2012 HISTORICS — HUGHES STALKS SATURDAY; HONEYCUTT BREAKS HEARTS SUNDAY
The Historics, the second event in the NRA Cumberland Airport autocross series, is always special. In tribute to the bygone days between 1953 and 1970 when the hills surrounding CBE echoed with the thunder of race cars running one of the nation’s top SCCA club racing championship events, the first day of the “Historics” features the fabled “long course.” On Saturday, a sold out field of 78 timed entrants turned out to pay homage to that legacy. For the tenth time since the revival of sports car racing in Cumberland, racers were treated to a fast open .92 mile circuit, extended down the tarmac far beyond the hangers. Because of the full field, and the long course, competitors only had three runs to get her done. The sheer number of elements on the lengthy course and shortage of runs made the 2012 long course particularly unforgiving of any restraint or error on the drivers’ part. But that only added to the competitive challenge.
In first heat action on Saturday, Pennsylvanian Jonathan Claypool ran his Mitsubishi Lancer fast but dirty, ending up clinching the top slot in the hotly contested Touring category and STU class victory with his first recon pass of 73.68, his only clean run of the day. Chris Fritz, piloting his ASP Subie STi, was another first heat standout, running down to a 72.7 on his final attempt, but a cone added two ticks to that.
In the second heat, Chris Carlisle, piloting an arrest-me red 2004 GT3, ran a smoking 71.7. Then, local hero Matt Felten hung the FTD limbo pole impossibly low, with his smoking third run of 67.39 in the open wheel Reynard. This decisively dashed the FTD hopes of fellow second heater Jeff Duncan and his Ultralite Lotus 7 clone, as their fast 69.5 fell short.
On came the Thumping Third heat, home of groundpounders and many of CBE’s top drivers. All tried to find that perfect balance of aggression and precision, in three scant runs, to best young Felten. Icebreaker FTD Wade Chamberlain came whisker-close, but got no FTD cigar this time, with his best and final lap of 67.4. But that was more than good enough to win him the Prepared category and XP class. In the end, it was Virginian Gary Hughes’ Buick-powered Brunton Stalker Lotus that toppled the FTD leader. Hughes’ second pass of 67.1 locked up FTD, as well as Modified category and E Mod class victory. Hughes edged SCCA and CBE stalwart Chuck Sieber, who ran an interesting and evil-looking V-8 powered Sprite in E Mod instead of his familiar modified Lotus, but Chuck scratched due to a mechanical after a couple of runs.
Fourth heat saw an interesting battle in the jam-packed Super Stock class, between Steeltown’s Randy Pearson, in his born-in- the USA Z06, and Jay Gyger, running Chris Carlisle’s bright red sausage- burning GT3 Porsche. Pearson (and America) won SS class and the Stock category handily, with a 69.47 to Gyger’s 71.1. Pearson’s sub-70 second lap also won him PAX victory for the day.
Local top 20 raw time finishers Saturday in addition to Matt Felten were Greg Honeycutt, 1986 Reynard, 69.72 (5th ), Tink Phillips, 1995 Daytona, 71.13 (11th), and Dan Whiteman, 1973 Porsche 911, 71.86 (14th).
On the second day of the Historics, the course was shortened, but shared many of the same elements from the day before. Doubling the reward to the faithful who ran both days, Sunday drivers would get six cracks at the shorter, but familiar, circuit. First heat would see the CBE debut of a new Subaru BRZ, a much-talked about brand new rear wheel drive Japanese sports car, who some think is destined to be a PAX index killer.
The BRZ ran well, but Chris Fritz and his STi dominated the first heat, driving fast and tight to a BSP class win, and setting the FTD bar at 46.3. Other first heat standouts included Dan Henning’s 50.69 second Touring category and STC class victory in the Henning clan’s co-driven 1990 Civic.
In second heat action, Matt Felten again did what he does best, drawing the FTD line at 44.49 seconds, and daring all to cross it. Jeff Duncan and his Ultralite came close, but finished a shot away with a 44.80. Chris Carlisle, with his GT3’s 46.3, looked good in the contested Super Stock class.
In the third heat, Gary Miller really put it together, and ran his sleek black Z06 to Super Stock and Stock category glory in the third heat with a smoking 45.2 second pass. Ironically, for the second day in a row big muscular V8 ‘Vettes logged times low enough to bury all the foreign 4 bangers and AWD cars, as Miller’s 45.2 took the PAX index victory, too.
In other third heat action, snake charmers Wade Chamberlain and Larry Casey dueled furiously for FTD in their FFR Cobras, booting cones and sliding on greasy tires beyond the limit, and they had each bested Felten by their second runs. For the second day in a row, Chamberlain took the Prepared Category and XP class win with a 43.9, as Casey finished second in XP with a 44.2. Chamberlain’s 43 something looked good for FTD, as Hughes’ Stalker topped out with a 44.9. But along came Greg Honeycutt in his Reynard, after multiple cones and offs, and snatched FTD away from the Cobras with a 43.8 on his third lap. In another classic dramatic CBE finish, he proved to all that you take Heartbreaker Honeycutt for granted at your peril.
Sunday’s top 20 local drivers included Greg Honeycutt (1st raw), Matt Felten (4th), Gary Miller (8th), Chris Fritz (12th) and Tink Phillips (14th).
Two day contested class winners were Paul Przyborski (D Stock), Jim Harris (SSP), Chris Fritz (ASP), Daniel Henning (STC), Michael Figliolia (STX), Wade Chamberlain (XP), and Jeff Duncan (D Mod).
PHOTOS (Images by Herb Smith)