“Your wife is hot!” That’s what a prominent billboard claimed en route to Buttonwillow Raceway Park the first Friday in June. And though that sign is undoubtedly correct, what it didn’t say was that 944 Spec racing in Southern California was about to get even hotter.
With a good turnout on hand, Saturday was busy. Qualifying times were close and the racing was even closer. From the drop of the green, several positions were exchanged, and there were battles throughout the field. Rafi Gogus and Jim Richmond were especially engaged in a fierce battle right to the last lap. At the checkered flag, Charlie Buzzetti took first place, Jim Hicks took second and Everett DeLano took third.
But the real action started later that afternoon, as four 944 Spec teams prepared to run the three-hour enduro. Well, I should really say three and a half teams. Tom Atteberry teamed with Everett DeLano. Rafi Gogus teamed with Robert Hohler. Jim Richmond teamed with Jim Hicks, and Charlie Buzzetti chose the Ironman approach and ran the entire race by himself.
Endurance racing is one thing, but endurance racing at night at a track where dust is kicked up when your car runs close to the edge of the surface is something even more exciting. But with the exception of Atteberry/DeLano, whose car developed some unfortunate problems along the way, the 944 Spec gang fared well, with Ironman Buzzetti taking second in class and seventh overall.
Sunday morning dawned, and though the 944 Spec gang was a little groggy from the prior day’s activities, there was no lack of energy for a qualifying race, inverted from the finishing order from Saturday’s sprint race. Inverting the starting order always brings out some good action, and this race was no exception.
Even the slightest miscue would send you to the back, and that’s certainly what happened to DeLano when he tried an ill-advised pass attempt. Sunday’s sprint race was another exciting event, with positions, particularly in the middle of the field, being exchanged several times. Richmond and Hicks were after each other the entire time. At the checkered flag, the finishing order was Buzzetti in first, Gogus in second and Hicks in third. It was difficult to say goodbye to such hot action, but the racers were well aware that soon enough they will be joining their Northern California friends to race at Mazda Raceway Laguna Seca in early July.