ALTON, Va. – Slick conditions and cool temperatures affected all eight race groups that took to the track to contest round seven of the SCCA Eastern Conference U.S. Majors Tour at Virginia Int’l Raceway, part of the SafeRacer National Club Racing program.
Add one part water to the unseasonably cool temperatures from Friday, and those were the conditions that greeted 246 racers on Saturday morning as a result of overnight rains that continued through the four warm-up sessions at the 3.27-mile, 17-turn circuit. By the time racing action began, the rain had stopped falling. However, the track and surrounding runoff was still soaked, and never completely dried due to high humidity and temperatures that barely cracked 60 degrees.
Spec Racer Ford was the first class to take to the drenched racetrack. Brian Schofield, of Lakeland, Fla., led tape-to-tape in the nine-lap race. In the No. 61 PM Racing SRF, Schofield got the jump heading into turn one the very slick track.
The new pavement that was so nice in the dry was treacherous in the wet. Schofield found that out, first hand, as he had a big wiggle under braking for turn two on his first green-flag lap. From that point on, Schofield ran a comfortable pace which allowed him to stay out front.
Some drivers deeper in the field were not as lucky. Lee Hill made heavy contact with the outside tire wall in the climbing esses. Lee was cleared from the medical center, but his car was not as luck. As a result of the impact, a short pause was needed to make repairs to the wall.
The small-bore formula cars were the feature of Group Two. Stevan Davis, of Danielsville, Ga., took home the win in Formula Vee which featured a very tight battle at the front of the class. Davis and Mitchell Ferguson traded the lead several times throughout the race, playing cat and mouse to determine where each had the advantage over the other. On the final lap, Davis sealed the win with a good exit out of turn 17 in his No. 80 Hoosier Tire/Butler Engine/Roxannes Heads Racers Wedge Volkswagen.
Spec Miata took center stage in Group Three. Dillon Machavern, of Charlotte, Vt., notched the sprint race win after a tough scrap at the front. Driving the No. 24 Heritage/Panic/T-Speed Mazda Miata, Machavern was the leader in the closing laps of the 25-minute race. However, Andrew Carbonell made a strong challenge for the lead on the final lap.
Under braking on the approach to turn 14, Carbonell dove to the Machavern’s left. The move put him on the outside of the downhill, right-hand curve. Carbonell’s momentum carried him off course through turn 15. The short off-course excursion allowed Machavern to seal his victory.
After the lunch break, Group Four hit the track. The race started with some unwanted excitement as the overall polesitter, Kevin Leigh, lost control and collided with the wall at turn four, on the opening lap. Leigh was uninjured, but Patrick Crider, of Leesburg, Va., assumed the lead and never looked back. He cruised to the overall win in his F Production No. 89 Hoosier Tire/Jesse Prather Motorsports Mazda Miata.