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Another First-Time Winner, Gary Hurta!

By Edgar Perez

July 07, 2007 - Englishtown, NJ - The East Coast Supercharging Corvette Challenge presented by Yank Racing Converters and Gear Star Transmission has no shortage of first time winners. Time and time again there is someone new holding the big trophy and storing their first big trophy in the confines of their Corvette racing shrine. This time we were guaranteed a first time winner as both finalists, Gary Hurta in the 2006 Corvette Z06 427 and Chris Haase, 2003 Corvette Convertible with a hardtop, were in their first final. Did I also mention both are Rookies to the Corvette Challenge points series? This series truly is open for anyone to win.

After a long hiatus since our last race, May 12, 2007, the racers were itching to get back to race. Or was the itching the result of the high heat today with temps close to 90 degrees. Anyhow, they were out in full force. 72 Corvettes made it to the bracket race first round and 4 to the Pro 8 Shootou race.

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

Runner Up Group Winner
Runner-up Chris Haase Winner Winner Gary Hurta
Photos by Mike Roberts. For over 5000 Corvette Photos, click here.

Round one - With only a few hours to press time for this article we are going to have to be as quick as our quickest Corvettes. First off, again Farley and this time he was off against Frank Schear who used his "Mojo" to leave with identical .085 reaction times with Farley. That was all he had though as he was off his 13.30 dial with a 13.434 and that is too much margin for the defending champ to not advance. There were several first time racers today with Tom Anderson getting a couple of his friends hooked and the Mahopac connection was growing as this time toda and Mike Calicchia, son of Louis Calicchia was sporting his own 1999 Corvette coupe complete with Cartek Racing heads and Cam package. He got educated though as Anthony Cupolo sent him packing when Mike was late and off his dial. Rich Shuleski was back with the Grand Sport and it was keeping it together for over 5 passes now and took a first round win going 11.3 12 on 11.28 dial and .058 light. Dr. Ron Leader was out after not expecting to make it, making sure his vote was counted when it comes time to figure what the next exciting heads-up index bracket is going to be. He lobbied for 11.63 with his dial but then proceeded to break out running 11.482 letting Ellis Gray get away with an extremely late light. Gary Hurta faced Ron Higgins who was in his '66 today. He left first on him with a .072 light to .125 and ran closer to his dial, 12.153 on 11.95 dial when Higgins was off his dial as well.

2007 Event 7 Ladder

Round two - No ladder yet. A couple of cars were not able to make it back for this round so we were down to 35. Chris Young was lucky enough to get the bye this round so he was on his way to the third round. James Peins ended the welcome wagon for Mark Jackson's first Challenge of the season when Jackson went red and James was moving on. John Policastro was also back for his first Challenge of the season and met the same fate, red, he at the hands of the Sheila Murchan. Another returning driver, Vincent Pileggi, has been off building his ride the past couple of years and was finally out making some shakedown passes but he too had his day end this round, by a late light at the hands of Rookie Mike Archibald. Eventual finalist Gary Hurta ended the day for Shuleski when Rich could not run his number so Hurta would move on with a 12.290 on 11.95 dial. Chris Haase would use a dead-on run, 12.207 on 12.20 dial to make up for reaction time disadvantage to Mike Campbell who broke out chasing Haase down.

Round four - That number one seed in the ladder was Alfred Salanitro who earned it by going .015 in the prior round taking out John Hadyniak in round two. Hurta would take out former Champion, Bob Trieschmann in his new '98 Medium Pearl Purple Coupe, despite the better reaction time. Hurta was closer on his 11.90 dial with an 11.923 for the win. Chris Haase would face a non-points driver, Daniel Frazier with an '04 Corvette. This seasoned rookie, Haase, made quick work of Frazier with a reaction time advantage of .103 and ran 12.205 on the 12.12 dial. Neil Vernarelli was having a good day and advanced with he went .016 and 13.745 on 13.69 dial to defeat Doug Bereczki. Anthony Cupolo rolled on with the '63 with a .008 reaction time and a 12.099 on 11.99 dial making the day complete for Shawn Cavanagh. Salanitro took his single and was hoping he would not repeat the pass as he was late and off the dial.

Round five - Cupolo faced Salanitro and again came up big on the tree when he took a .044 to .059 reaction time advantage to the finish. Salanitro was off by two tenths on his dial so Cupolo slowed it to 12.147 on the 11.99 dial. Haase would face Vernarelli in the other pair. He was on the tree with a .027 to Neilís .078 which was not enough. Vernarelli broke out trying to catch Haase running 13.672 on the 13.75 dial in the 1957 Corvette. Hurta got the single and was off on both ends as was Salanitro in the prior bye. Hope it was not an omen!

Round six - With three cars left I chatted with the semi-finalists. Cupolo was a little disappointed he had to race his teammate and friend Hurta in the semi but was happy one of them was going to get a chance to win the event getting in the final. Haase on the other hand was elated to get the bye into the final and awaited his opponent in his first career final. As we waited, Hurta asked Haase if he had a place in mind for the trophy because if he didn't he would alleviate that need. He stated he's already got his place selected. I think it was a ploy to ready or un-ready Haase for the final. But first he has to get past Cupolo. Cupolo bumped it a little deeper he felt than he had all day and was off and racing when his son Anthony radios something to this went red! Hurta was on his way to his to the final to figure who would be storing that winner trophy.

Round seven - The two cars were close in ET. Hurta dialed 11.90 and Haase 12.16. They had me flip the coin for them to see would get the perceived better lane, the left. Hurta won the toss and elected the left. Haase was on this way to the right but it did not bother him too much, he had won some rounds there today. Haase was out first out with a .052. Hurta followed and spun a little, the very thing he wanted to avoid by taking the left lane after winnng the coin flip. At the top end, Haase looked over and had the lead so he lifted a little but Hurta had the power of the 427 on his side and although he slowed too, he took the stripe and the win. His first Corvette Challenge win! He was in at 12.017 @ 120.89 to Haase's 12.329 @ 106.39. They each played the game and Gary was the winner. Both drivers did a great job surviving the heat and the seven rounds so a big "atta boy" goes out to both and to all that beared the heat today.

Corvette Challenge Points Update

Don Peppler Jr finds himself now in the top spot and without the benefit of an event win. Savarese holds onto the second spot though now tied by David Tortolani. Incoming points leader Ralph Savarese figured he'd toy with us and take a vacation during one of our races since he did not need the points. Okay maybe not, but poor planning and all, we know he can make up the ground so don't count him out. Hurta's win moves him up to number 11 while Salanitro's day moved him up to 10th. Both of these drivers are rookies. Defending Champ Rob Farley finds himself in 15th place, 9 points out of first.
2007 Corvette Challenge Standings
Corvette drivers page with more driver information

Rookie of the Year Update

Alfred Salanitro holds on too the rookie points chase despit Hurta' big win today. Salanitro when to the fourth round so he leaves with 19 points while Hurta bumps up to 2nd with the win with a toal of 19 points. Mike Archibald now sits in third holding the tie breaker lead over Chris Haase as each has 16 points but Arch is ahead with his event win in Event 3. Still a tight chase and anybodies race so watch out for these rookies, they know what they are doing.
Rookie of the Year Standings

Corvette Challenge Team Challenge Cup

The new Team Challenge Cup competition Event 7 proves to be quite beneficial for team Mistress and the Mayhem which catapulted past Devon's Demons from last place into 8th, leaving Sgt Pepplers Lonely Racers and the Mad Dawgs tied up in the basement. Meanwhile, Ridin' Dirty pulls out of their 2-way tie with The Eliminators and secures 2nd place by an unprecedented 8 point margin. The Vapors maintain their shrinking lead while Going Rounds, Tree Trimmers, More Meds, and CFYA! all remain quite content with their previous positions of 4th-7th respectively and The Trap shooters slip to 9th. For complete Team Standings visit

Current Team Standings

TeamTeam NameTeam CaptainPoints
T01 Ridin' Dirty Savarese, Ralph 105
T08 The Eliminators Trescott, John 100
T02 The Vapors Tortolani, David 95
T06 Going Rounds Fischer, Eric 84
T10 Tree Trimmers Farley, Rob 81
T09 Mistress and the Mayhem Rudolf, Kimberly 78
T05 More Meds Higgins, Ron 73
T07 The Trap Shooters Kovitch, James 65
T03 Sgt Pepplers Lonely Racers Peppler, Donald 64
T04 CYFA! Sebrowski, Robert 64
T11 Devon's Demons Bole, Devon 62
T12 Mad Dawgs Muniz, Jerry 53
click to see drivers on each team
Click if you cannot see Team Challenge Cup Standings

Spectrum Equipment Service Gear Jammer Award Update

Of course the overall points leader being a gear jammer himself will find him in the lead in this category as well. Don Peppler Jr. is holds a 25 to 19 point lead over Ken Tyler. Hurta's performance moves him to third with 18 points while Cupolo is now fourth with 16. Go figure, the top guys are loaded with shifters? Spectrum Equipment Service once again sponsors the "Gear Jammer of the Year" award, presented at year-end banquet to the racer with most points in his/her manual transmission Corvette.
Gear Jammer Standings.

Awards Handed Out at this Event

  • Chris Young won the 'John Panuzzo Jr. Memorial' trophy presented by Team Panuzzo Racing for the best winning reaction time in the 1st round. Chris Young was quickest on the tree in the 1st round when his RT was .005.
  • Louis Calicchia won the 'Almost Perfect Award' with a loss in the 1st round with the red light closest to .000 (Almost Perfect). Louis Calicchia's light was -0.002 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.
  • Mike Campbell won the CCDV 'Closest to Dial Award' by running only .006 off his dial. Mike Campbell was awarded a trophy and free tech card for a future race from Corvette Club of Delaware Valley.
  • Ohh so Close Award of Zaino productsPete LoPresti won the 'Ohh so Close Award' presented by Zaino when being edged out in the 1st round by the smallest margin of victory of .0032. That number is the MOV number on your time slip. Although suffering a loss in the 1st round by the smallest Margin of Victory, Pete LoPresti earned a Zaino starter package that includes various Zaino products.
  • All winners of the first round were awarded a trophy . With 76 cars making this event, we sure gave out quite a few trophies or 1st Round Trophy Upgrade Program credits.

Next Two Races

July 14, 2007 will be our seventh points race of the season and will be the return of the Cartek Racing Pro 10.0 index class for their fourth race of the year. Gates open at 11 AM

September 1, 2007 - This will be our eight points race of the year leaving only two more to qualify for the Top 16 race. The Vette Doctors Pro 8 Shootout will return at this event for its fourth race of the season. Gates open at 8:30 AM

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

As always, we couldn't enjoy our passion for racing without the tireless efforts of our coordinators - Edgar Perez, Bob Trieschmann, Dennis Kazimir, Joe Amodea and Paul Ziajski. We'd be reduced to time shots only without our sponsors - many thanks for the continued support of Corvette Challenge - East Coast Supercharging | Yank Racing Converters | Gear Star Transmission | Team Panuzzo | Corvette Club of Delaware Valley - CCDV | Spectrum Equipment Service | Simple Man | QTP - Quick Time Performance | Carroll's Rod & Racecraft | Kooks Custom Headers | CFM Racing | Tortolani Racing | Anger Management Racing | East Coast Corvettes | | Zaino Bros | Pro Torque | Perez Web Design

Pro 8 Shootout - The Vette Doctors | Carroll's Rod & Racecraft | PM Construction | Marchese Homes, LLC | Lucid Diagnostic Imaging Services, LLC

Pro 10.0 Index - Cartek Racing | Silly Goose Racing Stables | Best Western, East Brunswick, NJ | Marchese Homes, LLC .

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