|September 24, 2000 - Round Eleven Summit Point Regional|
Nichols Wins Race and Inaugural Series
Saturday morning started with threatening weather from a strong storm front moving north, similar to the forecast at the F1 Indy race. Jim Nichols and Bruce Crockett where the only two series competitors to show up. With Nichols only leading by 4 points, the Series was still up for grabs and a true shoot out between the first two Series points holders was anticipated! Single points were to be earned for pole position, fastest race lap, and most Series FMs passed during the race in addition to the standard National points scoring of 12 points for 1st, 9 for second. This left many permutations of how the weekend could go. Nichols was gunning for the Pole point, as this was the “Money” point. It would give him 5 points going into the race, which he then only had to have a legal finish in second place to win the series. Needless to say both competitors were friendly but nervous about the outcome.
In the cool 70 degree temps and a few sprinkles while waiting on the grid to go out, qualifying proved successful for Nichols as he posted a time of 1:15.529. This earned him the overall race group pole position for the FA, FC, FM, FF, and CF race group of 16 cars and the coveted one Series bonus point. He set this time on his last lap on the same tires he had used for both qualifying and races at the prior Series Summit Pt. race weekend. Sticker tires were unavailable, as Goodyear had run short due to manufacturing problems. Sticker tires were only available at the Runoffs and Star Pro races. He had brought another used set of tires to qualify and race on but the Goodyear dealer was not at the track in time to mount them on rims before qualifying. Crockett was 3rd on the grid with a time of 1:15.796. He was lucky enough to purchase a spare set of unused sticker tires from fellow Series driver, Bill Haney, who was testing on Friday in preparation for the upcoming Road Atlanta Pro race.
After the session, Nichols found both his rear tires had large tread separation cracks. The Goodyear dealer recommended not racing on these tires. This caused a major problem for Nichols. The Series rules require running the race on the same qualifying tires. An exemption of changing one tire is allowed. If more than one tire is changed, the qualifying time is disallowed. Nichols made a case that the intent of the rule was to not allow fresh tires to be used. But in the interests of safety and a heated race, he got the consent of Crockett and Jon Mirachi, Racers Edge Series Administrator, and was allowed to replace both rear tires with the used tires he had brought.
Sunday race day found Crockett being flat towed in from the hardship practice. He had changed some jets in search for some more power and wanted to test them out. The car stopped running on the second lap. Jon Mirachi was called in to save the day. What was found was a lot of water in the fuel. This was caused by Crockett storing his 55-gallon fuel drum outside but covered at home. With all the wet weather it must have gotten under the tarp and contaminated the fuel. Nichols lent his empty fuel jugs to drain the fuel bladder while Crockett went to get new track fuel.
So the stage was set for the great 20-lap race. Under beautiful skies, which at the last minute became very dark and cloudy, Nichols lead the field onto the main straight. At the green flag, Nichols was away behind the Formula Atlantic, which was on the outside front row. Nichols let the third place Formula Continental pass him into turn one, taking no chances of an incident and not finishing the 10 laps for a legal finish. If something had happened to prevent him from finishing the 10 laps he would lose the series title due to not scoring any race points.
Crockett was caught behind several cars, which passed him at the start as his motor was still coughing on water and not running strongly. After several laps it cleared up but Nichols was long gone. Nichols, still taking no chances, patiently drove behind the Formula Continental until he completed ten laps for a legal finish, which guaranteed him the title. He them set out in earnest to have a good race finish. He passed the FC but finished second behind the Formula Atlantic who had gained much ground in the opening laps. Nichols caught him at the last turn of the last lap but the FA driver used his additional 50 hp to stay in the lead over the finish line. Nichols turned overall fastest race lap of 1:15.874 and Crockett finished 5th overall with a best time of 1:16.199.
At the race impound, Jon Mirachi handed out the Series awards and cash prizes. The champagne remained corked, as no one wanted to drive home wet. Both Nichols and Crockett thanked Mirachi for stepping up and Administering and putting up the prize money for the Series. Everyone felt this was the turning point for the FM in the Northeast as much interest was generated over the summer as fellow racers watched how well the FMs performed.
Nichols and Crockett in addition to all the other Series participants send their thanks to the Series sponsors for their support: Star Race Cars, Best Western Hotels, Goodyear Tire, Bosch, BBS Wheels and most of all Racers Edge Motorsports.
Series race results and points can be found at: www.racersedgemotorsports.com/nesms.htm
See everyone in 2001 for the next North East Star Formula Mazda Race Series.
|North Eastern Division Official Results - Summit Point Double Regional|