The NASA Southeast “Run for the Pi” weekend at Road Atlanta opened to a rainy, gloomy and chilly Saturday morning. The track was wet, and only four Thunder Roadster drivers were brave enough to challenge the track in those conditions. Ralph Nolan took the pole with a very good time of 1:56.802 followed by Brad Daugherty, Will Miller and Scott Lanford.
The skies cleared, the sun was out and the track dried by late afternoon for the Lightning Race. Because of a mixed-class grid, Nolan and Daugherty were on the first row, with Miller and Lanford on the second row and the remaining eight Roadsters were five rows back, led by Kevin Mewborn and Sonny Tu. On the start, Tu and Mewborn both tried to split the two cars in front of them. The result was Tu and Mewborn getting together with a BMW and a 944 Spec. Tu broke a front spindle and was turned nose-first into the outside wall. Tu was unhurt, but his car was too damaged to continue. On the restart, Nolan and Daugherty pulled out front and ran nose to tail the entire race. Nolan won by just .689 seconds over Daugherty. Mike Brooks started in the very back of the split and worked his way to third place to finish just .250 seconds behind Daugherty. Scott Lanford finished fourth and Randy Suddreth finished fifth.
Sunday morning’s Lightning qualifying session was at 8:30, and the track was still covered with dew. It made the first several laps extremely interesting. Mike Rea grabbed the pole from Nolan. Hamilton qualified third, with Daugherty qualifying fourth.
The green flag for Sunday’s Lightning race dropped just after noon with perfect race conditions. Rea, Nolan and Daugherty swapped the lead numerous times in the opening laps. On lap 10, Daugherty retired with mechanical problems. Rea and Nolan continued to battle for the lead. At the finish, Nolan beat Rea to the checkered flag by a mere .03 seconds. Brooks rounded out the podium in third. Will Miller ran a strong fourth with Hamilton finishing out the top five.
Congratulations to Ralph Nolan in the Creamsicle Special, who has won all four races this year. Also congratulations to Rea who set a new track record of 1:39.544 for Thunder Roadsters at Road Atlanta during Sunday’s race.