Topeka , Kansas : MINI Coopers dominated the Showroom Stock “C” Championship race during the SCCA National Championship event at Heartland Park Topeka Race Course. The Runoffs are the largest amateur racing event in the US , with over 700 competitors meeting to determine the SCCA National Champion in 25 racing classes.
Friday 26 competitors finished a week of practice and qualifying with an 18 lap sprint race on the challenging 2.5 mile, 14 turn Heartland Park road course. The field for the SSC race included drivers from both coasts and everywhere in between. The field was a mixture of Mazda 3’s, a Mazda Protégé, several Dodge Neons, a Chevrolet Cobalt, 8 Honda Civic SI’s and 9 MINI Cooper S’s. Defending 2005 National Champion Pete Taylor put his 2005 MINI Cooper S on the pole and led the field into the first turn. After the dust, tire smoke and flying parts cleared in turn one, the MINI drivers began to assume a dominate role in the race. Only the first lap incident damaged MCS of Fred Pignataro (from East Northport , New York ) failed to make the finish in the top 14. This incident also effectively eliminated any chance for 7-time National Champion John Heinricy from adding an SSC Championship to his list of T1 class and American Sedan class titles. Taylor held off an early challenge to post his second SSC National Championship win. John Saucier of Midwest City, Oklahoma finished 2nd in a 2005 Mazda 3 and Ralph Porter from Kokomo, Indiana brought his 2004 MINI Cooper S to the podium in third place. The 2005 MINI Cooper S of Jonathan Start (Caledonia, Michigan) was 5th followed by the MINIs of Richard Cullen (Marshfield, Maine) and Brad Davis (Summerville, South Carolina) competing the top ten MINI Parade in 8th and 10th respectively. Also finishing in the top half of the field in MINIs were Wiley Timbrook ( Arvada , Colorado ) in 11th, James Place ( San Antonio , Texas ) in 12th and James McCarthy ( Smithtown , New York ) in 14th.
The MINI of Charleston team of Brad Davis, Rick Butler and James Overby spent time making sure that their fellow MINI teams had the parts and technical assistance that some competitors required to make MINI USA proud. The new venue at Heartland Park was difficult to learn and very unforgiving when the drivers miscalculated and left the racing surface. Bent struts and wires cut by a non-factory exhaust hanger were the easier repairs. But the rare internal damage to Pete Taylor’s MINI transaxle on Thursday proved a lot more challenging. Since transaxle failures are not everyday occurrence, the MINI of Charleston Parts team regretfully informed Pete and Brad the only units in dealer inventory were in Atlanta and Miami . With the race less than 24 hours away, this was not the answer the reigning Champion and pole sitter wanted to hear. Luckily, earlier in the week Brad had a discussion with a fellow MINI/BMW Dealer, Tim Brecht from San Diego , California and knew that Tim had brought the Brecht MINI Cooper S to Topeka , even though the qualifying driver was not able to attend. Tim gladly offered the transaxle from their car and all that was left was a transplant from that car to Pete’s car. Lying on the cold asphalt, Pete, his crew and MINI of Charleston team member Rick Butler, did the swap in record time before darkness and record cold set in. Brad and two techs from Classic BMW in Texas patched the Brecht MINI back together and rolled it back to the Brecht transporter. It is this type of camaraderie and cooperation that make the SCCA such a great organization. The Friday morning warm-up drew a big thumbs up from Pete and his title defense was not lost to a freak mechanical problem.
“I had hoped to bring home a top ten from Topeka and we did.” said MINI of Charleston driver Brad Davis. “It was a very difficult track to learn and the week is so busy our practice laps were limited. I drover faster during the race with a full fuel load then I did in qualifying, showing I was still learning the track during the race. Most of the top teams tested and practiced the week prior to the Runoffs, by my work schedule made that impossible. The mid-western drivers also have a lot of time on this track and definitely have the home field advantage on this busy track.” The team concluded the season with a top ten at the Runoffs and a Southeastern Division Championship, a credit to the support of MINI USA, Hoosier Tires and Carbotech Brakes.
Congratulations are also due from September to Wendi Allen for repeating as the G Stock Ladies Solo Champion in a MINI of Charleston MINI Cooper S and to Heather Everette and Donna Frank for placing 2nd and 3rd in the H Stock Ladies Solo Championship, driving a MINI of Charleston MINI Cooper.
The solo and racing teams look forward to a couple of month’s time off until the season restarts in January with two SCCA Nationals in Florida . “We have some exciting plans for the 2007 season if we can get our hands on the all new 2007 MINI Cooper S and look forward to SEDiv 2nd place driver Robbie Davis taking the lead in the 2005 car for next season, with a Divisional Championship and National Title challenge in the plans”, said Brad Davis.
For additional Information, contact Brad Davis @ 843 402-6551 or firstname.lastname@example.org.