July 16, 2000 - Round Seven Watkins Glen Nationals

Jim Nichols qualifies 1st in class but DNFs, Dave Anderson wins.

Friday test-day dawned with beautiful weather and found 3 Formula Mazda racers ready to test their skills. Dan Janette, Tuck Hunter and Jim Nichols all had a safe, fast day.  It was not until the last session of the day that a brief shower gave an indication of what was to come on Saturday. All hoped it would not be a repeat of the FM 6th Series June Glen National when rain and fog caused the last three races which included the FM cars, to be canceled.

Saturday Qualifying

The rain was coming down Saturday morning for the first qualifying session.  Saturday arrivals Bill Haney, Dave Anderson and Tom Nastasi, in only his second FM outing and renting a ride from Racers Edge Motorsports, helped make up the 6-car FM grid.  Conspicuously absent was Series points leader Bruce Crockett, who was home healing a broken collarbone and ribs from a dirt motorcycle accident. A get well card, signed by all, is being sent to Bruce.  This put the focus on 2nd place points holder Nichols to catch up some points, which was not meant to be on race day.

Nichols was first out to get a clear track, but not for long. On his out lap, Tom Nastasi clipped the curbing and hit the puddle going into the Bus Stop Chicane and sent him spinning into the gravel and caused the first black flag-all.  The end of a rain soaking, tension filled session found Dan Janette with the quickest time followed by Nastasi, Nichols, Haney, Anderson and Hunter.

With clouds still hanging low for the second qualifying session, the scramble for a last minute decision by all to change to a full dry setup was the correct move as the rain held off.  The remaining wetness on several areas of new tar sealer made for some twitchy moments for all.  Nastasi was a DNF near the end of the session as his battery loosened up and cut the power to his car for a long tow back to the paddock.  Qualifying results Nichols,1st in class at 2:03.956, 11th overall.  Janette 2nd in class, 12th overall.  Anderson 3rd in class.  Haney 4th in class, 18th overall.  Nastasi 5th in class, 20th overall and Hunter 6th in class, 27th overall.

Sunday Race Day

Race day was still overcast but dry.  Before the race, Dan Janette decided to join the North Eastern FM Series as a participant as he planned to run the next Series race at Pocono which will be a new track for him. A warm welcome was provided and he is now eligible for the series payout and per event prizes.

By 2pm race time, the track was still dry and all were ready to battle.  As the field of Formula Atlantics, Formula Mazdas, S2000s, and C&D Sports Racers left the false grid, the Pole Sitter Formula Atlantic car did not start which shuffled all the cars and moved Nichols from a choice inside position to outside and gave the favored inside to Janette.  At the green flag, Janette stayed right and Nichols tried to drop in behind into turn one but a Sports Racer got in between the two cars.  Nichols pulled some speed down the back straight to re-pass Janette under braking into the chicane on the next lap. The other FMers were all following spaced evenly with a Sports Racer or two separating each position.  A spin on the second lap caused the pace car to make an appearance for a quick one lap clean up and single file restart.

Lap 3 found a spinning car in the toe of the boot, which caused Nichols to lift and gave Janette an opening to retake the lead.  Next lap as Nichols was closing on the leader, another spinning car in turn 8, the heel of the boot, caused the whole field to slow.  The cars all split to either side  of the stationary racer and a drag race sprint of 6 cars went into the very tight left hand turn 9.  Nichols, eager to stay close to leader Janette, was squeezed on the inside and had his front right wing element clipped and then hit the right front wheel and rear wing in the ensuing melee of cars.  He said later: “I saw the back of a red car heading to broadside me so I just kept my foot in it as the car seemed okay but the steering wheel was a little crooked”.  Nichols pulled into the pits to have his front wing straightened.  Upon returning to the track the car was obviously not handling well and he pulled it off in the safe zone by the chicane.  He watched from the sidelines as his possible championship points slipped away.  Later it was determined the front right upright was cracked so continuing could have been a real disaster.

Anderson was now in hot pursuit of Janette as the race unfolded.  Shortly after the half way point of the 14 lap race, as Janette was flying down the hill after the chicane, his front tire had a side puncture, which pulled him into the weeds and oh so close to the imposing famous Glen double blue guardrail. . Anderson, who was right on his Janette’s tail, describes the save as the best driving skill he had seen.  Janette handled the car and motored through the next several turns to park in a safe zone.

The remainder of the race was a close train ride for the remaining Fmers.  Hunter had a last lap turn 9 charge on Nastasi but it was too close to pull off as Nastasi closed the door.  Anderson captured the win and fastest race lap of 2:01.1.  Haney came in 2nd, Nastasi 3rd, Hunter 4th, and Janette 5th with Nichols a DNF.  In the impound area, as Anderson the winner was congratulated, Nichols pointed out the large missing chunk of tire from Anderson’s left front tire.  Anderson’s comment was something to the effect that he guessed he should change the cold starting air pressure next time.

Next round is the Pocono National August 5-6th.

Current points can be reviewed at:


Reported by Jim Nichols

North Eastern Division Official Results - Watkins Glen Nationals
Pos Driver Fast Lap
1 David Anderson 2:01.182
2 Bill Haney 2:01.649
3 Tuck Hunter 2:01.819
4 Dan Janette 2:01.753
5 Jim Nichols 2:02.835

*  Tom Nastasi, whom finished third on track in this event, is not a registered series participant, and was excluded from the series results.