The October NASA Great Lakes finale is always a great time. Add in Mid-Ohio as the venue, with the Midwest Championship on the line, and things get really interesting. The field was stacked with top drivers, but Friday’s practice activities drove Chris Williams out with a blown motor, and sent Brian Murdick, Frank Todaro, and John Guthrie home because they had no rain tires to run a guaranteed wet Saturday.
Saturday dawned with hope in the air. Although it had rained most of the night, the track was dry for qualifying in the morning. Jonathan Davis set the pace with 1:42.40-second lap, which is the fastest seen in some time on Toyos! Ryan Roberson and Bob Keller filled out the top three spots, with a surging Todd Ayers in fourth, and Doug Kowalczyk in fifth. Randy Summerville, George Clos Jr., Will Dodd, Rich Strickland, and Jeff Davidson rounded out the top ten, while Glenn Brown, rookie Adam Roberts, and Melissa Davis completed the grid.
Then came the rain. It rained and rained, and continued to rain, as only Mid-Ohio can unleash. When the green flag flew, all 13 Spec Miatas splashed their way into China Beach, navigating the turn successfully, but Madness was waiting to claim its victims. Roberson had an inside line, and was fighting to stay with Davis, but just over the top of Madness, he lost the car. As he spun, Bob Keller collected his front right corner, and just like that, Roberson was done for the weekend. Keller continued, with some driver-side door damage, but no functional issues. The double yellow flew quickly for that incident and many others, and after the cleanup, just a handful of laps remained.
Clos Jr., who took advantage of Roberson’s misfortune to gain a position, had been circulating behind Davis during the double yellow, and after the green flew, it looked like Davis would be in control of the race. Indeed, when the white flag flew, Davis was still comfortably in the lead with Clos Jr. giving chase, but never getting closer than a few car lengths from Davis. Over Madness, Clos Jr. was still three car lengths behind, and it appeared that Davis would win. But, in incredible fashion, Clos Jr. closed the gap on Davis through Thunder Valley, and upon entry to the Carousel made a dramatic move on Davis to take the lead and the win. Clos Jr. just nipped Davis by .216 seconds at the line. Keller completed the podium in third.
The second race of the day was scheduled in the afternoon. Surely it couldn’t rain all day? Well, surely it could. At race time, the track was as wet as ever, and a steady drizzle promised another treacherous trip around the Mid-Ohio wet line. Clos Jr. and Keller were in the front row, followed by Jonathan Davis and Randy Summerville in the third and fourth spots. As the 10 remaining Spec Miatas sloshed into the first turn, Clos Jr. had turned his pole position into the preferred wet line, while Bob Keller tried the slippery inside, causing him to lean up into Clos Jr. going through the turn ahead of Madness. Clos Jr. fought off the unintended love, leaving Keller to collect an impressive tank slapper that continued to the turn-in for Madness. Clos Jr. held that lead until just a few turns later when a double yellow came out.
Unfortunate events led to Roberts’ car being hit hard after a slide off, by a wayward 944 Spec following his route. Fortunately, Roberts’ position saved Davidson who also had left the racing surface just before Roberts. Davidson was freed from the trap and continued, while Roberts had to retire from the race. After a long delay for cleanup, Clos Jr. drove just two laps to clinch his second win of the day and put him on the podium for both regional championships. Davis picked up second, followed by Randy Summerville in third.
Sunday’s third and final race was set to run for 45 minutes on the club course. The day dawned with sun and promise of actual grip in the final race of the year. An inverted start led to some serious traffic negotiation, and after the dust had settled, Jonathan Davis took home first place. Keller finished all alone in second place, and Todd Ayers secured his first podium spot of the year in third place.
Despite all of the action on the track during the weekend, both points Championships were won by drivers that could not compete during the final weekend. Ryan Roberson earned the Regional Championship in the Midwest, followed by George Clos Jr. in second, and Chris Williams in third. Over in the Great Lakes, Chris Williams brought home the championship followed by Ryan Roberson in second, and George Clos Jr. in third.