NASA Great Lakes visited the eastern shores of Lake Michigan June 19 and 20 in the sandy beach resort town of South Haven. Gingerman Raceway was the location, an 11-turn, 2.2-mile course with tight right turns leading to long straights and sweeping left handers you must push to find maximum speed through.
Friday’s sunny test and tune weather changed overnight to heavy rain Saturday morning and a drying track for Saturday qualifying. Teen Mazda Challenge driver Camden Gruber posted the best time (2:13.5), followed by Brian Silvestri (2:13.8) and Randy Summerville (2:15.1). Silvestri and Gruber were separated by as little as .2 seconds for the first six laps, but Gruber was able to get around for the lead after a Turn 11 local yellow cleared and he held on for the victory. Will Dodd, starting from eighth, picked off five spots on lap one to battle with Jeff Wood, Brian Silvestri, and Randy Summerville for the remainder of the race. Will achieved second place on lap eight, holding it for the final four laps.
Sunday’s race two held some tight action at the top of the grid for the opening four laps. The top five cars were separated by 1.5 seconds until Gruber stretched his lead to 1 second, and that would hold the remainder of the race. A little further back, Bruce Myrehn, Travis Lee, and Andy Sellers battled for the sixth, seventh, and eighth positions the first half of the race with Myrehn ultimately holding on to sixth.
The final race found perennial fast guy John Allen on pole after a race two fast lap, followed by Will Dodd and rookie Chris Finnigan. Starting from P5, Gruber made it to P2 on lap three, eventually taking John Allen for the lead on lap 10 of 12 total. Battling for the ninth and 10th spots, Jon Wilson chased down Jeff Wood closing the gap from 4 seconds to 0.2 on the last lap, but Jeff edged him at the finish line.
Spec Miata competition in the Great Lakes region is getting tougher. The top eight cars in each race had fast lap times within 1 second of each other. With six race weekends remaining, it should make for an interesting season points battle.