Sebring, Florida February 23, 2008
The Central Florida Region SCCA SARRC GTA Race Report
The Central Florida Region SARRC event was one of the most labor intensive events the region has seen in recent history. The pace car with Jack Ragaglia behind the wheel took many of the checkered flags due to the rain on Saturday and green track conditions that followed on Sunday. Each race group had its fair share of “offs” and collateral damage. Thanks to the CFR SCCA Region for their hard work.
Group 3 was the big bore group that included the GTA racecars. Qualifying for the SARRC race was completed under dry conditions. Tony Amico set the standard for the GTA class with a 2:18.5 followed with a 2:18.8 by the talented driving abilities of Phil Tapia. Tommy “Shake-n-Bake” Graham was third. The field of 12 GTA cars was ready for the afternoon 30 minute SARRC event.
The race group was anxiously watching the weather while making preparations for the race. All cars made their way to the grid with slicks. The clouds were moving in and radar reports looked as if the storm MIGHT pass just to the north of the racetrack. The Central Florida Officials made the decision to allow competitors to change to rains if they elected to do so. A brief rain dampened the racetrack followed by a short burst of sunshine. Everyone remained on slicks thinking the storm had passed. Phil Tapia made the decision to leave the grid and keep his car out of the impending doom that approached. The group made their way around the track in preparation for the start of the race. The track was damp with very little standing water. The pace car lights went out and the GTA competitors formed up for a cautious start. The green flag was given and the group raced towards turn one. Tony Amico found the outside line to hold up his progress which allowed Tom Graham and Jeff Bailey to make the pass on the outside at the exit of the corner. Graham set the GTA pace until he ran out of traction on the 12 hour turn 16 and slid to the side of the track. Bailey was able to take the lead headed down the backstretch. The faster GT1 and SPO cars were somewhat timid due to the track conditions which allowed Bailey to pass four of them on the front stretch. Many competitors found themselves off course in their attempts to push their cars to the limit. One yellow car was quoted as “looking like the teacup ride at Disney” with his spin while chasing the leaders. About half way through the race the bottom fell out of the clouds and the rain came in a blinding downpour. Racing slicks hydroplane at Sebring more than any other track due to the amount of small pockets that hold water and the racing surface being almost completely flat. With fogged windows and zero visibility the race was reduced to a crawl. The race was checkered as the cars made their crawl back to the finish. Bailey held onto the win with Amico finishing second. Jay Marshall made a late race charge but was unable to make impound due to visibility and a wet ignition.
Ron Keith, Randy Keith, Tom Boldry, and Steve Wildes made the trip from the Kansas area with family and friends. The “Kansas Tornadoes” dried out and were able to compete in Sunday’s regional event with dry conditions. Ron was able to finish on the podium with a third place finish behind Jay Marshall and Phil Tapia. These folks from Kansas are “top notch”. Make a point of meeting them as they travel around the country competing in the GTA National Tour. …you’ll be glad you did.
BDM Motorsports from Virginia fielded the entry of Dave Dobyns. His crew consisted of his son Bryan and “Sweet Rick”. Rick is a genius when it comes to racecar prep and fabrication. Phil Soucy was there with BDM to race but a slip on the ice back home resulted in an injury to his wrist which made shifting impossible. Phil assisted the guys from BDM throughout the weekend in support of Dave Dobyns. After the test day on Friday, Dobyns was up to speed at his first ever Sebring event. BDM Motorsports is a team of professionals and their racecar prep is second to none.
"Official" SCCA GTA SARRC results
1. Jeff Bailey
2. Tony Amico
3. Jay Marshall
4. Mike Hope
5. David Dobyns
6. Tom Boldry
7. Ron Keith
8. Greg Cecil
9. Tom Graham
10. Randy Keith
11. Stephen Wiles
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