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Racing Against Leukemia/Pig Roast Weekend
September 8 and 9, 2018

by Robert Beaulieu, Northeastracer Editor and SCCA Competitor

The New England Region Sports Car Club of Americ's Racing Against Leukemia Race weekend at Palmer Motorsports Park proved somewhat shy on entries, with just a tad over one hundred showing up. Palmer just doesn't seem to have an established rhythm as yet for many of the racers in the Northeast Corridor.

Complaints of no runoff areas, lack of spectator viewing, and the difficulty of the track seems to discourage drivers from the registration booth.

Yet, they can be so wrong. Each track has its own unique particularities and we can find positive and negative faults with any race course. Palmer has to be the most demanding and interesting tracks to drive in the Northeast. Long sweeping 180 degree turns demand correct car placement, a balance of handling and power that are so important especially with a climb to the upper limits.

It's not a track like many others that after a few laps, you got it; it is a difficult track to master, but that's what makes it so darn interesting. It tests you all the time, and missing the opportunity to drive this track is really a loss on your part; it?s a great, interesting track to drive. Remember, your competitor is driving the same track, and is facing the same issues. In the end, it evens the field. Those that did join us this particular weekend certainly had a fun filled interesting event.

Thomas Candido in his Austin Powers "shagadelic" Miata, Top masthead: Simon Kennedy in bleached white SM Miata.
Photos: Robert Beaulieu

This particular race weekend was the annual Racing Against Leukemia Weekend sponsored by the New England Region of the SCCA. An annual event that was started back in the early nineties after NER member Manfred Moehring's daughter, Danielle, was diagnosed with Leukemia, the weekend features giveaways, prizes raffles etc. These are all to raise money for the UMASS Memorial Foundation. In the past this weekend has generated up to $17,000 in donations for the foundation.

Formula Vee contestant, NER Board of Directors member, Bryan Rogers, explains.

All of the RAL proceeds go to the UMass Memorial Foundation, which is spread across many departments at the UMass hospital, including the Child Life program, where we have put a lot of our focus the past couple of years. This group puts together special programs to help brighten the day of kids undergoing treatment at the hospital, many in the Pediatric Oncology dept.

This weekend, surely will be no different.

The usual cross reference of vehicles that race in New England were there, with an addition of one particular highlight that drew most all of the competitors to check out this one particular entrant. The vehicle was the European Fun Cup VW Beetle entered by Bryan Scheible.

Bryan and his family literally drive all over the country racing this car. Based out of Buffalo, NY and Florida, word is that Bryan had an empty weekend to fill, and went onto motorsports reg, to check out anything local in the Northeast. And presto! He was Palmer bound. Bryan's homoglated VW is a class run successfully through Europe in what is called The Fun Cup Challenge Series. The vehicle has a center driving position with the tube frame and plastic "Bettle" body with a sealed VW golf engine producing approx. 140 HP coupled to a sequential gear box. The car is nearlly bullet proof, with the engine getting up to 150 hours of operating time, Bryan said.

When it's engine replacement time, just throw the old one away, and order a new from JPR motorsports from the UK. (It?s not worth shipping a core) Tires seem to go for eternity. He cites an enduro at Daytona, where the team finally changed the tires after 14 hours. .

The European Fun Cup Beetle was entered in SPU by Bryan Scheible along with his "commuter" Freightliner
Photos: Robert Beaulieu

The racing is a total family affair, with three generations sharing the driving (himself, his wife, his children as well as his father!) of this car as well as two others in the stable. Living a nomadic life with all-inclusive Freightliner tow vehicle and trailer, they have all the conveniences of home. The additional 40 foot trailer can carry three cars and has all the spares and workshop to make the infrequent repairs. The family, travels all over the country , each oasis being a new track and new experience to drive. Not only do they run SCCA, but CSA, World racing league, Champ Car, as well as attending SCORE events at Baja.

This was Bryan's first visit to Palmer, and at the conclusion of the race, he was packed up and leaving within a short period of time. He maneuvered the humongous ?commuter? rig out of the paddock as a seasoned pro! Next on the agenda, Buffalo to home base for a few days. Then planned stops in New Jersey, Ohio, Montana, and finally nationals in California were next. In November, an entry into the Baja 1000 is scheduled, where he rents a team of about 45 to compete the 1000. Bryan and his family are certainly living the dream of racing as the ultimate goal and we were pleased that he had a chance to experience our New England Region hospitality

Back to the races, Race One had the usual mix of SM/T3/T4 Miatas, with a few ITA and ITB cars thrown within. Ralle Rookey took off into the lead and was untouchable in race three (what these reports will be based on) with close to a ten second gap to second place. Ralle, Finishing first, was close to a two second quicker lap time than the next competitor as well as winning the tri-fecta with the overall in all three races. Jimmy Locke, Jared Lenderum and Richard Astacio and Mathew Morin, all were looking for the proverbial second as they ran within a tight group within a two second margin. Neither one specifically making ground on the other, yet not losing either, they all finished in that order when the race was shortened by an accident involving Richard Bennett and Michael Choe. Nat Wentworth won in ITB and Scott Rose in ITEZ

Race Group Two, the Spec Racers and the production crowd were pretty slim, (only two EP cars) and SPU (the VW). With the diversification of the field, the competitors quickly spread out and were running on their own...none making any ground nor losing. The two Steves took the Gold (Introne) and the silver (Owens) just as they did in Race One and Two.

Mark Saviet won in SRF. Mark has been racing since 1975. Now renting the SRF?s for a few events every year, he has a few of his older classic 240z's in his garage as C-Production racers. It would be great to see those out once again Mark!

Only two production cars were entered, Don Stevenson and Peter Tonelli II finished in that order. ...and of course our neat Fun Cup VW ran in SPU for this event.

Group three, In the Large bore race, Mark Ketencki in his BMW M3 was closely pursued in the first half by Glen Kukjiann in his Yellow Corvette. This went on lap after lap, the larger capacity Vette just not having enough to get by on the straight. The order stayed the same throughout the race finishing in that order, whereas in Race Two the result was just the opposite. Darius Trinka, whom came in third for this race, was overall winner in the first.

Race Group Four, the unique CRE event, Instructor James B Ray II, consistently chased James McGuire's Corvette to keep him honest in his win.

The CRE was specifically designed to introduce many new drivers to racing conditions with the SCCA, as well as serve in replacement of Driver's School qualifications. The competitors meet in the classroom for instruction and critique as well as race in real conditions. James McQuire, as noted above, earned his novice permit after this event. Well done James!

Diane Malecki was nothing but smiles after her initiation of the three events on the track, especially after dropping close to 20 seconds in lap time between the first race, and the last! That's what we call in making progress.

Formula Vee, Race Group Five, once again proved to be the most subscribed class for the weekend, with 22 cars registered. Thanks to the marketing cohesiveness of the Vee drivers, Northeast Formula Vee, this class, though more than sixty years old continues to be most popular and continues to grow.

Chris Barry was the point person to beat this weekend, (Nick Giulardi, giving all others a break, by only running the one race on Saturday.) taking large leads in the first two events, but on the "feature" spun out to last on the first lap, then continued banzai charge through the field to try and recapture the loss. As Chris carved his way through the field, Kevin O'Day grabbed his tow and followed through as close as a lawyer to an ambulance. Unfortunately that came to an end, when Chris looped it at the exit of one, and collected Kevin, leaving both stranded on the outskirts of the turn in a very precarious position where the cars most tend to drift out.

After two laps of waving yellow, the race was checkered, instead of throwing out a pace car which the accident demanded (and being that late in the race, not worth the time.) Even though we witness close open wheel racing with Formula Vee, it was reported that this was really the first car-to-car contact of the year. The race was eventually won by Ryan Soucy, whereas Chris won race two, and Nicholas in his very quick D-13 won Saturday's feature as well as setting a new lap record.

Dick Patullo and Anthony Parker display tight racing, as Dick Patten stays clear in the grass, and Paul DeYeso observes. Photo: James Ray

In IT-Dan Sheppard, I mean IT-7, Dan, once again took all three races, but in a close contest was nip and tuck for second through fourth with JB Swan, Dave Patten and Anthony Parker locking his left front chasing all at the end of the straight. IT-7, like the Formula Vee contingent, is a growing and consistent field this weekend showing 10 entrants.

We do need to keep Race Chairman of NER JB Swan enthused, word has it he just bought a 31 foot Tiara cabin cruiser, powered by twin 454?s (yikes). 350hp each, which is presently moored in the town river Marina, in Quincy; does this mean allegiance will be changing? JB, says heck no, it's great for him and his father to share time, (race cars kinda fail in that department)

Serge Lentz was in a new to him RX 7 after last years lost an engine. Being IT7, he bought a whole new car for less than an engine, unfortunately it?s not quite as reliable as he stuttered around the track. Serge, claimed next year, the F-Production Miata will make an appearance!

The real drama in IT7, was earlier in the day when Dick Patullo and Anthony Parker did their own Cirque do Soliel acrobatic act on climbing onto each other avoiding the spinning Mazda of Dave Patten. But IT7 cars are tough, only Anthony dnf?d due the contretemps, and was later seen banging out a fender in the paddock so that he could make the "feature" race where his final tally was a sixth in class after his earlier challenge.


In the Miata (sm/ITA) class Jimmy Locke, locked up first overall in his SM2 Miata in all three races, while Stephen Pope and John Raudet swapped plces in second and third throughout the three race weekend.

The day concluded relatively early at 4:30 allowing all to head home and promptly get stuck in the Brimfield antique fair traffic....but surely, not enough delay, to warrant missing the next event and final event of the year coming to you at Thompson in October.

As a final footnote, we wish a hearty congratulation to Abhi Ghatak on receiving U.S. citizenship this past year. Coming to this country back in the seventies when he was 13 years old, Abhi, had the honor of receiving his citizenship in front of an assembly of students at Concord High School, where, besides taking the oath, he addressed the students of his immigrant, share his story, success and freedom that he has experienced in this country. Well done, Abhi, and again congratulations!

Full resutls as supplied, by Timing and scoring chief, Joshua Underwood can be viewed and download with this link.

Photos to the right, top, Andy Bentnick-Smith is assigned grid postion by Grid Marshal, Karen Petersen. Middle; Oliver Lucier in his T3 Boxster. Bottom; Leslie Kurz in his SRF. Photos: Robert Beaulieu


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