Florida, USA – February 13, 2018 – The 2018 season for the Southern Formula Car Championships is officially underway – and the racing is more exciting than ever. Formula 1600 and Formula 2000 competition over the weekend at Sebring International Raceway was wheel to wheel from flag to flag for both Round 1 and Round 2.
Several drivers took advantage of the Friday test to find the limit, and sometimes beyond…
The sun rose on a beautiful Saturday in central Florida for the single round of qualifying for opening weekend. Lap after lap the #55 of Baylor Griffin and the #7 of John Benson battled for the inaugural Southern F1600 pole position. In the end Griffin would take pole, with Benson closely behind and the #27 of Hartley MacDonald rounding out the top three.
Southern F2000 drivers spent the qualifying session chasing eventual pole sitter – the # 71 of Skip Weld, who according to second place qualifier, Chris Scharnow, driver of #24, “Is really really quick.” Bill Herscher put his #91 third on the grid, flying the Herscher banner solo, as brother John popped a motor during the friday test.
When race day arrived, the sun was shining on a beautiful mid-80’s day, perfect for road racing and a perfect day for the Southern Formula Car Championship Random Drawing Awards.
Unlike most series who only award the winners, or podium finishers, in Southern Formula Car Championships- every driver becomes a winner, through random drawing awards. This weekend the series handed out random drawing prizes during the complementary lunch, including Driven Race Oil, PFC brake pads, Aurora Fittings, a set of mirrors from Aero Straight, discounts on AIM products, and every driver went home with a sheet of GOLD heat tape.
With full bellies and free products in the trailers, Southern Formula Car Championship drivers began preparations for two races on Sunday – both their sprint race and the feature event.
The sprint race began as wild as expected, with the Formula 1600 lead changing hands multiple times per lap with the #69 of John Schimenti taking the lead from the green flag, relinquishing the top spot after a few laps. Lap after lap the lead changed trading back and forth between the #55 of Baylor and the #7 of Benson. In the end it would be the #7 ABS – Swift DB-3 of John Benson taking home the inaugural race win, with the #27 Florida RV Sales – Swift of Hartley MacDonald snatching second away from the #55 Mygale of Baylor – who would come home third to round out the podium.
Schimenti would not be left out, as he passed the most cars in Round 1 to take home the Speedcom Communications Hard Charger Award – giving him $100 off a purchase of Digital Radios from Toto and Speedcom.
Southern F2000 was just as exciting as the 1600 race, as the #24 of Chris Scharnow chased eventual winner #71 Skip Weld lap after lap. The #8 of James Belay seemed to have the final podium step locked up, when he “ran out of fuel… bonehead move on my part.” With Belay retired, the #23 of Stanley Hallock would round out the podium for Round 1.
As the Sun got late in the day, ominous clouds appeared over central Florida, yet held off just enough to run HALF the race in dry conditions. At exactly the halfway mark, the sprinkles began and so did the spins.
As the rain increased, the Formula 1600 field seemed to have a new leader every lap. Spinning and dropping off course multiple times, all the podium finishers said the final laps were. “Very treacherous.” Round 1 winner, Benson would not repeat after ending up in the weeds on the back side of the track, and Round 1 third place finisher would be nowhere to be found as the wet proved a little too slick for the K-Hill Mygale.
In the end, according to the podium finishers, “Age and Wisdom won the race.” However the finish was too close to call, and the post race podium order was questioned over and over. With the #69 of John Schimenti and the #27 of Hartley MacDonald crossing the line by less than a hundredth of a second apart. While the winners may be debated, the third step was solidly in the hands of Jim Morgan in his #05 Swift.
As the finish is still considered “provisional” almost 48 hours later, it is truly a close call, leaving not only the victor up in the air, but also the Speedcom Communications Hard Charger award is still to be determined.
Formula 2000 was just as crazy, with both the winner, the #71 of Weld and second place #24 Sharnow, spinning or going off track TWICE on the final lap. Scharnow said, “The track was very slick, very very slick.” James Belay remembered to fuel his #8 for Round 2 and would come home with the third step of the podium.
The inaugural weekend for the 2018 Southern Formula Car Championships was a HUGE success, with over 20 cars competing for the gold cup trophies and random drawing prizes.
For more information about the Southern Formula Car Championships visit them on the web at www.SouthernFormulaCarChampionships.com and follow both series on Facebook – @SouthernF2000 and @SouthernF1600
Mark your calendars now for the next event –
Rounds 3 & 4 from Roebling Road Raceway on April 28/29.