The last time my wife took our arthritic dog to the vet, the dog could barely get in the car, but she was all wags and excitement once she was there. The vet explained that adrenaline masks pain. I’m quite certain 944 Spec racers were feeling no pain at Buttonwillow Raceway Park the weekend of April 16 and 17, because it was obvious the adrenaline was flowing freely. And with more than a dozen racers in class, there were plenty of adrenaline-producing moments.
The Porsche 944/924S is the perfect car for a diverse and challenging track like Buttonwillow. It has plenty of technical turns where inches can make a difference in lap times, with elevation changes and even some blind corners that only add to the thrill, and where the smallest misstep can lead to a big spin in a cloud of dust. Yet despite the potential for small mistakes making big differences, Saturday’s lap times in qualifying were remarkably close. The race Saturday afternoon turned into a nail-biter. Four racers jockeyed for the lead throughout much of the race, with another four cars following close behind. At the checkered flag, it was Chuck Sharp in first, Everett DeLano in second, and John Niedernhofer in third.
It grew more exciting Sunday morning. As is custom, Sunday morning’s qualifying session was an inverted race, with the leaders from Saturday’s race starting from the back of the grid. You could tell the racers were pushing themselves now, as a few certainly had their moments off track. As it so often does, the inverted format gave everyone a chance to race hard, but the racing was clean and fair, and all the racers exited the track with big smiles.
That set up the race for Sunday afternoon, which was just as fun. Again, with so many cars in the field, everyone, no matter their position, had someone to race. Indeed, the top three racers were nose-to-tail for much of the race. At the checkered flag, it was Simon Peck in first, Niedernhofer in second, and DeLano in third.
The entire race weekend was a hoot, with a large group of racers and their crews enjoying themselves immensely. With no drama on or off track, the racers were certainly “feeling no pain” as they packed for the drive home, certain that next month’s event is another one to look forward to.