Club Racing News

Buddy Matthews 1942-2018

Alfred “Buddy” Matthews, long time NCR member, racer, Chief of Tech, former RE  and current Chapter Coordinator for the West Chapter was killed last night in a head-on collision with a truck on Hwy 49. He was driving his Miata.
Buddy was RE from 1987 through 1994, Assistant RE in 1986, and seemingly Chief of Tech or co-chief forever (officially since 1989). He was DA for Tech for a number of years as well. The Region presented him with several awards, including a Lifetime Achievement award in 2005.

We will miss him.

Visitation will be on Friday, December 7th from 6:00 p.m. to 8:00 p.m. at Haynes Lineberry Funeral Home, 515 North Elm Street, Greensboro, NC 27401 , with a Memorial Service the following day at 11:00 a.m. at the same location.
In lieu of flowers, memorial contributions may be directed to the American Heart Association.

NCR Awards Banquet Returns to Wilmington this Year

NCR’s Annual Awards Banquet returns to Wilmington this year, on January 12th at the Brooklyn Arts Center in downtown Wilmington.
For more information, prices, dinner menu, etc., please click here.

Goblins Go cancelled…again!

Fellow Competitors and Volunteers:

As I write this, it’s mid-50’s at VIR with cars on track, but unfortunately, depending on which forecast you choose to believe, for next weekend it looks like a high of 38 to 41 with a strong possibility of wintry mix, to straight out snow with accumulation. Therefore, both NC Region and VIR believe we have no choice but to cancel next weekend’s scheduled race and time trial event.

As part of our agreement with VIR for this event, it was mutually agreed that either party could cancel a week prior due to weather or lack of participation, or both, without consequence, and although we have 102 cars pre-registered, the forecast looks ominous. There are only two things we know of that VIR shut downs for – flooding, and snow. We’ve already experienced one and are now about to experience the other, both within 60 days.

All registrations will be canceled on MotorsportReg and entry fees refunded in their entirety.

Sincerely,
Sam Fouse, RE
Mark Senior, Race Chair
Eric Danielsen, Marketing Chair
Bruce Dover, Office Mgr & Registrar

A Long Day at VIR and A Necessary Decision

It’s now 24 hours since I first arrived at VIR around 7:00PM Thursday evening. I’m now back home, the trailer is just now unloaded and parked. I want to run down the past day’s events while they are still fresh in my mind (and awake), because it went by in a blur.

Last evening about 6:30 as we rolled through Roxboro, the entire town was without power and this continued all the way to and including VIR. Fortunately I was staying with Chad Bacon in his motorhome with his son Caleb and Dan Robson, who had convoyed up with me. Robson was going to do the test day with his red car; I was going to do the twin SARRC’s with his white car.

Once we got checked in and unhooked we all took off to Danville in my truck to get some dinner. Milton was completely blacked out and the lower access road was flooded. As we passed, several race trailers were trying to back up out onto Hwy. 62 from that road. We continued on to Danville and the only place we could find with power was the area around the airport. The gas stations and restaurants were packed so full with lines, it looked like Armageddon. We didn’t understand, but continued on. We were stopped just west of the 29 bypass interchange. We were told 58 was flooded all through the Danville river district. We turned around, headed up the bypass to the next exit and turned west over to 29 business. Everything was blacked out but we held out hope we’d find something open with power. We went south on 29 business and made it all the way down to 58 at the river. Everything was blacked out and closed. We gave up, backtracked, went to the Food Lion across from the airport, loaded up with groceries, and headed back to VIR. There were maybe 30-40 trailers in the paddock and the pond was overflowing, crossing the paddock entrance.

I received a text late that night from VIR that the test day would not start until 1PM and that the situation would be re-evaluated at 10:00AM. We all hit the sack about midnight, but I was up at 4:30 unable to sleep and awoken by a text from a member. I should have known it was going to be a long day. The motorhome had a generator so we had power and I had brought my laptop and jet pack with me so I had internet. I found the river gauge site Mark had been watching and it was showing the river at record level above 30′ but starting to fall slowly to 27′ by Saturday 8AM. I went outside and tried to see what I could see with a flashlight but it was hopeless until sunrise.  I texted Tommy Webb at 6:13AM and asked if he would please let me know something directly as soon as he did his drive around. I went back to bed for a nap.

At a little after 7:00 I was awoken by a text alert from Tommy that the test day would NOT start at 1:00 as had been planned, and to expect an update sometime around 8:00. I saw Kerrigan driving back thru the tower gate at about 8:00, so I walked over and he told me that the test day was cancelled. He also said that they could operate our event without power if need be. At this point, we were still on go. At that point, just the test day was to be cancelled.

Turn 1 from the Start Stand

At 8:17AM I was sent a text by Tommy to meet he and Kerrigan at the tech shed. I didn’t see the text immediately so I didn’t head over there until about 8:30 or so. Kerrigan indicated his sources were saying the river had not crested yet, was still rising, and that our event now looked to be in jeopardy also. I asked if he was certain because Mark and I had both seen the river gauge showing it dropping over the next 24 hours. He called his Emergency Management source in my presence to confirm his information. We parted about 8:40 and I went back to our paddock area to start the process of communication. I texted Rick Starkweather at 8:43AM because I knew he had access to the Prod Fest group and he may have not yet bought all their food, etc. I called Butch Kummer and gave him the news so he could broadcast to his people, as I had just talked to him maybe 15 minutes before and told him the event was still on. Those two groups accounted for almost one-third of our drivers. I also texted the 3 Race Chairs and James Shanks.

I suggested to Eric that we wait 30 minutes before sending anything in order to give Mark time to talk to Kerrigan to compare notes on the river data. Shortly after that though (about 9:00) I talked face to face with Kerrigan again and there was no appeal. It was official and final final. I turned and headed straight to the motorhome to write a statement to send to Bruce for broadcast via direct e-mail. It went to him 15 minutes later. We were still operating on the motorhome generator as VIR was still without power.

Turn 17 from Pit in

All during this period and while I was trying to write the statement, I was getting pummeled with e-mails, texts, and phone calls wanting to know what was up. Between 9:03 and 9:32 I received 14 e-mails, plus texts and phone calls too numerous to mention. In all I received calls and and texts from at least 15 of you plus several stewards, often more than once, wondering what was up and were we going to send an announcement. HELL YES, I’M WORKING ON IT! It went to Bruce at 9:15 and I received the e-mail myself back from MSR at 9:32. I had intended the message go to Eric for social media also, but in the madness, I forgot to include him. From official confirmation from Kerrigan to e-mail received was about 30 minutes. I’m not sure how we could have done it more quickly nor why we would need to. I know some of you were going through social media hysteria.

Before I left I took multiple photos, two videos, and headed home. The photos have now been sent to Bruce, Eric, and Blair D. and should begin to appear on the website and thru social media. The paddock was pretty much vacant when I rolled out at about 11:30.

Lastly, Kevin Massey-Shaw approached me and offered the weekend of Dec. 8-9 to us as a make up weekend. This is something for us to discuss. It would be at the regular March rate.

As painful as it was for all of us, I believe VIR made the right decision. I’m also thankful that one of us was there to see first hand what was going on, talk directly with VIR as decisions were being made, and communicate out as quickly as we did. I also want to thank Chad Bacon for bringing his motorhome which served as my electrified base so I could keep my phone charged, run my laptop and jet pack, and thereby communicate with all of you in real time.

That’s it for now. I’m done. It’s been a long day.

Good night,
Sam

2017 Tarheel Cup Pro Series Results

The Tarheel Cup Pro Series (TCPS) is a points-based ‘pro’ series sponsored by NC Region. Unlike the also-popular Carolina Cup Pro Series, it does not award prize money and therefore does not charge the additional prize fund fee. Both series are 45-minute races held in conjunction with the usually longer 90-minute ECR series enduro races. While multiple CCPS races are held at 4 different venues around the Southeast, including VIR, TCPS races are only held at VIR. That also means that VIR is the only venue offering both series (for now). TCPS simply offers competitors an additional, but lower-cost opportunity to compete and receive event awards in races longer than a SARRC sprint race, but shorter than a full ECR enduro.

For 2017, 55 drivers accounted for 89 TCPS race entries versus 93 race entries in 2016. While 11 drivers entered the required three or more races to qualify for year-end trophies in 2016, only 3 did so in 2017. Also, 54 of this season’s 89 entries occurred at the last event weekend of the year – Goblin’s Go in October. To be fair, the cold weather and event overlap with a Majors race the same weekend probably curtailed entries in March, limiting participation to just 12. Otherwise the total entries likely would have exceeded those in 2016, and more drivers would have met the minimum requirements.

TCPS points are awarded using the same system used to award SARRC points, based on a declining scale, with bonus points added for the number of competitors defeated at each race.

It’s no surprise then, that the 3 drivers who participated in the required minimum number of races, naturally ended up as their respective class champions and will receive a nice year-end trophy at our annual meeting and awards banquet in January. Don’t worry if you can’t make the meeting. We’ll make sure you get it. Here are your year-end trophy recipients for 2017:

Roger Gillespie, ITE (also 2016 Runner-up)

Robert Mitchell, IT7 (defending 2016 Champion)

Mark Senior, SMSE (defending 2016 Champion)

Thank you all for your participation. We look forward to another successful season in 2018.

Sam Fouse
TCPS Administrator

Report from the 2016 Runoffs

by Sam Fouse

In 2013, SCCA celebrated the 50th Anniversary of the Runoffs at historic Road America, which in my opinion is the ultimate ‘bucket list’ road course in the United States, both for the driver and the spectator. That event also marked the end of the line for multi-year contracts for Runoffs venues. Starting in 2014 and going forward, the event began rotating around the country: east, west, and in the middle.  First up in 2014 was Mazda Raceway Laguna Seca, which was the first western Runoffs since Riverside in 1968. In 2015, the Runoffs returned to Daytona, the site of some of the earliest championships (’65,’67,’69). Next year, we’ll be visiting Indy for the first time ever, then back out west in 2018, before returning east again in 2019. Sites for ’18 and ’19 as of this writing are still TBD. Heard lots of rumors, nothing solid.

For 2016, the Runoffs circus visited the Mid-Ohio Sports Car Course for the first time since 2005, which at the time was the last year of a 12-year run at the historic track in NE Ohio. You may think of Mid-Ohio as an old line club road course, but it’s actually 5 years younger than VIR (‘62 vs. ‘57). It has a special place for me, as it is where I attended my first sports car race as a teenager in 1967 and was also the site of my one and only (to-date) Runoffs entry, in 1995. If you are interested in the history of the Runoffs and of SCCA National Championship racing in general, I highly recommend you visit www.scca.com/runoffs, go to the sidebar on the right, and scroll down to “Runoffs Media Guide and Record Book”. There you will find a well put together 68 page history in a downloadable pdf format.

As a track, Mid-Ohio offers an appropriate challenge with some off-camber, blind turns, and is best characterized as a mid-speed ‘stop-n-go’ track with only one significantly long straightaway, when compared to Daytona, Road America, or some of our other SEDIV tracks. In the bigger picture as a facility, since all of the paddock space lies outside the track surface, it offers almost unlimited paddock space, much of it paved, which seemingly stretches forever up the hill behind. That also leaves a terrific infield geared to just spectating, and there is abundant camping space. I have seen a lot of change at Mid-Ohio since my first visit in the 60’s, when the paddock was just a grass slope behind a block control tower at start/finish. Most of the change occurred during the Jim Trueman (Red Roof Inns)/CART era when the paddock was leveled and paved, with much of the fill being used to build the spectator hills. One thing that hasn’t changed though, is the scenic village of Lexington nearby. Mid-Ohio is definitely worth a visit and it remains one of my favorites.

This year’s event enjoyed some of the most perfect weather I can ever remember during a Runoffs week, and I’ve attended about 30 of them in one capacity or another. At this point I’d like to thank Dennis Shaw for allowing me to ‘camp’ in his motor home for the week right along the fence just up from turn one and the trailer of Wayne and Jean Quick. We had a great spot to access just about everything.

Understand that a Runoffs effort, whether by driver, crew, or worker, is a major commitment of both time and money, far in excess of any other SCCA event. Expect ten days of lodging minimum for driver and crew, not including towing time at both ends. For drivers, add to that several sets of tires ($) and bringing all your best stuff ($$), not to mention weeks of prep work in advance.  With all that said, 8 NC Region racers participated this year: Eric Cruz in FE, Donnie Isley in FV, Bob Wheless in P1, Doug Piner and Bryan Yates in P2, Alex Phelps in STU, Kirk Knestis in STL, and our 6–time National Champion Don Knowles in T4. Although they didn’t bring home any hardware this year, they all raced well and finished respectably.

Our worker contingent included some of our best: Heather Clark, Ben Tyler, Megan Smith, Mark Biamonte, Anna Crissman, Heather Powers, Mo Overstreet, and of course Wayne Quick as a steward. I’m sure they represented us very well, and please forgive me if I’ve left someone out that I wasn’t aware of or didn’t see personally.

Clayton Condrey stayed busy all week crewing for Doug Piner while Dan Robson and Dennis Shaw supported Chad Bacon in GT3. I’m sure there were lots of other NCR members attending as crew also, but I have no source to reference them.

Overall, Runoffs participation in some classes was lighter than I’m sure SCCA had hoped for, and many races were shortened by incidents that unfortunately resulted in the clock running out early. To be fair, Mid-Ohio doesn’t have a lot of space to safely park cars during a race, so many incidents were worked ‘live’ that we might not have had to at VIR. However, there were still some close, hard-fought, full-length races. Overall, it was an excellent week for spectating and there’s no place that I’d rather be than at the Runoffs in the fall.

The sights, sounds, smells, and most importantly, the people, are why we all attend. Along those lines, of course there were the usual parties and banquets during the week. I attended the Richland County Chamber of Commerce feast in Mansfield on Monday, as did many NCR members, followed by the Mazda banquet on Wednesday, and the SCCA tent party on Thursday evening. And since none of our guys were racing on Friday, three of us snuck away to visit the Air Force Museum in Dayton on Friday. That is a visit I highly recommend. Should be right on the way to or from Indy next year.

Speaking of Indy, I expect the turnout for next year’s Runoffs will easily exceed this year by quite a bit for two reasons: 1. It’s Indy (bucket list), and 2. SCCA has now lowered the bar to qualify. Look for the NCR contingent to grow next year also. As they say, all it takes is time and money.

ATTENTION DRIVERS!

Beware of counterfeit Driver Gear!

Some of you may have received this info from SCCA, but it bears repeating:

We were notified by SFI about counterfeit drivers gear.
For more information, please follow this link: Racing Memo RM 16-07

 

Upcoming October Events

It’s October, no I’m not kidding, it really is October, and yes, the first nine months of the year have flown by in a blur for us, too. There has been so much great racing in NCR, elsewhere in the Southeast Division, and across the entire SCCA nation. NCR-SCCA, like many professional road racing series, wraps up our road racing season in October, but road-racing is not all that our Region has going on.

Here are a few ideas get you out racing with NCR-SCCA family this month:

1. Join other NCR SCCA members at a Chapter meeting this week.

NCR chapter social meetings are how NCR members keep connected between events. Racing brought us to the track, but the people we meet keep us coming back. Come see why.

2. Register at MotorsportReg.com so you can come play at the track.

MotorsportReg is how we take care of the details of planning an event. It is where folks like yourself tell the NCR event planners (members just like you) that you want to play an important role in NCR-SCCA.

3. Register to participate in any or all of the following:

October 8-9 – SARRC Invitational Challenge/ECR Finale at Roebling Road, GA

October 15-16 – James A. Buckberry Memorial “Goblins Go”

October 21-22 Halloween Day/Night Enduro at VIR – 13/8 Hours

October 22 – NCR SCCA Novice Autocross School – Cherry Point

October 23 – NCR SCCA Autocross – Christine at Cherry Point

The leaves may be starting to change colors and the temperatures are falling, but that doesn’t mean it’s time to retire to the couch until the spring. Cooler weather means cooler air, and cooler air means more power! More power means there is awesome racing coming up at Roebling Road where Southeast Division will crown champions; at Virginia International Raceway where a newly paved racing surface surely means track records will be broken; at Cherry Point, one of the premier Autocross sites in the United States where Solo 2 National champions will be teaching new drivers, and competing to win NCR championships.

Whether you drive, volunteer, or spectate, we are ALL racers at heart, so get out and have fun with all the other members of NCR SCCA. Your membership is your pass to come out and have a good time with like-minded folks. And while you’re at it, why not bring a friend and introduce them to the NCR-SCCA family? We’re confident that they will thank you.

Pete Romanowski Steps up to Chief Starter

by: Eric Danielsen

The NCR Board of Directors happily accepted Pete Romanowski’s offer to step into the position of Chief Starter. After James Buckberry passed away last month, his position needed to be filled. Pete is already Chief Starter for South Carolina Region and the Petit Le Mans. As a member of the North Carolina Region, it’s fitting that he volunteers to play Chief Starter at VIR.

He plays Chief so well. “I do it for the love of the sport” says Pete, “someone has to do it (Chief Starter), I’m the logical choice. I’ve stepped in for James before. Ten years ago at Kershaw, James asked me to be Chief for the first time, when he couldn’t make it,” Pete recalls.

He’s going to miss James Buckberry. “James and I were like brothers. We’d take care of each other. We’d talk after the races back at the hotel. James used to get up early and leave a cup of coffee for me outside my door. I’m going to miss the little things like that” Pete reminisces.

“I’m not going to do this forever. Hopefully by the end of next Spring I’ll have someone to take my place as Chief Starter” dreams Pete.

When asked, what is the key to success? Pete tells us, “Once the Green Flag is shown, Start becomes another corner station. It’s like a corner station with extra duties. That’s the way I’ve always felt about it”

He should know. He’s been flagging since the 70’s.

Romanowski’s first memory of racing was the sound of the cars. “It was in Europe somewhere; I only remember the sound.”

Born in Essen, West Germany in 1946 Pete was 10 years old when his family moved to Buffalo NY. The first race he remembers attending was the 1969 Can-Am race at Watkins Glen where he saw Bruce McLaren win. When he moved to Florida he began volunteering as a corner marshall at Palm Beach International Raceway “before they changed its name to Moroso. Now it’s back to PBIR,” Pete informs us.

“My ‘Swamp Rat’ name was ‘Bearded Rat,’” Pete shares, “ask Chuck (Stanley) what his ‘Swamp Rat’ name was.”

“We didn’t need a license back then; nobody thought about insurance. I started in 1976 and didn’t join SCCA until ’79.”

He’s “worked” all the stuff down in Florida: Daytona, Sebring, Pro, and Club races.

When there wasn’t a race, he would autocross, or drive in TSD rallies, or whatever else was going on that had to do with cars.

He received his National F&C License before getting National Starter. He’s worked as Corner Captain just about everywhere he’s been, most notably, as the Captain of Turn 5 during the 24-Hours of Daytona for 15 years.

Captains of the 24 staff their own turn and run it like a Flag Chief. “I recruited my own people, set up the rotation, and dealt with any problems. Sometimes I had to chew somebody out, I tell it like it is, but I never lost anybody…they always came back”, Pete says with his gravelly voice.

Known as “Uncle Pete” to countless flaggers, Romanowski has endeared himself to so many Marshals and Starters. As he keeps them “straight”, Pete never forgets the fun, “You gotta keep it fun, or they won’t come back.”

Pete obviously has fun with flags in his hand, because he’s been coming back for a long time. Rest assured he is not going to retire just yet, “I’m going to be wherever I’m needed,” he confirms.