In spite of weird transponder quirks and a lot of oil on the track… it was a great weekend. It was a wonderful combination of perfect weather, emerald green on the Sonoma hills, and a lot of incredibly close racing.
When drivers snap a run of bad luck, or find a new level in their driving, a weekend like the David Love Memorial can be as big a win as any. There were many such stories at the David love… here are three.
Jay Streets ended last season tangled up in a shunt, not of his making, and began this year with big hopes not only for a clean season but anxious to gain a bit more pace, comfortably. Jay performed flawlessly, his pace up 3 seconds a lap, from his PB last October and a series of laps in the points race.. all within a tenth of two. Beautiful, consistent lines and laps showed Jay at his best this weekend.
If you hang out in the garages with the hard boiled mechanics of the various shops, there is a rare moment when a little smile appears on someone like John Anderson’s face, followed by some knowing looks that say, “hey, look at that, someone found their groove”… and that someone is Jim Cody. When a driver like Jim and a car like his pretty Crossle, really meld, turn 11 becomes a way to express how much fun they’re having, and how cool it is to be a racing driver… and even the wise ones in the garage can tell.
And then there is your first race weekend. 17 year old Gunnar Hebert ran a flawless, perfectly judged weekend, his first at Sonoma, his first in a Formula Ford and his first race after a stellar performance at the SCCA driver’s school. The high point of the weekend, was being surrounded by his proud mom and dad and his little sister bursting into tears, declaring “I am so proud of him!”
The two group format meant that most drivers got clean laps and were able to establish a rhythm right away.
The B group went out first and Carl Moore put it on pole, followed by David Dupuis is his lovely and very rare Gemini, closely followed by Jeff Rothman, Brian Andrews and Chris Schoap. The next group all covered by less than a second, included Ron Bonham, Rob Thull (setting a new PB) and Lauren Ridge. The tightest group ran less than a second apart had Andy Warburton, Jack Wilson and George Jewett.
Group A qualifying saw Danny Baker grab pole and the fastest lap of the weekend, a friday practice 1:46.7. By the end of a very clean qualifying session, the first five cars were covered by about .158 seconds. The group included a returning Nic Colyvas, an ever more rapid Bob Lesnett and Laurent Parmantier, just .077 seconds behind Danny. A following group with Bob Posner, Quinn Posner, Jay Streets, Tom Duncan and Joseph Hopkins were just .65 sec apart.
The weekend was not without its challenges. Ross Lindell spent the weekend fighting an evil handling car, Nic Hunziker likewise chasing something in the front end that was just not working, Alan Dezzani with a brake bias problem and Art Hebert trying to sort a new car full of gremlins. Joseph Hopkins showed great pace all weekend, but struggled with ignition and brake gremlins in his Crossle. Dave Alvarado had an A arm break, but his crew turned him around in a flash. The good news is that no-one’s troubles were so bad, that for the second time, no heart ache awards were handed out.
Without question, the weekend’s races were a fantastic show. Tight grids, very high driving standards, and clean, fun driving
Group B put on an incredible race with Carl Moore, David Dupuis, Jeff Rothman and Brian Andrews all pressuring Carl and David. They managed to cross the finish line just .18 seconds ahead, in spite of at least 3 lead changes in the last four laps. Chris Schoap survived the constant pressure from a charging Ron Bonham to finish in P5. Rob Thull squeaked out his best ever P7, just .056 seconds ahead of Lauren Ridge who was ahead of Dave Alvardo by another tiny .05 seconds (thats about a 3 foot distance). Gunnar Hebert and Jonathan Kitchen diced hard for the entire race, Jonathan giving no quarter to his young competitor, and Gunnar holding up well under the pressure. An amazing show was put on by Jack Wilson, Andy Warburton, and George Jewett, all crossing about a tenth of a second apart. Bob Hancock won the hard charger bottle of wine with another great drive.
Group A took the green flag in a very tight pack, whose order was immediately shuffled on lap one. As the field ran down into turn four, the top four cars compressed really hard, and a shocked Bob Lesnett had no choice but to half spin to avoid contact, causing Nic Colyvas to take evasive action. Ed Lauber, Tom Duncan and Quinn Posner made the most of the opportunity and remained organized in the draft, creating a big gap to the next group of Dwight Matheson (hard charger award winner) Jay Streets, Austin Newman and Ed Van Tassel. Tony Garmey improved massively on his qualy drive, in his newly restored Caldwell, followed by the Merlyns of Steve Hoogs and Adom Moutafian. Ultimately Andrew Wait achieved his first P1 from Chris Porritt by .058 seconds after a race long battle with Danny Baker, and Laurent Parmantier. Chris managed his tires to perfection, building pace as the race progressed and not only chasing down the leading trio, but pulling within 36 inches of the win.
Group B Historic Ford Podium - Carl Moore P1, Brian Andrews P2, Chris Schoap P3
Group B Club Ford Podium - David Dupuis P1, Jeff Rothman P2, Lauren Ridge, P3
Group A Historic Podium - Andrew Wait P1, Chis Porritt P2, Danny Baker P3
Group A Club Ford Podium - Quinn Posner P1, Tom Duncan P2, Steve Egger P3
All in, it was a very strong weekend. There were issues with transponders, a mildly jumped Group A start, and a lot of oil dry but on the whole a good weekend. A couple of observations and comments from our note takers
It is best to arrive at the apex of turn 10 at Sonoma with some power on. This shifts weight to the back of the car, so you arrive stable and then really press the back down as you add power. So that means get all of your slowing done early, and then add power to set the car as you approach the apex. Brian Forster noted several tank slappers past the apex, all avoidable if the back end is more loaded up.
If you make a passing move VERY wide, note you need to be extra cautious. You are out of view of your competitors mirrors, and they will be entirely focused on their turn in, if they can’t sense you in the mirrors. A wide pass is fine, if you are well forward of the other driver’s sight line at turn-in.
The bad things tend to happen on Sunday. If you are tired, had a bad Saturday, or whatever, be careful on Sunday. Something about that last club Feature brings out the bad luck.
If you felt uncomfortable, or have questions about Sonoma, review the Racers360 track breakdown, even better, send your video in an get a lap analysis before your next visit.
Final thoughts and Reminders
A new set of beautiful shots is now available from Alvin Lumanlan. To visit the gallery go to, Final Sonoma photos to download your photos, use the password, EveryDayIsYourBirthday
If you don’t have a portrait yet, see Alvin at Thunderhill, please.
The next event is Thunderhill. With a smaller group of 30 cars, we will run as one group, but will still have group A and B awards.