Rain put restrictions on a practice day at Watkins Glen. In this update from the paddock: We run through the CellMark awards, Langbein’s Citation, Brian Tomasi is back in the F2000 paddock, pro racing, and more.
Add another few cars to the F2000 grid for the weekend. Vaugh Horvath returns in the Pinto chassis, and John Walko Racing adds a fourth car for Greg Strelzoff, a Skip Barber Series regular, in the No. 7 Van Diemen/Zetec.
The F2000 field currently sits in the mid-30-car range.
As the season comes to a close at Watkins Glen – a number of awards are still up for grabs!
First, there is the CellMark/SMR “Flying Monkey Award” – an award that may be determined 15 minutes before the ceremony, but carries a cash prize of $500.
After meeting with team officials earlier in the week, they outlined the four main criteria for selection: 1) A driver, team, or someone associated with the F2000 Series. 2) The person must show “extraordinary dedication” to the sport. 3) They must contribute to the positive F2000/F1600 experience. 4) And finally, this is a person that might otherwise fly under the radar.
Additionally, the CellMark gang is putting up a $1,000 F2000 Champion’s bonus, $500 F1600 Hard Charger award and $1,000 F2000 Hard Charger bonus.
A candidate for the F2000 Hard Charger cash is seven-time SCCA National Champion Dave Weitzenhof, who only ran a partial, 10-race season, but managed to pass 63 cars.
“It comes from a combination of crappy or missed qualifying, going well in the rain, finishing races, and good luck, like avoiding (the turn one crash) at Mosport,” Weitzenhof said in an email.
“Hopefully, when I get my engine refreshed and finish updating my brakes, I will qualify better next year.”
Watkins Glen expert Craig Clawson has passed 52 cars this year, and with a huge field here at the Glen, Clawson might leap-frog Weitzenhof if he manages to stay out of trouble in both races in the No. 27 Clawson Racing Van Diemen.
The SOS Children’s Villages Cup will also be awarded following Sunday’s race, check out the standings here, and read the preview release for it, here.
Eric Langbein is in the F2000 Championship Series field for the first time this year, racing his Citation chassis. Langbein is familiar to most as Tim Minor’s engineer under the Ski Motorsports awning.
“My goal for the weekend is to continue to develop my almost brand new car. I have a number of suspension changes I'd like to try at Watkins Glen,” said Langbein.
“I think the most recent Citation is an extremely competent and competitive car, and I think it’s eventually capable of challenging for overall wins in the F2000 series, but it will take some development to get there, which is the main reason for running this weekend.
“The biggest challenge will probably be for me to consistently perform in the car throughout the weekend, as I haven't done very much racing this year, and the other guys in the Series have much more seat time, and many of them were at Watkins Glen in June.”
Afterburner Racing is back for the first time since Brian Tomasi stood on the podium at Mid-Ohio.
Interestingly, Tomasi is back in the No. 96 Van Diemen as opposed to the RFR chassis he raced earlier in the year at VIR and Watkins Glen.
“We are going to be in the Van Diemen for WGI,” explained Tomasi. “We feel the RFR is a good car, however, we really have not been able to do any development on it. We were given some update parts from RFR, but we have not tested or even run the car since the Glen in June, when we hurt the motor. The Van Diemen is a proven car and I felt real comfortable in it at Mid-Ohio, and the results were great.”
Tomasi is coming off a solid, but unlucky weekend at the Runoffs. He explained: “The Runoffs were good, were it not for a broken throttle linkage I think we could have won. We were sitting comfortably in second until the last corner of the last lap.”
Fat Boy Racing drivers missed Friday action following what the team said was a “weather-related” issue with their private aircraft.
Brendan Puderbach, driver of the No. 31 Fat Boy Racing/John Walko Racing RFR, spent a weekend at Lime Rock for an SCCA event, elaborating: “After doing my first club race in four years I'm reminded of why we go pro racing. It was great to see all the club regulars again.
“Much love for the SCCA folk, and I applaud them for getting out there and running, but the formula car alphabet soup and sports racer mixed fields with lap time spreads of 20 seconds from fastest to slowest between disparate classes is a disaster.
“If club racing is to thrive it really needs to follow the pro racing road map. For now, I'm sticking with full time pro racing, but maybe I'll go check out the club again in another four years."