After such a long season, with some drivers doing upwards of 10 race weekends, it was a slightly battle-weary, broke, but hardcore group of 35 formula ford drivers and crews that gathered to contest the final race of the championship at Sonoma Raceway. There was the usual very strong local contingent, but guys like Bob Morrison, Michael Maros, Don Stern, and Bob Posner made the trek down from the Northwest to join the fun. Over the course of the season, over 120 drivers participated with an average of 45 cars per event, and 32 drivers competing in every race of the championship. We got through the whole thing with one car to car incident with damage, a testament to the depth of the grid, both in sporting and driving terms but also to the work we still need to do. An incident-free series is still the goal.
If we kept track records, which we don’t, but if we did, Danny Baker held the Historic Ford track record throughout Friday practice, at a 1:46.6. But by Saturday morning, Art Hebert had moved that down to a breathtaking 1:45.5. A knowledgeable observer said “every molecule in that car was being urged forward”. Behind him in P2 was Andrew Wait, Bob Lesnett, Danny Baker and an ever-faster Steve Romak and Joe Hopkins (engineered by Neil Porter and on the Club Ford pole) filled out the first three rows. The next group of 11 cars, were separated by less than a second. Heading that group was Tom Duncan and 10 cars down the grid, just .9 seconds later was hugely improving Jay Streets. Personal bests in qualy were posted by several drivers including Robert Posner, David Stone, Mike McDermott and Dwight Matheson. In only his second race, Gunnar Hebert led a third, very tight group with Russ Werner (recovering quickly from a broken upright) Rob Thull, Greg Vroman and a returning Dan Zide. The rookie of the race Preben Ramleth, did a superb job in his first outing, driving the prize-winning family Lotus 51. David Stone journeyed all the way from Australia and on only his second outing at Sonoma, managed a time 2 seconds quicker than his last outing.
A late green and a very jumpy grid meant the first 4 rows went 3-4 wide into turn 2. Bob Lesnett and Danny Baker surged past a slow starting Andrew Wait, with Joe Hopkins, Steve Romak, and Tom Duncan three-wide into two. Former SCCA National Competitor Brian Forster, in his third comeback race, Dwight Matheson, and a hard-charging Russ Werner (who ultimately gained 8 spots) led the more orderly part of the grid up the hill. It took about 3 laps for the race to settle into a rhythm, with Art Hebert stretching what would ultimately be a 5-second lead over the fighting trio of Baker, Wait and Lesnett. Great dices played out with Steve Hoogs, Rob Thull, and Chris Schoap. Jim Cody found himself as always, battling Jack Wilson, Don Stern and Andy Warburton. On lap six the race-long dice between Bob Lesnett, Danny Baker and Andrew Wait, ended with Bob’s fuel pump dying. Ultimately Art Hebert crossed the line first in a super drive, battling not just the grid, but an overheating engine, followed by Danny Baker, and Andrew Wait in Historic Ford, Joe Hopkins, Tom Duncan and Brian Forster making up the club Ford Podium.
The Crossflow Cup, by Ivey Engines - The 2019 Crossflow cup winner, is Chris Porritt. He not only built and races his own car but brought two wonderful drivers into the sport and gave them huge help. He functions at a very high level in our community, from dispensing advice and support, to digging up the parts Mike Wirrick needed to get back on track on Sunday. Chris is also an incredibly talented driver, with a long resume of everything from Formula Ford, pro GT racing, two Liter FIA cars, and Formula Atlantic.
Series MVP - The 2019 series MVP is Ed Lauber. This award goes to a driver that is both impeccable on track and a committed supporter of the series and a wonderful sportsman. Ed finished 4th in the championship, a huge improvement over last year, and was an enormous source of support for the series. Whether chilling beers, or helping unload cars, Ed was in the thick of it.
Rookie of the year - In his first year in the series, David Dupuis impressed. His car is beautifully prepared, he quickly developed into a smooth consistent driver and his dices with Carl Moore were massively entertaining. And to top it off, he finished P2 in the Club Ford Championship. We look forward to seeing David build on the great momentum he developed in 2019.
Most Improved Formula Ford - Car prep matters a lot in this sport. And amazingly, through sheer hard work, the grid is looking better and better every year. Sometimes improvement is discretionary, sometimes, cruel fortune forces it on you. At an SCCA race earlier in the year, the suspension broke and put Michael Edick into the wall, close to destroying his already very nice Lotus 61. Through massive effort, Michael rebuilt his car, and it is beautiful… a well-deserved award.
Best Formula Ford - Every year we honor a car, that is just so beautiful, is causes not just admiration, but lust. Chris Locke’s Merlyn Mk 11, is tasteful, nuanced, and crafted to an incredibly high level… well done Chris.
Historic Ford - Danny Baker drove a stunning campaign. He was fast, made every event, and made no mistakes. Every drive was amazing, but Thunderhill, in particular, was inspired. Danny fended off serious challenges from Laurent Parmantier, Bob Lesnett, Art Hebert, Chris Porritt and more with consistent, controlled performance. P2 in Historic Ford was Andrew Wait and Art Hebert, the 2018 Champion in P3.
Club Ford - Tom Duncan is as fast as ever, and wiser and more strategic than ever. His was a lean, focused campaign, with great results and no mistakes. P2 was David Dupuis and in P3, the most decorated athlete in Crossflow history, Dan Wise.
Masters - The Masters category has passion, strength, and speed that inspires all of us. Also winning Masters, was Tom Duncan. P2 was a very consistent and rapid Dave Zurlinden and P3 was the lightning-quick Bob Lesnett.
It’s not possible without…
Jim Cody, our scorekeeper, and series Lawyer and chief provider of moral support. Ed and Martin Lauber, whose sponsorship and support keeps the beer free and the fun factor high. The Secret Champagne Guy, thanks and a huge hug. Jordan Slater of Independent Motorsports, keeper and installer of the scales. John Anderson, Jay Ivey, Roger Krause, Ethan Shippert, and Dave Bean Engineering, without your support, it’s just not going to happen. And to the CSRG and HMSA teams… these are amazing clubs, we are proud to belong to and run with. And to Alvin Lumanlan, we do look that good, but Alvin’s incredible talent doesn’t hurt.
To get your 2019 photos, visit Alvin’s site here.
Stay tuned, can’t wait for 2020
Over the winter we will share news of the 2020 schedule and rule changes. In the meantime, rest up, catch up on deferred family and car maintenance, and we will see you all next year.