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Higgins 8th different winner in Event 10 and Valla Scores First Pro 8 Shootout Win

By Edgar Perez

October 07, 2006: It is a good thing that East Coast Supercharging Corvette Challenge racers don't make a living at weather watching because we would all be broke. I have learned not to look at weather reports until Friday night because I will worry myself sick if I do earlier. A 20% chance of some rain for the East Coast Supercharging Corvette presented by Yank Racing Converters and Gear Star Transmission is no match for us and an 80 Corvette attendance is evidence of that. In addition to our Corvette Challenge, the display of speed was on in the chase for the first 7-second pass in The Vette Doctors Pro 8 Shootout presented by Neverlift Racecraft ( was on as well. In addition, we were treated to Leo Barnaby's Corvette making exhibition passes for the next day's Ultra Quick 8 at Old Bridge Township Raceway Park ( and treat us he did with a pass at 7.01 @ 199 MPH (video)

For today's Vette Doctors Pro 8 Shootout coverage click here.

So enough talk of the rain, let's talk about the racing. I would like thank our friend from Heidelberg, PA, about 350 miles from E-town, Jim Cummings, who was pleased with the track today running three 10-second passes in his 355 ci '85 Corvette. Our race featured two first time finalists out of the 72 making first round. Ronald Higgins was in his backup car (1996 was getting transmission work done by Tommy Michalkowski at Anger Management) and Gino Spina was back racing after several months of not being at the track. I think I gave Higgins a little luck as I caught up with him on Route 9 on the way to the track and when we arrived he said to me, "Thanks for waking me up". Spina's performance was witnessed by his wife and three children, who each picked up trophies for being number one cheering fans. Once again we had all 6 generations covered and personal bests were abundant as Raceway Park was hooking like crazy.

Photos by Mike Roberts
Runner Up Group Winner
Gino Spina Never enough Vettes in the lanes Ron Higgins

Round one - The highlight race of the first round was Frank "Mr Mojo" Schear flexing his Mojo and clocking a perfect .000 reaction time against former Champion Bob Trieschmann leaving Bob with nothing to do but accept the first round loss. Mojo was not the only one cutting the tree down as Chris Haase cut a .011 light in addition to enjoying runs in the 11's for the first time in his 2003 Corvette. Haase, likely to be a points rookie next year, took out current rookie Jim Kasmala, hurting him a little in this year's chase. In a huge match up, Gary Hurta took his C6 Z06 to a win over former Champ Ralph Savarese who may have underestimated Hurta when his .079 reaction time proved too late to Hurta's .019 while both drivers were .02 over their dials. Anthony Cupolo returned to the Challenge with his 1963 split window Corvette and got through round one with a .013 reaction time and 11.99 on 11.90 dial over George Chambers in his 2000 Corvette. Joe Signore was out with his new C6 getting break-in miles and no longer having to hit the brakes in the C5 convertible and showed well with a .018 light and 13.20 run on 13.15 dial over Vincent Basso in the 2000 Vette. Jason Anderson was doing double duty with his White C5 running both Corvette Challenge and Pro 8 Shootout. He cut a .023 light and ran 10.814 on 10.80 dial to take the win over Dr Rob Zona, who started out doing double duty but gave his car to Paul Ziajski to compete in the Pro 8 instead. Zona ran 10.859 on 10.80 dial (heads-up) but his light wasn't near Jason's so he was relegated to the stands for the rest of the day. Cummings put himself on the trailer against Al Betz when he went red by -.019 but left smiling with his third 10.90 pass of the day. On the way to the final, Gino Spina's first victim was Randolph Lane. The pair left the line with near identical reaction times and arrived at the finish within 21 ten-thousandths in a double breakout with Spina just barely surviving the round by .0019. Our other finalist, Ron Higgins, did not have to work as hard as he took a huge tree advantage over Chris Pastorello to the victory in first round.

2006 Event 10 Ladder

Round two - 35 Corvette were left for this round John Panuzzo cut a great light of .019 but needed Joe Signore to break out for a win because Signore was even better at .001. Signore broke out despite hitting the brakes as the new C6 is just breaking in and left Signore breaking out with a 13.022 on 13.15 dial on the brakes. Eric Fischer took out one of our two remaining 10-second cars when his .036 tree advantage caused George Smith to run under in his 1974 Corvette. Fischer was 11.812 on 11.80 dial to Smith's 10.939 on 10.97 dial. The other 10-second Vette was Anderson who took himself out with -.053 light while his opponent, James Peins, got away with a less than desirable light. Rookie Devon Bole used a .015 light and 13.418 run on 13.35 dial to defeat Tom Smith in the 1969 Corvette despite Tom's .042 light when he ran under trying to catch up. Spina came up against the other C2 this round owned by Don Peppler Jr. Spina was late on the tree but Peppler later and both broke out with Spina on the lower side running 12.257 on 12.28 dial to Peppler's 13.21 on 13.30 dial. Higgins advanced when "Ralphie Killer" Hurta went red in his C6 Z06. Higgins' run was 12.687 on 12.64 dial in the 383 cubic inch manually shifted 1966 Corvette.

Round three - Ladder time and 18 Corvettes remained. Some close racing here but none closer than Devon Bole and Dave Buddendorff each scoring .004 reaction times. Bole was closer to the dial of 13.35 with a 13.468 to Dave's 13.801 on 13.68 dial as the drivers appeared to not want the stripe, on the brakes at 99 mph each. Points leader Rob Farley was rolling along building on his points lead as Dave Tortolani, 2nd in points, had exited in the first round breaking out after a .010 reaction time. Farley recorded the best time of the round with a .003 and his opponent, Eric Fischer, was almost perfect but on the wrong side with a -.002 reaction. Spina advanced this round when Al Betz lit the ugly red going -0.030 ending his day. Higgins caught his break of the day this round when he was off second to Ralph Blauvelt on the tree and off his dial but Blauvelt broke out by a five-thousandths of a second, 13.895 on 13.90 dial.

Round four - Devon Bole got the bye run this round and advanced taking the free shot running 13.45 on 13.40 dial...time to adjust Devon (remember this). Panuzzo had the fire in his eye today and his next match was John Hadyniak. Panuzzo was off first with a .070 to .123 light advantage and finished the run dead-on with a 12.709 on 12.70 dial. Hadyniak was just over his dial with an 11.287 on 11.26 dial but the light did him in. Points leader Farley was moving on with a .082 light and 13.899 on 13.66 dial when Peins was not able to compete with Farley's light. Spina took another close one, this one over Haase. Spina used a .071 to .103 tree edge and a 12.31 on 12.25 dial to defeat Haase who was 11.868 on 11.81 dial. Higgins took out Sheila Murchan, but not on a date, when the "She Devil" could not run the number. Higgins was 12.685 on 12.61 while Sheila was 15.047 on 14.81 dial ending her good day.

Round five - Remember Devon? Well Devon is paired with Spins for this round. Devon had just run 13.45 on 13.40 dial in the bye run. He kept the 13.40 dial on the glass against Spina. They were off and the lights were near dead-even at .072 for Spina and .074 for Bole. Spina, however, had the better package with a 12.319 on 12.29 dial and Bole runs 13.445 on the .40 dial. A little tweak to the dial might have made the difference. No problem for Devon however, he leaves with a 5-point lead in the Rookie of the Year chase on this strong showing. Panuzzo got the free pass this round and chose not to run it. Would it hurt him later? Maybe. Higgins had to face points leader Farley in this other quarter-final matchup. Farley was off first and apparently figured he'd done it all but go red he did. It was so close at -.002 but red nonetheless. Higgins was on his way to his first final as he would get the bye next round.

Round six - Here we go...would it be Spina or Panuzzo? Spina was spooked by Panuzzo it seems as he cuts his worst light of the day.... at .261. Panuzzo has it in the bag with a .058 light....or does he? Remember he sat out the bye just after he had run dead-on? Well he came into the race with the same 12.70 dial. While ahead of Spina through the stripe, it would be Spina who would get the win light. Panuzzo ran 12.693 on the 12.70 dial. Could be it cooled too much, sorry JP, your day is done. Higgins would make the free pass this round and it appeared the clutch had begun to give up as he was off his dial of 12.58 running 12.856 but it did not matter as he was in his first final.

Round seven - The Final - Neither driver had made it to the ECS CC final before so we were assured of not only our eighth different winner in 9 races this year (one called after 1 round due to rain), but a first time winner. Before the final, Spina was pumped and Higgins was calm and collected. They make lane choices and then Spina spills his secret to winning. The secret? It certainly was not a delay box or other bracket racing aide. The secret was 45 lbs of pressure in his slicks! Not a typo, it is forty-five lbs of pressure (video) in his slicks. Spina got the tip from a fell dragster racer who suggested he run as much air pressure as he can while still hooking. Looks like it worked for him getting him to the final. Higgins would leave first with 12.58 dial to Spina's 12.29. They were both off clean and Higgins took the lead in reaction, .077 to .137. Spina "bogged off the line" and ran 12.534 and Higgins killed his clutch and was off his dial with a 12.882 on 12.58 dial. Though Spina was closer to the dial, Higgins' light got him the win by two-thousandths at the stripe in a very exciting finish to the day (video). Congratulations to both drivers on a great day. Feature writer Sheila Murchan added, this is "NO FISH TALE - "The Big Bass took it at the Stripe". Also, very neat to hear Gino's kids in stands 'that's MY DAD!!' .... his family was even more excited than him."

Corvette Challenge Points Update

Higgins' 8 point day moves him into the 4th position overall with 24 points and a win breaking a tie with Eric Fischer while Farley opened up a big lead with his 5 point day over second place racer, Dave Tortolani, who lost first round. There are still 2 points races left to determine your position in the standings. At this point, very few drivers are out of contention for the Top 16 Gamblers race to be held at the end of the season for $1,000 cash prize.
Corvette Challenge Standings
Corvette drivers page with more information

Rookie of the Year Update

Devon Bole also made a big points move today, his for Rookie of the Year, with a 5-point day. Bole holds a 5-point lead over Kimberly Rudolf, Jim Kasmala and now Joe Latona who racked up three points today to get himself in the hunt.
Rookie of the Year Standings

Corvette Challenge Club Challenge Cup

With 12 participants today, Corvette Club of Delaware Valley continued dominance of the Club Challenge Cup. CCDV receives five bonus points thanks to the 5-point performances of both Devon Bole and Rob Farley. Hey CCDV leads three categories when you look at the club and individual leaders. Way to go team!
Club Challenge Cup Standings

Spectrum Equipment Service Gear Jammer Award Update

New for 2006: Spectrum Equipment Service "Gear Jammer of the Year" award, presented at year-end banquet to the racer with most points in his/her manual transmission Corvette. We will begin counting from Event 5 forward so all gear jammers have a square start.

Neil Vernarelli holds a 13 to 9 point lead over Bob Hollingshead for this award. However, now Ron Higgins would be looking to make a decision when he gets his automatic '96 back as he earned 8 points today to get himself into third place with his manually shifted '66 Corvette.
Gear Jammer Standings.

Summary of driver Dial-In times

Time 10 11 12 13 14 Total
# 3 20 22 24 3 72
% 4.17% 27.78% 30.56% 33.33% 4.17% 100%

Awards Handed Out at this Event

  • Frank Schear won the 'John Panuzzo Jr. Memorial' trophy presented by Team Panuzzo Racing for the best winning reaction time in the 1st round. Frank Schear was quickest on the tree in the 1st round when his RT was .000.
  • Rich Shuleski won the 'Almost Perfect Award' with a loss in the 1st round with the red light closest to .000 (Almost Perfect). Rich Shuleski's light was -0.003 and was rewarded a trophy from Old Bridge Township Raceway Park recognizing the effort put forth to try and capture a perfect light but just slightly red.
  • Bill Wilson won the CCDV 'Closest to Dial Award' by running only .004 off his dial. Bill Wilson was awarded a trophy and free tech card for a future race from Corvette Club of Delaware Valley.
  • Ohh so Close Award of Zaino productsRandolph Lane won the 'Ohh so Close Award' presented by Zaino when being edged out in the 1st round by the smallest margin of victory of .0021. That number is the MOV number on your time slip. Although suffering a loss in the 1st round by the smallest Margin of Victory, Randolph Lane earned a Zaino starter package that includes Z1, Z2, Z6, Z7 and a polish pad.
  • All winners of the first round were awarded a trophy sponsored by United Racing. With 80 cars making this event, United Racing gave out quite a few trophies or 1st Round Trophy Upgrade Program credits.

Next Two Races

October 21, 2006 for our tenth points race of the season (though we have to make up a couple still). Surprisingly, still we have yet to have a repeat winner in 2006. The Cartek Racing Pro 10.0 index class will return for its fifth race (though still have to make one up) race also having no repeat winners. A heads-up class (separate signup required) in which cars cannot run under 10.0. Run whatcha brung but don't bring more than 10.0. We are hoping this will bring some really tight racing so don't miss this one either. See our schedule for racing on the top left of this page.

November 4, 2006 - This will be the makeup of our June 24th race. The Vette Doctors Pro 8 Shootout will return at this event as well. To race in the Pro 8 Shootout, you must sign up for Pro 8 points separately. Be sure and check out this hard racing action.

Visit the Drag Schedule at to view Raceway Park's schedule for other events and days for test and tuning.

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modified: December 31, 1969 - 7:00 pm

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