The fourth round of NASA Great Lakes 2016 season turned out perfect weather, great racing and track-record battles. Road America is a great place to stretch the legs of Super Touring racecars. All the Super Touring classes were represented this weekend, and Ryan Upham debuted his E36 M3 in ST3 trim, to great effect. More on that later.
Saturday’s race started with some drama when Larry Bailey’s ST1 Corvette got loose in the first turn and tangled with the pretty 962-inspired Diasio of Sam Mangiamelli, taking them both out of the race. Greg Vannucci and Seth Palatnik went on to have a close race in ST1, finishing 3 seconds apart, with Vannucci at the top of the heap. Eric Kuhns finished 3rd, but was DQ’d for not showing up to impound. This slotted Stephen Meyers onto the podium to round out the ST1 field.
The real battles were going on in ST3 and SU. Chandler Premo continued his winning ways in ST3. He reset the lap record, driving away from Ryan Upham by a mere 2.5 seconds, marking the start of an impressive debut weekend for Upham and his angry looking matte black E36. SU was even closer with Ray Sweers just besting Scott Wellham by .6 seconds to pull out the win. Their best laps were a mere .2 seconds apart — something we’d expect to see in Spec racing, but not no-holds-barred SU!
Sunday brought another great day, though with some attrition in the ranks from the day before in the ST1 ranks. A broken bellhousing on Kuhns’ “Franken44” took him out. Bailey and Mangiamelli also were out from the previous day’s incident. The remaining three turned up the wick, with Aaron Pierce resetting the track record at a blazing 2:21.597, and Stephen Myers’ fast lap less than .2 seconds off of that. Greg Vannucci was not far off within the 2:22s, but retired with some overheating problems.
Super Unlimited grew to four cars, with the addition of the beautiful ex-pro Maserati of Jeff Courtney, and David Davidson’s tube frame beast of a Chevy. At the top, Sweers and Wellham again battled it out in Super Unlimited, but this time Wellham got the upper hand, dipping into the 2:18s — warp speed at Road America!
ST3 had the battle of the weekend, with the dominant Premo facing a challenge from newcomer Upham. In the increasing heat, Upham and Premo had a seesaw battle, with multiple passes for the lead. Ultimately, Premo almost drove the tires off the car, coming in with them heavily corded. Upham upstaged Premo’s track record, set just the day before, with a 2:27.601 time, and took the win. Richard Mattson found some time, getting down to the 2:28s, to finish ahead of Ray Freundt.