Road Atlanta Report

Press Release – For Immediate Release

Braselton, Ga. March 23, 2014

Bob Bodle

Bob Bodle

The Sports Car Club of America held their third 2014 SCCA Majors Tour event at Road Atlanta Raceway in Braselton, Georgia. MINI was well represented in both the B Spec class and H Production. The Eastern Region Majors points leader, Travis Washay from the New England Region brought his 2008 MINI Cooper, looking to repeat his Majors race victory in January at Sebring International. Travis qualified his MINI on the pole for B Spec and immediately took the lead and held it. Meanwhile in the 2012 MINI Cooper from MINI of Charleston, Brad Davis swapped positions several times with Ryan Hall in his 2008 MINI Cooper. Ryan brought his MINI south from Connecticut and found the warmer weather to his and the car’s liking. After 10 laps, Davis was in second position followed by Hall when a major incident in turn five involving 4 cars from another class brought the race to a halt. The clean-up was unable to be completed in time to meet the 30 minute sprint race format and the podium was set with a 1-2-3 MINI sweep. Washay’s win added to his points lead and Davis finished second followed by Hall. In the winner interview Travis Washay commented how much he enjoys the B Spec Class and his MINI Cooper. “I’ve has raced numerous types and classes in sports car racing and really like this class that allows me to have a cost effective competitive car that can run national races and pro series races for a low initial price.

Bob Bodle

Bob Bodle

Saturday afternoon in the “production race” for race cars based on factory production chassis (verses tube frame purpose built race cars), Brad Davis did double driving duties, putting his 2002 MINI Cooper on the H Production pole. The class is a wild mix of older sports cars with wide open engine and suspension modifications and “limited preparation”, more current model cars. Dropping temperatures created a situation where Davis’ starting tire pressures were too low and caused a low inflation tire failure on the first lap of the race. Davis was resigned to be a spectator for the race, that saw Mike Miller win the class in his 1967 Austin Healy Sprite. Filling up the podium was Andrew Wright in a 1962 Triumph Spitfire and Bob Toler in a 1959 Austin Healy Bug-eye Sprite.

Sunday morning the weather forecasters painted a pretty dismal outlook for the day, with rain and cold weather expected. Although overcast, the rain held off until right after the checkered flag for race group one with Touring 2-4, STL, STU and B Spec. A 52 car starting field always makes for an exciting start, but this one was a little too exciting with a large pileup of STL Miata’s at Start/Finish at the wave of the green flag. When racing continued the expected 20 lap race became an 11 lap timed event, stopping at 40 minutes. Washay took the lead at the restart and never looked back, earning his 3 race win of the season. Davis and Hall swapped positions several times and at the end of the race Hall finished 2nd with Davis turning faster laps than Hall but hitting traffic in the wrong places, finishing on Hall bumper for third. Another 1-2-3 podium sweep for MINI.

Sunday after the final race of the day skies were clear and Davis was out to redeem his tire pressure error on Saturday. Davis and Miller went into turn 3 on the first lap side by side, but Davis got squeezed to the edge of the track and wound up dropping a tire off the edge of the racing surface, spinning the HP MINI Cooper. The rest of the HP field passed Davis and Miller had an 18 second lead over the MINI at the end of lap one. Davis was focused on getting back to Miller and retaking the lead he thought he deserved. He made short order of moving ahead of the rest of the HP class and was soon in 2nd. “Once I had Miller in sight, I got really excited about the possibility of catching and passing him” said Davis. Turning the fastest HP class lap times, Davis was shaving 1-2 seconds a lap off Miller’s lead. However that intoxicating adrenalin mix pushed Davis and the MINI Cooper into turn 5 too hot and Davis spun the car again, giving Miller another lead that Davis shortened again, but was unable to eliminate by the finish. Toler again rounded out the podium in this Sprite.

Bob Bodle

Bob Bodle

Both Washay and Hall are Davis’ customers; Brad manages MINI of Charleston, the exclusive provider of the approved B Spec parts packages. “Where else can you create a race car from a 2007-2013 base MINI Cooper, add about $7,000 in parts and some tires and have a competitive race car? With a MINI podium sweep, MINI is the big winner for the weekend” commented Davis. “The H Production car requires a lot more effort to get it on track and be competitive. The B Spec kits and set up are basically what you would do if you were taking your street car for a track day. Anyone thinking about taking their performance driving to another level, needs to consider this class. Anybody can turn laps in a car with a big ‘loud” pedal, but these cars require you to learn smooth and fast driving skills that will convert into any car you drive or race”.

Photo credit to Bob Bodle.

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MINI of Charleston Wins the Pirelli World Challenge TCB Championship!

October 6, 2013

 Davis MINI at the Streets of Houston GP

Houston, Texas – The Pirelli World Challenge professional race series crowned their class champions after the final season races this weekend at the Houston Grand Prix race weekend. Robbie Davis in the MINI of Charleston Racing Team 2012 MINI Cooper won the 2013 Class TCB-Spec Championship.

The season finale TCB Class races, two back to back 25 minute races with a 15 minute break to rotate tires, were run as part of the Houston Indy Car race weekend at the 1.6 mile street course around the Reliant Center and Reliant Astrodome in Houston, Texas. Robbie Davis, originally from Summerville, SC and a Clemson University Graduate, had just moved to Houston and was seeking to use a home field advantage to close the one point deficit that stood between Robbie and Ernie Francis, Jr. of Davie, Florida. Serious track surface problems for the low clearance Indy Cars and delays for repairs cancelled the qualifying sessions for the Pirelli World Challenge teams. The first race would start based on driver points, with Francis on the pole and Davis next to him. At the green flag, Joel Lipperini got a good jump on the two front row cars and made it three wide going into the tight turn one chicane. Davis’ MINI was forced outside onto a part of the track that was still covered with concrete dust from the attempted track repair the night before. The rear of the MINI slid out and began a spin back across the track. Francis Jr. cut his Mazda 2 hard to the left to avoid Davis and hit the wall along with the MINI. Francis’ car was damaged beyond being able to complete the race, but Rob’s MINI, although suffering cosmetic damage, mechanically was still sound. The mishap dropped Davis to 19th, but he was able to set the fastest race lap and come back through most of the field, finishing 8th. The race was won by Tyler Palmer of Oceanside, Ca. in his 2010 MINI Cooper.

 

Race 2 started with the cars lined up in the order that they finished the first race. Ernie Francis Jr. hopped into the father’s Mazda 2 for this race and had a good drive towards the front, but ultimately was not able to get high enough to have an effect on the final points standings. Davis improved to 7th and Francis Jr. finished 8th. Palmer went on to win race two and move himself up to 4th in the final points standings; Ernie Francis Jr. finished 3rd in points and Pittston, Pa.’s Joel Lipperini brought his Honda Fit to 2nd in points. The final championship points after the 14 race series were:

Robbie Davis (MINI of Charleston/MINIUSA.com-MINI Cooper)       1382 points

Joel Lipperini (Race Labz – Honda Fit)                                          1352 points

Ernie Francis Jr. (Hydraulic Jeans – Mazda 2)                                 1345 points

At the awards presentation Sunday evening, Robbie Davis thanked his father for being this mentor for his racing career and noted that it was almost exactly 10 years since his first drive in a race car with his Dad next to him screaming instructions. Robbie also thanked Stuart Kestenbaum of Charleston and Chris McAlister of Charlotte who served as Rob’s volunteer crew all season.

Davis and the MINI of Charleston team had 3 wins; 8 top 3 finishes and all 14 finishes in the top 8 or better. Davis also lead the most laps 3 races, fastest qualifier twice and set the fastest race lap in 4 races.

Davis MINI in a Honda Fit Sandwich

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Hot racing action at Lime Rock Park

Lakeville, Connecticut – The same rain that swamped the entire East Coast last week created some steamy conditions and hot racing action at Lime Rock Park, the famous 1.53 mile road course, 2 hours outside New York City. Lime Rock hosted rounds 4-6 of the Pirelli World Challenge Series over the July Fourth Holiday. The MINI of Charleston/MINI USA/MINI Financial Services MINI Cooper carried Robbie Davis to a fourth place qualifying position for Thursday’s first 25 minute sprint race. Starting on the pole was fellow MINI driver Johan Schwartz (Denmark) in the Sneed Speed MINI Cooper, and rounding out the top 3 were Joel Lipperini (Pittston, Pa) in a Honda Fit and Ernie Francis, Jr. (Davie. Fla.) in a Mazda 2. Early in the race the MINIs of Schwartz, Davis and Charlie James were able to pull out a lead on the rest of the field. When Johan’s MINI suffered a mechanical problem, Robbie Davis took the lead, but was still pressured by James and Francis. However the duo of Francis and James (entering the weekend first and second in the championship points) had some racing that was too close and Francis went into the guard rail, ruining his race and points lead. Davis maintained the lead, winning his first Pirelli World Challenge TCB win, with James (Joplin, Mo.) finishing in second and Tyler Palmer (Oceanside, Ca.) finishing third in his MINI Cooper, making it a 1-2-3 MINI sweep of the podium.

In the second sprint race, Davis grabbed the class lead at the start and stayed out in front for a flag to flag win and his second PWC win. Tyler Palmer found additional speed in the 2nd race and was able to get around Charlie James and pressure Rob, but could never get close enough to threaten a pass. MINIs again sweep the podium positions, with James and Palmer switching places for a Davis/Palmer/James finish.

Round 6 featured James with the pole from turning the fastest race lap in round 5 and Davis next to him in front. Coming through the field with great drives were the Honda of Lipperini and the Mazda of Francis. Lipperini was able to grab the top spot and lead for many laps, but Davis hunted him down and made a pass for the lead, but was unable to hold it, with his tires going away causing handling problems. James was battling Francis and suffered a wreck when lapping a back marker. Davis spun twice late in the race and finished 8th. Luckily for the MINI camp, Tyler Palmer again had a great race and put his MINI in third behind winner Lipperini and 2nd place Francis.

With Francis’ problems on Thursday and James’ accident Saturday, Davis and the MINI of Charleston team used the 2 victories on July Fourth to lift Davis into the Championship Points lead.

The series continues next week for rounds 7/8, running on the card with the Indy Cars in the Streets of Toronto event, Saturday July 12th.

Also in team news, the SCCA Nationals Majors Tour, Eastern Conference wrapped up their season last weekend at Watkins Glen, New York. Father and team manager Brad Davis and son Robbie Davis were awarded trophies as their class champions and both also clinched SCCA Southeast Division Championships, Brad in H Production and Robbie in B Spec.

The full race videos are available at http://www.world-challengetv.com/ or the two hour race recap show will air on the NBC Sports Network on July 20th at 4PM.

MINI of Charleston is the exclusive supplier of the race kits used to convert street 2007-2013 MINI Coopers to B Spec race cars.

For additional information contact Brad Davis 843 402-6551 or brad.davis@hendrickauto.com

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New Circuit of the Americas in Austin Texas

Austin, Texas – The MINI of Charleston racing team started its 2013 professional racing season at the fabulous new Circuit of the Americas in Austin Texas. The Circuit of the Americas track (COTA) was built last year as the new home for the American venue for Formula 1. The MINI of Charleston racing team competed in the Pirelli World Challenge Series races that were support races last weekend for the premier US visit of the world famous Australian V8 Supercar Series. Just fewer than 70,000 spectators braved the 95+ degree heat to watch two exciting days of racing.

Driving the MINI USA/MINI Financial Services B Spec MINI Cooper, Robbie Davis qualified 2nd for the first race Saturday morning. Robbie got pushed to the outside of the exciting turn one and dropped from the 2nd position on the start, but stayed in the lead pack the entire race, eventually finishing 5th. MINI was well represented as Charlie James in the Saferacer MINI finished 2nd behind winner Ernie Francis Jr. in a Mazda 2. Francis of Davie, Florida became the youngest ever Pirelli World Challenge winner, at age 15. Rounding out the MINI top 10 was Johan Schwartz in his Endurance Karting MINI Cooper in fourth, Davis in fifth and Mike Asselta in another Saferacer MINI finishing 7th.   The Formula 1 track uses some high curbs to keep the quick F1 cars from cutting the corners, but the TCB class cars hopped and jumped over them, occasionally getting launched onto 2 or fewer wheels!

After a ten minute break for a quick tire change or tire rotation, the cars hit the track for the 2nd race of the day. Robbie got a much better start in the MINI of Charleston MINI Cooper and established himself as a front runner in race number 2. At the end of the sprint race, Francis again pulled out a lead on the MINIs on the straightaway (MINIs are required to run an inlet air restrictor cutting the air flow to the engine from 60mms to 33mms). Charlie James of Joplin, Missouri again put the Saferacer MINI in 2nd and Davis made his first ever podium appearance in Pirelli World Challenge with a 3rd place finish.

Sunday’s race featured a PWC trademark standing start (also a first for Robbie), and his 2012 MINI Cooper responded well again putting him in the lead pack, a position he maintained the entire 45 minute race. Joel Lipperini of Pittston, Pa. lead for the first 12 laps before a car in a faster class made a pass on the lead TCB cars in turn one, causing Joel to take a slower entrance than normal. Davis made contact with Lipperini and Joel move back to 4th and was unable to regain the lead draft. Francis also took advantage of the jumble in turn one and took the lead, never to look back. Davis and James ran nose tail for the rest of the race with the podium looking just like race 2, Francis 1st; James 2nd; Davis 3rd.

Leaving Texas, Davis and his MINI of Charleston team is in third place in the driver’s championship standings. The next races in the series will be the Fourth of July at Lime Rock Park in Lakeville Connecticut. The Austin races were filmed by the NBC Sports Network and the COTA race will air June 16th at 5 PM. Set your DVRs!

For Additional information contact Brad Davis at 843 402-6551 or brad.davis@hendrickauto.com. MINI of Charleston is the exclusive supplier of parts required to convert a street MINI into a B Spec race car.

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The MINI of Charleston Racing Team made an early May statement

Summit Point, West Virginia – The MINI of Charleston Racing Team made an early May statement by using the SCCA Majors Tour event at the 2.0 mile Summit Point Raceway to dominate both classes the team competes in for the SCCA National Racing Series. In B Spec, Robbie Davis dominated and won from the pole both days, setting a new lap record of a 1:33.033 (just under 90mph). Rob’s drive was his last tune-up before his professional racing series starts in two weeks as he and the 2012 MINI of Charleston, MINI USA, MINI Financial Services #37 join the Pirelli World Challenge series at the Circuit Of The Americas Formula 1 track in Austin Texas. Currently Rob’s race group has 20 cars entered with drivers from all over the country and one driver from Australia. Of the twenty TCB (B Spec) cars, seven are MINIs.

MINI of Charleston team manager and amateur racer Brad Davis had a more difficult race weekend than son, Robbie. Brad’s 2002 MINI of Charleston/Mini Mania/Hoosier Tire/Carbotech Brakes MINI Cooper, competed in the H Production class. Although his first stop at this track with this race car, Brad learned to race at Summit and hoped he could remember the way to victory circle in the competitive HP class. Saturday’s race saw the top 4 qualifiers with less than half a second between 1st and 4th. At the start the race quickly became a battle between Davis, Martin Burk (Honda CRX)of Summit Point and Tom Broring (Triumph Spitfire) of Derwood, Maryland. For 16 laps the top three swapped positions several times (often several times within the lap) and Davis was leading when a car from another class got stuck in a tire wall after an off course excursion. After two laps behind the pace car the race would come down to a 5 lap shoot-out. On the restart, Davis was able to put another class car between his MINI and Burk and Broring at turn 5. Excited to get back to the front, Burk and Broring hit and spun in turn 6 leaving Davis a 15 second win. Sunday’s race was easier as Davis took the lead at the start and held off Burk for the first several laps until his car faded. Broring stopped to check a tire vibration and fell out of the lead lap. Gregg Ginsburg from Arlington, Va. put his Honda CRX into third to round out the podium.

Both Davises moved into first place in the SCCA National and Majors Points races, in their respective classes.

For Additional Information contact Brad Davis 
Brad.davis@hendrickauto.com

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Pirelli World Challenge Series races

Braselton, Georgia – In another tune-up for the upcoming Pirelli World Challenge Series races, the MINI of Charleston Racing Team headed for the red clay and elevation changes of Road Atlanta for the SCCA National Majors Series double race weekend. Racing in the H Production class, Brad Davis was hoping to come off two straight national wins (Sebring and Roebling Road) and add to his Eastern Region Majors Points lead. Michael Miller in his classic Austin Healy Sprite was the class of the H Prod field, walking away from the field on Saturday and again on Sunday. Saturday Tony Drum brought his Sprite in 2nd, followed by Davis’ 2002 MINI Cooper. The class pits all out classic race cars against newer cars with limited modifications for some great competition. Saturday’s race saw Davis get a better start and was on Miller’s bumper into turn three. However there the fun stopped and Davis found himself behind other class cars that were faster on the long Road Atlanta straightaway, but then hold him up in the corners where the MINI shines. Drum was able to draft past Davis and take over 2nd again. After several laps of being held up in traffic, Davis was able to clear the Porsche, Mazda and BMW that were slowing his lap times and late in the race Davis started closing on Drum for 2nd. Drum’s car started to fade late and with two laps to go, he spun in turn 6 and Davis passed for 2nd.

In the B Spec class, most of the racers are preparing their cars for the Pro Series races that start in May, so Robbie Davis took a walk-away win in both Saturday and Sunday’s races. In the Sunday’s mixed class race Rob started 25th overall and moved up to 22nd at the finish, setting a new Road Atlanta B Spec Lap record in the process with a 1:51.635 averaging 81.91 mph. Son Rob now joins his father who holds the SSC Road Atlanta track record set in 2006. Rob Davis has a large lead on the Eastern Region Majors points after winning 4 our 4 races in B Spec and setting two track record times (Road Atlanta and Sebring). The team will have one more Majors event at Summit Point W. Va. in May before Robbie attacks the B Spec pro series at the new F1 track in Austin Texas; Circuit of The Americas.

For additional information contact Brad Davis

843 402-6551

Brad.davis@hendrickauto.com

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The MINI of Charleston Racing Team traveled to the home track of Roebling Road

Pooler, Ga. – The MINI of Charleston Racing Team traveled to the home track of Roebling Road this weekend to compete on the 9 turn 2.0 mile road course, hosting the SCCA Southeast Division National Championship racing series event. With B Spec MINI Cooper driver Rob Davis tied up with business obligations in Dallas, only Brad Davis, competed in his 2002 MINI Cooper in the modified H Production class. Saturday started with torrential downpours making the morning session seem more like a boat race then a road race. When the afternoon qualifying session began the downpour had changed into a steady light rain, causing a track that would change from minute to minute. Brad hit the track and proceeded to record the fastest lap time in H Prod, but decided to save the rain tires and sit out the last of the session sitting in his race car on the pit road as the crew watched the live timing reports. As feared, the track conditions improved and Andrew Wright in his Triumph Spitfire ran a lap one second quicker than Davis and thought he had secured the pole position for H Prod. But when MINI of Charleston crew Chief Stuart Kestenbaum relayed the information to Davis, still in his race car on pit road, Davis used the remaining minutes to lay down a quicker lap, improving his previous time by 4 seconds and besting Wright for the number 1 qualifying position by 3 seconds.

Sunday saw a complete change in weather and the track dried completely for the afternoon EP, FP, HP and STU race, with 24 cars starting including the 6 H Prod cars. From his HP pole position, Davis grabbed the class lead on the start, but faster class cars that started in the back due to not qualifying or qualifying poorly in the rain, jumbled the field for the first couple of laps. Wright gained on Davis on lap three and came inside the MINI on the end of the front straight attempting to pass Davis into turn one. However the great Carbotech brakes on the MINI allowed Davis to out-brake Wright and maintain the lead. Even thought Brad has many laps on this track, he has only been to this track once before in this car and it too was a rainy weekend. Wright turned his fastest lap on lap 3 and faded, as Davis got faster, finally setting his fastest lap on lap 18. In the process, Davis lapped the entire HP field, except for Wright, of Murfreesboro, Tenn., who was only seconds from getting lapped on the final lap.

With Davis’ flag to flag victory, he takes the Divisional points lead in HP going into the SCCA Majors event in March at Road Atlanta.  

For additional information contact Brad Davis 843 402-6551 or brad.davis@hendrickauto.com.

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