Seventeen PCA Club Racing Porsche Cayman GT4 Clubsport Trophy East series competitors took the green flag for Sprint 1 Saturday morning at NOLA Motorsports Park during the 2017 PCA Mardi Gras Cup, hosted by the Mardi Gras and Whiskey Bay PCA Regions.
The muggy heat in the Big Easy didn’t slow down John Crosby, chair of the PCA Mardi Gras Cup event and Clubsport series competitor. NOLAsport’s Crosby calls NOLA Motorsports Park his home track and it showed during Sprint 1 after he won both the Championship and Masters classes, coming in third place overall behind two MR entries.
“I figured I could probably catch up with some of those guys, but I didn’t do so well in qualifying – doing this chairman thing is tough,” Crosby said. “There’s a lot of pressure with the level of competition that’s here. The NOLAsport team was awesome and great. We’ve been here for a week already with tests and getting ready for the event, so we’re happy, happy people.”
Following an incident on the first lap in Turn 2, five cars were unable to continue the race. Drivers competed under double yellow for several laps before restarting.
ACI Motorsports’ David Hurt had a career-best race and was able to pass two entries during the restart to gain his first podium of the 2017 season. Hurt came in second place in the Championship class behind Crosby.
Polesitter Jim Cox, representing the Central Florida PCA Region in his No. 38 BGB Motorsports MR entry, is back in action with the series and gained first place overall and first in the Pro class. His BGB Motorsports teammate, Bruce McKee, who represents the Alabama PCA Region, came in second place in the Pro class.
“It was my first time getting second overall,” McKee said. “John [Crobsy] and I had some great, head-to-head racing out there and following him, with this being his home track, was probably an unfair advantage because I got to learn from the master.”
New to the Pro class, Midwest Eurosport’s Ben Ripstein upgraded his No. 05 Clubsport entry with the MR package and came in third. This marks Ripstein’s first podium, and he’s looking forward to additional improvement to come.
“It’s awesome – I’m so happy I switched over to the MR car,” Ripstein said. “I’m really enjoying it and I think I’ll just continue to get better.”
In the Masters class, which is for drivers age 57 and older, Crosby won first with Masters class points leader Charlie Craig coming in second in his No. 76 Autometrics Motorsports entry and Kathy Mead coming in third.
SPRINT 1 DRIVER QUOTES
John Crosby (winner, Championship class and Masters class) – “I figured I could probably catch up with some of those guys, but I didn’t do so well in qualifying. Doing this chairman thing is tough! I’ve done it before, but it was when I was running a class with not too many cars in it, and it was a lot easier. But this is tough – there’s a lot of pressure with the level of competition that’s here. My plan was not to be aggressive on the start, and keep it clean. Well, sure enough, they had an incident on three, but I knew the right way to go. Tuck it in tight, stay out of the way, and that’s what I did and it worked out pretty well. The two MR cars in front of me I really didn’t intend to mess with but McKee had a bad restart and I got by him. Then he started pressuring me so I let him go. I had a big lead over everybody else, so I was happy with that. The NOLAsport team was awesome and great. We’ve been here for a week already with tests and getting ready for the event, so we’re happy, happy people.”
David Hurt (second, Championship class) – “During the race restart, I was able to get around some people. Thanks to Jennifer for coming with me on this trip – it’s been great. Also, thanks to the ACI Motorsports crew – they’ve been great coaches.”
Jim Cox (first, Pro class) – “It was a good race. It was a tough start, but it was behind me, so got in the first lap and rode around under yellow. Fortunately, I got a good restart, got a jump on the field, and was able to hold that to the end. It was pretty uneventful there at the end.”
Bruce McKee (second, Pro class) – “It was my first time getting second overall. It was a great, hot race for my welcome back race. After four months of being on the sidelines, it’s really fun to be back. John [Crobsy] and I had some great, head-to-head racing out there and following him, with this being his home track, was probably an unfair advantage because I got to learn from the master. I was able to get around him in the end, luckily. It was great, fun racing – I’m happy to be back!”
Ben Ripstein (third, Pro class) – “It’s awesome – I’m so happy I switched over to the MR car. I’m really enjoying it and I think I’ll just continue to get better. It’s my first podium – I feel awesome, but tired and sweaty.”
Charlie Craig (second, Masters class and third, Championship class) – “I owe it all to John Crosby because I watched his video over and over and over to learn this terrific course. Also, Autometrics did a great job setting up the car.”
Kathy Mead (third, Masters class) – “I would like to thank Phil Spano. It’s a fun track, I like it.”
During Saturday afternoon’s Sprint 2, Crosby swept the sprints at his home track – taking home four first-place podiums in both the Championship and Masters classes.
ACI Motorsports’ Efrin Castro started at the back of the pack due to the incident in Sprint 1, but slowly worked his way through the field to gain a second-place finish in the Championship class.
“Honestly, I didn’t think I would make it to Sprint 2 [following the incident in Sprint 1], but having the ACI Motorsports crew with all of their experience – they got me back on track and I was able to race,” Castro said.
Castro passed his teammate, Hurt, about 10 laps into the 30-minute sprint. Hurt was leading the Championship class for several laps at the beginning of the race, but the rookie driver couldn’t keep up the pace and ended up placing fourth in class and sixth overall.
NOLAsport’s Galindo rounded out the Championship class podium in third place. Galindo passed multiple entries after also starting at the back.
In the Pro class, Cox, McKee and Ripstein repeated their 1-2-3 finish from Sprint 1. Cox lead the entire race, with McKee following in second overall.
“We were able to keep second overall from start to finish during this race, but thankfully there wasn’t another lap or two, because John [Crosby] certainly would’ve taken me,” McKee said. “It was all I had left in me – by the end of Sprint 2, I was completely spent. It was great racing by everybody.”
In the Masters class, Crosby took home the first-place trophy once again with Craig came in second place and TOPP Racing’s David Walker coming in third for his first podium of the weekend.
SPRINT 2 DRIVER QUOTES
John Crosby (winner, Championship class and Masters class) – “Two for two! I have to thank the NOLAsport crew – these guys are great. I have a lot of fans here this weekend, so I’m just glad I didn’t disappoint them. It was a great race at NOLA Motorsports Park!”
Efrin Castro (second, Championship class) – “I started in the back due to an incident in Sprint 1 and moved my way up. Honestly, I didn’t think I would make it to Sprint 2, but having the ACI Motorsports crew with all of their experience – they got me back on track and I was able to do Sprint 2.”
Alejandro Galindo (third, Championship class) – “I feel pretty good. We worked our way up to third place after starting in the back. It was a fun race.”
Bruce McKee (second, Pro class) – “It went great. We were able to keep second overall from start to finish during this race but thankfully it wasn’t another lap or two, because John [Crosby] certainly would’ve taken me. It was all I had left in me – by the end of Sprint 2, I was completely spent. It was great racing by everybody.”
The 80-minute enduro at NOLA Motorsports Park marked what may have been the most exciting race of the 2017 season thus far – plenty of passing, precise pit stops and new driver changes made the race that much better for drivers and spectators alike.
Competitors finished the race under a double yellow, and eventually a black flag, as it began to pour with about 15 minutes left in the race. None of the entries had rain tires on as the rain first started falling with the sun still shining. The track immediately turned into what one driver described a “slip ’n’ slide.”
David Baum, representing the Western Michigan PCA Region in his No. 24 Autometrics Motorsports entry, fought hard for his first-place finish overall and in the Championship class. NOLAsport’s Galindo was on his tail for most of the race – especially when the rain started.
“Man, I had a rough weekend,” Baum said. “I was like ‘I’m getting on the podium for the enduro!’ and I raced my butt off. I don’t think I’ve ever raced that hard. Alejandro [Galindo] was behind me the whole time. The Autometrics guys did a great job all weekend. I’m so happy – second time at the top of the podium. Yes! Daytona here I come!”
This race was extra competitive as both Baum and Galindo are in a battle for second place in the Championship class points. This podium at NOLA Motorsports Park marks Baum’s second victory – his first was at Watkins Glen International in early June.
ACI Motorsports’ Castro rounded out the Championship class podium in third place. Castro’s teammate, Curt Swearingin who is leading the points in the Championship class, shared a car in the enduro with BGB Motorsports’ Tom Collingwood. Swearingin had an incident before the weekend kicked off and was unable to race, but Collingwood and BGB Motorsports graciously offered Swearingin the chance to finish out the enduro and gain some extra points before the season finale next month.
In the Masters class, Crosby swept the weekend with his third first-place Masters class win at his home track. TOPP Racing’s Richard McIntosh followed in second place – his first podium of the event after a rough start to the weekend.
“It was a whole lot of fun,” McIntosh said. “We had an awesome pit stop, my TOPP Racing crew was absolutely on fire –we went in and out of there in five minutes dead. Man, we went back on track and it was like a slip ’n’ slide out there! It was fantastic. It’s a great group of people, and the Porsche Motorsport North America team is excellent to work with.”
Craig placed third in the Masters class and gained his third podium of the weekend in his No. 76 Autometrics motor sports Cayman GT4 Clubsport.
The series’ Pro class had a new winning team following the rainy race. BGB Motorsports’ McKee and John Tecce gained their first win of the season in McKee’s No. 87 entry. Tecce, BGB Motorsports’ pro driver, finished out the enduro for McKee and drove to victory.
Midwest Eurosport’s Ripstein gained his third podium of the weekend with a career-best second-place finish. Noël Brown, who had just received his new Clubsport entry one day before the event weekend, followed in third place for the Pro class.
“Huge thanks for Porsche Motorsports North America for getting me the car,” Brown said. “Tremendous job by Autometrics Motorsports for picking up the car that had just been cleared by [Canadian] customs Thursday. Then they worked on it all day Friday and I was able to get in and drive Saturday. They did a stellar job.”
Next up, the drivers will compete in the season finale at Daytona International Speedway Oct. 27-29 and celebrate the successful 2017 season with the Championship Awards Banquet Sunday, Oct. 29.
ENDURO DRIVER QUOTES
David Baum (winner, Championship class) – “Man, I had a rough weekend. In Sprint 1, I was caught up in that incident in Turn 3 and then a different incident in Sprint 2. I was having a bad weekend and today, I was like ‘I’m getting on the podium for the enduro!’ and I raced my butt off. I don’t think I’ve ever raced that hard. Alejandro [Galindo] was behind me the whole time. These conditions got to where it was super sketchy. The Autometrics guys did a great job all weekend. I’m so happy – second time at the top of the podium. Yes! Daytona here I come!”
Alejandro Galindo (second, Championship class) – “With the rain, it was pretty fun. David [Baum] was very strong. I tried several times to pass him, but we ended up in second place and I’m pretty happy with that.”
Efrin Castro (third, Championship class) – “All of the way up until the last 15 minutes of the race, everything was going great. Then the rain started coming down and it became much more difficult. We almost lost the podium because I went off on Turn 13 because the track was so slippery, but we were able to come out and finish in third.”
John Crosby (winner, Masters class) – “I’m relieved the race is over and the weekend is over. As the event chair, it’s a lot of hard work planning this, but it’s very rewarding. The car is in one piece – I went off the track three times in that last lap! I was happy to see that black flag and glad they ended it when they did. We invite all of the Club Racers to come back to NOLA Motorsports Park next year!”
Richard McIntosh (second, Masters class) – “It was a whole lot of fun. We had some issues with the first setup we had, but then we came in and pitted. We had an awesome pit stop, my TOPP Racing crew was absolutely on fire – we went in and out of there in five minutes dead. Man, we went back on track and it was like a slip ’n’ slide out there! It was fantastic. It’s a great group of people, and the Porsche Motorsport North America team is excellent to work with. Thanks to Porsche, Pirelli and our sponsors – awesome job, it was a great weekend!”
Bruce McKee (winner, Pro class) – “It was harder to watch than it was to driver! I was lucky to have BGB Motorsports’ pro – John Tecce – finished out the race for me in the rain.”
John Tecce (winner, Pro class) – “I am impressed with the job these drivers have done in some very sketchy conditions; no one had an issue at Barber Motorsports Park in the wet and everyone stayed on track for the most part today, myself excluded. It was hot out there before the rain came and Bruce [McKee] did a great job holding ground. I know he wasn’t stoked with his performance but I think he’s doing just fine given that he was forced out of the car at Barber and missed three events when he got taken out earlier this year. While I am very happy with this result for Bruce’s standings in the championship, this should be Jim [Crosby]’s trophy. We made the call to put the rain tires on and the race never restarted. He drove a flawless race weekend and with the chaos of having to do back to back to back full-blown pit stops for three cars we left pit road four seconds early; he would have won every race. We were a little understaffed because of the hurricane. We are excited to be heading to our home track at Daytona for the final race and everyone should expect us to put on a great show. Thank you to Bruce and Wendy [McKee] for allowing me to drive their car and be part of all of this.”
Ben Ripstein (second, Pro class) – “It was fun! I was on slicks in the rain – the pouring rain for that matter. I learned what grass feels like when it’s really wet and I hope we don’t have to experience that again any time soon. It was a blast though – it was just a different experience altogether.”
Noël Brown (third, Pro class) – “It was entertaining. The car handled great. Huge thanks for Porsche Motorsports North America for getting me the car. Tremendous job by Autometrics Motorsports for picking up the car that had just been cleared by [Canadian] customs Thursday. Then they worked on it all day Friday and I was able to get in and drive Saturday. They did a stellar job. It was a lot of fun.”