PCA Reaches the Summit in 2015
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During enduro action, Suzanne Pender checks tire pressure on the 911 entry of George James. Photo courtesy of Ken Hills.

Article by Patti Mascone

The Porsche Club of America (PCA) held a joint race weekend with the 944 Cup at Summit Point, highlighting two main segments that have helped the club's racing program flourish: GT racing in high-budget cars, built by shops or purchased from the factory, and "spec racing" (SP2 and SP3) by the budget conscious in 25-year-old-plus street cars that Porsche originally aimed at the entry-level luxury sportscar buyer. SPB also offers a more affordable racing option for Porsche Boxster owners.

By the stroke of scheduling luck, the PCA portion of the late-September schedule was not impacted by some severe weather that was originally forecasted. When fall comes to the West Virginia venue, lap times fall, as the summer heat dissipates and northeasterly winds help drivers down the front straight, building confidence for the commencement of racing action.

Because the 944 Cup's national championship was part of the weekend's events, all racers benefited from having three sprints (and the one-hour enduro) on their dockets. However, qualifying would replace a first-day practice; and race lap times, not finishes, would determine the grid for subsequent races. This meant the grid would be shuffling, and drivers would be on old or new tires at various times over the weekend. While some racers would be picking up speed with new tires on race day one or two, early-takers would have rubber with too many heat cycles by Sunday's end, just as clag and sand would overtake everything except the racing line.

Sprints Times Three
Now, if you are looking for Porsche's marquee model, the vintage 911, Class E at Summit Point is the place to find it, along with a few of the rear-engined cars sprinkled in other letter classes. A long line of drivers, hailing from the nearby local Founders' region, have chosen this model. (Meanwhile, most of the letter-class 944s have gone off to 944 Super Cup/SP3.) The most successful of these 911 pilots is Evan Close, who has held Summit's lap record since 2013, when Dwayne Moses left the category to race a Cup car.

Once the SP3 record-holder felled his mark (a 1:21:828 by Karl Poeltl), all eyes were on Close to best his own mark. It took until the first sprint race, but Close complied, hitting a 1:21.871, while winning Class E. The 1984 911 driver went on to take the other of the day's sprints. After a Class-G entry rolled in Saturday's sprint 2, and Sunday morning rain made the 944 Cup grid skittish, many in this PCA race group chose not to race in the third race, which was won by Intersport's Omar Hilmi in a1991 911, running in Class G.

Enduros Test Staying Power
As Sunday's weather rapidly improved, talk buzzed around the paddock about the quick lap times and what would happen when the 944 Cup and PCA street-class drivers would come back together for the Orange enduro. The finale would be only one hour, lifting any worries about the need to refuel.

The enduro competition was indeed tight, once Boxsters, 911, 944s, and one 928 shared the pavement. During the first-half, Gene Raymondi (SPB) blew the engine in his 2004 Boxster, thinning the SPB battle to four. At the front, Close, built a six-second between his yellow 911 over Lee Lasberg's 1990 964. When the mandatory five-minute pit stops began, Lasberg's Hairy Dog team calmly cleaned the windshield, while 928-driver John Shafer (C) made a pit stop, literally, to the restroom. Some drivers took off their helmets for a breath of fresh air, as others were shown their elapsed pit stop times by smart-phone display! In the end it was Close, followed by Douglas DePietro (F) in a Boxster, and Dennis Hiffman (SP3).

Hiffman got his mandatory enduro stop out of the way early, returning to the track after lap 16. Rather than keep Hiffman in his sights by following him down pit lane, Eurosport's Brian Weathered chose to stop at lap 33. The eventual fourth-place finisher took about 3 seconds longer than Hiffman to enter, stop, and leave the pits. However, when the laps prior to and after the stop are tallied with the stop, the difference was only about 0.7 of a second. The final gap between the two was only a half-second.

The second of two enduros for the GT and higher-horsepower may have proved a race too far, as this outing - aptly named the Yellow enduro - caused some unwanted drama. First, Paul Amico (GTC2) suffered an engine explosion in his beautiful 993 Cup car at the Turn 8-9 complex, after he had scored some excellent sprint results. Later, a Cayman and a 911 RS America came together on track, taking both entries out of competition. These events left two co-pilots in pit lane without steeds to drive. But the major incident occurred on lap 12, when Ray Williams (GTC4) lost clean contact with the pavement and rolled his 997 Cup in Turn 9.

Several racers, reporting from the cockpit and on pit lane, bemoaned how the track conditions had deteriorated, with oil, clag, and debris prevalent on the racing surface. This resulted in the TPC team's Philip Martien (GTC5) striking some of the debris, which impacted the cooling system and brake caliper on his 997 Cup, causing his retirement from the lead on lap 20. This left Ian Darcy (GTC4) and Scott Bresnahan (GTC3) to battle it out for the checker, with Darcy's 997 Cup just over a two-seconds ahead of Bresnahan's 996 Cup after 36 laps.