Round Three of the SCCA Western Conference Majors Tour crowned a host of winners on Saturday, April 27 and set the stage for a showdown on Sunday, April 28 in the second half of the doubleheader. The California desert provided the hottest Majors race in any Conference already in this young season, with temperatures stretching into the low 90s.
The first group played out in a battle of attrition. Mike Lewis’ No. 12 Goodyear/Cyclo/Redline Oil Jaguar XKR led early and in GT-1, but slowed dramatically on lap six of 15 before nursing his machine past the halfway point for a point-scoring finish. That left Tom Wickersham’s No. 02 Maine Straight Racing Porsche GT3 in the GT-2 and overall lead, cruising for a win.
Like the battle up front, the Touring 1 class was a battle at the midpoint that didn’t quite materialize. Michael Von Quilich’s No. 19 Apartments24-7.com/MyFreeLife.com Dodge Viper was being chased by Ken Davis’ No. 64 Davis Stone Inc Chevrolet Corvette until, with four to go, Davis fell out of the race. Von Quilich cruised to the victory.
Attrition also decided the E Production battle. John Longwell chased Aaron Downey’s No. 5 Roundpeg.com Mazda RX-3 while holding off the No. 50 K&G Racing Mazda RX-7 of Gary Gist early on. When both fell victim to mechanicals issues, Longwell’s No. 38 LEDfoot Motorsports BMW 328i was elevated to the lead, just in front of the No. 42 CureSarcoma.org/Electromotive/Fuel Safe/Hoosier Mazda RX-7 of new Western Conference point leader Philip Royle.
Former Spec Racer Ford National Champion John Black posted a noteworthy drive in his class. Starting at the rear of the 18-car field after failing to post a qualifying time in the morning session, Black worked his way through traffic in the No. 17 machine. A boost from a full course caution on lap nine moved him closer to the front, and when the dust settled he had moved into fifth place.
The class win went to Mike Miserendino, who took over the Western Conference point lead in the No. 11 MBI Racing SRF. Miserendino followed the No. 61 SRF of TJ Acker as the two broke away from the field, first from the green flag and then again after the yellow. Left alone, Miserendino moved to the front with two to go and held on for the win.
Elliot Skeer earned his third consecutive Western Conference Spec Miata win to open the season, breaking away from the field in the No. 77 RM Auto Sports/Pelican Windows & Remodeling Mazda Miata for a 1.494 second victory. Clement Lee closed the gap in his No. 33 RM Autosports Miata late in the race, but Skeer got a second wind for the victory.
In Formula Continental, Les Phillips used his local knowledge as the General Manager of Buttonwillow to lead the early laps, and stalked then-leader Michael Manning’s No. 25 Cypress Lane Racing/Dauntless Racing Cars Van Diemen RF01 throughout the race.
Phillips drove his No. 2 Swiss Implants/Porterfield Brakes Van Diemen F2000/Ford around Manning after overall leaders Lee Alexander, in C Sports Racing, and Chris Farrell, in D Sports Racing, got the one to go signal from the starters stand.
Now behind, Manning was robbed of a chance to challenge for the lead when Alexander’s No. 48 Factory 48 Motorsports Stohr WF1/Suzuki split the Continentals on the front straight, bringing out the checkered flag on he and Manning and letting Phillips drive the final lap unchallenged for what appears to be a one-lap win.
Phillips hopped out of the Formula Continental and, in the very next race group, put himself straight into yet another fight. Teammates Bill Kephart (No. 37 Vestial 10F/Honda) and Michael Lewis (No. 77 Red Line Oil/Cyclo Vestial 09F/Honda) pulled away at the start, followed by Stan Townes and Philips. Lewis fell behind the No. 6 Swift DB1 of Stan Townes and Phillips’ No. 89 Swiss Implants/Porterfield Brakes Mygale SJ4, leaving Townes and Phillips to reel in Kephart.
Kephart seemed to be catching traffic at the right time, growing his advantage, but Phillips was in full stalk mode. On lap 10, Phillips moved to the inside of Townes down the long back straight and into braking for the sharp left hander. Townes spun, and three corners later, Phillips pressured Kephart into a spin as well.
Phillips cruised to his second victory of the day, by 14.010 seconds over Lewis. Townes recovered to finish third, followed by Kephart.
Marc Hoover sat on the overall and Super Touring Under pole and immediately ripped away from the field, opening up a gap of more than seven seconds on the opening lap.
Lap two, however, was when the wheels fell off of the No. 98 Hooverspeed/NRA/Necksgen/Red Line Oil Mazda Miata – literally. Hoover’s rear wheel came off through a corner, sending him off track and unfortunately ending his day 14 laps early. Tom Wickersham cruised to the group’s overall win and the Touring 3 gold medal – his second win of the day – driving the No. 14 Maine Straight Racing Honda S2000.
The day ended with a very strong Sports 2000 field, who began the race chasing the No. 75 Veracity Racing Data Vin Diemen RFS-03/Ford of David Ferguson. Ferguson opened up a lead from the start of the race, but heavy smoke coming from his car on lap eight ended his day.
That elevated the No. 2 Swift DB-5/Ford of Edward Guenther to the lead. Guenther was chased hard by the No. 22 That’s My Juice, Inc. Swift DB-5 of Sterling Ellsworth, who was gutting the lead by as much as 1.8-seconds per lap in the latter stages of the race.
On lap 14, Ellsworth had closed to the rear of Guenther, but ran off track in the closing corners of the lap. Guenther finished the final lap to win by 10.267-seconds, with Ellsworth hanging on to the runner-up slot.
The Western Conference Majors Tour Round Four rolls off the grid with qualifying at 8:00 a.m. PDT Sunday morning at Buttonwillow Raceway Park. Live timing, notes and streaming audio from the track’s PA feed is available.
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