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Great Lakes GTS season end race weekend recap


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You want to talk about a barn-burner of a Regional Championship? How about the fact a total of nine (count 'em, NINE) Great Lakes Regional Championship positions in three different GTS classes were up for grabs based on the results of the season's final race this past Saturday afternoon at Putnam Park?


THAT is close.


And, with everything on the line, nothing to lose, and a whole winter ahead to do repairs, the racing was fast and furious. But there were TWO races on Saturday to let us get the season finished before Saturday night's Awards Banquet, so the hard racing started early and grew with a crescendo toward the final few laps.


However, before I can tell you that story, I need to give you some quick background on the GTS points system because, believe me, we are going to use every bit of it. So, without further ado, a quick points refresher:


The regional points system


Our Regional Championship standings are based on the points earned in NASA Great Lakes races (and cross-over events). Points are accumulated by racing class so that if you sometimes race in one class and other times in another, you will have points in each of those classes but the points from each class will be kept separate. Points are awarded based on your finishing position, as follows:


1st place: 100 points

2nd place: 90 points

3rd place: 85 points

4th place: 80 points

5th place: 75 points

6th place: 70 points

7th place: 69 points

8th place: 68 points


...and so on, decreasing one point per place thereafter. Ah, but that's only if you're a "starter who is also considered a finisher." To be considered a starter, you must "...cross the starting line under 'green track conditions,' with a car under its own power, at some time during the race, before the checkered flag is displayed."


Remember this. It came into play.


To be considered a finisher, "...a driver must complete at least half the distance covered by the winning car of his/her class." This matters because if you are a starter for a race but not a finisher you will then earn half the number of points of the last place finisher, which is not a lot. This came into play, too.


Just to make matters more interesting, we only count your 10 best finishes. There were 16 races this season. If you ran all of them, only your ten best finishes count toward the Regional Championship. This is intended to keep the championship from being an attendance award but it also means that once you're past 10 races all you can do to increase your points total is have a better finish than your worst. This came into play in this year's championship.


Finally, if after all this there's a tie, there is a tie-breaking procedure. First, of course, we look at the points from your 10 best finishes. If those are the same, then they look at your "unadjusted" points, the total points you earned over the season without drops. Still tied? Then the number of firsts, then the number of seconds, and so on, until somebody wins. This, TOO came into play in this year's standings.


Finally, you must have seven starts to qualify for regional awards. Another factor which weighed in.


Given all that background, here's what actually happened....





Going into Saturday's--and the season's final--two races, John Graber led Ed Baus by 70 points. But Graber had 10 races in that total and Baus had only 9. Graber had managed just two wins on the season but had never finished lower than second, which meant the best he could do was replace two of those seconds with a pair of wins and add 20 more points to his total. That would put him 90 ahead.


Baus, on the other hand, had a total of five wins but also a pair of third-place finishes in his total. With only 9 races to his name, Ed would get full credit for his best weekend finish but only the difference between one of his thirds (85 points) and the lesser of his two finishes (if it was better than third). Graber had earned more TOTAL points so a tie-breaker would go in his favor which meant Baus needed an outright win.


But, he wasn't worried. Assuming Graber won both races, a pair of seconds would give Ed a net 95 additional points and give him the championship by a narrow-but-good-enough 5-point margin. Piece of cake.


Or so he thought.


It turns out Graber and Baus weren't the only two GTS1 racers on the track. They were joined by Christian Cook, Paul Milligan and Greg Panik, all of whom had other ideas about who should or should not be finishing at the front.


Saturday's two-race format meant one qualifying session would have to do for both races. With 52 cars in the Lightning group spread over just 1.8 miles of track, clear road for a terrific qualifying lap was mostly non-existent. But the problem was the same for everybody and Graber, Baus, Milligan and Cook qualified in that order with times closer than second cousins in Kentucky--just 0.407 seconds covered the lot of them--with Panik threatening from two seconds back.


At the start, Graber and Baus--starting on and off-pole, respectively, for the second wave of starts--looked like they'd been chained together at the door handles. All the way down the front straight they ran dead even, side by side, and continued at it through 1, then 2, and then 3 until FINALLY the left handed turn 4 forced Graber to concede the lead and tuck in about 8 inches off the rear bumper of Baus' flying green Politzei Porsche.


It would have been off to the races at that point if not for about a dozen Miatas from the first start who all wanted to be the first one through the tight turn 7 and, in the process of fighting about it packed up a big box of carnage; enough to bring out a full-course black flag while they cleaned up the mess.


When the racing resumed, it was a single start of all remaining cars and our boys were in the middle of MiataWorld. Running 2- to 3 seconds faster than all but a few of the Mazdas, the entire race from that point forward was in heavy traffic for all the GTS1 cars.


Immediately, it was Baus in front with Graber nipping at his bumper. Really. Nipping or, in other parts of the country, bump-drafting. Pretty much everywhere. Graber knew he needed to win to keep his championship chances alive and he was doing everything in his power to make it past.


Graber finally slipped by when Baus was stymied by a backmarker. Now the shoe was on the other foot and it was Baus who was doing the nipping. The two of them stayed close--CLOSE--together and Baus made numerous attempts at passes but just could not make anything stick.


While the two of them were taking pot-shots at one another, Milligan and Cook, who had lost ground early due to traffic, were slowly but surely closing the gap to the leaders. Each lap Graber and Baus fought one another and each lap Milligan, in particular, inched closer.


As the white flag flew, Milligan was nearly within striking distance of Baus and it was clear to everyone watching that he was leaving nothing on the table. Finally, under braking into the tight turn 7, Milligan made it fully up to Baus's bumper. With a good run out of turn 8, Milligan saw his chance under braking for the right-hander turn 9 where Baus had moved left to try get himself a run for one last shot at Graber when they exited onto the front straight for the last time. Instead, and to Ed's surprise, Milligan fired his car into the gap on the inside of the turn and now that easy second was starting to look a whole lot like a possible third.


Remember, Baus needed two second place finishes to win the championship and Paul Milligan, well, Paul Milligan was looking for another free Hoosier and really didn't care WHAT Ed needed. The two of them went absolutely side-by-side through 9, down the hill and around 10--even touching slightly at the apex of 10--and raced to the line with Milligan eking out second place by a scant 0.123 seconds.


It was without question the best race I saw all year with excellent, close, fair driving by all, a critical win for Graber and a terrific clutch pass by Milligan just two turns from the end.


But that left Baus with a problem. With a third place finish in the first race, all his championship scenarios had filtered down to one simple reality: To win the championship, he needed to win the race. Anything less and it all went to Graber. The entire year was now down to a 16-lap shoot-out and they both knew it.


Race number two started just like the first race had with Baus and Graber welded together at the door handles down the front straight, through turns 1, 2 and 3, and with Baus finally taking the front spot going through turn 4. This time, though, there was no ball of Miatas; nothing to slow them down. With lighter traffic, Baus was able to inch himself away from Graber's grip and continue on to what I'm sure was a very satisfying win for him (but not NEARLY as good a race to watch for us).


A great way to end a very close season of racing. And best of all, that was just GTS1.


(Graber's race #1 video:





In the regional points race, GTS2 was the closest of all the GTS classes. Five racers, Matt Markowicz, Mike Ward, Brad Waite, Enzo Campagnolo and Scott Good, in that order, were all within striking distance of the podium with Markowicz (865 points) leading Ward (860 points) by just 5 points coming into the weekend.


Ward came into the weekend, spreadsheet in hand, determined to win the championship. With just 5 points between him and Markowicz, and with both already past their full compliment of 10 races, the best either could do was replace a poorer finish with a better one and pick up the incremental points.


Ward had several 80-point fourth-place finishes he could throw on the fire while Markowicz had both a 70-point sixth and a 75-point fifth to offer up to the gods of Royce and Cohn. In non-slippery conditions, Ward's 968 had been consistently faster than Markowicz's AWD Audi so, with perfect conditions expected for the race both had a good chance of pulling out the title.


But they weren't alone.


Waite (762 points), sitting in third, had a mathematical chance to tie Ward for second in the championship but something serious broke during his first practice session on Friday, side-lining him for the weekend.


Campagnolo (655 points) 103 points out of first place with just 7 starts on the year, had the potential to jump over Waite, Ward (11 starts), AND Markowicz (13 starts) to win the thing outright but other commitments for the weekend kept him away from the track stopped his bid for a last-minute steal before it ever got started.


Good (600 points) came into the weekend with only six starts on the year but, with all being 100-point wins and with a possible 200 points to add to the total, had a strong chance of climbing past Waite for third in the championship.


With 50 fast cars on the track, qualifying for Thunder was no less-busy than it had been for Lightning and clear track was nowhere to be found. Good and Ward both put down solid times in the low 1:18s followed by Markowicz with a 1:21 followed by Breck Lewis, Noboru Kamino and Julian Cates, all in the 1:23s, and William Garbato filling out the field of seven cars. Good's and Ward's times were sufficient to put them second and third, respectively, in the overall field of 19 GTS2, 3, 4 and 5 cars, behind the only GTS5 BMW of Jeff Herrmann. As nice as that was, what it meant was that the two lead GTS2 cars were ahead of all of the GTS3 and GTS4 racers, a situation unlikely to last very long given a long straight for the start.


In fact, at the start, and in spite of excellent anticipation of an early green, the two lasted until about halfway down the first straight, at which time they were bum-rushed by faster cars coming around both sides from behind. Good and Ward found themselves already sitting fourth and fifth by turn one thanks to both late and aggressive braking on both their parts at the end of the first straight, but then the race was on. Ward, desperate to pad his points with a win, was giving away nothing.


Early in the race, Roy Lipner and Korey Deason (both GTS3) got together exiting turn 8, Dead Bear, and the resulting fracas saw Good bailing into the grass track left in an (unsuccessful) attempt to avoid the spinning Lipner. Lipner's rear bumper keyed the entire right side of Good's car pushing both fenders slightly into their respective tires a fact about which Good was blissfully unaware until he discovered it after the race.


In spite of the agricultural driving, Good maintained his position. He and Ward ran hard together for most of the race with Good pulling out small margins only to have them grabbed from his hands by the combination of uncooperative traffic and a massively-determined Ward. With three laps remaining, the two charged down the 9/10 hill toward the front straight amid heavy slower traffic. Good, afraid of losing momentum onto the straight, made a low-percentage decision to put two tires deep into the grass at the apex of 10 as he tried to slip past a CMC Firebird. Slip, he did, but not past. Or at least not cleanly. The resulting tail wag was enough to kill his speed and let Ward's superior run through turn 10 propel him into the lead, a position he held despite heavy pressure from Good, through the remaining few laps. The margin of victory: 0.358 seconds. (video of the full race:



Markowicz, for his part, had run a solid race and finished third, 26 seconds back, followed by Breck Lewis and William Garbato, both two laps down.


Ward's win gave him 20 more points toward his championship hopes while Markowicz's third put an extra 15 in his pocket. That meant they would start the final race tied in points. Tied, but Markowicz's lowest-points finish was now 75 where as Ward's was 80, meaning Mike needed to earn 10 points more than Matt to take the outright lead without getting into a tie-breaker.


So, as with GTS1, it all came down to one final race.


Good again got a great start, only to be passed on both sides by faster-class cars. Ward, however, was stymied and a momentary lift cost him several places on the run down to the first corner. Then, going through turns 5 and 6 at the top of the hill he lost the one that mattered most. With a little bang on Ward's right door, the Porsche's windshield was suddenly filled with the four silver rings glistening on the trunk of Markowicz's Audi. (video:



Ward's superior speed helped him claw himself back in front of the Audi but not before Good had managed to open up a substantial lead. But Ward, with one mission in mind, didn't back off and cruise, he continued attacking every turn, every braking zone. In the second half of the race Good found himself stuck behind two battling Factory Fives who either didn't see him or didn't want another car in the middle of their fight. Regardless, held up for nearly a lap he sat helplessly as Ward's red nose reappeared in the mirrors, suddenly looming large.


For the remaining laps, Good would pull out a lead at every bit of open track and Ward would close the gap as they encountered traffic. Ward mounted a final assault in the final two turns as Good was again slowed by traffic, and nearly got the job done. In the end it was Good by a scant 0.076 seconds over Ward, followed 19 seconds back by Markowicz, then Lewis, Garbato and Noboru Kamino who only made it to half distance.


It's worth noting here that at 80 mph, about the speed at the finish line, a racing car moves 117 feet per second. That means, after an entire season of racing Ward lost out on the regional championship by just 8.9 feet. Had he been nine feet further ahead at the line, he would have scored 100 points for the win and taken the championship.


Instead, Ward's 90-point second place finish and Markowicz's 85-point third meant the two of them were tied for the Championship after the final race. In the excitement, everyone--including the organizers--forgot that the second tie-breaker was total season points (which Markowicz had easily). Instead, they looked at total wins which, thanks to Ward's win in the first race, was also a tie (at 2 each). Then they looked at total second place finishes where finally Markowicz's four won out over Ward's three. Fortunately, that meant Markowicz won both when figured the right way AND the wrong way (might have been very embarrassing to give the award to the wrong person). Good's win moved him around both Campagnolo and Waite to take third in the region.


THAT is close racing.





Unlike GTS1 and GTS2, the GTS3 season championship was all sewn up long before the final weekend's racing ever started. Korey Deason sat comfortably on the top step of the podium, coming into the weekend more than 400 points ahead of second-place Jamie Frauenberg who needed one more GTS3 start to qualify but decided, instead, to go for GTS4. Korey could have skipped the weekend and won.


But skip it he did not.


After a lackluster qualifying effort due to the endless traffic, Deason started in 7th, uncharacteristically deep in the GTS field, on the inside of row four, two rows behind his direct competitor Roy Lipner, who'd qualified fourth, and behind the GTS4 911s of Ralf Lindakers and Chris Streit. GTS3 was rounded out by Vince Ko (9th) and Paul Davison (13th).


At the start of the first race, Lipner and Lindakers split left and right, respectively, around the GTS2 cars of Good and Ward (who had started ahead of them), leaving Deason frustratingly stuck behind both Streit and the battling Two cars through the first lap. As Lipner rushed to extend his lead, Deason began working his way through. At the end of the first lap Streit made it past as they raced down the front straight, only to be followed by Deason in the same spot a lap later.


As Deason moved past Good, both Sreit and Lindakers made it past Lipner, leaving the two GTS3 M3s nose to tail in their bid for the class lead. As they approached turn eight for the third time, Lipner, on the outside looked like he might be held up by Lindakers. Deason, sensing an opportunity, attempted an ambitious pass on the inside of Dead Bear that he might have gotten away with had Lipner not at the same time turned in toward the apex.


With Deason overlapping the left rear of Lipner's car by only a few feet, the two touched and it turned Lipner completely sideways, fully 90 degrees to the track, before Deason slid further right and around Roy's now spinning silver M3. All of this happened immediately in front of both Good and Frauenberg and both were forced to take serious evasive maneuvers. Good went left through the grass and nearly made it but the rear bumper of Lipner's spinning M3 creased the full right side of his car and pushed both fenders into their respective tires (a fact he wouldn't learn until after the race).


Frauenberg, for his part, bailed right. Far right. TOO far right, as it turns out, taking him over the access roads and chicane and sending his car bounding into the air, breaking the power steering pump, smacking his head hard on the roll cage, and sending him into the pits for the rest of the weekend. (his video:



Lipner was out for the rest of race 1 with fender against tire, although he would later get it back running for the second race. Deason was DQ'd for unnecessary contact, which left the race to the able hands of Vince Ko, who happily took the win followed at a distance by Paul Davison. Lipner, long in the paddock, was scored third albeit 11 laps down.


Deason got a better start for race 2 and both he and Lipner made it past the GTS2 cars with Lipner in the lead. His earlier contact with the nose of Deason's car had left Lipner's left rear tire badly misaligned, though, and so it was only a matter of time before Deason identified an opportunity and found a way past.


Lipner fought it bravely but the car wasn't up to its usual muster and he gradually fell backward and into the grip of the charging Ko and Davison. The second GTS3 race ended Deason, Ko, Davison and then Lipner.


Deason took the championship as expected with not only an insurmountable points lead but also as the only GTS3 car with the required seven starts.





With their best turn-out of the entire season, the GTS4 cars were racing for three positions worth of Hoosier contingencies...at least until Jamie Frauenberg did his Iron Man Stewart impression through the grass between turns 8 and 9, that is. But I'm getting ahead of myself.


Seven cars showed up to race for GTS4 honors. I've already mentioned the Misters Streit, Frauenberg and Lindakers but they were also joined by the Cationic Racing Team of Eric Phillips and Shon Lo in an M3, David Connally and Nick Georgieff in their 911s, and Mark Sigglekow in his usually-ill-fated Audi Coupe.


The Four cars qualified thoughout the field. Streit was fastest--fastest of ALL the GTS cars--but was penalized one in-class position for contact during qualifying. Second in qualifying was Lindakers who was sitting 5th overall, moving Streit to 6th for both starts. Next was Frauenberg (8th) followed by Cationic (in the form of Phillips), Connally, and Georgieff.


Did you notice I didn't mention Siggelkow? Apparently...well...I AM TOLD his car runs and that he's actually able to race it at other tracks but for reasons that escape me and apparently baffle him, he seems star-crossed at Putnam. This time, his ECU fried itself into a smoking ball of plastic during Saturday's warm-up session, once again side-lining him for the weekend.


Well, almost.


In a moment mildly reminiscent of Dan Gurney pushing his lifeless car across the finish line at Daytona in 1966, Siggelkow, needing one more start to his credit, waited until everyone else was out racing the final race of the day and then had Scott Berkowitz tow him up to the grid area then turn him loose, and Siggelkow drove the car over the timing loop using the starter motor before Berkowitz hooked him back up and dragged him back down to the paddock.


If you remember WAY back at the start of this missive, I said this:


To be considered a starter, you must "...cross the starting line under 'green track conditions,' with a car under its own power, at some time during the race, before the checkered flag is displayed."


There's nothing in that statement which says "under its own power" can only be interpreted to mean "using the motor," so Siggelkow used his knowledge of the rules to add one last (slightly questionable) notch to his belt. Fortunately, he didn't have to do a whole lap that way.


As consolation, I think we can be pretty sure his is probably the first electrically-powered car to start a GTS race. See? Fame AND fortune.


Prior to that, in the first race of the day, things were all Chris Streit. He won by 24 seconds over Lindakers, the only GTS4 car remaining on the same lap. They were followed by Phillips, Connally, Georgieff and Frauenberg, some 10 laps back after his up-up-and-away incident on lap 4.


The second race was Streit's, too, but this time he had to work a little harder for it, winning over Lindakers again but with just a 5.253 second margin. Shon Lo took the Cationic wheel for the second race and finished a strong third just 13 seconds in Streit's wake. A lap back were Connally and Georgieff "followed" by Starter Motor Siggelkow bringing up the rear, 12 laps down.


Jeff Amos, not racing this weekend while awaiting repairs to his 911 after losing a cooling line at the National Championships, crewed for Lindakers during the day and picked up the GTS4 Regional Championship trophy at night. His points made him easily the winner but so, too, did the fact no other GTS4 car started the necessary seven races in Great Lakes.





Finally, there's GTS5. Once again, as it has been sometimes in the past, Jeff Herrmann, as lonely as the Maytag Repairman, ran unopposed in GTS5. Having said that, he started both races from the pole and literally ran away from the group, using his new motor to the fullest. Flag to flag wins for Herrmann in both races! (his Saturday video:




Unfortunately, there were no GTS5 cars with seven starts so once again the GTS5 trophy went unawarded for this year.



A season complete


And so we come to an end. It was, I think, an excellent season of GTS racing. In addition to all that transpired above and earlier this season, probably the highest honor at the annual awards banquet went to one of our own. I'm talking specifically of the Driver of the Year award, something to be incredibly proud to win, and this year it went to a deserving Ed Baus. He has this to say:


Off to the dinner. It was a great time. Almost surreal. As I sat there enjoying my year I was awakened by the call of my name. Not for winning the regional class championship for GTS1, but for being awarded the Driver of the Year for Great Lakes Region. What an honor. An unbelievable honor. I had a very good year, a very fun year. A year that I would love to repeat about 30 more times, but to top it off with getting Driver of the Year was unbelievable. I want to thank everyone who took part in this year's events because everyone at the events is what makes them fun. The more drivers. The more spectators. Everything contributes.


And so it does. I hope you got out there this year and were able to contribute and enjoy some of it yourself. If not, well, next year is coming and I know there are some racing cars already being pulled out of sheds and dusted off.


With the Nationals returning to Mid-Ohio for the next two years, next year's events should enjoy full fields and even more great racing as we and others prepare for the championship season.


I hope to see you out there.





Edited by Guest
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Great write up Scott!


For the record, when I left the Lightning race 2 with a mechanical, exiting T4, I rolled as far off to the edge of the trees left of T5 so that there would be no reason for a local or dreaded FCY because of my car. I didn't want it to be a reason a championship was decided.

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For the record, when I left the Lightning race 2 with a mechanical, exiting T4, I rolled as far off to the edge of the trees left of T5 so that there would be no reason for a local or dreaded FCY because of my car. I didn't want it to be a reason a championship was decided.

Much appreciated, Ron. Thanks!

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Excellent recap Scott!


Exciting stuff! Congrats to everyone in GTS... it takes awesome GTS drivers in 100% of the race cars to have such remarkable Season ...



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Great writeup Scott. GTS was full of drama for sure.


No GTSU coverage? Did some minor carb tuning on my car throughout the weekend, so didn't bother to dyno it and confirm my 3 classing.


Here's some footage from a noob 911 near the back of the pack

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No GTSU coverage? Did some minor carb tuning on my car throughout the weekend, so didn't bother to dyno it and confirm my 3 classing.

Whoops! My bad...it wasn't until after I'd sent and posted the update that I saw your name in the MyLaps standings as GTSU...I KNEW I thought we had more GTS3 cars....

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No, just kidding Scott. Nothing much to summarize in U.


Race #1 gave a spot to Davison and never got it back despite me hanging around on his rear bumper most of the race . Race #2 gave 3 spots (notice the pattern- my starts are el stinko) to Davison, Kamino & Hayes and got those back. So at least I improved a bit in race 2. Nothing really worthy of mention!


Again, thanks for the great summary and video shares. Didn't realize you were so close to the Camaro engine blowup. Also great move avoiding Roy best as possible. You made the right decision to go left, as I think more often than not a spin w/contact like that will carry the car off to the right? However Roy had the steering pointed far left in an attempt to catch the spin, & that steered him right back to you as he went all the way 'round & reversed his direction. Did you see his in car of it?


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Awesome write - up, Scott! (Almost) as exciting to read as to watch. Nicely done, and a ton of work to get all the races within the race covered that well! Grat season for you guys, too.

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