SRA-West Round 5 Review: Miller Motorsports Park

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE:

For the first time ever sidecars took on the 3.0 mile Perimeter Course at the fabled Miller Motorsports Park. The SRA-West Formula Sidecar Series raced in conjunction with WERA’s Lucas Oils/ Pirelli Grand National event this past weekend which saw a strong turnout of riders from coast-to-coast on both two and three wheels.. The double-header format for the sidecars was run on Saturday and Sunday featuring a 4-lap sprint each day with the same starting grid as well.

Qualifying notes showed Team Bell (#69 Kelly Bell/Daniel Bergeron) with a sizable advantage over the field but a flying start by Subculture Racing (#88 Wade Boyd/Christine Blunk) meant a battle was to be had. Subculture combined a great start with a supernaturally late-braking move into turn 1 and began an exciting battle with Team Bell. Just behind, another battle developed between multi-time champion Team Becker Moto Works (#84) and current defending champions Team Big Dog Garage (#1 Bernard Juchli/Kevin Kautzky). Becker Moto Works driver, William Becker, was making only his third appearance after a one-year hiatus for medical reasons and was running with stand-in passenger Rory O’Connor.

The fight for the lead took many spectators eyes away from a fantastic battle for third. Becker and Big Dog made multiple passes lap after lap and somehow never made contact. It appeared stability problems in right turns may have plagued Big Dog, but they were making it up on the brakes until the binders overheated on the last lap.

At the front the battle was close but instead of a see-saw of passes it was more accordion action, with Team Bell losing on the exit of left turns only to regain ground in other areas. The drag race to the line was close but it still allowed Subculture Racing to take a narrow win over Team Bell. After the race driver Kelly Bell cited a simple ergonomic problem. “Exiting slow lefts I just can’t modulate the throttle like I need to,” he said. With a change to handlebar angle for Sunday prescribed, it was hard to guess how things would sort out.

 

Subculture Racing (#88, Wade Boyd/Christine Blunk) and Team Bell (#69, Kelly Bell/Daniel Bergeron) never had a gap larger than this, trading victories in the double-header event at Miller Motorsports Park.

Subculture Racing (#88, Wade Boyd/Christine Blunk) and Team Bell (#69, Kelly Bell/Daniel Bergeron) never had a gap larger than this, trading victories in the double-header event at Miller Motorsports Park.

 

The start was nearly a carbon copy of the previous day with Subculture taking the lead into turn 1 on the brakes. They actually began to build a lead over Team Bell during the first lap but once heat got into the tires the gap closed. For most of the race it looked like Team Bell would grab the brakes last and increase the gap, but Subculture would let go of the brakes first and also get a better initial drive. Team Bell then drew closer as the revs built up, but they couldn’t get those last couple of bike lengths for a pass. That is, everywhere except for “Witchcraft,” the awkward right-hander before “The Attitudes,” the left-right-left over the only elevation change on the course. Here you could see Team Bell close the gap with gusto but back off because there was no room for the pass.

Finally, on the last lap, Team Bell set up for an outside move and despite the bumps and very strange radius of the turn, made it stick. Subculture fought back on the brakes but The Attitudes are a 1-line series of corners. It came down to the final turn and Subculture made the most of it. As Team Bell took the conventional line Subculture made a “V” of the hairpin to make it two-wide on the exit.

It may have been a better gearing choice or a power advantage, but as both teams ratcheted through the gears Team Bell pulled about a half-length and at the stripe they held on by only 0.132 seconds. Third place went again to Becker Moto Works, who benefited from a banzai braking move by Big Dog Garage earlier in the race. The overcooked corner opened a gap that Becker Moto Works slowly increased to a comfortable margin.

The SRA-West points remain unaffected however, as Big Dog Garage lost very little ground overall. In fact, Big Dog actually gained slightly on second place driver Steve Stull of Team Nurburing (#18, passenger Heidi Neidhoefer) and holds an 88 point advantage with three rounds remaining. And the next round will return to Miller Motorsports Park when the SRA-West teams up with host club AHRMA for the Bonneville Vintage GP sponsored by Motorcycle Classics. The event continues its tradition of running Labor Day weekend and features a full day of practice and two days of racing September 4-6. CPL Systems and RaceTech also continue their support of AHRMA’s national vintage road racing series and Barnett Clutches & Cables continues its support of the sidecar class, both vintage and modern.

The event will move back to Miller’s East Course, where the tighter confines still manage to keep speeds quite high and passing frequent. For more information on the event visit www.bonnevillevintagegp.com or go to www.ahrma.org. For full schedule, standings, and news about the SRA-West Formula Sidecar Series visit www.formulasidecars.com.

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