Triangle Chapter Report – February 2017

The Triangle Chapter of the NC Region SCCA met on Wednesday February 1 at Casa Carbone in Raleigh. In case you noticed a gap in the Chapter Reports, we had agreed at the December meeting to skip the January meeting since we had the Annual Banquet in January. Since our long time venue, El Rodeo, decided to close the upstairs room that we normally used for meetings, we searched for a new suitable location and decided to give Casa Carbone a try. This location is near our previous location and has a nice quiet private room. As the name would imply, food is Italian and prices are slightly higher than our traditional Mexican fare. Everyone I talked to indicated they liked the venue and the food was good. Only downside I saw was that they were slow to take orders and bring the food out. In their defense, we did have a larger crowd than anticipated, that and we’re spoiled by the lightning fast service associated with most chain Mexican restaurants. If you were at the meeting, I would love to get your feedback on what you thought of the venue so we can decide if we want to keep meeting there or look for other venues.

Doug Piner and daughter Olivia discussing the suspension geometry of his racecar.

We had a record attendance of 27 folks. Probably due to the fact that James Shanks had come up with the great idea of using this meeting to present awards to some of the members that were unable to attend the Annual Awards Banquet. Dignitaries and guests included our award recipients Don Knowles, Alastair McEwen, and Al Wheatley as well as Al’s wife Diane Wheatley, Jason McPhail, Allen Delisle (of the DC region), and Olivia Piner (daughter of member Doug Piner).

Since service was slow, we decided to start the business part of the meeting while we were waiting for our food to be served. We noted the unusual absence of Rex Deffenbaugh and the rest of the Deffenbaugh clan and it was explained that Rex had surgery that week which went well and he was in the hospital recovering. Everyone wished him a speedy recovery. Highlights of the BOD meeting included; a very positive end of year financial report, a special recognition and thanks to Steve Keadle as our outgoing Treasurer (Steve has done a tremendous job of organizing and updating our finances); the approval of Anna Crissman as our new Assistant RE following the resignation of Mike Spencer due to changing work obligations; an announcement that the MARRS crowd has decided to run a second SARRC/MARRS with us as part of our October race; and a summary by Sam Fouse of what transpired at the National Convention in Las Vegas. Sam noted that our own Blair Deffenbaugh was a presenter for several sessions and that he did an outstanding job. Upcoming events included 8 NCR members driving down to St. Simons Island GA for the SEDiv end of year meeting and Annual Awards Banquet, the first autocross of the year on February 18 at Cape Fear Community College, and our first race on the weekend of March 11-12. Swap and sell items included Don Knowles looking to unload numerous sets of race tires to fit Mustangs, Brock Nicholson selling an enclosed race trailer, and Jim Etchells is selling a Subaru.

Sam Fouse, Master of Ceremonies

Following dinner we moved on to the presentation of awards. Sam Fouse served as master of ceremonies while James Shanks showed slides of each recipient that he had prepared for the awards banquet and John Davidson (aka the Bobcat) took all the photos you see on this page.

Don Knowles, race car driver extraordinaire.

Don Knowles was awarded a lifetime achievement award for over 40 years of racing at the highest levels in a wide variety of cars and series. I could fill up the newsletter with his accomplishments so I’ll just provide a few highlights. He’s won six National Championships in just 18 trips to the Runoffs. He also competed regularly in endurance racing, where he ran in everything from the 24 hours of Nelson Ledges to Daytona, and in every series that IMSA had to offer for small sedans, Renault Cup, Firehawk, Camel GT, and the Bilstein Rabbit Cup. Don has won a world record of fourteen 24-hour races, and in both 1987 and ’88, he won three of them. He also raced the SCCA Escort Series. He is the all-time Escort series winner with 19 wins.

Al Wheatley was awarded the Regional Driver of the Year – Majors and SECS. Al raced a Camaro in American Sedan and achieved a first place in both the Southeast Conference Majors and the SECS. His point totals are quite large, 130 in SARRC, 96 in the SECS. He didn’t go to the Runoffs, he said, because it was either do that, and blow his budget for this next year, or continue racing in 2017. Active since 2013, but a member long before that, he dropped out and came back with a vengeance.

Alastair McEwen was presented with the National Driver of the Year – Majors and SARRC. Alastair campaigned an Elan DP-02 in Prototype 1, where he achieved second overall in the Southeast Conference and second in the SECS. His point totals were very impressive, 155 and 86 respectively. P1 is a hotly contested class in SEDiv. Had Alastair come in first at one more race, rather than second, he’d been the overall champion. He fought hard all season amid fierce competition. And he carried the day in SARRC competition. He was SARRC champion in P1 with an impressive score of 186 points.

An active member and driver since 2009, this is the third year in a row that Alastair was in consideration for this award. He is always a consistent podium finisher. We are glad to finally give it to him.

Al Wheatley, Don Knowles and Alastair McEwan received awards at the Triangle Chapter meeting.

Following the presentations all the recipients shared racing stories from their past and insights as to what goes into being so successful at their craft. We thanked our award winners for their wonderful stories and for taking the time to join us at our meeting. Having no further business, the meeting adjourned.

Respectfully submitted, Mark Senior – Triangle Chapter Coordinator.