MINI of Charleston Racing Team starts the season with a big win
Charleston , SC – The MINI of Charleston SCCA Showroom Stock racing team returned from the season opening Florida road trip with 3 podium finishes, including the team’s first victory of the season at Sebring International Raceway.
The Southeast Division (SEDiv) of the Sports Car Club of America kicks off the season each year with three races in early January with SCCA National Series races in Florida the first two weekends of January. The Double National races at the new Palm Beach Raceway (formerly Moroso Raceway) were the first events at the new 2.0 mile, recently redesigned, repaved and renovated road course. Robbie Davis, the defending SEDiv SSB Champion, was on hand with the MINIUSA.com 2005 MINI Cooper S to begin his title defense. Quickly learning a new track, it looked like Rob would be giving the competition a run for the win, but a rare and late qualifying mechanical problem made the car a challenge to race. In race one on the first lap, a first turn spin found Robbie driving hard to get himself back in the race, managing a 3rd place in class finish. In race two, Robbie voluntarily moved himself to the back for the field for the start in case the mechanical problem might cause another problem under hard braking during the start. Rob soon mastered driving around the problem and steadily came through the field moving from 26th starting position to 17th during the 23 lap race. On the last lap he went side by side with Ken Payson from Worchester , Maine , finishing right behind Ken for another 3rd in SSB.
The following weekend the Series moved to the famous 3.7 mile 17 turn Sebring International Raceway. Even more drivers from all over the country filled the 220 car event. After a quick repair to the ABS system from our new friends at Braman MINI in West Palm Beach , the team felt ready for a better finish at Sebring. A Thursday test day allowed team manager, Brad Davis his first opportunity to drive the famous track in the morning and the afternoon was spent with Robbie in the car trying to improve on his times from the previous two trips to Sebring. Saturday morning the MINI of Charleston team confidently attacked the track for qualifying and after one hot lap, Robbie radioed in the clutch was not working. A freak clutch throw out bearing failure (that’s way we race them in stock form to find out these things before the customers!) left the team without a working race car. Without mechanic and crew chief Rick Butler making the trip, the mechanical repair was in the hands of team manager Brad Davis. “Robbie and crew member Adolph Kosobucki’s blind confidence that we could make such a major repair on the car while laying on our backs on the concrete, made me crazy enough to say, ‘let’s start tearing it apart (no easy job on a showroom stock front wheel drive car!)’”, said the older Davis.
Eleven hours, many cut knuckles and a few unsavory words latter; the car was ready for the Sunday race. A Sunday morning warm up found the car ready to go. Top Qualifier Mike Scornavacchi from Manheim , Pa dropped out, unable to fix an engine miss computer problem on his Pontiac Solstice. Robbie moved from 4th place starting position in the 6 car field to 3rd for the start. Richard Cullen of Marshfield , Maine took the early lead with Robbie Davis passing Ken Payson in his Mazda Miata on the start. Robbie stayed in Cullen’s Honda Civic SI’s rear view mirror until the Honda’s brakes faded and Robbie took the lead on lap 8. Payson stayed about 1-2 seconds behind Davis for many laps but his tires faded and in the end Robbie walked away with his first 2009 win, over 8 seconds ahead of Payson. Robbie said after the race, “I had to talk my Dad out of putting the car in the trailer and heading home Saturday. But I was confident, or stupid, we could get the car back on the track. What a great way to win your first race of the season.”
Robbie left Florida and returned home with the divisional points lead by 2 points over Palm Beach twin race winner Scornavacchi. The next race on the schedule will be March 7-8 at Savannah ’s Roebling Road Raceway.
For additional information, contact Brad Davis at MINI of Charleston 843 402-6551