Six drivers arrived for the first running of the Southern California 944 Spec class at Spring Mountain Motorsports Ranch in Pahrump, Nev. Jim Hicks, Jim Richmond, John Niedernhofer and Tom Atteberry came from Southern California. Jeff Wojnar came from the Arizona region and Mary Riddel came from Las Vegas. These six racers had to learn the 2.97-mile Hunt Course in one 15-minute warm-up session before Saturday qualifying.
Jim Hicks proved to be the quickest study and qualified first, followed by Jeff Wojnar, Jon Niedernhofer, Jim Richmond, Tom Attebery and Mary Riddel.
On the start Hicks and Wojnar stayed one and two. The middle of the pack was were all the action took place. Richmond got the best of Niedernhofer and was third after the first lap. However, on the next lap, Atteberry and Niedernhofer passed Richmond. The pass by Atteberry was a little aggressive. Richmond gave him inside room with a car width, but Atteberry was not 100 percent clean, which resulted in a small hip check to Richmond.
On the next lap Atteberry out-braked Niedernhofer — read: locked up rears — into the hairpin turn and got by Niedernhofer. While Atteberry can see Wojnar up ahead, there was no way without a major problem that Atteberry could catch him. Niedernhofer and Richmond were close the rest of the race, but both found themselves compromised with Niedernhofer overheating, which caused him to short shift and nurse his car home. Richmond had developed a nasty electrical problem that resulted in the car cutting out in the track’s two long high g-force right-hand turns. These problems allowed Riddel to close the gap. At the end, Hicks finished first, with Wojnar in second and Atteberry third.
Overnight, Niedernhofer replaced his radiator with a spare from Jim Hicks. Richmond replaced the ignition switch, which solved his electrical problem. From the first time on track to the Sunday qualifying, everyone had dramatically reduced his or her lap times by 6 to 12 seconds. The competition had gotten tighter.
For Sunday’s race, Hicks qualified again on top, with Wojnar in second and Atteberry in third. Niedernhofer started fourth followed by Richmond and Riddel.
Richmond and Atteberry got excellent starts, and by the end of lap one, they passed Jeff Wojnar. For the next seven laps Wojnar and Richmond battled. That made it easier for Atteberry to stay ahead of those two. Richmond got close late in the race when Atteberry put two wheels off. Finally, in the battle with Wojnar, Richmond put four off, allowing Wojnar to pass for third. Niedernhofer meanwhile stayed in fifth for the whole race with Riddel behind him. In the end Hicks finished first, 15.5 seconds ahead of Atteberry in second, and Wojnar in third.