Race Recap January 2016

The Paddock

With the biggest turnout in months, January race weekend and the Andretti B, 4 mile course welcomed many faces we had missed, as well as new members and a first time racer.

The race weekend also presented a couple changes to our program. With Radical West changing over to Spring Mountain Racing, the technicians were pleased to have the Bellarossa Family and support staff from Wolf Racing Cars all the way from Brescia, Italy to help fine tune the new GBO8CN and GBO8SM cars for their debut!

With continued support for our Radical drivers, Sean McGray and Spring Mountain Racing technicians alongside Wolf Racing factory support were onsite and did an amazing job servicing the vehicles to perfection. Michelin Tires, a valued sponsor, also came out to support the drivers. All of the buzz and three days of racing proved to be a weekend beyond compare and the perfect start to the 2016 race season.

Miata Highlights

Saturday 15 Miata drivers came out to compete. Ryan Pond began the race in pole followed by Lee Mixon and Greg Nitzkowski. As soon as the green flag was thrown it looked like Lee was going make a pass for first, but Ryan held on and was untouched nor passed by another car the duration of the race. After only the 2nd lap, Ryan had nearly a 3.5 second lead over the rest of the pack! Following lap 2 everyone was pushing their fastest time of the day, and the battle for 2nd and 3rd got heated. Jim Ballestrieri, who had qualified in 4th, quickly maneuvered around Gregg in lap 3, and although Gregg followed him closely throughout the race, Jim was able to keep his position in front of him.

The forerunners of the race weren’t the only ones having fun. Renee West, Craig Kember, and Teddy Landau were having their own go at it in the center of the pack. After qualifying 7th, Teddy was determined to fight Craig and Renee to the finish. His persistence paid off, and he was victorious, finishing in 5th.

Due to weight infraction with Ryan’s car, Lee Mixon ended up winning the race. Jim Ballestrieri came in 2nd, Greg Nitzkowski in 3rd and Ryan came in 4th.

Lee and Jim share a podium handshake after Saturday's race.

Although he wasn’t driving, Kenny Northup was still in attendance at the track to oversee the Miata class and to support the series.

Only losing one driver from Saturday, Sunday’s Miata race brought out 14 participants. Qualifying 2nd, Lee Mixon pulled ahead early in the first lap, only to be passed in turn 5B by Ryan Pond shortly after. Going into lap 3, Dennis Russell took all four tires into the dirt but was able to jump back on course. Shortly after, a full course yellow was put out during lap 5 due to rocks and debris on the track. With a little over two minutes left of the race the green flag was given.

Lee took lead initially but Ryan, determined for a second win, pulled ahead in the S Curves while Jim had mechanical issues and went into the dirt at turn 5A, ending the race for him. Sunday finished with Ryan Pond as the victor, Lee Mixon in 2nd and Greg Nitzkowski in 3rd.

(Left to right) Lee, Ryan, and Greg came out on top in Sunday's Miata race.

Light Sport Racer Highlights

For the initial debut of the GBO8CN and GBO8SM on Saturday, both Radicals and Wolfs ran in the same class alongside the SR8’s and the SR3’s. In total, 17 drivers showed up to qualify, including track owner John Morris who came out of a two-year retirement to showcase the Wolf.

The Wolf fits perfectly in the line up here at Spring Mountain.

Ken Melgoza, back at the track after a brief absence, raced a GBO8CN, and Wayne Swanson made his debut in Rookie class as a first time racer at the track. The new divisions were implemented for Sunday’s race. The Light Sport Racer Series will consist of the sub divisions of “LSR1” (formerly SR8), “LSR2” (GB08SM), “LSR3” (includes SR3’s and Wolf GBO8 SM), and “LSRR” (formerly Rookie division). It was a fresh and exciting way to begin the 2016 racing season.

Two of Spring Mountain's new addition - the Wolf

LSSR Division

Four Rookie driver’s competed on Saturday. Gregg Gorski proved a force to be reckoned with and held onto the lead the entire race. First time racer, Wayne Swanson, had a clean race playing it safe and finishing without incident. The Rookies finished in the same positions as qualifying which were as follows: Gregg Gorski in 1st, Mark Rohrwasser in 2nd, David McConnell in 3rd, and Wayne Swanson in 4th. Gregg Gorski was the only Rookie to compete on Sunday landing him an easy 1st place finish.


For our first weekend integrating Wolf cars we had participate in the LSR1/LSR2 divisions 6 cars, a mix of SR8’s and Wolf GBO8SM’s qualifying for Saturday’s race. All of the SR8 drivers qualified in front of the Wolfs with Ethan Stone in pole in his SR8 followed by John Morris in his GB08SM. All 6 drivers were packed tightly when the green was given and rounding the infamous Ego Check everyone came out clean. Still in the lead, Ethan spun off track allowing John Morris to take over 1st. Under a yellow flag, the rest of the SR8’s caught up and Denis O’Leary maneuvered into 1st after lap three. The SR8 drivers were consistently pulling away on the straights. Jeffrey Cheng then overtook John near the Michelin Bridge, putting him in 2nd behind Denis O’Leary. Waiting for the right moment, Jeffrey managed to also pass Denis while rounding out near the the start line. After a slight mishap early in the race, Randy Carpenter caught back up to the pack and was also able to get around Denis, stealing 2nd. Just before the white flag was given, despite some impressive maneuvering around the corners in his GB08SM, Ron Eckhardt went off in Ego and was unable to finish the last couple of laps. Finishing first on Saturday was Jeffrey Cheng. Randy Carpenter came in 2nd with Denis O’Leary in 3rd. John Morris came out in 4th, followed by Ethan Stone in 5th, and Ron Eckhardt in 6th.

(Left to right) Randy, Jeffrey, and Denis joyfully shared the podium after an exciting race on Saturday.

Sunday the GB08SM’s and the SR8’s ran in their new individual divisions. Qualifying was exceptionally exciting! Driving his GBO8SM, Ron Eckhardt qualified with the fastest time and also achieved a new all time track record for the Andretti course with an impressive time of 2:41:1! John Morris, also driving an GB08SM, qualified 2nd with Ethan Stone and Denis O’Leary competing in their SR8’s. Before the green was given, Denis had to retire from the race due to mechanical issues. Ron, determined to keep 1st with John on his tail, quickly pulled a few car lengths ahead through the corners and continued to increase his lead, dominating the race. After the first lap, Ethan, ahead of John on the straight, got caught up after Zora’s Run near the end of the race and spun off into the dirt. The race finished with both cars in the GB08SM division (LSR2) crossing the finish line, however, neither SR8 (LSR1) was able to complete the race. Ron Eckhardt came out as Champion of the LSR2 division and John Morris came in 2nd.

Ron's win on Sunday also made a new all-time track record for the Andretti (B) course!


Five SR3’s and two GBO8CN’s qualified for Saturday’s race. These guys meant business and had a clean, competitive race. Shahin Mobine qualified on pole and had Ron Fletcher tailing behind him until Ron went off course in lap 3. Ken Melgoza, who had qualified 12th used every minute of the race to maneuver his way through the pack with strategic passes earning him 2nd place. Determined to make up time, Ron Fletcher managed to move back up toward the front of the pack and tailed Ken the last couple of laps, but was unsuccessful in overtaking him.

(Left to right) Ken, Shahin, and Ron sharing podium on Saturday.

On Sunday, 7 driver’s competed in the LSR3 division. After making some adjustments and getting used to his GBO8CN, Doug Ramirez made a comeback from Saturday and qualified 3rd. Keeping it clean but competitive, the LSR3 division all finished in their qualifying positions.

Bracket Races

A mix of Radicals, Miatas, Wolfs, a Porsche and even a Corvette made up the 17 driver race on Friday. Although the Bracket Race isn’t necessarily a race against the other cars as much as it is a test of consistency, a few of the racers got competitive and ended up letting speed get the best of them. John Morris, driving a Michelin Challenge Corvette, was in first place when he was passed by Porsche driver Terry Lubrano. John then blew out of his bracket when attempting to take back his position and pass Terry under the Michelin bridge. Prince Oliver could have won it all, but he too blew his bracket time when at the checkered flag he had to make sure he was the first across the finish line, barely missing the back of John Morris in a very close call. The first five finishers, Prince Oliver, John Morris, Bruce Kember, Terry Lubrano, and Jim Balestrieri were all disqualified for breaking out of their bracket. The following three finishers showed their patience and consistency by staying within their times earning Denis O’Leary first place in his SR8 followed by Kelvin Bloom, and Rookie driver David McConnell finishing 3rd.

Many Spring Mountain employees helped in jumpstarting the Bracket Race on Friday.

Another bracket race was held on Saturday and it seemed the guys wised up a bit, as only 2 of the 10 racers broke their bracket times. Jim Balestrieri and Craig Kember crossed the finish line 1st and 2nd, but both broke their bracket times. Close behind, Lee Mixon took 1st, Dennis Russell 2nd and Mark Allan took 3rd . They were followed by Teddy Landau (4), Bruce Kember (5), Trevor Allen (6), Michael Von Quilich (7), and Gregg Gorski (8).

Enduro Race

14 drivers stuck around for Sunday’s Enduro Race. The 50-minute race was run as a Bracket Race; each driver provided their own bracket times which then calculated their mandatory pit times. Most drivers ran as individuals, but there were two teams consisting of Jim Balestrieri / Denis Kane and John Thompson / Gregg Gorski. In the end, Craig Kember won completing 14 laps with a finish time of 51:44:644.

The Pit was an exciting place to be during the Enduro Race on Sunday!

Next Race

For February’s race weekend we will be running the Mansell B, 3.5 mile track configuration with a bracket race on Friday and Saturday and an Enduro race on Sunday. We look forward to seeing you all at the track!

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