SoCal Spec Miata racers gathered for the last race of 2015 at Buttonwillow Raceway in October. The Teen Mazda Challenge season ended the week before at Sonoma Raceway, so the field had winnowed to drivers old enough to be served alcohol — save for one.
Will Rodgers qualified on pole for the first race on Saturday, ahead of Rob Burgoon and Steve Champlin. When the green flag dropped, Burgoon tried to keep up, but Rodgers gapped him and went on to win. That left Burgoon somewhat on his own to finish second.
Champlin and Mike Haddad waged a battle for third. Champlin was faster, and his lap times showed it, but Haddad played good defense and went on to take third, his first podium finish in Spec Miata.
For Sunday’s qualifying race, officials inverted the order of the race finish from Saturday, which put Sean Bradley on pole, followed by Sean Douglass and Mike Rose. By the time the checkered flag waved, the field had inverted itself again, with Rodgers in first, Burgoon in second and John Mueller in third.
That set the stage for Sunday’s main race. The start was clean, with just a little argy-bargy, but no big offs until lap two, when Haddad tapped Brett Becker in the Sweeper, causing a spin and collect. Haddad and Becker sustained enough damage to end their races then and there.
That left Rodgers clean and green to take the win, and in the process, setting a new track record at 2:05.023.
“I have no idea how I grabbed the track record, because it’s blisteringly hot out here,” Rodgers said. “I figured all the fast lap times would be when it’s cooler, but I’ll take it. Rob Burgoon started right behind me and I saw him in the mirror, and I just wanted to manage a gap and I did exactly that.”
Burgoon finished second, within sight of Rodgers, but not close enough.
“Will Rodgers drove a very clean, consistent race and had the speed to pull away and he set a track record, I believe,” Burgoon said. “My car is the best that it’s ever been, but still not fast enough to catch Will. So I don’t know, maybe I need an NB.”
In the end, Champlin got the third-place finish he was looking for the day before.
“Somehow I managed to stay ahead of John and stay out the huge dirt cloud in Turn 2, and somehow managed to not crash and managed to pull it off,” Champlin said.
Points had yet to be tallied at press time, but the SoCal Spec Miata racers now have the winter to prepare for 2016, a season when Buttonwillow will host the 2016 Western States Championships.