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The Callahan Report: SCCA Valvoline Runoffs At Mid Ohio - GT-1 Race A Bump And Run Affair

13 October 1997

LEXINGTON, OH: The Valvoline Runoffs presented by NAPA Auto Parts continued today at the Mid Ohio Sports Car Course. In the GT-1 class, Max Lagod, of Barrington, IL, was the winner in a Chevy Camaro. It was anything but easy.

[ GT1 Leaders ]
Max Lagod chases down Michael Lewis

Lagod battled Michael Lewis's Ford Mustang every lap of the 19 lap race. The two drivers were the class of the 16 car field. Lagod trailed Lewis until the 17th lap. It was then that Lagod gave Lewis a friendly bump going into the famous keyhole. That was enough to allow Lagod to pull beside Lewis. The two had a drag race down the long straightaway. They bumped again in the turn, but Lagod pulled ahead.

On the last lap, Lagod hadn't pulled away. He led Lewis by only a car length as the two drivers charged into turn one. Lewis gave Lagod a little love tap in turn seven but it wasn't enough to gain any advantage. Lagod held on through the carousel and took the checkered flag. He was crowned the National Champion. His margin of victory was a whopping 0.3 seconds.

Lagod commented on the intense battle saying, "I was trying every time, then I settled down and let the tires cool. Mike got bottled up in the keyhole, so I decided to go for it. The only shot I had was to catch a little of his draft. At the start I tried everything, but I couldn't get by." The victory gave Lagod his second consecutive championship.

[ Michael Lewis ]Michael Lewis

Lewis, who was crowned the GT-3 National Champion just about an hour earlier commented on the GT-1 battle. He said, "This is a hard track to get by on. I was trying to keep the car in control and to maximize the places where we go good. I couldn't get through the keyhole at all, but I could get out of it okay." He closed with the heart of a racer, " I'm an amateur racing pro. I'll always be a club racer."

William Gray drove hard in his Camaro but could not catch the two leaders. There was a good reason. Gray, of Springdale Ark ran a solid third place. He commented, "When I pulled out, I had no power steering and the cool suit failed. I was just trying to hold it to the road. No (power steering) pump is worse than a bad pump. I couldn't steer with one hand and shift; I had to get it straight before shifting. All I needed was to have Max and Mike keep fighting. If I'd had a whole car I would have been in there too. All I was trying to do was to hold on. By midway I was just trying to catch my breath."

The GT-1 Top Ten with starting position, finishing position, driver, and hometown:

1. (2) Max Lagod Barrington, Ill.
2. (1) Michael Lewis San Diego, Calif.
3. (3) William Gray Springdale, Ark.
4. (5) Kerry Alexander Indianapolis, Ind.
5. (8) Dennis Schneider New Athens, Ill.
6. (11) Steve Hickman Corpus Christi, Texas
7. (9) Richard Grant Germantown, Tenn.
8. (12) Jack Busch Torrington, Conn.
9. (13) Bob Hofmann St. Clair Shores, Mich.
10. (14) David Fershtand Ft. Worth, Texas

Terry Callahan -- The Auto Channel