Charles Buzzetti might have been the only national champion on grid, but it was Jim Foxx who snared pole in the Western States Championships at Sonoma Raceway. Buzzetti started second followed by Steven Lewis. At the start, Jim Hicks, who started from sixth, lost his shifter and dropped out. Buzzetti sniped Foxx at the start of the third lap. The announcers picked up on the two veteran racers who were so familiar with each other.
The leaders had a bit of gap to a viscous nose-to-tail battle between Steve Lewis, Dan Piña, Javier Cantu-Lucero and Ken Myers. On lap six, Lewis had to catch a fishtail in the middle of the Carousel. His correction gave just enough space to let Piña and Cantu-Lucero through, but Lewis recovered to hold Myers at bay. The four continued, loops in a chain lap after lap with Myers hanging on tightly, but not quite able to close up and contest for position.
Up at the front Foxx and Buzzetti battled, then Piña wobbled a touch mid-Carousel, but held onto his car, getting right back on the throttle and pulled the train forward. The four drivers contested for the last spot on the podium.
Atteberry, Alberto Fonseca and Jim Richmond approached a lapped Miata coming into Turn 11. Atteberry finally got through at Turn 2, Fonseca at the Carousel. The Miata went off into the dirt at the exit of Turn 10, re-entered the track out of control and collected a dodging Richmond. The Miata continued to spin and hit Richmond a second time, making a mess of the exit lane and throwing cones mid-track in the braking zone of Turn 11. A safety truck blocked the exit lane as the cars were cleared. It would get worse.
On lap 16, Piña missed the apex of Turn 4 by two feet. Cantu-Lucero carried too much trail-brake, but got on the gas aggressively, counter-steering to hold his car on-track. It gave Lewis a strong run around 5. Lewis would draw his bumper all the way to Cantu-Lucero’s front fender. At the crest entering the Carousel Cantu-Lucero locked up and collided with Lewis. Both cars careened off-track, hit an incline and launched. Lewis went end-over-end and Cantu-Lucero rolled four times.
Schmidt came through to a vigorous waving yellow, both cars smoking off-track. Team Brown/Heyer, a Spec Miata driver, and official NASA doctor stopped his car and immediately popped out to help. Safety vehicles were on-site within a lap. The race was flagged over shortly after. It wasn’t the ending that anybody wanted. Buzzetti took checkers, followed by Foxx and Piña.
“I don’t really feel like celebrating,” Buzzetti said afterward. Buzzetti and Foxx both ran their 944s under the top Spec Miata time, Foxx setting a new lap record at 1:55.495. We all helped Lewis and Cantu-Lucero scrape what was left of their cars into their trailers, thankful that they walked away under their own power.