The Central Florida SCCA Regions Sept. 29th & 30th Regional event provided for some great racing action. The wet conditions during Saturday’s qualifying session left the GTA drivers a bit dampened but the progressive qualifying for the three scheduled races proved to be a positive feature for the GTA drivers. The GTA lap times were VERY impressive in the final race of the weekend considering the cars are powered by about 500hp and weigh in the ranges of 2830-2930 lbs. dependant upon the style of chassis. Additional weight in 50 lb. increments is added for “big brakes” and “better shocks”. The GTA class is expanding at a rapid pace due to the relative low cost of racing a GTA class car. About a dozen cars showed up at the CFR Daytona Regional event but the early wet conditions and a few mechanical issues limited the three races to starting numbers to 6, 8, and 7 respectively as reported on Mylaps.
GTA Race 1 ( Group 5 Race 5 ) was a short 5 lap race without qualifying times for most GTA cars due to the wet qualifying session. ( We are looking for a good rain tire in the 27x10x15 size ) The track conditions were mixed from dry to drying with a fair amount of standing water in turn 1, 6, and exiting the bus stop. The majority of the GTA drivers started behind the other classes that qualify well in the rain. Getting through the race traffic was like being able to drive “WIDE OPEN” on your local highway during rush hour. Top three finishers : Jeff Bailey, “Squeak” Kennedy, and Greg Cecil
GTA Race 2 ( Group 5 Race 10 ) was a 8 lap race with 8 starters. The track was dry and the drivers were getting comfortable with the track which can be seen with the lap time ranges running between 2:01’s - 2:06’s. I believe Jay Marshall broke the existing GTA track record with a 2:01.741 with Greg Cecil posting a best lap of 2:01.920. I provided the video work for almost everyone because I looped my car backwards in turn 5 on the first lap. I have a great video of everyone going by….I’ll have to edit the sound before anyone can see THAT video ! I’ve never been stalled head-on at the exit of a corner with 30+ cars coming two-wide in my direction. It was not a situation I care to ever experience again. A big “THANK YOU” to all of the drivers in group 5 for their collision avoidance experience…..and an even bigger “THANK YOU-THANK YOU- THANK YOU” to the unknown corner workers that vigorously waved the yellow flags. You definitely made a difference in the safety of drivers as well as preventing destruction to racecars. If I ever discover who you are….I owe you one ! You definitely have the right to poke me on the forehead with your finger and say…COLD TIRES…COLD TIRES ! Top three finishers: Greg Cecil, George Lutich, and Tom Graham
GTA Race 3 ( Group 5 Race 15 ) was a 10 lap race with 7 starters. Congratulations to all GTA drivers in this race because everyone in the GTA class went 2:02’s or better . Congratulations also goes out to Phil Tapia for breaking the Daytona GTA track record with a 159.748. I would like to think I assisted Phil with his unbelievable lap time…..not really….but it sounds good to me. Greg Cecil and Jay Marshall jumped to an early lead. Myself and Phil Tapia made our way to 3rd and 4th positions early in the race. Phil had George Lutich , “Bosco” Logsdon, and Tom Graham on his tail at various points during the race. Phil was putting pressure on me for 3rd until he made a clean pass on me…..I’m not sure where but I remember thinking to myself… “crap…he got me” as he went by. It was everything I could do to stay with him. A couple of laps later Phil entered into the bus stop about three car lengths ahead of me and encountered one of them $100,000 Porsches at the exit. While entering Nascar 3 Phil must have thought the Porsche would go high so he went low. The Porsche stayed low and delayed Phil’s entrance going into the banking. I had a good run through the bus stop and was able to make a pass on the both of them on the high side. I thought to myself “ Wahooo….got my position back”. Little did I know I was entering into the race of my life. Phil got past the Porsche quickly…..we had placed a lap on ……ahem….one of them $100,000 Porsches. Phil stayed with me through Nascar 4 and the tri-oval. I entered turn 1 thinking of my friend Butch Kummer saying “ If your gonna pass me..your gonna pass me on the outside !” Phil attempted just that but I was able to hold him off and he followed me to the International Horseshoe. I once again took the “protective” line and Phil utilized the faster late apex line. Traction became an issue for me. Phil did the “classic” crossover maneuver which placed him on the inside and me on the outside at the exit. We went down the straight towards the left-hand kink with me leading him by a fender. I could see his shiny black hood out of my peripheral vision the whole time. Folks, this is almost side-by-side ! As we approached the kink I thought to myself…. “he will lift”…. and I assume he thought I would lift. Guess what……neither of us lifted ! I stayed as far left as the corner permitted using the rumble strips and Phil stayed about a foot off my right side. We were now in the kink, side-by-side, pedals matted, wide open in third gear ! Both cars four wheel drifted to the right and we never touched ! Phil ran out of pavement. I could see a cloud of Daytona dust in my mirrors. Phil proved he has excellent car control……as he was able to save his car without spinning. Until this race, I would have never thought a GTA car could go through the kink flat out !….. However, I have no intentions of ever doing it again. Phil collected his car and then on the following lap he set the track record ! Lucky for me the race ran out of laps. First thing after the race I went to met with Phil. I was worried that he might think I had pushed him off the track. At first contact, Phil provided the biggest smile I think I‘ve ever seen. We shared the events of the race in laughter. This was GTA racing. Top three finishers: Greg Cecil, Jay Marshall, and Jeff Bailey
Complete results and lap times are now up on Mylaps.