the lead as Miserendino regained his speed. That gap was all that Harris needed, as he held the lead to the checkered flag to take the victory.

The excitement in group two began at the start when the No. 12 Goodyear/Cyclo/Red Line Oil Jaguar XKR of Mike Lewis bogged down on the run to the green. The field split around Lewis’s slowed vehicle, dropping him well back in the field full of GT-1, GT-2, GT-3, GT-Lite and Touring 1 and 2 machines. Lewis eventually recovered, driving his three-time defending National Championship GT-1 machine to the class and overall win.

Eric Joiner’s No. 10 Tool of North America Porsche 997 spent that same race being chased by Tom Wickersham’s No. 01 Maine Street Racing Porsche 997, until Wickersham ran wide with just a couple of laps to go and allow Joiner to get away.

Elliott Skeer essentially led flag-to-flag in Spec Miata in the No. 77 RM Auto Sport/Pelican Windows & Remodeling Mazda Miata, chased in a two-car breakaway by Lee Clement. The No. 33 RM Autosports Miata took the lead from Skeer on two occasions around the banking, but Skeer quickly reclaimed the point and held serve through the 16-lap race.

The battle for position in the group came just behind the leaders, with five cars involved in the battle for the final podium position. Attrition narrowed that group to just two by the final lap, with Steven Powers’ No. 21 Amerifirst Mortgage Miata and Charlie Hayes’ polesitting No. 22 TFB/Aim Tires/Race Engineering/Carbotech Brakes Miata swapping the position twice on the final laps. Hayes came around Powers onto the banking and the run to the checkered flag to take third place.

The small open-wheel machines saw action packed races in both the Formula F and the Formula Vee classes.

Four different drivers took their turn at the front of the Formula F field, with attrition playing the foil for a classic ending. Bill Kephart’s No. 37 Vestial/Ford was the first of the group to fall out, coming to pit lane on lap four with a flat rear tire. Lewis, fresh off the GT-1 win, had a mechanical issue under braking as the circuit bends into the infield and brushed the wall on lap seven, ending his day.

That left polesitter Ed Erlandson’s No. 8 Artwork by Eli/Porter Racing Swift DB-6/Ford and Dave Zurlinden’s No. 31 Pro Rack Systems/Fast Forward Piper/Honda to battle for the lead. On lap nine, the two ran side-by-side into the infield and touched wheels going through the hairpin turn five. The contact actually launched Erlandson’s car into the air, but left Zurlinden broken and out of the race. Erlandson cruised to the victory unchallenged over the final six laps.

Formula Vee was another four-car battle that didn’t slow until the checkered flag. Like the Formula F battle, all four moved to the front of the field at various points in the race. Mark Felsen’s No. 4 Fones West Digital Systems/Lynx Wireless Communications Vortech/VW used the draft to get in front around the banking on several occasions, while the No. 22 Volkswagen FV of Tyler Hunter used the tow to stay in touch as well.

The infield lead swapped between the No. 86 Toad Hall Enterprises Mysterian M4/VW of Terran Swanson and the No. 74 Red Line/Hoosier Glamdring/VW of Mark Edwards, and the pack stayed glued through the entire track.

On the final lap, Edwards led through the infield, but Swanson rocketed through in the final complex of corners to take the lead. Felson completed the podium.

With darkness creeping in, Marc Hoover’s No. 98 Hooverspeed/NRA/Necksgear/Red Line Mazda Miata STU machine proved to be the class of the final group, running away with the overall win. The battle came between the power of Steve Zink’s No. 96 Ford Mustang and the handling of Lee Niffenegger’s No. 42 Honda Racing/HPD/BFGoodrich Tires Honda Civic Si.

Zink took an early lead, but Niffenegger battled through the race with handling to catch up to Zink on lap 10. Taking the lead in Turn Nine through the infield, Zink was able to pull to the rear of the Honda around the banking of the superspeedway. Once in the lead, however, Niffenegger was able to put together the laps needed to stay in front and take the Touring 4 win.

The entire field returns on Sunday morning for Round Two of the SCCA Western Conference Majors Tour, with qualifying at 8 a.m. and another round of races following.

Race winners for Saturday’s BFGoodrich Tires SCCA Super Tour presented by Porterfield Brakes at Auto Club Speedway. Drivers are listed by Class: name, hometown, and car.

American Sedan: Christopher Qualls, Burbank, Calif., Ford Mustang

C Sports Racing: Joseph Schifini, Las Vegas, Nev., Stohr WF-1

D Sports Racing: Chris Farrell, Salt Lake City, Utah, Stohr/Suzuki

Formula 500: Jeff Jorgenson, San Francisco, Calif., Novaksar JJ-10/Rotax

Formula Atlantic: Randy Cook, Palo Alto, Calif., Reynard 93H/Toyota

Formula Continental: Les Phillips, Bakersfield, Calif., Van Diemen/Ford

Formula F: Ed Erlandson, Burbank, Calif., Swift DB-6/Ford

Formula Mazda: Steve Brown, Ontario, Calif., Star Formula Mazda

Formula Vee: Terran Swanson, Petaluma, Calif., Mysterain M4/VW

E Production: Aaron Downey, Rossmoor, Calif., Mazda RX-3

F Production: Steven Hussey, Los Altos, Calif., Mazda Miata

H Production: Jason Isley, Coto de Caza, Calif., Toyota Yaris

GT-1: Mike Lewis, Poway, Calif., Jaguar XKR

GT-2: Eric Joiner, Torrance, Calif., Porsche 997

GT-3: Wolfgang Maike, Santa Barbara, Calif., Toyota Paseo

GT-Lite: John Bower, Granada Hills, Calif., Nissan Sentra

Spec Miata: Elliott Skeer, Vista, Calif., Mazda Miata

Spec Racer Ford: Todd Harris, Portland, Ore., Spec Racer Ford

Sports 2000: David Ferguson, Paso Robles, Calif., Van Diemen RFS-0/Ford

Super Touring Lite: Oscar Jackson, Irvine, Calif., Honda Civic Si

Super Touring Under: Marc Hoover, Shingle Springs, Calif., Mazda Miata

Touring 1: Ken Davis, Escondido, Calif., Chevrolet Corvette

Touring 3: Tom Wickersham, Oakland, Calif., Honda S2000

Touring 4: Lee Niffenegger, Santa Clarita, Calif., Honda Civic Si