Cincy area racing teams are setting a torrid pace this season in a variety of national and international race series.  Hoffman Auto Racing, Wright Motorsports, Paul's Automotive, Alliance Autosport, Doran Racing and several area drivers and team managers have been traveling across the country in search of victory lane.  Some have been successful in their endeavors while others are working to improve their results.  We do a quick review half way through the North American racing season of the Cincy area teams.

            


The area's racing team Emeritus is Hoffman Auto Racing, based in Milford it has the longest history of any of the area teams, starting in 1929 by August "Gus" Hoffman.  Multi-time USAC Sprint Car Champions and the winningest Team in United States Auto Club (USAC) history with 79 victories.  The Hoffman team started the year with a win at Ocala Florida in January and has continued to run up front now that the USAC Sprint series has moved back to the Midwest with the arrival of good racing weather.  The Mean Green, Mopar, Lykins Companies machine is always a threat to end the night in the winner's circle, you can catch up with the Hoffman Auto Racing Team at Lawrenceburg Speedway Lawrenceburg Indiana, July 15 and September 29 and Eldora Speedway in Rossburg Ohio July 28 and September 22.  There is nothing quite like Sprint Cars on a dirt track for racing excitement, with two iconic tracks within a 90 minute drive there is ample opportunity to delve into the experience.  A review of the Hoffman's operation can be seen here; http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=32z58W2trMI

            For maximum wins this year the Wright Motorsports team from Batavia is on a rampage in the Porsche GT-3 Cup Challenge!  This series features several races each race weekend, running as a support race with the American LeMans Series, F1 Canada, Indycars and more draws an international field of drivers.   Since the races at Miller Motorsports Park, Tooele Utah in early May the team has dominated the podium, making it difficult for the other teams to just break into the top five on occasion.  At Mazda Raceway Laguna Seca in Monterrey California the team captured victories with drivers Sean Johnston, Madison Snow and Melanie Snow, plus swept the top four positions in the Friday first half of a double header weekend. http://www.youtube.com/watch?NR=1&v=RnyPpngMmKA&feature=endscreen

Wright Motorsports also finished first and second in Saturday's race, as well as fourth and sixth overall.  Wright isn't the only one who will always remember Friday's race.  It marked the first victory ever for 21-year-old Sean Johnston of Mt. Shasta, Calif., who took the checkered flag in a Wright Motorsports Porsche sponsored by Driscoll's Berries 0.792 of a second before his teammate, Madison Snow, crossed the start/finish line after 27 laps of competition. Snow, 16, of Lehi, Utah, was the BBS pole award winner and he led the first seven laps in his Universal Industrial Sales Porsche before Johnston got by him.   A little further back two other Wright Motorsports cars driven by Fernando Peña of Minneapolis and Kasey Kuhlman of Cincinnati were locked in another battle. Peña finished third in a Porsche sponsored by Colours, Inc., while Kuhlman came in fourth in the No. 15 sponsored by Kuhlsport and the Motorsports Country Club of Cincinnati.  He was just 0.381 of a second behind Peña at the checkered. Peña started fourth and Kuhlman started sixth.

A single team fielding the top-four finishers in a race is not unprecedented, but it is rare.
A very informal straw poll of 30 racing experts came up with only three other times this has occurred: IndyCar's Andretti-Green Racing in 2005 in St. Petersburg, Fla.; Team PTG in 2003 in a SCCA SPEED World Challenge GT race at Infineon Raceway; and the factory Audi team this year in a World Endurance Championship race in Spa, Belgium.  Audi also swept the top four positions at the 24 Hours of LeMans, but used two different teams and two different cars in their success. There may have been others, but it's definitely uncommon.

Wright Motorsports showed the fast way around the Circuit Gilles Villenueve in Montreal during the Canadian Grand Prix Weekend After getting his first IMSA GT3 Cup victory under his belt on May 11, it didn't take Wright Motorsports driver Sean Johnston long to climb to the top of the podium again.  The 21-year-old was victorious in Round 7 of the IMSA GT3 Cup Challenge by Yokohama last Sunday as the series supported the Formula 1 Grand Prix of Canada at the Circuit Gilles Villeneuve.  Finishing second overall was one of his Wright Motorsports teammates, as Fernando Peña made it a one-two finish overall for the Batavia, Ohio-based super team.

Johnston led every lap of the non-stop, 15-lap contest on the 14-turn, 2.71-mile track after getting his first career BBS pole on Saturday with a new track record of 1.42.394 (95.279 miles per hour). Johnston, of Mt. Shasta, Calif., drives a 2012 Porsche 997 sponsored by Driscoll's Berries.

 "I can barely believe it! It's been such an incredible weekend! From my first wet driving experience in a Cup car on Friday, and my first career pole position on Saturday, to my first flag-to-flag victory in my life today, it's been an absolutely remarkable weekend!"  Commented Johnston after the race; "It was a tough challenge having only three short sessions on track, but Wright Motorsports gave me a great, competitive car to work with from session one and I couldn't be happier with the end result.  The crowd at this event was awesome as well! I could hear the crowd cheering from inside my car on the cool-down lap after the checkered flag; it's something I'll remember for the rest of my life!  Overall, great weekend, stoked on it, can't wait for our next race up in Mosport!"


Peña, of Minneapolis, started third in a similar Porsche sponsored by Colours, Inc., but he vaulted into second on the first lap after the driver who started second, Marcelli, spun in Turn 1 and slipped to seventh.  Fernando Peña: "It was a very special weekend! Montreal was challenging because of the limited track time, but also a delight because of the F1 crowd.  Wright Motorsports had another Platinum podium sweep. I am extremely happy for the team and especially for John Wright. He continues putting on an amazing show in the way he prepares our cars."

Johnston in the Driscoll's Berries Porsche GT3 Cup leads the season long point's championship; Madison Snow is third in points and with Wright Motorsports driver Kasey Kuhlman sixth in point's just three points out of the top five.  In the team Championship Wright Motorsports leads with a 22 point margin.  John Wright and the crew from Batavia will be off to races at Virginia International Raceway, Mosport Park Canada, Road America and Petit LeMans at Road Atlanta. The complete schedule of the 15-race series can be found on the series' Web site at imsachallenge.com.  Additional information is on the team's Web site at wrightmotorsports.com and its Facebook page. Onboard video from Kasey Kuhlman's car is available at http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=0woHt3xONtA

The Doran Racing Team from Lebanon recently signed Paul Tracy to pilot their Dallara-Ford Daytona Prototype in the Rolex Series at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway, following a good showing at the Daytona 24 Hour.  After the Daytona 24 the Doran Team put their effort into building a new Nissan 370Z for the Continental Tire Series in Grand Am Racing with BJ Zacharias driving in this popular endurance series.   Debuting at Barber Motorsports Park near Birmingham Alabama, the team did not have any test time so practice 1 saw the car turn its first wheel.  Zacharias qualified the car very well, just outside the top ten, a remarkable effort for a new untested machine.  The race did not produce the same successful result though, Fred Zacharias wrote to tell us this "Unfortunately, after a good qualifying run out of the box - 11 th, BJ got taken out in turn one on the start.  The car was hit really hard by a bone head move by one of the Mustangs ...you don't win a 3 hour race on the start."  Having viewed the incident several times I can attest it was a hard impact and a text book example of how to not make any friends on the job, check it out at this link http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=DJpm5xLlvlo&feature=related.  "The car spent 2 weeks in the frame shop getting the chassis aligned back up.  The hit sheared the motor mounts and did a pretty good job on the frame and the car itself ...but hey, the right door and the hood were still good."  Zacharias added "The belief is that the car has great potential and in its short exposure at Barber caught the eye of a lot of the competitors. Hopefully after M-O they will have more to talk about.  After M-O, the plan is to run the rest of the season."  Even though the debut was short lived the Doran Team got enough feedback, assessed the performance and developed a plan for enhancing the performance, with the car being completely disassembled for repair now is the optimal time to make those upgrades.  Zacharias added "The only good thing is this has given us a chance to improve on some things with the car." 

Fred Zacharias had shared those thoughts prior to the Mid-Ohio Round of the Continental Tire Sports Car Challenge June 8; apparently the Doran Team did an excellent job repairing the 370Z, it qualified on the pole for the race and ran strong all day.  At the end of the race the Doran Nissan Motorsports/GT Academy 370Z with BJ Zacharias at the wheel was in the lead scrum of twelve, making some aggressive moves in the last two laps Zacharias pushed the car to an eighth place finish.  A fantastic result after a rough start to the season, rebounding to get pole and a top ten with an unproven car is a testament to the talent in the Doran Team.

At Road America last weekend the Nissan GT Academy 370 Z again proved to be stout competitor securing another top ten with a seventh place finish in the three hour endurance contest.  The Doran team is off to a strong start with this Nissan, a pole and two top ten finishes in the first three races against the array of manufacturers such as Porsche, Chevy, Ford, and BMW is a significant accomplishment for the team from Lebanon Ohio.

An excellent opportunity to see the Doran Nissan 370Z is at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway Friday July 27. http://www.grand-am.com/ScheduleResults/ContinentalTire.aspx.  The Doran Daytona Prototype will be competing at in Indy in the Rolex Series that day also; Kevin and the crew will be working overtime that Friday. 

            The Paul's Automotive Engineering Team has finished well recently at Mid-Ohio Sports Car Course with Brian Faessler in the American Iron Ford Mustang and is looking forward to having Paul on track later this year with the American Iron Extreme Mustang.   Recently Joe O'Gorman from Full Throttle Karting told me that Full Throttle will sponsor Brian Faessler in the Paul's Automotive Engineering Ford Mustang in NASA competition.  Brian has added working out at Full Throttle facility to his regimen of physical fitness; karting keeps the senses sharp and the reflexes quick, most professional drivers use karting throughout their careers as part of their training routine.   Congratulations to both Full Throttle Karting and Brian Faessler on their new association.  See the Paul's Automotive Engineering Mustangs at NASA events at Mid-Ohio, Putnam Park and elsewhere.

            Scott Rettich and the Alliance Autosport Team have been racing several cars in several different series with some very good results.  The Daytona 24 was a rough go for the team, but they preserved to the finish with their Porsche GT 3.  After the twice around the clock spectacle at Daytona the Alliance Autosport team switched back to open wheeled cars for their debut in the Cooper Tires USF2000 powered by Mazda series.  The first races were held at one of the world's most iconic tracks in Sebring Florida, which was very good to Scott Rettich and the Alliance Autosport team.  Rettich, who won an SCCA "Runoffs" National Championship in the same car in 2011, left Sebring second in points with a second and third place finishes after leading in the PDI Communications car.  The next race for the Alliance Team was in St. Pete during the Indy Car event; the street and airport circuit suited Rettich's talents well and he qualified on the pole.   The race however proved to be more difficult when harum-scarum type incidents resulting in partial track blockages allowed competitors to slip by resulting in a third and fourth place finishes.  Scott and the Alliance Autosport Team ventured to Virginia international Raceway and for two victories at the SCCA races.  The Cooper Tires USF2000 Powered by Mazda is scheduled to visit Mid-Ohio Sports Car Course August 4/5 during the Indy Car/American LeMans Series weekend, which is always a premier weekend for race goers.

            John Edwards has been active in Grand-Am racing driving Chevrolet Camaros for Stevenson Motorsports in both the Rolex GT and Continental Tire Sports Car Challenge.  The season started well for John with a fourth place finish in the Daytona 24, however a knee injury sidelined him for the next two races at Barber Motorsports Park and Homestead Miami Speedway.  The New Jersey Motorsports Park rounds saw Edwards back in the cars and right back on form, grabbing the Pole Position in the Rolex GT and a second place finish after a hard fought race with the winning Ferrari 458 Italia.  The Continental Tire series provided an even tougher challenge with the Stevenson Camaro back in the field after a first lap incident resulted in a flat tire, another flat tire dropped the team to 19th, however some late race good fortune resulted in a 12th place finish.  John drove at Mid-Ohio Sports Car Course June 8-10 in the Rolex GT Series and Continental Tire Series and figured predominantly in both races.  The Rolex GT was a close race all day with the Stevenson Camaro tussling about the in top three with BMW and Ferrari; at the checkered flag the Edward's Camaro was third ahead of Mazda and Porsche entries.  The Stevenson Motorsports Camaro Continental Tire Series entry finished fifth at Mid-Ohio in the support race for the Rolex series; John Edwards kept the car in the lead pack and involved in some of the closest racing of the day.

            When the Rolex GT Series visited Road America last weekend John Edwards' Chevrolet Camaro was in the top three for most of the race, swapping positions with Ferrari, BMW, Mazda and Corvette right up to the last blast up the hill to the finish line.  Edwards' teammate Robin Liddell faded a bit at the end of the race with worn tires but remained in the top five.  The Continental Tire sports Car Challenge race at Road America was a wild affair as the series always puts on a spectacular show.  John Edwards in the Stevenson Autosport Camaro GS.R secured a sixth place finish in the three hour contest; see the race on Speed TV July 8 at noon.    

Indianapolis Motor Speedway is the closest opportunity to see John Edwards drive the Stevenson Camaros in the Rolex and Continental Tire series on Friday July 27.  The entire Grand-Am schedule is available at http://www.grand-am.com/ScheduleResults/Rolex.aspx.  Edwards is currently 11th in Rolex GT points despite missing two rounds, the Stevenson Camaro is third in manufacturers points championship standings.  A quick view of the Stevenson Camaro at IMS is available at this link.  http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=E9j7Q_bQY1Q

            The Indianapolis Motor Speedway will be hosting the inaugural Super Weekend at the Brickyard with four races in three days on two tracks at one venue.  Friday is the day for the Sports Cars and Road Racing on the GP circuit added to spice up the weekend.  The GP circuit at Indy offered some very nice viewing areas on grass mounds at the south end of the Human Blvd Straight and some excellent views from the stands.  The race is at 4 pm; a seat across the main straight and from the pits will have the sun at your back and maybe some shade for added comfort.  The Continental Tire race is a 2.5 hour contest starting at 1 pm...  All the tickets are general admission, which is the norm in sports car racing, allowing one to move around the track and get a variety of views during the day; the grandstands are part of the general admission access.  More information on tickets and schedules is here; http://www.indianapolismotorspeedway.com/brickyard400/eventinfo/43163-2012-Brickyard-400-Schedule/.  John Edwards, BJ Zacharias, and Doran Racing will be competing; rumors are swirling about that the Wright Motorsports Team will have a Porsche ready for the Rolex GT also-look for them July 27 in Indy.

            The 24 Hours of LeMans was swept by Audi, the winning car having diesel/electric hybrid power.  The coverage on Speed TV included a significant amount of time in the Audi pits; here the commentators would find College Corner's own Brad Kettler as part of the brain-trust that keeps Audi winning.  LeMans is the biggest auto race in the World; it is like having Indy, Daytona, Sebring and the Monaco GP all at one time at the same track.  To have a local racer involved with winning the twice around the clock classic is a tremendous testament to the talent here in the tri-state.  This is not Brad Kettler's first experience with winning at the Circuit Le Sarthe either; he has been there for other Audi wins too-Congratulations to Brad for another job well done.  The LeMans race has quite a history with drivers and team managers from the Cincy area, Kevin Doran and John Wright have also been very successful in western France in recent years, while the area's most recent entrant/driver was Larry Schumacher in a Porsche.  More to come on this topic in another issue.