AVONDALE, La. — For the first time in the event, sunshine and warmer temperatures greeted SafeRacer SCCA Club Racing program participants on Saturday at the BFGoodrich Tires NOLA Super Tour at NOLA Motorsports Park, the opening round of the Mid-States Conference Majors Tour.
Saturday’s races were 30-minute timed races in length, counting for full points and contingency for the season-long title.
Race group one, featuring Formula F, Formula 500, and Formula Vee wasted no time cranking up the race action.
In the battle for the overall lead, Bill Kephart’s No. 37 Vestial 10F/Honda started on pole and led through the start, relinquishing it on the opening lap to Wesley Cunningham’s No. 33 Over Fifty/MSR Houston/Honda Swift DB-6 for two corners before reclaiming the lead. Kephart led a swarm of Formula F machines, with the No. 10 Sportscar Performance Swift DB-6 of Meg Sauce and the No. 85 ThermaMasters Swift/Ford of David Livingston just behind.
Sauce exited the battle on lap five, trying to move into second under braking in turn one. Sauce overshot the corner and ran wide, spinning trying to reenter the track.
Now the top three, Kephart, Livingston and Cunningham got a breather on lap six when two Formula Vees came together and brought out the full course yellow. Kephart held the lead on the lap nine restart, but Livingston and Cunningham took turns challenging Kephart for the top spot.
Working lap 13 and approaching the one to go board, the Formula F battle tangled at the entrance to the essses. Kephart emerged unscathed, but Cunningham was temporarily sent off track and Livingston slowed. Livingston closed four seconds to Kephart on the final lap, but ran out of time to challenge for the lead.
The Formula Vee battle didn’t heat up until after the restart, when the lead that Chuck Hearn’s No. 48 Noble Racing/Hoosier Protoform P-2/VW had earned evaporated, and Steven Davis was ready to strike. Davis’ No. 80 Hoosier/Butler Engines Racer’s Wedge SB-1 chased Hearn through the last half of the race, pulling even or slightly in front at times, but unable to secure the lead for any length of time.
On the last lap, with one opportunity left, Davis charged around Hearn under braking in turn 13, moving in front and carrying the lead around the final carousel to the checkered flag.
The Formula Atlantic race was a father and son battle between the elder Gaston Kearby’s No. 69 GK Motorsports/K-Hill Swift 016a and 16-year-old Conner Kearby’s No. No. 56 GK-Motorsports/K-Hill Swift 016a, out of Corpus Christie, Texas.
Gaston took the lead from Conner on lap three, and then gave it back one lap later, with the youngster slowly pulling away. Conner held on up front to the checkered flag and the opening round victory.
Just after a brief lunch break, Charlie Vehle defended the turf at the BFGoodrich Tire Super Tour, winning American Sedan in his BFGoodrich Tires-shod No. 50 Ford Mustang in dominating fashion.
The rumbling GT-1 machines took the green flag, with David Fershtand’s No. 70 Fershtand Race Prepared Chevrolet Corvette taking the early lead from pole. Hot on Fershtand’s heels was the No. 199 Optech Jaguar XKR of Zach Monette, who took over the lead on lap four with a move in turn four. Monette held the lead until Fershtand moved back in front on lap seven. Monette gave chase until lap 15, when he pulled to pit lane to check out a potential mechanical issue. Monette’s crew send him back on the track, still in second place, but well back of the Fershtand’s win.
Jesse Prather drove his No. 34 Jesse Prather Motorsports/Mazda Mazda MX-5 to the overall and E Production win, slowing down at the finish to cross the stripe side-by-side with friend and F Production winner Eric Prill’s No. 7 Super Max/Jesse Prather Motorsports/Hoosier Mazda Miata.
Denny Stripling ran away and hid in the Spec Racer Ford race, taking a dominating victory in his No. 4 Lightspeed Motorsports machine.
Just when it looked like the day would end with blowout wins in most groups, Spec Miata came through. Craig Berry’s No. 29 Berry Marble and Granite/East Street Racing Miata and Voytek Burdzy’s No. 4 Advanced Autoparts Mazda Miata worked around polesitter Tom Brown’s No. 27 Advanced Autoparts/Custom Wireless Miata on lap six, then inched away from a six-car battle for third to settle the lead amongst themselves.
After a handful of swaps for the lead, Burdzy found himself in the front to start the final lap. Berry was able to close on a couple of occasions in the final circuit, but Burdzy hung on to grab the checkered flag.