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The Callahan Report: SCCA Valvoline Runoffs At Mid Ohio - Final Day Wrap Up

13 October 1997

LEXINGTON, OH: The Valvoline Runoffs presented by NAPA Auto Parts wrapped up yesterday at the Mid-Ohio Sports Car Course. The weekend's action included 23 races/classes. The final eight National Champions were crowned in action on Sunday.

Valvoline Runnoffs Collage ]

In the GT-5 championship race, it was Jamie Houseman of Canada taking the victory in a Honda CRX. Jamie beat Kirk Olson, of Lakewood, CO, by 1.87 seconds. Olson was also in a Honda CRX. Houseman led all but the first lap.

After his victory, Houseman said, "It's my 2nd championship in a row. I did what I intended to do. It could have easily gone the other way, but I had no intention of going on the grass." The champ continued, "Every lap in Turn 9 I'd look in the mirror and see a banner that was just the color of Kirk's car, it gave me a fright."

The Top Ten in GT-5 with finishing position, starting position in parenthesis, and hometown:

1. (5) Jamie Houseman, Canada
2. (4) Kirk Olson, Lakewood, Colo.
3. (1) Jim Rauck, Grove City, Ohio
4. (3) Jack Baumgardner, Mansfield, Ohio
5. (6) Andre Zawislak, Monroe, N.Y.
6. (2) Daniel Minkler, N Canton, Ohio
7. (13) Frank Vilardi, Holbrook, N.Y.
8. (12) Ted Phenix, Canada
9. (9) Jack Beck, Papillion, Neb.
10. (10) Joe Camilleri, Canada

In the Sports 2000 National Championship race, David Downey of Blacklick, Ohio was crowned the champion in his Lola T89/90. He led the race from start to finish. He won by a comfortable 4.8 second margin.

Andrea Kasiewicz of Carol Stream, IL finished second in a JE 262. Kasiewicz was able to close on Downey under braking during the early laps but could not get by. Kasiewicz had a comfortable 10 second lead on third place, Alexander Smith by the mid race point.

Downey commented, ""I feel as good as I've been for a long, long time. The car was as neutral as could be front and rear. This particular track encourages driver's patience. If you push too hard, especially from turns 6 through 11, you'll use up a lot of tires and equipment." He concluded, "I was very pleased with the car."

The was a tense moment in the race on lap 14 as Christopher Watson went off course at turn one. He lost some of his bodywork on the track during the incident. The bodywork was directly in the racing line in turn one. The other drivers did a good job of dodging the debris before the volunteer corner workers were able to clear the track.

The Top Ten in Sports 2000 with finishing position, starting position in parenthesis, and hometown:

1. (1) David Downey, Blacklick, Ohio
2. (2) Andrea Kasiewicz , Carol Stream, Ill.
3. (3) Alexander Smith, Voorhees, N.J.
4. (4) J. Duke Johnson, St. Louis, Mo.
5. (9) Jason Engel, Galena, Ohio
6. (5) Pete Harrison, Atlanta, Ga.
7. (11) Cliff Knudsen, Howell, Mich.
8. (7) Bill Braucksick, Cincinnati, Ohio
9. (6) David Brand, Muttontown, N.Y.
10. (15) Jack Banha, Philadelphia, Pa.

The F Production cars took to the track for the next race of the day. In that race, Joe Huffaker of Petaluma, CA was victorious in him MG Midget over Harold Flescher of Weston, MA, in a AH Sprite.

Huffaker's 16 second margin of victory was not indicative of the early race battle. Craig Chima, of Akron, OH, gave Huffaker a run for his money for at least a third of the race. It was not meant to be, however, as Chima's car began to smoke. He fell off the pace and finished in 15th place.

After the victory, Huffaker said, "I had a big foot got caught in the pedals. For the rest of it I had pretty good focus and the race was on." Commenting on his car, he said, " The car sounded a little flat at the end. It's a different exhaust system. If I get off the throttle a little, it sounds different. I don't think that car will be back.....If I have to redo the car with the new roll bar rules it would destroy the integrity of the car."

The Top Ten in F Production with finishing position, starting position in parenthesis, and hometown:

1. (1) Joe Huffaker, Petaluma, Calif.
2. (3) Harold Flescher, Weston, Mass.
3. (5) Rick Haynes, Columbus, Ohio
4. (6) Gary Johnson, Knoxville, Tenn.
5. (9) Bobby Wolf , Bedford Heights, Ohio
6. (8) Mark Irwin , Knoxville, Tenn.
7. (10) Mark Weber , St. Louis, Mo.
8. (13) Scott Durbin, Chicago, Ill.
9. (15) Ron Copeland, Holland, Ohio
10. (17) Duck Allen, Portland, Ore.

The racing was non stop the rest of the day with National Champions being decided in five other classes.

GT-3 Podium Finishers:
1. Michael Lewis, San Diego, Calif.
2. Pete Peterson, Lumberton, N.C.
3. Mike Pinegar, Garden City, Mich.

Formula Continental Podium Finishers
1. B.J. Zacharias , Hamilton, Ohio
2. Dave Weitzenhof, Bath, Ohio
3. Michael Williams, Hayden, Idaho

GT-1 Podium Finishers
1. Max Lagod, Barrington, Ill.
2. Michael Lewis, San Diego, Calif.
3. William Gray, Springdale, Ark.

GT-4 Podium Finishers
1. Steve Cook, Santa Clara, Calif.
2. Richard Grant, Germantown, Tenn.
3. David Walsh, Macon, Ga.

Spec Racer Ford Podium Finishers
1. Warren Stilwell, Hartville, Ohio
2. Lee Fleming, Lake Forrest, Calif.
3. Neil Tilbor, New Smyrna Beach, Fla.

Editors Note: The SCCA Valvoline Runoffs Presented by NAPA Auto Parts was a spectacular show. There was non-stop action the entire week. To put on such a show takes commitment and hard work. It is mind boggling to think of the work involved with putting on 23 races in three days.

The volunteers, the SCCA, Mid Ohio Sports Car Course, and all the sponsors are to be commended for their efforts. Their organization sets the standard by which other organizations should be measured.

Terry Callahan -- The Auto Channel