Sixteen cars were at Moroso to "tune up" for the 1996 season and qualifying on Saturday produced a close field. There were six F355s in the field: not only was 1995 F355 Champion Peter Sachs driving one of the new steeds, but Challenge veterans Steve Earle, Paul Frame and Scott Neuman have also moved up to F355s. They were joined by new series drivers Carlos Hank Sr. And Jim McCormick. One was unable to start due to a mechanical problem (Bob Zinzell in the "No Fear No Deer" car) but the other nine 348s produced quite a show as well. Jim Kenton, Rick Jones, Curt Carlson, and Tom Murphy are back from 1995, but there?s quite a crop of new drivers with 348s. Carlos Hank Jr. Was runinning his first race ever, and was joined by Jim Place, John Gillespie, Neal Heffron, and Kevin Crowder.
"Top Qualifying" - a new procedure giving each driver one lap to improve his best qualifying time - produced a new pole-sitter. Paul Frame did one real flyer and was on pole for the first race, ahead of Peter Sachs and Steve Earle. Tom Murphy edged Jim Kenton for the 348 pole, but Carlos Hank Jr. Was close behind.
In the first race Steve Earle took the lead from the front row of Fram and Sachs, but a minor off-course excursion dropped him back to third. Neither Frame nor Sachs put a wheel wrong, but Frame was uncatchable, and took the win. Both Tom Murphy and Jim Kenton had problems, and Carlos Hank Jr. Took the 348 class victory. Jim Place and Kurt Carlson joined hm on the podium.
The grid for the second race was set from the results of the first, so Paul Frame and Peter Sachs again headed the field. This time, though, Steve Earle made his pass stick, and took the win ahead of Frame and Sachs, Carlos Hank Jr. Led every lap in the 348 class, and again was the victor; two wins in his first two races! Jim Place was again second and Kurt Carlson took third after a race-long dice with John Gillespie.
The Moroso event was indeed a demonstration: The number of new drivers, new depth in the 355 class, new winners, and close racing all through the field demonstrated that the 1996 Ferrari Challenge season should be the best yet.
A package has been arranged for Ferrari customers. For the price of $750.00 this package will include hospitality at the track among the F1 drivers for three days, breakfast and lunches, Grandstand tickets for three days, and parking assignments. Please contact Candice Spikes at Ferrari North America (201) 816-2620 if you are interested.
Paul Frame seemed to have the pole locked up but during the "Top Qualifying" session Steve Earle improved his time by over 6/10 of a second to take the top starting spot. Steve Earle won the first race from the pole but that overlooks any number of battles on the track. Paul Frame was more than competitive until a broken water pump and resultant overheating caused him to DNF (he would drive car #1 in the second race). Scott Neuman started thrid on the grid but fell to near the back of the pack and then came through the field to get back to third by the end (setting fast lap in the process). Carlos Hank Jr. continued his winning streak by taking the 348 class win.
Gridding for the second race is determined by finish position from the first so Earle was on pole with Peter Sachs second and Neuman third. The number two spot must have been j