By Robert Beaulieu, Northeastracer.com editor and competitor
Thompson, as we all know, has gone through a few transformation over the number of decades that it’s been existence. This new rendition being the third generation (I believe?) opened in 2014. Gen Two, closed to road racing since 1976 still is the major foundation of its current configuration. The straight was a little longer, (you literally drive over the old turn one-turn two complex as you leave the entry registration booth).
Turn One, then, much closer to East Thompson road, that if you went straight (very little runoff ) just a narrow line of trees abutting road. Urban legend, or shall we call it a racer story, Jerry Crawford in an ASR Lola T-70 did indeed land up in East Thompson Road
The chute from turn two to turn three was a left hander just at the entrance of the bowl. The present 180 degree complex behind the grandstand did not exist and at the time was a gravel paddock for all the racers. Back to the left hander at three, a fun turn, but make sure you hit it right, and stay as left as possible to make a straight line on to the main straight.. Take it too wide, and you “dukes of hazard” over the berm of the banked oval, catching a bit of air, or if off-kilter, your landing could be quite disastrous.
From the bowl onwards repeats the signature of Gen Two. Back in the seventies, armco was in near existence as on track safety, and sand/dirt berms to hold off errand cars were the norm.. needless to say they caught many!
Back in the late eighties I used to visit Thompson for the annual November Racers Flea market and was always so disappointed to see the road course deteriorate to ruin.. The resurrection is certainly welcome, and those in New England, now have a number of tracks to race at, all within a few hours drive at the most.
This Annual October event closes the season and is becoming a ”Must do” on all racers agenda.. With a count of 178 entries, racers were greeted with a relatively cool weekend and overcast skies. Definitely a relief from a few of the earlier season events between heat and rainstorm.. Comfortable in the paddock, but definitely not the kind of days where tires come up to temperature in a lap or two, and never mind how much the temperature dropped in the evening for our overnight camping guests.
At this event, we were fortunate enough to have a “wings n’ things” entry with their own race, the first race of the day. A mixture of Formula Fords and a few Fc’s and one P2. Paul Omichinski in his Stohr ran away from the pack of open wheelers, and settled into a 10 second lead, then held pace. With a good command over the next-place cars, no need to over due the vehicle. The race did remain honest though, with Michael Rand challenging and swapping positions with Christopher Mosley and Tony Rolfe, with Rand taking the checker overall in his club ford with Paul Omichinski and Chris Mosley finishing all within a second. We have to remember, Michael runs A Crossle 30RF, a Club ford, this is not supposed to happen, sounds like a mystery.
In Reference to Micheal Rand, I found out he is about four days younger than myself, and when turning 21, that September, promptly enrolled at a drivers school this very same weekend (first weekend in October) in 1968....and is still handling a Formula Ford with ease. After the race Michael was honored by New England region with a celebratory congratulations for his fifty dedicated years to the sport, as well as Forever Flagger Allen Olmstead whom also celebrated fifty plus years in the sport.
Back to that overall finish, like the fords at Lemans in ‘67, the finish was somewhat arranged to honor Michaels fiftieth.... let Michael explain.
“Chris Mosley approached me after Race 2 and said he and Paul had talked and as a 50th Anniversary present to me, if the situation presented itself, they proposed to wave me by on the last lap.”
“I sincerely asked Chris, and Paul by extension, to NOT do that, just run your races !”“As the laps wound down it became obvious they had over ruled me...thought about attempting to orchestrate a three wide dead heat but the memory of Fords botched LeMans finish back in what, ’67 ?, led me to ditch that plan.”
“So when we got to Turn 8 I guess it is numbered, the climbing/cresting right hander onto the front straight, I figured ok, these guys have done something really nice for you, don’t be a jerk. Waved them by as soon as possible after the checkers with thumbs up all around.”
“Both really nice guys with a nice gesture…..”
In addition, Michael reported about the SCCA family...” The people most of all, aside from the adrenaline junkie aspect…..I have zero old friends from my youth and all my pals are racers or ex-racers. The paddock is my family. Just as dysfunctional, but family none the less…and of course a fine congratulations from the entire racing community.
Race Two: Jesse Schmidt in a T3 Mazda Global Cup MX 5 ran away from all competitors to take overall in all three races... a very neat and clean drive displayed by Jesse. But the real fun was right behind, with Brian Riley in a Touring-4 RX-8 (no not a Miata as listed, which totally confused me, cause I always expect bright Yellow from the Riley racing stables) leading and running point for the SM race. Right on his tail was the Spec Miata battle of Ralle Rookey and our own Northeastracer correspondent Evan Karl. The two ran bumper-to-bumper the entire fifteen laps of race three and exchanged leads a number of times. No bump and run for these two, an excellent show of hard, clean racing, with Ralle finishing ahead at the checker by about 6/10ths of second. Evan had the consolation of winning the first and second races of he weekend.
RACE Three: Production and SRF... We definitely can say, Steve Introne has the handle on SRF3, after winning all three rounds of the weekend. The Race shortened event (black flagged due to an accident at turn four) had Kevin Treffeklsen finishing second, with Steve Owens third...these two had the same results for race one, and reversed for race two. SRF was won by Mark Saviet in race one and two, and Matt Rowin Three. Nicholas Sealey took the wining E- production in his RX-7, while Kyle Colbey took home the gold in F, with his Honda CRX. Always a disappointment not to see our open top production racers no longer competitive, but Michael Connelly’s cherry (and red) GTV was a delight to watch, and for us production fans, our next group was HRG.
Group Four was for the classics, HRG: Reminding me or years past, the race started with a few big irons roaring away in this case, Glenn Every in his B production Stingray. He had the honor of leading the first lap, but was demoted by the very quick Datsun 240z’s of Adam Streklzuk and Jake Clapp and Phil Hollenbeck. The really neat, ala '60's TransAm Camaro of Frank Grimaldi then took up battle with the 'Vette providing the classic thundorous roar of V8 power. Past Soloist, Bob Lang in his quick TR6, had an interesting weekend, loosing his differential in qualifying, he missed the first race, “I always have a spare.” and made the second leading the mid-pack cars handily, and then what is this, the third race lost time and lined a lap late after a seat belt malfunction while on the grid. The two TR4’s of Phil and David Gott were messing it up with Bill Shields GTV, with the triumphs slowly pulling ahead (at least for race three) until David suffered overheating in his TR4.
David’s TR4 is new to HRG this year, but the car ran extremely successfully back in the 70’s, and still wears the stunning color scheme of it’s original owner. David purchased it, after sitting for a number of years after being “modified” by another owner.. David had to spent close to two years before finally being ready for HRG competition. See the accompanied article in this issue. Good to see his car out there as well as all the others.
Group five: Again was the Club racing experience. This group not only gives training to the new racer towards their racing license, I cannot help but notice names on the entry list of siblings, crew members or wives having their first experience of what’s it like in a real racing experience. Per usual, the group was led by instructor extraodinare (and part time race photographer) James ray in his Ford Mustang GT showing the way. James, by the way, not only comes forward to assist in this event, you can find him most weekends sharing his time with COM, SCDA. Definitely a busy guy!
Race Six was the big guys, well subscribed with thirty one cars taking the flag in the ”feature” race three. Douglas Valley was the overall winner in his flame spouting GT1 Mustang race two and three. Glen Kuerkjhan set a very quick pace in his ITE Corvette following the Mustang into second in race three , and winning the first race after Doug’s mount only made the first four laps. Also Darius Trinka was up with the leaders in his Touring -2 Nissan 350Z ,finishing first in class, third overall in the feature. The Nissan failed to complete race one, but had a dramatic race with Victor Larin’s T2 BMW which took the class win in race two. Other class winners were: Zachery Kelly, IR; Eric Heinrich STU; Blaine Stine, GT2; Mark Gregory, ITS; and Kelly Lubash, AS.
Race Seven had the largest single class field of the weekend, Formula Vee. Race Three with a slightly decimated field of 19 racers (twenty five started the first race!) took an extra “Missing Man” pace lap to honor long -time competitor and formula Vee ambassador, Paul Faford (see separate listing in short takes.)
For this feature race, all got through turn one with now harm, whereas in the first two races, spinning incidents at the exit of turn one split the field into a complete change of order from qualifying.
Andy Pastore, literally ran off from the field, with Pete Beck in hot pursuit. They both finished this way, in all three races. Chris Barry, Ryan Soucy, Jeffrey Filipkowski and John Piscitelli were basically the leaders of the next racing group, swapping finishing positions, but still in the second “peleton.” The one only wounded soldier of the weekend appeared to be Christopher Zarzycki’ Protoform, abandoned on the front bowl straight with two laps left in the second race with rear suspension askew and the blue Citation of Thomas McDonough against the wall for a lap.. Draw your own conclusions from there.
The last race of the 2018 season, consisted of over 33 cars in class Mazda (STL, SM2, ITA, IT7...and one B-Spec)
Mark Gregory in his STL Miata took the win in the feature as well as race one, with Mark Gregory winning race two. David Colby in a Honda CRX (yes this class is infiltrated with a few other makes) took the ITA win, and like Mark, won the first race as well. John Raudat was repeated the same as above with Jimmy Locke closely behind. And of course, Dan Sheppad took all three IT 7 wins, but not without a little pressure from JB Swan and Michael LaVigne hounding him through the events. The IT7 crowd is expanding as well, maybe soon they will have there own race, (they already get a split start) now wouldn’t that be fun. Serge Lentz, contrary to last reported had his RX-7 going very well and competitive after spending some time being prepped in his son-in-laws shop..Maybe that F-production Mazda will be on hold for another year. Like Formula Vee, the vehicles are very closely matched and produce exciting and tight racing.
So as the day came to a conclusion, the paddock slowly emptied out, with plans and tic lists of winter assignments were on call for the first of next year. 2018, is now past tense, culminating, once again with a successful racing season for the New England Region.
Robert Beaulieu is a New England based driver, restarting his racing in a Fromula Vee, after campaigning in G-Production from 1975 through 2003. Robert is also an editor at Northeast Racer. You can reach him with comments or story suggestions at email@example.com © 2018 robert Beaulieu
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