The world of auto racing can be an emotional rollercoaster, filled with fantastic highs and crushing lows that can happen within moments of one another. Racing is not for the faint of heart.
The 2013 SCCA National Championship Runoffs certainly tested the spirit of the Pro Drive Racing Team. Held at Road America in Elkhart Lake, Wisconsin, the Runoffs are a weeklong event consisting of the nation's top sports car drivers competing for the national championship. Drivers must earn an invitation by accumulating points throughout the racing season.
Pro Drive's Steve Fogg, Paul Goudy, Todd Harris and Johnny Tipton all made the trip to the mid-west to take on a field of 54 Spec Racer Ford drivers in their quest for a national championship. During the three test days, Pro Drive proved to be very fast, with Fogg, Harris and Tipton posting some of the quickest practice lap times. Goudy was recording very respectable times while he learned the track on his first visit to the world famous circuit. Then came the first setback. Harris's primary motor blew a head gasket and had to be replaced with a
back-up motor. The Flat Out Racing crew had Harris back on track a couple hours later without missing a single session.
The first of three qualifying sessions took place on Tuesday afternoon under ideal conditions.
When it was over Pro Drive's Tipton, Harris and Fogg held 5th, 6th, and 7th place respectively.
A great showing of team speed.....then came the shocking bad news. Tipton, Fogg and Goudy's times were disallowed after their fuel did not pass the fuel test. 15 of the 54 cars in qualifying (including all of team Pro Drive) were picked from the field and subjected to a post qualifying tech.
All 15 cars passed this portion. In addition, 8 of the 15 cars (including Tipton, Fogg and Goudy)were randomly picked to have their fuel tested. 7 of the 8 cars failed the test even though they were all running the required Sunoco track fuel. How could this be?
Small remnants of fuel left within the fuel cell foam prior to the Runoffs combined with an extremely difficult set of fuel testing parameters. The SCCA fuel tech department recognized they had a unique problem with having to disqualify all but one car that had been tested. They asked the SCCA chief steward for leniency.....and were denied. A crushing blow to the team. Tipton, Fogg and Goudy's times were erased from the time sheet so they would have to get a lap time in one of the remaining qualifying sessions. Then it rained.....and rained some more.....effectively nullifying the final two qualifying sessions. Tipton, Fogg and Goudy would have to start at the back of the 54 car field on race day. A severe punishment that did not fit the "crime".
Saturday afternoons race was held on a dry track in cool, cloudy conditions. The team was ready for redemption, with each of the drivers determined to race their way forward.
Harris started in 5th and slowly worked his way up to 1st place with only a few laps remaining. He battled lap after lap with the front pack before finishing on the podium in 3rd place. Meanwhile Fogg and Tipton were blasting their way through the field with tremendous speed and pinpoint passing techniques. Fogg finished an astounding 14th after passing 37 cars while Tipton crossed the finish line in 17th and passed 35 cars! An epic drive that showed they are two of the very best SRF drivers in the country. Goudy drove all the way to an impressive 29th place finish in his first SCCA Runoffs and race at Road America.
An amazing drive by the whole Pro Drive Racing Team showcasing their resolve and unbreakable spirit when fate dealt them some tough circumstances. They rallied to show that they are a force to be reckoned with heading toward the 2014 racing season. A season that will culminate with full redemption at the 2014 SCCA Runoffs at Laguna Seca Raceway in Monterey, California. It should be one heck of a season.....come ride with us.
Watch the entire race at http://www.speedcasttv.com/scca/#/races/3…. The Spec Racer Ford race begins at the 3hr and 28min mark.
Read the Racer magazine article about Fogg and Tipton's epic drive through the pack. SCCA Runoffs notebook - Sunday