Saturday at Sonoma – Regional 1 & 2
February 2nd, 2020 by James Chartres
Saturday it was warm, sunny, and dry! The breeze was mostly slight, and the hills surrounding Sonoma Raceway were alive with an electric green velvet grass carpet. Fruit and nut trees were flowering everywhere. The track and surrounding areas were sunny and bright, with a dense fog bank encircling the area before drifting away.
Sunday originally had promised more of the same, but will be throwing in in stronger and colder winds. But it will be a special day. Not only is it Super Bowl Sunday LIV with our own Forty-Niners playing in Miami, it’s Ground Hog Day, and … Super Palindrome Day, which hasn’t occurred in the past 900 years! 02/02/2020. Forward and backward, the eight-digit date is the same. So let’s celebrate!
Meanwhile, Saturday’s Regional Race One had Practice, Qualifying and Races for five groups of cars – one for open wheel, three closed wheel sedan groups, and one for SRFs.
There were some new faces among the volunteer Worker forces. On the Flagging & Communications Crew, Omar Fahmy worked his first day on the corners with Ian Ramsey on Turn 5. Joining the SFR SCCA Course Marshals was Leonardo Lopez. Both got a Pace Car Ride with Steward/Driver, R.J. Gordy, and will be back for more.
Working with the Tech Crew as Scrutineers were Miguel Bigott, Andrew Kim, and Kevin Hui. Kevin had worked last year and brought the other two to join him Saturday. They also will be back.
The F&C Crew also had two Drivers earning DRAFT Card credit – Mike Kouri and Brian Duddy. Welcome back, guys! After working corners, Mike said he’s earned a whole new appreciation for the importance of nose numbers on race cars, and had his crew significantly enlarge his.
E Crew Worker, Keith Joseph dropped by to visit, after being released from hospital and rehab. It was good to see him upright and walking with a boot and a big smile. Good to see you, Keith.
The sound limit was 103 db all day, and for the most part sound wasn’t a problem, with very few advisories or jeopardies. However, one driver earned the Dubious Distinction of setting a New Track Record for Black Flags given before pitting for being too loud- 28. Josh Sarchet/No.151 F4 Ligier JS from AZ was ultimately DSQ from Group 1 (Formula Alphabet) for having a non-compliant car and failure to obey official directions.
The Group 1 race had 23 drivers, from nine regions across the country. The group had 10 classes and a split start. The first attempt was a NO Start, for Racing Before The Green. Pole Sitter Jacob Able/No.57 F3 Ligier F3 led every lap and won the race. The fastest lap – for the race and for the day was 97.970 mph, turned by Vasili Stratton/No.26 P1 Wolf; but he was moved from second to to seventh overall for passing five cars under a double standing yellow. Tao Takaoka/No.27 FX F S 2.0 was moved to last in class for a non-compliant car. Otherwise it was a fast, busy race.
Group 3 was a small group of 10 drivers in six classes. It also had a NO Start for Racing Before The Green. Eager Beavers, these drivers! Mitch Marvosh/No.29 GT2 Mustang took off and pulled away. He led every lap, turned the fastest lap of 86.903 mph, and his Margin of Victory was 37.807 seconds, ahead of Joe Montana/No.88 GT1 Ford Fusion. The two of them pulled away from the pack, and were the only two cars on the lead lap at the end of the 14-laprace. RE Tim Tim SUllivan/No.58 T1 Corvette was a non-starter, due to mechanical problems suffered in morning practice.
Group 5 for Alphabet Sedans had 17 drivers, with all but one from SFR, spread among four classes. Pole Sitter Anthony Bonino/No.06 SMG Mustang led every lap and turned the fastest race lap of 78.018 mph. He beat runner-up Jeff Francis/No.98 SMG Mustang by 1.064 minutes. Behind them a pack of about six cars had a lively race, swapping positions lap after lap.Further back, Richard Pryor/No.27 MC Camaro set a New Track Record of 2:00.649.
Group 6 for SRF3/SRF was the last race of the day. Pole Sitter Joe Briggs/No.9 2007 SRF3 led every lap until the last few feet. He came out of Turn 11 ahead, but was caught up by Brandon Lewis/No.66 1984 SRF3 going for the finish and passed him at absolutely the last moment, to take the Checkered Flag. The MOV was 0.092 – a photo finish! Lewis had started third behind Robert Breton/No.51 1992 SRF3 and those two had a nice race until Breton pulled off mechanical in T12. Lewis also turned the fastest race lap of 83.392 mph. Stephen Controulis/No.55 SRF won his class.
Group 7 for all the Miatas was the middle race of the afternoon. There were 26 drivers, with eight from three other West Coast regions. The two top finishing drivers had fun with close racing. Pole sitter Will Schrader/No.87 SM 1990 Miata would appear to be leading through T11 with Ken Sutherland/No.93 SM 1991 Miata appearing to lead exiting T11. Sutherland led most laps, from the second until the penultimate lap when Schrader took it back in Turn 7. Then Sutherland passed back in Turn 10 to take the win, with a MOV of only 0.122 seconds. Schrader turned the fastest race lap of 78.923 mph. Eric Jones/No.73 SM 1993 Miata ran third the entire race. All the fun was to be had behind the trio, who had distanced themselves from the pack.
As the Workers and Drivers were enjoying their tri-tip dinner, the Sonoma Sun was setting with another spectacular sunset!
Tomorrow is another day. The Super Special Day starts with qualifying for the five groups in Regional Race Two, with one race before lunch. The afternoon calls for the remaining four races, and an early finish by 3:05pm, so folks can get to watch most of Super Bowl LIV.
Spoiler Alert! For those who watch Super Bowl for the Ads, don’t miss the Porsche commercial!