At July’s NASA Great Lakes event at Mid-Ohio, Saturday morning came wet and misty, and Chris Price immediately set the rain pace with the fast lap during the warm-up session. Price would conduct a wire-to-wire rain show Saturday, leading every session, thus giving him his first victory of the year.
Saturday’s wet qualifying session had so much water on track that the back straight became a hydroplaning challenge as everyone tried to navigate the kink. Chris Price set the stage with 1.448-second gap over the second-place qualifier, Chris Williams. Justin Hille slotted in at third followed by Jonathan Davis, Robert Keller, and Brian Murdick. Christian Maloof continued his climb into the top group posting the seventh fastest lap. Mark Domo found some grip for nice eighth spot, and Jay North and John Guthrie rounded out the top 10.
The water just kept on coming, and the race looked like it would be run on rain tires, but not before Mid-Ohio teased the group with some potentially drying weather that had all the racers doing the familiar cellphone radar checks. Some even saw Hille’s pit crew riding around checking out tire selections by the rest of the pack! Price and Williams led the group out and the entire 21-car field, the green flag flew, and the group navigated the first turns of the race without incident.
The track had less standing water than earlier, but many racers commented that it seemed much slicker, cars could be seen sliding all around. In-car videos surely contain epic counter-steering footage, however everyone managed to stay on track and there were very few yellow flags during the race. Price immediately jumped out to a quick lead and never looked back. Williams settled into second while Hille battled with Davis for the third spot. Once Hille passed Davis for third, he began to work on Williams for the second spot. That pass would take Hille many laps, but he finally pushed past Williams and set his sights on Price. Although Hille was closing fast, Price was able to hang on at the finish line for a .291-second victory over the charging Hille. Williams took third, while keeping an eye on Keller in fourth and Davis in fifth.
Chris Price went home after his win, and Matt Montes showed up to race Sunday leaving the field at 21 cars. In qualifying Hille set the pace with a 1:43.837. Murdick and Davis filled out the top three. Williams, Maloof, and Keller slotted in the fourth, fifth and sixth spots.
When the green flag dropped, it was still dry racing and Hille jumped out to a quick lead, but was tailed by Murdick and Williams in a tight group. Close behind, Maloof and Davis began a battle that would see several position changes over the course of their race.
Lap after lap, the front three began to pull on the field, while Hille couldn’t shake Murdick and Williams, but Hille pulled a gap while Murdick and Williams began a five-lap battle for second place. Ultimately, after at least five failed pass attempts, Williams got around the cagey veteran Murdick, but was unable to close the gap on Hille, who converted a wire-to-wire victory, another fast lap at 1:43.649 by .15 seconds over Williams, and all but locking in another season points championship! Williams placed second, and Murdick snagged the last podium spot, pushing Williams during the last lap of the race.
Maloof and Davis continued their hard-fought battle until lapped traffic and cautions put Maloof at a significant disadvantage. Davis took fourth, and Maloof brought home fifth. Keller was all the while sneaking up into sixth but needed more time to really make his presence known to Maloof or Davis. At the end of the day, only one Spec Miata sat in impound for minor incident! What a great weekend.
Unlike the event at Putnam Park, we had no flaming cars, no serious contact, but I was told by several spectators that our races were some of the most exciting to watch during the entire weekend. The September Autobahn race will include an enduro on Friday night. I definitely recommend running in the enduro, even if you just want track time for the weekend. The full course is used during the enduro, and the almost 4-mile circuit at Autobahn is a blast to drive, especially as day turns into night!