Team Big Dog Garage Wins SRA-West Races At Chuckwalla

chuckwalla

Team Big Dog Garage (left) leads Team Johnny Killmore (right) at Chuckwalla Valley Raceway. Photo by Alix Barker, courtesy of SRA-West.

For the first time ever sidecars raced counter-clockwise at Chuckwalla Valley Raceway this past weekend. Host club CVMA sent a small but determined grid from the SRA-West Formula Sidecar Series on a double-header weekend featuring a great battle for the lead both days.

Qualifying gave up little information about the race with Team Big Dog Garage (Bernard Juchli/ Kevin Kautzky) taking the top slot by less than one-hundredth of a second over Wood Brothers 1 (Chris Wood/Aaron McEwen). The expectant dogfight between the two did not materialize for Saturday’s eight-lap sprint. Instead it was Team Johnny Killmore who started from the back of the grid but managed a holeshot and a brave outside move to take the lead in the first corner. This was surprising as driver John Wood was teamed with passenger John Glover, the pair never having turned a lap before as a team. Despite being a rookie to asphalt, Glover is a championship speedway passenger and the duo quickly built a surprising lead.

This did not deter Big Dog Garage though as they methodically set out to reel in the leaders. For most of the race the gap stretched and shrank with Team Johnny Killmore showing speed in the early and late sectors of the course but losing out to Big Dog in the middle sector. It was obvious even from a distance that both machines were being pushed past their limit, sliding and bucking through the corners and heads kept extra low in the straights.

Leaving the second chicane on lap six Big Dog got an excellent drive and passed on the brakes into the following corner. Killmore set back immediately moving to the inside, then outside for a way through. Then another move in the double right-handers, to no avail. Lap seven was more of the same. Leaving the high-banked left-hander Big Dog left the track on the outside, barely recovering. Killmore made a move but was unable to get around. The final lap was simply epic, with shouts of excitement reverberating along the pit wall. In the end it was Big Dog over Team Johnny Killmore by just over a length. Wood Brothers 1 also stayed in a fantastic battle for 3rd with Team Nurburing (Steve Stull/Heidi Neidhoefer), just clipping them at the line to round out the podium.

Sunday looked to be as repeat and to a degree it was. However, Team Johnny Killmore failed to take the lead in turn 1 and this allowed Big Dog Garage to launch from the front row and eke out a small gap. The gap would stretch and narrow for the 6-lap sprint but Killmore would only be in striking distance one time. After the race driver John Wood suggested that he had used up his rear tire in Saturday’s race and was unable to find grip exiting the many left-hand turns of the counter-clockwise configuration.

Regardless, both days races were for the record books in terms of on-the-limit driving and close racing. Despite GoPro footage showing massive amounts of sliding and running to the absolute limit, contact was avoided by all teams, demonstrating the mutual respect the drivers have for one another. The battle continues October 18-19 when the SRA-West returns to Chuckwalla Valley Raceway to run the clockwise direction. The Northwest region should return as well, bringing DJ’s Racing (Donn Sayre/John Heenan) back into the action, who sit second in points behind Big Dog Garage. That will be the penultimate event before finishing off November 1-2 at Las Vegas Speedway with host club WERA. For full standings, schedule, and information on sponsorship opportunities, visit www.sra-west.us.

RESULTS:

SATURDAY:

Pos. Driver/Passenger, Chassis/Engine

1. Bernard Juchli/Kevin Kautzky, CSR/Honda

2. John Wood/John Glover, Windle/Suzuki

3. Chris Wood/Aaron McEwen, ART/Suzuki

4. Steve Stull/Heidi Neidhoefer, Becker/Suzuki

SUNDAY:

Pos. Driver/Passenger, Chassis/Engine

1. Bernard Juchli/Kevin Kautzky, CSR/Honda

2. John Wood/John Glover, Windle/Suzuki

3. Chris Wood/Aaron McEwen, ART/Suzuki

4. Steve Stull/Heidi Neidhoefer, Becker/Suzuki

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