For April, NASA Southeast visited Roebling Road Raceway near Savannah, Ga. Spring weather blessed the track with cool nights and warm days. Friday began with yet another comp school for the region. Spec Miata welcomed newcomer Charles Lankford to the ranks after he earned his provisional license.
This event marked the start of a new three-race weekend format: one race on Saturday and two races on Sunday. Instead of qualifying and racing on Sunday, the Lightning group competed in two races. More racing equals more fun!
In Saturday’s qualifying, the Lightning field got spread out early on, making it difficult to get a clean lap. Traffic management was key to a good lap, and probably a little luck helped as well. Yan Dia set the pole with a lap time of 1:23.796.
At the start of race one, positions one through four fell in line within the first few corners, but John Palazzolo got a good run on Teen Mazda Challenge driver Danny Dyszelski and moved into P5. Dia maintained the lead for the first two laps as the top four started to pull slightly away from the pack. On lap three, Don Elvington got a good run along the front stretch, pulled to the inside of Dia, and was given a nice bump to the lead from Keith Williamson.
Williamson was unable to make the pass himself, though. He returned to make the same move a few laps later, only this time pushing Dia past Elvington. Again, Williamson was unable to make the pass himself and maintained P3. By this time, the group encountered a good amount of traffic from out-of-class cars. It was now a fight to see who could manage the traffic best. On lap 12, Williamson made a pass on Elvington and started hunting down Dia. With just two laps to go, Williamson made a strong move to the outside of Turn 1, muscling his way to the lead as they exited Turn 2. He maintained the lead until the end, winning by .135 seconds ahead of Dia in P2. Elvington finished in P3, Capers Zentmeyer in P4, and Dyszelski in P5.
Sunday’s race grids were based on the fastest lap times from Saturday’s race. With that, Williamson sat on the pole with Dyszelski on his outside. Spec MX-5 Cup cars gridded just ahead of the Spec Miatas, also taking the same green flag. As the race started, the Spec MX-5 cars got off to a slow start, causing the Spec Miata group to check up as they entered Turn 1.
As a result, several cars shuffled for position as the group unexpectedly bunched up. The order was now Williamson, Elvington, Dyszelski, Dia, Zentmeyer, and Ernie Cole. On lap two, Dyszelski and Dia worked together coming out of Turn 9, bump-drafting past Elvington on the front stretch. Zentmeyer also got past Elvington later on lap 6. The top four continued to press, each just waiting for the other to make a mistake or get held up by traffic.
On the last lap, Dyszelski got loose in Turn 1, allowing Dia to power through on the inside and taking away P2. The race finished with Williamson winning, Dia in P2, Dyszelski in P3, Zentmeyer in P4, and Elvington in P5. Further back, some tight finishes made racing fun. Palazzolo finished just .365 seconds behind Cole in P6 and just .153 ahead of Jerry Griffin in P8. Bill Miller and David Ardoin also finished just .087 seconds apart in P9 and P10 respectively.
Race three started with the same grid as race two. As the green flag waved, the inside cars got a great run and took the top three positions from the outside row. This left Williamson, Elvington, and Dia lined up as they exited Turn 2. On the next lap, Elvington bobbled in Turn 2, allowing Dia to advance a position. Dia and Williamson then worked together trying to gap the field. However, they encountered out-of-class traffic by lap four, bringing the group close again. On lap five, the leaders caught a slower car in Turn 9. This set up Dyszelski to push Dia down the front, moving both of them past Williamson. The race finished with Dia as the winner, Dyszelski in P2, Williamson in P3, Elvington in P4, and Zentmeyer in P5.
It was an action-packed weekend at Roebling Road Raceway. We understand they will be repaving the surface, so can’t wait to return in September!