2012 Grand AM/Total Performance Showcase racing series

The MINI of Charleston Racing team concluded the 2012 Grand AM/Total Performance Showcase racing series with an excellent showing at the final race at Lime Rock Park in Lakeville, Connecticut. Lime Rock is famous for being one of the shortest road race courses in America, at only 1.5 miles in length and 9 turns, but it has extreme elevation changes and for the B Spec cars is almost flat out all the way around the track, averaging just below 83mph.

Friday Qualifying, in the rain, found the MINI of Charleston team on the pole with Johan Schwartz of Charlotte, North Carolina, faster by better than 1.5 seconds to the 2nd qualifier. Johan’s first drive ever in a B Spec MINI was extremely impressive, carrying the Sawaya Segalas/Endurance Karting/Instrument Mart 2008 MINI Cooper thought a pouring rain and never setting a wheel off track. Johan, who is a driving instructor for the BMW Performance Center in Greer, spent the weekend hoping in an out of a 560 horsepower BMW M5 into the roughly 112 horsepower (restricted throttle size to balance competition) MINI Cooper. MINI of Charleston team member Robbie Davis had a business commitment and was unable to make the first qualifying session and would have to wait until Saturday morning to make his first ever laps at Lime Rock.

Saturday morning qualifying found the track dry and right for Johan to again set the session’s fastest lap. “The handling on these MINIs is simply incredible, considering they are front wheel drive cars with limited suspension modifications. They’re a lot of fun to drive”, said Schwartz.  Halfway through the 20 minute session, Davis figured out how to move his MINI into the second starting position. Saturday afternoon’s race was set with a MINI of Charleston front row.

On the start, Schwartz took the lead and moved out of trouble as Davis got hit in the rear by Todd Buras’ Ford Fiesta in turn two. Robbie spun off the track and slid back into traffic, contacting fellow MINI driver Ed Magner. Both cars continued, but were a long way behind the leaders. Up front a tight battle raged between Johan and Honda Fit driver Joel Lipperini from Pittson, Pa. Joel is a 3 time SCCA National Champion in Showroom stock racing and knows his way around Lime Rock. After a tight battle, Joel was able to get around Johan for the lead, but the two were rarely separated by more than inches. Showing great car control and professionalism, Johan attempted every maneuver possible, except hitting Lipperini, but was unable to get back by him for the lead. At the finish Schwartz was only 0.143 seconds behind.

Meanwhile plenty of great racing was happening elsewhere in the field. MINI driver Brian Audet of Alexandria, Virginia was tied up in a tough fight with Todd Buras’ Fiesta for 3rd place. Audet got past Buras late in the race and was closing on the leaders at the end of the race. Meanwhile, Davis climbed through the field after his early spin, setting the fastest race lap in the process. Davis got back to 4th, but was held up by a lapped car in the last turn, allowing Buras to regain 4th, relegating Robbie to 5th place, his first race of the season not on the podium. “I wish I had seen Audet’s in-car camera footage before the race ended” said Davis, “if I had known Todd was the one that ‘helped’ me go sideways at the start, I might have made it more difficult for him to get by at the end!”

2012 Grand AM Total Performance Showcase highlights for MINI of Charleston/MINI USA/MINI Financial Services team (six race series):

Two victories (Robbie Davis @ New Jersey Motorsports Park and Mazda Raceway at Laguna Seca)

Three 2nd place finishes (R Davis @ Homestead; R Davis @ Mid-Ohio; J Schwartz @ Lime Rock)

Two 3rd place finishes (R Davis @ Watkins Glen; B Davis @ Laguna Seca)

For the MINIUSA.com Team, the numbers are even greater:

Three wins (R Davis @ NJMP; Brian Audet @ Mid-Ohio; R Davis @ Laguna Seca)

Four 2nds (R Davis @ Homestead; B Audet @ NJMP; B Davis @ Mid-Ohio; J Schwartz @ LRP)

Three 3rds (R Davis @ WG; B Davis @ Laguna; B Audet @ LRP)

Additionally the MINIUSA.com team recorded four pole positions (R Davis @ NJMP; Ed Magner @ Mid-Ohio; R Davis @ Laguna; J Schwartz @ LRP) and the MINI Team also recorded the fastest race lap at every event of the season (R Davis @ Homestead; Chip Howell @ NJMP; B Audet @ Mid-Ohio; E Magner @ WGI; R Davis @ Laguna; R Davis @ LRP)

“What a great starting season to what is going to be the tightest, most competitive class anywhere!”, said team manager Brad Davis. “MINI of Charleston wants to thank MINI USA, Grand AM and the SCCA for helping get this great class off the ground in 2012 and look for great numbers of cars competing in 2013.” MINI of Charleston is the exclusive distributor of the race parts required to convert a 2007-2012 MINI into a B Spec race car for Grand AM, World Challenge, SCCA, NASA, BMW Car Club and Canadian Tour Car B spec classes.

For additional Information contact : Brad Davis MINI of Charleston 843 402-6551 or Brad.davis@hendrickauto.com

Photo credit to Motorwerks Magazine.

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