Tyler Palmer leads the pack at the start of the 944 Spec race July 28 at Auto Club Speedway.

Racing at Auto Club Speedway on July 28 and 29 highlighted what many of us know and love about Porsche 944 Spec: close racing with hard-fought battles on the track and camaraderie in the paddock. Racers and their crews arrived Friday afternoon to set up a comfortable 944 zone for the weekend ahead. And that setup was important, because many racers had visitors all weekend. The 944 paddock was busy with lots of family and friends who had come to cheer on their favorite drivers.

Saturday morning saw 10 racers on track for practice and qualifying. Unfortunately, it also saw the weekend’s only mishap, when John Rickard’s car tried to occupy the same space as an on-track tire barrier. John was OK, but his car was out for the weekend, and that’s too bad, because Saturday’s race was a barnburner, with position changes throughout the field from the moment the green flag flew. Among other races, the positions of second, third and fourth changed frequently. At the checkered flag, it was National Champion Tyler Palmer in first place, Everett DeLano in second and Peter Busalacchi in third. That night, the bench racing was just as good as the on-track activity, with many people enjoying watching the day’s racing action on Jim Hick’s big-screen TV. There was also a little skullduggery, which the So Cal series leader found out the next morning.

Yes, on Sunday morning DeLano got to his car to find his hood up and pieces of car everywhere. Of course, it was all in good fun, and the laughter over the little prank could be heard throughout the paddock. But the racers were quite serious when they got on the track for qualifying, and proved it with the fastest lap times of the weekend. When the green flag waved Sunday the action was even more intense. Every car in the race was engaged with another in its class. At the checkered flag it was DeLano in first place, Busalacchi in second and Jim Richmond in third.

It marked another of several thrilling races this year, with season points showing the close nature of 944 Spec racing.

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