In the Fast Lane
Jimmy Fleckenstein, Chris Hancock,
Lane Newberry, Bruce Rae and Terry Schulz
Jeff Cornett, Michael Confoy, Jack
Beckman and Don Tatum enjoy the view from the grandstand.
Three new tracks (Valencia, Suzuka, and Sepang) awaited the
drivers at the 2011 WBC, but most of the attention was drawn
to the revised car construction table that allowed 80 mph acceleration
and deceleration; 120 mph start speed, and 0 skill - all for
the first time. The result was a lively debate of the merits
of perhaps too easily allowing 80 acceleration. Anecdotally the
dominate car this year appeared to be an 80/60 car starting near
the front of the pack. On track, not a single car won a race
after starting on row 1. However three of the six preliminary
races were won by cars from the second row.
Valencia turned out to be best suited to running from the
back of all the qualifying races this year. Don Tatum won one
race after starting fourth, but Doug Schulz placed second, and
Chris Long finished third from tenth and ninth on the grid respectively.
Mike Aubuchon won the other Valencia table from ninth on the
grid while Bruce Rae held on to finish second from second on
Suzuka was a middle of the pack field for most drivers who
qualified Friday. Kevin Keller won one table from fourth, followed
by Scott Cornett from eighth, and Franklin Haskell tenth. Tim
Carnhan won the other table after starting seventh, Dennis Nicholson
took second while starting ninth, and Robert Rund finished steadily
in third after starting in the same spot.
Saturday's races saw a number of familiar faces on top at
the end of two heats which is why those three thirds from earlier
in the week qualified for the Final. The 12 qualifiers included
five former champs. Sepang was a dice-filled affair at one table
that ended with a win by Scott Cornett (who started the race
in third) while Doug Galullo improved from ninth to second. The
other table was calmer and ended with another 1-2 finish from
Don Tatum (who was fifth on the grid) and Doug Schulz (who was
The Final was run on Istanbul and contested mostly by cars
that won a qualifying heat plus the two runner-up qualifiers
who spent the most on the grid. The grid was arranged from front
to back like this: Tatum & Keller; Carnahan & Cornett;
Aubuchon & Galullo; Schulz & Nicholson; Rae & Haskell;
Rund and Long. Five cars were separated by a mere two spaces
after sector 2 of the first lap: Carnahan, Tatum, Keller, Schulz,
and Galullo. However, the latter had already broken his acceleration.
By this point in the race the next car (Cornett) had already
fallen six spaces behind the leader.
In the last corner of the first lap, Keller took a chance
for the lead and spun, dropping him to fifth and ending his contention.
The end of Lap 1 still saw four cars within two spaces at the
front of the pack: Tatum, Carnahan, Galullo, and Schulz.
The pack dispersed more during Lap 2. Tatum had wrested control
from Carnahan and consistently led him by one, two or three spaces
at every check point. Schulz passed Galullo this lap and was
making a run at the leaders down the back straight at the end
of Lap 2 when his top speed broke. He would end Lap 2 only three
spaces behind Tatum, but would not really be able to challenge
either Tatum or Carnahan again this race. Galullo, Haskell, Cornett,
and Keller would also start Lap 3 close to the two leaders but
none were able to stay with them through the first two sectors
of the final lap.
The leaders lengthened the gap between them and the rest of
the field. As they ran down the back straight for the last time,
Tatum was three spaces in front and 11 spaces clear of Galullo
in third. Tatum ran the last two corners clean but Carnahan needed
two chance rolls and a test brakes in order to contest for the
win... and he made them all (the chances, modified) to pull alongside
Tatum mere spaces before the finish line. On the next turn, Varnahan
had the advantage of exiting the last corner faster than Tatum
and succeeded in pushing both his acceleration and top speed
in order to cross the line one space ahead to win the championship
at his first WBC.
Behind our two leaders, many dice were rolled. Galullo spun
in the second to last corner and Cornett did likewise in the
last corner, which allowed Aubuchon to move from fifth to third.
Keller rolled two chances in the last two corners to claim fourth
and Schulz rolled a naked chance in the last corner to claim
fifth. Cornett recovered from his spin to finish sixth. The rest
of the cars finished in order: Haskell, Long, Rae, Galullo, and
Nicholson. Rund was the lone retirement having lost his brakes
in the beginning of the last lap.
A picture is worth a thousand words so for a turn-by-turn
pictorial account see the only photo album at Picasa (http://picasaweb.google.com/lucidphoenix/WBCFinalsTurnByTurn).
Speed Circuit racing as practised at WBC can be viewed
Doug Galullo and John Welage have
prime seats in the pits.
GM Doug Schulz's tracks have been
a WBC tradition for 15 years.