Club Happenings – Winter 2020: NJ Chapter Westlake School Donation

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Several members of the club recently represented the NJ Chapter at the Westlake School, a public school specializing in serving students that have multiple disabilities, to make a charitable donation from the club to the school.

Pictured are (L-R): Terry Foppert (Superintendent, Union County Educational Services Commission), Neil Gambony, Claudine Tantillo (Principal, Westlake School), Ross Karlin, Larry Engel, Jeff White, and Stan Mayer. Photo by Eric Larson.

Club Happenings – Summer 2019: NJ Chapter BMW CCA Provides Parade Lap Rides to Students and Donation to Westlake School

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Members of the club attending the HPDE and Club Racing event held by the chapter at New Jersey Motorsports Park in June provided parade lap rides to students from the Westlake School, a public school specializing in serving students that have multiple disabilities.

Photo by Brian Morgan

Driving Schools – Summer 2017: A Great Day for Westlake and a Great Race at Summit Point

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By Ross Karlin and Jeff White

In June and July the NJ Chapter holds two of its longest tenure events: the June driver school and club race to benefit Westlake School and the July driver school and club race (now the Geoff Atkinson Memorial Driver School and Club Race). While both events were tremendous fun, the recurring theme of this season could be “Mastering the rain line”.

The June event is now in its 22nd year and the 20th anniversary of being a benefit event for Westlake School. The driver school portion of the event was down on registrations this year and so we ran only 2 student run groups. The students and instructors did an admirable job of managing the variable skill levels in each group but the event organizer was unable to manage the weather. As the schedule rolled into the late afternoon, lightning in the area forced cars off the track. No sooner than we had decided to stop for the day, the skies opened up and everyone made a dash for the Officer’s Club for the evening banquet.

Monday’s rain meant Tuesday’s schedule had to be modified to give the racers their time while still maintaining the school. Everyone was understanding and made the best of a difficult arrangement. Many thanks to the school volunteers who lined up at lunch to provide cars for the Westlake parade laps.

We chose a new method to raise donation funds for Westlake this year. Rather than relying on a single large sponsor we turned to our members and other small business to use a crowd-funding approach: The Kid’s Koalition. 16 members, friends and businesses stepped up to help and contributed over $4,300. We were also fortunate this year to have excellent support for our Monday evening banquet auction with a watch provided by Hamilton Jewelers, race-used body work from BimmerWorld, and a race car rental from new racer Tyler Pappas of Tyspeed Automotive. Silent auction items were provided by Turner Motorsports and Cora Kiceniuk. Door prize give-aways came from Circle BMW, VAC Motorsports, Turner, BimmerWorld, Bridgestone and the Chapter. Thanks to our hobbled but still enthusiastic auctioneer Mo Karamat, the auction donations combined with garage rentals from April upped our total raise to almost $7,000!

As for the races, the first race on Monday afternoon saw Todd Brown take an early lead in his C-Mod car, and he never looked back, taking the checkered flag with no one else in sight. Coming along next was Jeffrey Bruce (CM), Asher Hyman (CM), and Robert Solomon (BM). The rest of the field included seven IP cars, 4 IS cars, and a variety of other classes. The end of day race on Monday afternoon had to be postponed as the rain clouds moved in, and reports of lightning nearby required bringing in the corner workers. So, lightning at Lightning Raceway shut down the track!

Photo by Brian Morgan

Tuesday morning’s practice then became the first of three races for the day. A blown engine gave up all its fluids under the bridge, causing several cars to spin off, and ultimately bringing out the red flag and ending the race. The second race of the day was able to be run to completion, with the three CM cars of Jeffrey Bruce, Asher Hyman, and Robert Mager taking the checker for the top three. The students and staff from Westlake arrived, enjoyed lunch and then took their pace laps courtesy of our students and instructors. Their smiles lit up the day. The feature race lived up to expectations, seeing several close battles among different classes, right up to the checkered flag. The overall winner was Jeffery Bruce (CM), followed by Asher Hyman (CM) and Robert Solomon (BM), and rookie Vinh Chau (GTS2).

The Westlake students participated in the trophy ceremony, enthusiastically thanking all the club members for a truly exciting and memorable day and went home with their own event shirts and gift bags from VAC.

In July we celebrated the 19th anniversary of racing at Summit Point and the 4th Annual Geoff Atkinson Memorial Driver School and Club Race. Geoff must have been smiling on us as we had a full driver school with 3 student run groups and 47 club racers! Everyone agreed that this was the largest turnout of racers we have ever had at Summit Point.

The one thing Geoff could not help us with was the weather; once again rain played havoc with the schedule. Saturday was forecast to have only a chance of rain but at lunch the skies darkened, the wind got fierce and the rain came down in buckets. By the time it stopped, we were behind schedule. A little gerrymandering and we managed to complete both the third set of school run groups and get in racer qualifying and the race. The race grid was a welcome sight with 45 cars taking the green flag.

This time the pre-race activities focused on the radar maps. More rain was coming…. but when? When the cars came to grid, you could tell who was careful and who was hopeful: dry tires or rain tires??

Once the race started, the pace was fast, although those on rain tires had to dial it back a notch so as not to heat up or chunk away their tread. But, at about two-thirds through the race, the rain came, a few drops at first, then steady. Several drivers on dry tires had the sense to call it a day and exited the track. Of course, some others on dry tires (this author included) stayed out and skated around until the checker flew for Todd Brown, followed by Vernon McClure, Bob Perritt, and Jerry Kaufman.

No sooner than school cars were back on track after the race, the skies really opened up again. It became clear that we were not going to resume and so we had to cancel the final sessions for the students and instructors. Fortunately, our friends from Jordan Springs Market were ready with our BBQ and set up in one of the classrooms. This was a first for us but the food was great and everyone managed to find dry places to eat between the classrooms and the picnic tables. By the time the BBQ was finished, so was the rain. We had a larger than usual number of motorhomes and campers this year so Saturday night became Camp Summit in the wooded portion of the paddock. Pop-ups, camp chairs, beverages of all sorts and recounted stories – this is what track events are really all about.

Tuesday began much better – school sessions went off without a hitch and the early race had 42 cars take the grid with a fast pace starting to spread out the cars, when a fullcourse yellow brought out the pace car to assist towing a car off the track. Once the race leader took the green flag again, there was a mix of fast cars and slower lapped traffic, all jockeying for position and corners. This created some of the best, tightest racing of the weekend as the field sorted itself out. Once again Todd Brown took the checker, followed by Mark Lounsbury and Vernon McClure. The driver school continued to run smoothly and then after lunch, it was time for the feature race.

Thirty-seven cars took the green flag, with Todd Brown pulling out a comfortable lead, which he did not relinquish despite another stint behind the pace car for a full-course yellow and car cleanup. He took the checker with a 10 second lead, followed by a close battle for second and third position, where Mark Lounsbury edged out Vernon McClure at the start/finish line.

Photo by Brian Morgan
Photo by Brian Morgan
Photo by Brian Morgan

Class winners included Jerry Kaufman (IP), Charles Harding (HP), Peter Kerekgyarto (IS), Vinh Chau (GTS2), Vasil Vykhopen (GTS3), Steve Liadis (HP), Patrick Harris (Spec E46), Keith Primozic (DM), Tyler Pappas (JP), John Sanders (JS), Michael Saul (Spec E36), and Bob Gilberg (Spec E30). The third set of driver school run groups went well but the rain gods were not finished with us. After a 30 minute torrential downpour (there were white caps in the water in the paddock) we were left with a flooded track that was not safe to drive on. Our weekend was over.

We have two events remaining this season. On Sep 16-17 we have 2 days of club racing with the Sep 16 portion being run as a support series for the NASCAR K&N race at NJMP Thunderbolt. This is a terrific, fan-friendly spectator event so come one down, watch your favorite club racers, watch the big engine cars from NARRA and then see the future of NASCAR with the K&N drivers. On the 17th club racers will share track time with our Advanced Solo students and instructors. This is the second time we are running a Solo student day and we are looking for a good turnout. Six hours of track time at a price that cannot be beat. If you believe you qualify as a Solo student and want to attend, please contact us.

We finish the season on Oct. 7-8 on the Shenandoah circuit at Summit Point. We will say it again, if you drive Shenandoah it will make you a better driver on every track you visit. This is also the only event we run with skid pad for all students on both days. It is the perfect event to finish out the season.

We’ll see you at the track.

Club Happenings – Summer 2017: Westlake School Students visit BMW CCA Club Race at NJMP

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During breaks in the the HPDE and Club Racing event held by the NJ Chapter at New Jersey Motorsports Park in June, students from the Westlake School were given parade lap rides in participants’ cars. This is a thrill for these students.

Photo by Brian Morgan

The NJ Chapter supports the Westlake School in Westfield. The Westlake School is a school for students with special needs that provides opportunities for them to create connections between school and everyday life through hands-on academics, vocational and transitional skills, social/emotional coping skills and behavioral intervention strategies.

Photo by Brian Morgan

Club Happenings – Spring 2017: NJ Chapter Donates to Westlake School

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Several members of the club recently represented the NJ Chapter at the Westlake School, a public school specializing in serving students that have multiple disabilities, to make a charitable donation from the club to the school. The contribution was made possible through the generosity of many club members throughout the year, with special recognition and thanks to our NJMP Premier Sponsor Flemington BMW.

NJ Chapter officers Larry Engel, Doug Feigel, Jeff White and Ross Karlin presented the annual contribution to the
Westlake School. Accepting the check for $8500 are Westlake School Principal Claudine Tantillo and Terry Foppert,
Superintendent of the Union County Educational Services Commission.

Driving Schools – Summer 2016: Driver School and Club Races at NJMP and Summit Point

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By Jeff White

In June, the chapter held its annual Driver School and Club Race to benefit the Westlake School. This year we welcomed Flemington BMW as our primary event sponsor. This year’s event was held on Lightning Raceway and was well supported by both driver school and club racer participants. Sixty-eight driver school students and 42 instructors were spread among three student run groups so that everyone had plenty of open track. Thirty-three club racers took the track on Monday for the first race with the second qualifying race on Tuesday morning followed by the feature race on Tuesday afternoon. Thanks to Flemington BMW for providing the i8 pace car for both days as well as plenty of water to keep everyone hydrated.

On Monday evening we held our banquet and charity auction in the Officer’s Club at Thunderbolt. Close to $3,000 was raised through silent auctions with prizes including an i8 RC car (Bridgewater BMW), Watkins Glen race tickets (DelVal chapter) and team shirts (Turner Motorsport) and regular auctions, led by master auctioneer Mo Karamat, of items including “slightly used” race car body work (from Jerry Kaufman’s Daytona car and from Turner Motorsports), an entry to a future Jeffapalooza event including coaching from James Clay, a child’s bike (Morristown BMW) and an adult bicycle (Flemington BMW). Door prizes for participants included watches, shirts, umbrellas, hats, car care products and gift certificates. We want to thank all our sponsors: Flemington BMW, Bridgewater BMW, Morristown BMW, Circle BMW, VAC Motorsports, Turner Motorsport, Bimmer- World and TireRack.

On Tuesday, we marked the highlight of the event when the students and staff of Westlake School visited. On their arrival, everyone was presented with a shirt and gift bag from Flemington BMW. Students and staff were treated to parade laps on the track in a colorful and multi-marque set of participant cars and then the students enjoyed watching the spirited feature race. See Brian Morgan’s article in the Roundel for a full race report. The students then helped out with the trophy presentations before heading back home.

Thanks to everyone who came out to make this a great event and thanks also to our race stewards (Barry Kaplan, Bruce Smith and Larry Fletcher), Tech workers and pit out workers. Without our volunteers none of this would be possible.

In July, we held the 3rd Annual Geoff Atkinson Memorial Driver School and Club Race at Summit Point Motorsports Park on the Main Circuit. For those of you who may not have known Geoff, he was an instructor, ITS mentor, club racer and all-around great guy who contributed much to the NJ chapter and we take this event as a way to celebrate all he brought to us. This was a sold-out event with 69 driver school students, 40 instructors and 32 club racers. All participants and volunteers were challenged by the heat and humidity of the weekend. In fact, driver school students were asked to run their A/C during their track time to help keep both students and instructors cooled down! Despite the challenges, all the school sessions and all 3 races were incident-free. Our race stewards (Bruce Lummis, Todd Massagee and Larry Fletcher) made sure the racers were well looked after. Once again, look for a full race report from Brian Morgan in the Roundel.

On Saturday evening we held our traditional track-side BBQ buffet including a very nice Kolsch beer from a local brewery (Escutcheon in Winchester, VA). Thanks to on-site payments from a number of BBQ guests we were able to raise an additional $300 for Westlake. Special thanks also go to VAC Motorsports for their sponsorship of the event.

As this issue of the Bulletin hits your mailbox we will be very close to our special event at NJMP Thunderbolt. On Friday and Saturday Sep. 16-17, the NJ Chapter will be the host of a special advanced driver school and Club Race in support of the NASCAR K&N Pro Series East race. This is the first time NASCR has come to NJMP and they asked us to participate! The driver school is open to solo advanced driver school students and instructors only. There will be 3 hours of track time on Friday and an additional hour on Saturday. The registration price also includes a VIP ticket that provides a special viewing area and BBQ buffet during the day on Saturday. The club racing portion will feature a warm-up, qualifying and a single sprint race on Friday afternoon and then warm-up, a qualifying race on Saturday morning and then the feature race in the afternoon just before the NASCAR race. This is a tremendous opportunity for Club Racing: two days of racing at a professional race series event. This is the chance to showcase Club Racing to an audience that may not be familiar with what we do: sports car racing that has cars in different classes on the track. For other fans, this is a chance to see where current racers such as Will Turner, Bill Auberlen, James Clay, Jeff Segal and our own Jerry Kaufman started. For our participants, we get to see the up and coming NASCAR racers of the future, and maybe teach them a thing or two about road course racing. We are also planning a special car corral for club member spectators – be sure to watch for announcements on the website and in chapter email blasts. This will be a unique event.

We wrap-up the season on Oct. 8-9 on the Shenandoah Circuit at Summit Point. Shenandoah is a small and fun event. A great time of year to be in West Virginia, small run groups, a paddock where everyone is close, skid pad for two days, a track walk and, most importantly, a chance to practice virtually every type of turn you will ever encounter on a race track. Driving Shenandoah will make you a better driver on every other track you visit. Come on down.

Registration for both the Thunderbolt event and Shenandoah is open on Motorsportreg.com, just click on the logo on the chapter website home page.

We’ll see you at the track.

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