ELKHART LAKE, Wis. – Picture-perfect weather greeted SCCA competitors on Saturday at the Chicago Region WeatherTech SCCA June Sprints, round five of the Northern Conference Majors Tour and the first of the doubleheader races at the June Sprints.
Nine group races, covering all 27 Runoffs-eligible classes, ran 10 lap races on Saturday on the 14-turn, 4-mile circuit.
As per tradition on Road America’s long straights, the Spec Racer Ford race was going to be settled in the draft, and probably by whichever driver made the fewest mistakes. When Brian Schofield’s No. 61 PM Racing Spec Racer Ford and Scott Rettich’s No. 17 Alliance Autosport Spec Racer got in front, that was a lock.
The two snuck away, slowly dropping competitors throughout the race with Rettich content to sit in second behind Schofield. The two ran nose to tail until two laps to go, when the shuffle started.
On lap nine, Rettich went to the front in turn five. When the pair came up on a local yellow with a car off in the kink, Schofield expected to see the checker (or a full course yellow) at the stripe the next time by and thought he’d settle for the silver medal. Worried that it was the finish, Schofield went back in front in turn 14 and held it as they came to the stripe.
Officials and the safety crew kept the course green, however, and Schofield was in the unenviable position of leading the start of the final lap. With nothing to do but put his head down and outdrive Rettich, Schofield turned a perfect lap and bobbed and weaved up the front straight to break the draft and take the checkered flag.
The Formula 500 race may have been decided on the opening corner, as hometown racer Michael Mueller tried to move his No. 24 MJ Mfg/Fibeco/Hoosier/HRP/Speed Seat Red Devil/Rotax around polesitter Clint McMahan. Mueller bobbled in that turn, however, giving McMahan’s No. 12 Formula600Racing.com/Satellite Racing Scorpion FDS 007 a gap on the opening lap.
Once in front, McMahan held a steady gap around the 4-mile circuit, inching away by, at most, tenths of a second per lap. At the finish, McMahan was up 4.491-second on Mueller.
In Formula Vee, Michael Varacins raced away in his No. 65 Spee dsport/Veetech/Hoosier Speed Sport AM-5/Volkswagen, dominating to victory. The four-car podium battle crossed side-by-side behind him, however, with Ron Whitston (No. 5 Subway/Hoosier Protoform P2) crossing just in front of Andrew Whitston (No. 9 Rocket Motors/Subway/Hoosier Protoform P2) and Bruce Livermore (No. 37 BBBuilds/VeeTech/BRP/Hoosier Mysterian X-M2).
Danny Steyn’s No. 39 ADEPT Studios/ROSSINI/OPM Mazda Miata was just one leader among eight cars in contention early, but the Spec Miata race came down to three top drivers sorting out the final laps alone.
With the laps winding down, Todd Lamb’s No. 80 Cahall/Driving Coach/Hawk Performance Miata was sandwiched between teammates Jim Drago and Craig Berry, left with the nearly impossible decision of going for the lead and falling to third, or staying in second to the checkered flag.
Practically attached at the bumper for the final two laps, Drago was watching the mirrors of the No. 2 East Street Racing Miata while Berry looked for any opening to move his No. 29 Berry Marble and Granite/East Street Racing Miata around Lamb. None of the three drivers made a dramatic move, and crossed the finish in that order.
The Formula Mazda field was small at the June Sprints, but that didn’t lessen the excitement in the battle for the lead. Dale VandenBush led the opening lap in the No. 10 Lake Effect Motorsports Formula Mazda, sneaking around teammate and polesitter Jason Vinkemulder. Vinkemulder snuck back around on lap two, with VandenBush leading laps three and four.
Vinkemulder was back in front on lap five in his No. 10 Lake Effect Motorsports Formula Mazda, and edged just in front of his teammate. With clean air, Vinkemulder held the lead for the last half of the race and took the checkered flag.
A battle raged for the final two podium positions in Formula F, which helped Tim Kautz drive his No. 88 Braeburn/Two Dogg/Hoosier Piper DF3D/Honda to the win. Reid Hazelton’s No. 01 Hoosier Van Diemen RF 92 finished second, with Max Hanratty’s No. 91 Juniper Networks/Exclusive Autosport Spectrum 014/Honda in third.
Jim Daniels had felt snake bitten lately at Road America, but when Jon Brakke pulled his No. 89 Margaret Peterson Bars Mazda Miata off on the front straight with a broken shift lever and he went around the No. 6 Hoosier/King Motorsports/Moser Racing in the carousel on lap two, the No. 176 WebLaps.com Mazda MX-5 of Daniels was in the clear.