Top Ten Kind of May for Paul and SMR
Mahopac, NY – A trio of top ten finishes followed by a lap made for YouTube that ended with a broken car is one way to sum up the month of May for Screaming Monkey Racing driver Tim Paul, with backing from CellMark Paper. The month started at Mazda Raceway Laguna Seca in the MX-5 Cup and ended at Watkins Glen International, on the opposite side of the country, for the F2000 Championship Series.
Driving a Mazda MX-5 for Alara Racing in rounds three and four of the SCCA Pro Racing MX-5 Cup, Paul said Laguna Seca was a dream that went unfulfilled until last year.
“Despite having the most laps around it through the years in the virtual world, since I was about eight years old, I had never gotten to race there. Last year with USF2000 I got my first laps, and it was special,” he said. “This year in MX-5 Cup, it was even more special. Namely because we achieved our first top ten weekend, in only my second weekend of competition in a car with fenders. There was bumping, and rubbing, and pushing, and all of the external physicality of racing in closed wheel cars.”
And that weekend produced a ninth place run and eighth place result, respectively, and Paul left California beating his own personal goals while building momentum. Next up for the MX-5 contingent is a street fight, in Houston, June 27-29.
Then it was onto Watkins Glen with the Screaming Monkey Racing/GTP Motorsports No. 06 Van Diemen, a track where Paul has been fast and brought a considerable amount of experience.
Off a strong run in the season opener at Road Atlanta, Paul knew he was coming into Watkins Glen with a chance to see the podium. Friday practice was cut short with heavy rain and a local power outage, but Paul got up to speed right away come Saturday qualifying.
“It’s one of my absolute favorite tracks, the setup off the trailer from Glen Phillips was superb, and by superb I mean that we only made one small rear wing adjustment in the first qualifying. That’s it. All weekend,” Paul explained. He qualified fifth for race one, finishing sixth after a long duel with David Grant.
A day later, on old tires, Paul qualified seventh, electing to save his remaining two new sticker Hoosiers for the race.
“The car was extremely amazing, and handling was phenomenal,” said Paul. “I was seventh on the early race restart, and had an absolute monster of a lap, passing three cars outright on the back straightaway, running side-by-side with Steve Bamford through the bus stop before being able to take him on the outside of the carousel, and then getting Grant on the outside one turn later, coming up the hill. I came onto the front stretch in third place. With how good the car was feeling, and how dominantly I was able to run the outside I was just putting my head down to try to reel in Kevin Kopp for second.”
But then, after a dynamic lap, the noises started and Paul 2.0-liter Ford-powered Van Diemen popped and spilled its guts. The day was over, in 27th. Check out the restart lap on YouTube here.
Next up for Paul and the F2000 Championship Series is a double-header race weekend, for rounds five and six at VIR, June 6-8.