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The Callahan Report: SCCA Valvoline Runoffs At Mid Ohio - Formula Continental Becomes "Local Show"

13 October 1997

LEXINGTON, OH: The Formula Continental race at the Mid Ohio Sports Car Course in Lexington pleased the local members of the crowd. The top two finishers in the open wheel class are Ohio natives. B. J. Zacharias, of Hamilton Ohio, was crowned the National Champion by virtue of his victory in the 19 lap event. Dave Weitzenhof, of Bath Ohio, finished second. The race was one of 23 races held this weekend as part of the Valvoline Runoffs presented by NAPA Auto Parts.

[ GT3 Podium Finishers ]
Left to right: Weitzenhof (2nd), Zacharias (1st), and Williams (3rd)

Zacharias, who qualified second, ended up being the pole sitter for the event. The pole winner (Justin Pritchard) was stuck in the pit lane as the race started. Brett Simpson was the leader after lap one, but that didn't last too long. Zacharias shot into the lead on lap two and held it till the end. His race was not a cake walk. Dave Weitzenhof, who started from the 11th spot, was all over his fellow home statesman at the finish. Zacharias' margin of victory was 0.3 seconds (about a car length).

[ B.J. Zacharias ]B.J. Zacharias

Zacharias was glad the race was over. He said "Every time I popped over Turn 11, I looked in the mirror. I saw a little yellow spot (Weitzenhof's car). Then suddenly, he was filling the mirror. I was glad to be a part of it. You can never count this guy out (Dave)."

By lap 13, Weitzenhof was gaining one second per lap on B.J. The confident driver commented, "Usually I shoot for the pole and win the race. This year I ran with too soft a compound in qualifying. I was still persistent in qualifying, but the tires didn't work this year." He continued, "I went back to last summer's setup and the car worked fine."

Weitzenhof concluded, "I never got close enough to make a move. Maybe 3 or 4 more laps. The only safe place to pass is at the end of the straight. He had straight line speed because he had less wing,....I had more wing. I had to keep readjusting the sway bar the whole race."

[ Dave Weitzenhof ]Dave Weitzenhof

Weitzenhof took over second place at lap 11 as he passed Michael Williams of Hayden Idaho. Williams held his position to the finish, earning himself a spot on the podium. He said "I got a good start. It was a big difference from last year. I just tried to keep the pedal down and give it a run. The car was very consistent.....I ran 3 or 4 identical laps." He wrapped it up by saying, "This is my third time here. I ran the Runoffs last year, but was taken out on the first lap. I could've used a yellow! (To catch up this year)"

Formula Continental with finishing position, starting position in parentheses, driver, hometown:

1. (2) B.J. Zacharias, Hamilton, Ohio
2. (11) Dave Weitzenhof, Bath, Ohio
3. (6) Michael Williams, Hayden, Idaho
4. (5) Rolf Stutz, Cambridge, Mass.
5. (4) Brett Simpson, Bremerton, Wash.
6. (7) Christian Coggins, Atlanta, Ga.
7. (10) Kent Jones, Marblehead, Mass.
8. (12) Thomas Schwietz, Winchester, Va.
9. (8) Lawrence Oberto, Seattle, Wash.
10. (16) Craig Spaulding, Dallas, Texas

Terry Callahan -- The Auto Channel