NO STIMULUS PACKAGE NEEDED, AS V8 RACERS BLAZE THROUGH FLORIDA
The V8 StockCar Series racers don’t need no stinkin’ stimulus package; just the opportunity to turn up the wick on their red hot stock car and GT racers. They came from as far away as New Hampshire, Vermont, Kansas, Kentucky and the Carolina’s to do battle with the Florida contingent at the series “Winter Heat” openers at PBIR and Sebring. Running with the PBOC group for the first time at the all new Palm Beach International Raceway many of the V8 Racers took the opportunity to get to know the track on the Friday test day and by Saturday qualifying were already cutting some impressive lap times.
Charlotte, Vermont’s Dave Machavern was there in his customary spot at the front in his Heritage Motorsports Corvette. Machavern led wire to wire both days, with Jon “Chevy” Leavy taking second overall in his Rocketsports Camaro on Saturday. Lee Arnold got the V8 SPO win both days despite being constantly pushed by Paul Breehne in his flyin Ford Fusion. Former Nascar Dash Champ Larry Hoopaugh had his cup style Monte Carlo out on the edge as he gave chase. The action was hot n heavy in the V8 GTA class usually with four to five cars constantly nose to tail. Kansas Tornado Ron Keith got the Saturday win with Kentuckian Randy Walker getting his first career win on Sunday after a sterling duel with Gary Grubbs in his first racing weekend in more than a dozen years. Grubbs had not forgotten how to do this, as he was fast from the moment he climbed into the Mike Cope Racing prepared Monte Carlo. Bob Turnage got the first ever win in the new V8 GT-2 class in his ex Grand Am Corvette.
Most of the out of state contingent stayed in Florida as the Sebring event was now less than a week away.
V8 Racers were greeted with clear skies and temperatures in the 70’s for the Sebring round of Winter Heat. Nearly thirty cars were on hand to test the famous 12 hour course. In a mild surprise, Charles “Quick” Wicht took the overall and V8 GT-1 pole in his winged Monte Carlo over Machavern’s C6 Vette and “Babe” Branscombe in his ex Grand Am series C5 Vette. In the V8 SPO class “Crazy Paul” Breehne was liking the new set up by crew chef Mike Breault and edged out Arnold for the class pole. That Kansas Tornado Ron Keith was at it again showin’ his tailights to the V8 GTA group in qualifying, besting Sebring veterans Tony Amico, Jay Marshall. Tom Graham and the rest. Michael Wheeler took the V8 GT-2 point in his beautiful Porsche GT3 Cup car over the quick BMW M3 of Cape Coral’s Doug Wilson. At the start of Saturday’s race polesitter Charles Wicht broke a suspension piece and had to quickly pull out of the way. This created a few anxious moments for some of the group but for the most part everyone made it through unscathed. With Wicht out of contention, Machavern pulled out a quick lead over second running Babe Branscombe and V8 SPO fast guys Lee Arnold and Paul Breehne. In V8 GTA, the front five of Ron Keith, Jay Marshall, Tony Amico, Tom Graham, and Randy Keith were swapping positions every lap and the pace was clearly faster than any V8 GTA group ever. At the checker, Machavern got the overall win with Arnold second overall and first in V8 SPO. Branscombe faded a bit at the end with mechanical issues but held on to second in V8 GT-1 and third overall. Breehne succumbed near the end to a motor problem allowing Jerry Douglas the runner up spot in V8 SPO. Rob McElheny ran strong in his Camaro, coming in fourth overall and third in V8 GT-1. In V8 GTA Jay Marshall held off Ron Keith and Tony Amico for the win. Doug Wilson got the V8 GT-2 win in his BMW M3 over Paul Gordon in his Koni Challenge Mustang and George Corso in his Koni 350 Z. Sunday had the same great weather and featured the return of Charles Wicht in his pole sitting winged Monte Carlo as the crew repaired the broken part overnight. Starting from the pole Wicht used the torque of his 18 degree small block Chevy to good advantage and jumped out to a quick several second lead over Machavern. From there though Machavern came clawing back, closing in about a second a lap. Unfortunately for Dave he ran out of laps and at the finish was still about five car lengths behind the hard driving Wicht. Lee Arnold again took the honors in V8 SPO with Jerry Douglas second and Bill Minnear third. The V8 GTA race again was hard fought, with Marshall winning again in his Mike Cope Racing prepared Impala over Randy Keith and George Lutich. Doug Wilson ran his best laps of the weekend in his well prepared M3 again besting the Mustang of Paul Gordon. All in all, another great weekend of racing for the V8 racers. When asked recently why the V8 series participation remains high despite a cool economy, founder Lee Arnold responded, " I think it is because racers are always looking for the best bang for the buck." Where else can you compete in safe, 170 mph race cars at storied tracks against fierce competition for so few bucks." “It’s racing that makes sense.”
The V8 series moves to Carolina Motorsports Park March 28 & 29 for the Hoopaugh Grading Twins.
V8 StockCar thanks it partners:PBOC, SCCA, Central Florida Region SCCA, Mo’s Gold, Hoosier, Goodyear, RaceCar Engineering, FiveStar, Howe, DRP, RacingJunk.com, Racing Limo’s, Roehrig-Enders Suspension, GrassRoots Motorsports Magazine, and Dash Racewear.