|COMMAND PERFORMANCE - ONE FOR THE RECORD BOOKS
WILEY FORD, WV - Before a single starter switch clicked, the 2009 Pumpkin Carve Autocross was already a special event. The seventh annual Carve was set to commemorate the Cumberland Nationals connection with recently departed sports car racing pioneer Donna Mae Mims and host the initial outing for a new performance class for vintage American muscle cars on street tires – VST, as coined by the idea’s inventor, Steve Hotchkiss.
What no one could have anticipated for the sixth and final weekend of the Miller Lite Cumberland Airport Autocross Series was the commanding performance about to be handed down by newly crowned four-time Cobra Cup champion Wade Chamberlain.
In the history of autocrossing at CBE, only once has a driver swept all six categories of performance for the weekend – two class wins, two PAX wins, two FTD titles. It was accomplished a single time in August 2004 by GM executive/SCCA national champ Solo racer Karen Rafferty – done only once and done before all three categories were even accounted for in Cumberland results. Make that twice.
Weather conditions were miserable in the early hours of Saturday, but cleared with the final raindrops falling during the driver’s meeting. Things got better throughout the day. The question, of course, was in which run group would be the best? Make that third.
With dry tarmac in front of them and Donna Mae’s fitting memorial behind, third heat drivers staged a furious assault on times posted early in the day. The usual suspects, Duncan, Harris, Hughes and Chamberlain made quick work of the 49 second range, then blasted down into the 45’s in no time. Late in the rotation, Doug Smith reached his season best placing and an energized John Felten suddenly reached down into the 45’s as well. Steadily paced by good timer/starter coordination, the heat reached a dizzying pitch with seemingly continuous runs, each better than the one before.
When the Thundering Herd Of The Third was done, Chamberlain’s Cobra was clinking and cooling with a 44.717 second pass in hand, a mere .010 under Jeff Duncan’s second place Ultralight. Larry Casey was XP #2 again in third overall, with Felten’s Reynard ahead of the third Top 5 Cobra, squired by the youngest Smith in attendance.
By the fourth heat, air temps and track temps dropped like a rock as the front finally settled in. Fourth heatß FTD contenders Mike Moran and Greg Honeycutt would muster enough grip only for sixth and seventh.
Sunday’s field swelled to a sell-out 101 entries, including walk-up appearances by some experienced Cumberland competitors in the form of SM Celica jockey Martin Valent and hired Cobra gun Brian Karwan, owner of Karcepts and a 2009 WDCR SCCA class champion.
All of the favorites were grouped together in the third now under perfect conditions.
John Felten led the way for most of the five-run regulation cycle. Honeycutt showed flashes of his mid season form with low raw times, held back by clipped cones. The open wheelers seemed locked as Jeff Duncan and Gary Hughes had their 7 clones nestled close to Felten. Make that “not.” This was a weekend for history.
In mid-heat, Chamberlain stopped on course for a wayward worker not alert to the risks of a returning racer through the crossover. He ran in sequence through his scheduled fifth pass and was still not fast enough to complete the weekend sweep. But when he got back in line with the re-run holders he laid down a lap for the angels. Flying back toward the finish from Medivac, the Virginian somehow willed his digging Factory 5 snake into a perfect entrance angle and took the final slalom with blistering speed, barely steering if at all. Up flashed a stunning 45.958. Finis.
Chamberlain first, Felten second, Duncan third, Hughes fourth, Honeycutt fifth.
Chamberlain collected a feat so rare it took a day to confirm if it had ever been done at Cumberland - PAX, Class, FTD squared.
Mike McCagh won the inaugural outing for the VST class (Vintage American Muscle Cars on Street Tires) in his ’57 fuelie Corvette, prancing from gate to gate to the delight of the audience, his competitors and a bit of Donna Mae surely riding along side him.
Two-day winners in contested classes included Chamberlain, Felten, Hughes, Jim Harris (SS ZO6), Ron Dotts (AS Corvette), Eric Barnett (ES Mazda), Eric Coffman (FS Shelby Mustang), Alex Redding (HS MGB-GT), Steve Hotchkiss (BSP Corvette), Joe Oxenham (ESP Mustang) and John Claypool (STU Mitsubishi).
Local single day winners in contested classes included Doug Macy (Saturday DSP Audi), Ken Bane (Saturday SM Mustang) and Ted Haines (Sunday, GS Mustang).
Saturday Overall PDF
Saturday Overall HTM
Saturday Class PDF
Saturday Class HTM
Saturday PAX PDF
Saturday PAX HTM
Sunday Overall PDF
Sunday Overall HTM
Sunday Class PDF
Sunday Class HTM
Sunday PAX PDF
Sunday PAX HTM