Through six race weekends of 2022, the Spec Miata field only needed Toyo RRs to compete. A rain-soaked trip to Autobahn Country Club in Joliet, Ill., changed that, requiring the use of Toyo RA1s. Saturday’s race weather challenged driver physical conditioning with an exhausting 17-lap race in 105 degree heat index. Sunday brought light rain for warmup, followed by a race two downpour, and light rain for race three in the afternoon, but a track that was still very wet.
Saturday qualifying held familiar names at the top of the timing sheet. Teen Mazda Challenge driver Nate Nicholson topped the chart with a 1:40.6, followed by veteran John Allen 0.2 seconds behind, and TMC driver Wyatt Wood another 0.4 off with a 1:41.2.
For the start of race one, Allen immediately jumped Nicholson and held a 1-plus second lead for the first 11 laps. That gap would close to 0.2 seconds late in the race, but Allen ultimately held position. The battle for fourth between TMC driver Jack Dorsey and Corentin Derbois was epic. The two racers swapped places five times, with neither building more than a half second lead over the other. Derbois came out on top.
Race two was limited to four laps by two yellows caused by extremely heavy rain. Best lap times were understandably slowed by 40 seconds, and Wyatt Wood set a blistering, no-drifting fast lap of 2:21.7. Randy Summerville, our resident rain race guru, jumped from sixth to first in the limited running for his first podium and victory of 2022.
The Sunday afternoon finale ran the full length in light rain, but with a large amount of standing water. Grip was hard to find, and the Spec Miata field shuffled several times in the first half of the nine lap race. Wyatt Wood, starting from P1, was swamped by the field on lap one, dropping to P4 and ultimately finishing P3. TMC’s Dorsey jumped from P7 to first on lap one, but John Allen, starting from P6, took P1 on lap two, holding it until lap six, when Nicholson, who dropped from P3 to P7 on the first lap, took P1 and held until the finish.