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8th Retro Can-Am 1/24 Scale Race

December 14, 2006

Buena Park, CA After a humiliating defeat in the previous King-track race, the Checkpoint teammates worked harder at finding technical solutions to get back on top, and indeed, they did just that. Mike Steube got divine inspiration in perfecting a chassis design that was at the same time light, forgiving and with added subtle aerodynamic touches, made both "works" cars virtually untouchable during the race. Only Tore Anderson was able to show a decent turn of speed in qualifying, acing de Lespinay who made a poor choice of tires. When the race began, it was all over and the Checkpoint Boys disappeared in the sunset. Pre Race Activity Pre-race testing had the teams of Anderson and Warmack setting record laps, Anderson new lightweight car (78 grams!) clocking a 4.58" on Tuesday, unofficially breaking Dennis Hill’s record, while Bryan was in the 4.6"s. But Anderson’s car was reportedly tough to keep on track as it was rather unpredictable. All bets were still on the Hammer Wagon. Mike Steube built several new cars and also was seen discreetly testing with de Lespinay, trying the MAC Abarth body as justly suggested by Barry Obler. After lots of aero testing and comparison with the Lola and other offerings, Mike decided to use the little 2-liter Can-Am body. What was kept under wraps is that Mike set an effortless 4.48" lap, Philippe also pulling a 4.51" with the same car. The Checkpoint boyz were ready but kept to themselves. Plenty of pre-race testing was performed by others, all trying to find the magic bullet in the form of the fastest FK motor they could find, and some did find a good turn of speed by race day. Was it going to be enough? Tore Anderson put a valiant effort but fell short of stopping the Checkpoint onslaught. By mid-week, Anderson had it all figured out, but today, the Froggies had a better idea. Jay Henry had a rocket, but could not keep it in the groove… Last King race winner Mike Kravitz had a tougher time of it this way around, but handily won the "B" race. Recent convert Rick Salvino could not stay for the race, so handed his car to Barry Obler. Barry is smiling, and has reasons to be. His suggestion led to Mike Steube to use the "body that no one wanted", the MAC Abarth. Indeed, it was the hot ticket for this race, not only finishing 1-2-3 in the "A" race, but also winning the "B". Mike Boemker is also smiling but will no longer be after his disappointing finish in the "A" race. What is Mike "Froggy" Steube doing? Why, cutting a new set of fresh tires for the other frog, his teammate Philippe de Lespinay of course! The resurrected team did some good work, and the proof was in the pudding at the end of the day, as the pair dominated the event. Division 3 honcho Paul Sterrett is not making excuses for his unusual performance: indeed, luck is an important factor in qualifying, and a poor tire choice relegated an otherwise fast machine to the "C" race. Paul had no real opposition there and walked away with the race. Count them, 33 cars. Two cars are missing. Qualifying A record 35 entries showed up with a few notable exceptions: Retro Can-Am racers John Emmons, Larry Shepard and of course Dennis Samson, now moved to Colorado, did not make the race. Fred Hood and Dave Larsen could not come for family reasons. Others had obligations that barred them from showing up. The track power appeared to be a bit weaker than that of the last King-tack race in September, the average qualifying times being somewhat lower. New batteries will replace the current ones quite soon, according to track owner Chris Gallegos. This mattered none to the Checkpoint aces and to Tore Anderson who bettered the previous Retro Can-Am record of 4.66" set by Dennis Hill in September. Anderson set a blistering 4.5405" lap but was unable to back it up in what remained of his qualifying time. Mike cut this by another 5 thousands and backed it up with 3 more laps under 4.5", a sign of things to come. De Lespinay retained the narrower tires used in practice, but the track conditions had changed and he got caught with lack of traction, desperately sliding with a loose car, lap after lap in the low 4.6’s, still good enough for third spot. Mike Hudson was another 1/10th behind with a fine effort from this top-notch Division 2 racer, but it became apparent that the speed loss of his machine was not so much in its motor but in the way the top three cars were able to better keep their speed around some of the track corners, especially around the donut and the lead-on to the straight. The Checkpoint cars were so fast on that top turn that they were able to reach their top speed earlier than most other cars, matching anyone’s speed in the long straight despite less than stellar motors. By the time the cars reached the "dead-man" turn, it was all over for everyone else. Hudson’s car was flat-out punched but scrubbed too much speed around those very corners from mechanical and aerodynamic friction. John Kallas was really hurting in practice but somehow his car came alive while qualifying and he aced Mike Boemker in one of his best efforts so far. Bryan Warmack’s car lost 1/10th from its practice times due to the track conditions. Like de Lespinay, Bryan kept his narrower tires on the car, fighting a loose car. Always improving young Kyle Matthes was the last "A" Main qualifier at 4.82". For comparison, the 8th qualifier in the previous race was Gil Gundersen (who did not race today) at 4.83". The "B" race crowd was led by Rick Salvino, hotly followed by previous race winner Mike Kravitz. Jim Rose was next ahead of a disappointed Adam Friedman, his car unable to repeat the time set in the previous race, possibly due to the seemingly lower track power. Jay Henry hoisted himself from previous doldrums to place himself in the first half of the qualifiers. The "C" race qualifiers were led by Keith Tanaka who shaved 2/10th off his previous time on this track. Mike Brannian and Bob Scott managed to out-qualify Paul Sterrett who ran into tire trouble and could not get his car to work properly on the loose orange qualifying lane. The stars of the "D" race were Ron Sharer and Steve Walker. Former Checkpoint ace Lee Hines, getting back in the groove after a 39-year sabbatical wasting his time with model gliders (with which he won several world championships, no less!) was first of the over-70 brigade, with Earl Sharer next in line. Electric Dreams owner Scott Bader showed up late, was loaned a car by John Kallas but was in a world of hurt and lack of practice and found the going very tough this time around. Visiting Plafit chassis manufacturer’s son, Takashi Bona was kindly loaned a car by Mike Kravitz and managed to get himself in the race. ]Qualifying Order: Pos—Driver————–Body type—-Lap time 1 Mike Steube———–MAC Abarth——–4.4684" * 2 Tore Anderson——–MAC Abarth——–4.5405" ** 3 Philippe de Lespinay–MAC Abarth——4.6328" ** 4 Mike Hudson——–MAC Lola T160——4.7195" 5 John Kallas——–MAC Ferrari 312P—–4.7478" 6 Mike Boemker—-MAC Ferrari 312P—–4.7834" 7 Bryan Warmack–MAC Lola T160——–4.7939" 8 Kyle Matthes——–MAC Lola T160——4.8203" 9 Rick Salvino——-MAC Ferrari 312P—–4.8297" 10 Mike Kravitz———MAC Abarth———4.8649" 11 Jim Rose————MAC Ti22————-4.8697" 12 Adam Friedman—-MAC Abarth———4.8787" 13 Mike Aguirre——MAC Ferrari 312P—-4.8926" 14 Allen Low——–Lancer McLaren M8—4.9025" 15 Jay Henry———-MAC Lola T160——4.9166" 16 Doug Matthes——MAC Lola T160—–4.9808" 17 Dennis Hill———MAC Lola T160——-5.0198" 18 Keith Tanaka—–MAC Ferrari 312P—-5.0284" 19 Mike Brannian——MAC Lola T160—–5.0417" 20 Bob Scott———-ToyTech Ferrari——-5.0655" 21 Paul Sterrett——–MAC Lola T160——5.0692" 22 Ken Dylke———–MAC Lola T160——5.1067" 23 Jeff Easterly—ToyTech McLaren M8A–5.1983" 24 Terry de los Santos–MAC Lola T160—5.2245" 25 Craig Williamson——-MAC Ti22———5.2342" 26 Roger Uusitalo——MAC Ferrari 312P–5.2458" 27 Ron Sharer——–ToyTech Ferrari——-5.2814" 28 Steve Walker——-ToyTech Ti22———5.3082" 29 Lee Hines————MAC Ti22————-5.3962" 30 Gibson Coutley—–Toytech Ferrari——5.4869" 31 Jeff Bell——–Toytech Chaparral 2G—-5.5775" 32 Earl Sharer——MAC Lola T160———-5.5957" 33 Scott Bader——MAC Ferrari 312P——5.9107" 34 Takashi Bona—–MAC Lola T160——–5.9497" 35 Greg Gilbert——-MAC Lola T160——-0.0000" * Retro Can-Am Track Record ** Betters former track record The team that is making progress by leaps and bounds: the father and son team of Kyle and Doug Matthes. This kid is going to make waves, and is no spoiled child, doing his bit in preparing the cars and contributing to the effort. An example to follow for today’s often fractured families Adam Friedman had a rocket car, that is, at the September race. Technical progress was such in the past two months that the car could only post near mid-field times in this one. Adam could not stay for the race. "D" Race The field with the Steube car of Lee Hines on Red, next to the Winged-One of Jeff Bell. From left to right: Earl Shafer, Scott Bader, Ron Sharer (Team Slot Zombie), Gibson Coutley, Steve Walker, Jeff Bell (Team Slot Zombie, check the kool jacket) and Lee Hines (Team Checkpoint). The "D" main was a bit of a crashfest but most survived in one piece. Ron Sharer’s race to lose, but he kept his head cool with a slower car than chasing Steve Walker’s much faster machine. Behind those two, Lee Hines learned to pedal again in the manner in which he used to in the 1960’s when he was a top gun in the Pro-Racing arena. You will all learn about Lee in the soon-to-be-printed book, "Electric Dreams", that will tell the whole story of professional racing in the 1960’s. Scott Bader was not in his best form in 4th place, unable to repeat his previous performances. There are good days, there are bad days. This was one for him but he still had plenty of fun. Old-man Earl Sharer drove a good race ahead of expert accountant Jeff Bell, counting every lost lap driving his winged Chaparral 2G into various walls. It survived intact. Takashi Bona was struggling in this new environment but managed to finish ahead of young Gibson Coutley using his errand but fast car for target practice. Steve Walker, Ron Sharer and Lee Hines survived the massacre "D" Main Results: Pos———–Driver———Body type—-Laps—-Fastest lap 1–Ron Sharer—-ToyTech McLaren M8—–257—5.4292" 2–Steve Walker–ToyTech Ti22—————252—5.1607" * 3–Lee Hines——-MAC Ti22——————-245—5.4885" 4–Scott Bader—-MAC Ferrari 312P———242—5.4898" 5–Earl Sharer—–MAC Lola T160———-238—-5.5413" 6–Jeff Bell——Toytech Chaparral 2G—–231—-5.6002" 7–Takashi Bona—-MAC Lola T160——–230—-5.7084" 8–Gibson Coutley–Toytech Ferrari 612—186—5.4910" * Fastest lap "C" Race Ken Dylke, Keith Tanaka and his Rolling Hills teammate Roger Uusitalo, a lost Paul Sterrett, Craig Williamson, Terry de los Santos, Bob Scott and supremo enthusiast and praying mantis turn marshal Jeff Easterly prepare for the demolition derby. Sit-out Mike Brannian is staying away from the carnage for another heat. Jeff’s McLaren is on Red, next to Bob Scott’s Lola and Terry’s McLaren. The "C" main was a runaway for Paul Sterrett, who put a cool 8 laps cushion between himself and the Best of the Rest, Mike Brannian. Things were a bit tighter behind with a greatly improving Keith Tanaka, for once gathering some racing luck, only one lap from second place. Behind these three, Terry de los Santos managed to edge Ken Dylke’s two-motor machine, while Jeff Easterly survived his battle with Bob Scott. Craig Williamson went off too many times with his 6th place car, while Roger U’s car decided to stop for a few laps to cool its ardors, only to mysteriously re-start and finish without further incidents. Mike Brannian, Paul Sterrett and Keith Tanaka enjoy the limelight. Keith’s Sampson car next to Paul Sterrett’s and the Brannian machine. Variety is indeed the spice of life… The body choice was more conventional with three MAC Ferrari 312P’s. Adam Friedman was first to use an Abarth body, artistically painted by some guy in Oregon responding to the name Jairus Watson or something. The car did not race for unknown reasons. The south pole of Adam’s car shows its clean construction. Note the use of motor clips instead of soldering, a method used by several contestants. Also note the "Pepe Bumper" popularized in the 1970’s by the de Lespinay machines. "C" Main Results: Pos—-Driver————–Body type——Laps—-Fastest lap 1–Paul Sterrett———–MAC Lola T160—-278—-4.8787" * 2–Mike Brannian———-MAC Lola T160—270—5.1574" 3–Keith Tanaka——–MAC Ferrari 312P—269—-5.1106" 4–Terry de los Santos—-MAC Lola T160—265—5.1091" 5–Ken Dylke—————MAC Lola T160—265—-5.1604" 6–Jeff Easterly———-ToyTech McLaren —259–5.2688" 7–Bob Scott————–MAC Lola T160——256—5.4297" 8–Craig Williamson—–MAC Ti22————-250—5.2691" 9–Roger Uusitalo——–MAC Ferrari 312P–245—5.2688" * Fastest lap Ken Dylke’s twin-engine car was a lot faster than most predicted. At 160 grams, it was the race’s heavyweight. "B" Race The "B" main event was all Mike Kravitz’s race. Mike built a 7-lap cushion between himself and Doug Matthes with a faster car. But Mike’s racing experience and smooth driving made the difference, while relatively newcomer Matthes still has a few tricks to learn. Behind them, the race was filled with numerous and spectacular crashes. Dennis Hill struggled to a third place finish with a car that was quite fast but unpredictable, setting fastest race lap. Barry Obler took over Rick Salvino’s car and drove steadily into 4th place with a substantially slower car. Allen Low, Jim Rose and Jay Henry rounded the crashfest. Mike Aguirre was a non starter for unknown reasons at time of publishing. Dennis Hill, Mike Kravitz and Doug Matthes share the glory. Huge variety in chassis design, with Doug Matthes’s Samson unit at left, the Kravitz machine and Dennis Hill’s lightweight. The heaviest of the three handily won the race. Since many people have discovered that the Can-Am bodies do indeed survive for several races, the appearance of the cars have vastly improved. Another bonus of racing cars with reasonable speed, rather than speed monsters with little left of an automobile appearance. Hill’s Lola is at left, Kravitz’s Abarth and Matthes’s Lola. "B" Main Results: Pos———Driver———Body type——Laps—–Fastest lap 1—-Mike Kravitz———MAC Abarth——–284—–4.8273" 2—-Doug Matthes—-MAC Lola T160——277——4.7187" 3 —Dennis Hill———MAC Lola T160——271—–4.7787" * 4—-Barry Obler——MAC Ferrari 312P—-270—–4.9900" 5—-Allen Low——Lancer McLaren M8—-263—–5.0510" 6—-Jim Rose————MAC Ti22———–263——4.9993" 7—-Jay Henry——–MAC Lola T160 ——259——5.1093" 8—-Mike Aguirre——–MAC Lola T160—-DNS—-0.0000" * Fastest lap "A" Race (Main Event) Anderson painted this back-up Lola car in shades of pink, but did not appear to like the color. I do! Give it to me, I’ll paint over the name! The Steube machine ready to pounce on the red lane. Anderson, Warmack, Kallas, Hudson, Boemker, Matthes and Steube awaiting the start of the race. At long last it was time for the fastest guys on a single lap to show their true mettle, and that, they did. At the drop of the flag, Philippe de Lespinay took an immediate and strong lead over Mike Steube, the two Checkpoint aces literally leaving Tore Anderson’s Hammer Wagon as well as all others in a cloud of silver dust. Despite the apparently weaker track power, Philippe’s 38 laps on the green lane in the first heat constitutes a new record for a single race segment on this track for the Retro Can-Am class. He also set the race’s fastest lap at a speed that would have been near pole position in the September race. Mike Steube was 2 laps behind after the first heat, having a tough time to keep up with Philippe’s flying car and crashing a bit too much trying. Bryan Warmack was doing quite well in 3rd place but was already 3 laps in arrears, actually in the same lap as all others except Tore Anderson, hurting on the black lane with only 34 laps in his account, and Kyle Matthes another one down. The second to fifth segments told much of the same story, de Lespinay keeping his 2-lap advantage over this teammate while Anderson regrouped and passed everyone else to settle in third place, but far back already from the Philippe and Mike’s flying Abarths. Others had a bit of trouble and Kyle Matthes was now in 5th place, ahead of Bryan Warmack now hurting for traction and speed, while John Kallas and Mike Boemker were going backwards fast. Then it happened: in the sixth heat, the errand car of poor John Kallas caused a melee on the top turn and Philippe’s car was caught in it, then got torpedoed by another car in the switchback, deranging its body and loosing him all his advantage and then some. Now Mike Steube took the lead and never relinquished it, and the two Checkpoint aces distanced themselves from all others in an intense battle that kept them in the same lap, side by side, for much of the 7th segment. In the final leg, Philippe’s wounded car now on the red lane could not keep up with Mike’s on the fast white lane, so he went into cruise mode, happy that Mike got his deserved win, and that’s how it ended, Mike Steube decisively winning and greatly deserving of it. Today, Anderson’s Hammer got hammered by the Checkpoint’s anvil, by the two most efficient cars on the track today. Tore was humble about it and profusely congratulated the Checkpoint men for their success. Mike Hudson was 4th within reaching distance of Anderson’s car after a tough race, but fell just short of it after a terrific drive and nearly setting the fastest lap in the race. Bryan Warmack was elated to finish in 5th place, edging young Kyle Matthes by a mere lap. At the end, Boemker somehow edged John Kallas for the coveted 7th spot. Philippe de Lespinay raises Mike Steube’s hand as a celebration of Mike’s triumph, the net result of his hard work. Tore Anderson fought a valiant battle but there was no beating the Checkpoint boys today Scott Bader presented the new Electric Dreams T-shirts to the winners. Philippe models his for the picture while Tore checks the cotton content to make sure it’s the real thing. Mike already knows it is. Anderson’s "Thor’s Hammer Wagon" at left, with added brass to help keep it from flying, with Steube’s latest in center. De Lespinay’s Steube car is at right, with its weight written on the side pan. Anderson and Steube used Falcon V’s, Philippe a TSRF mill The three MAC Abarth after the battle, with the damaged car of de Lespinay at left. Mike’s "Frog Nation" car looks relatively intact, Anderson’s like new. Today, this Frogmobile ruled. What will be the story at the next race? So far, the three top finishers have shared most of the Retro Can-Am wins and placings… Another picture of the winning machine. At 94 grams, it is as light as Mike dared. Its construction is very simple but the result speaks for itself. "A" Main Results: Pos——-Driver————–Body type———–Laps—–Fastest lap 1–Mike Steube————MAC Abarth———293 **—-4.7185" 2–Philippe de Lespinay–MAC Abarth ——-289 *—–4.6695" * 3–Tore Anderson——–MAC Abarth———281——–4.8788" 4–Mike Hudson———-MAC Lola T160 —-281——–4.6699" 5–Bryan Warmack——MAC Lola T160—–280——–4.8811" 6–Kyle Matthes———-MAC Lola T160—–279——–4.8294" 7–Mike Boemker——–MAC Ferrari 312P–264——–4.9897" 8–John Kallas———–MAC Ferrari 312P—262——–5.0490" * Fastest lap ** Exceeds previous record

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