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The Callahan Report: SCCA Valvoline Runoffs - GT-3 Produces An Exciting Drive

13 October 1997

LEXINGTON, OH: Michael Lewis led from start to finish in the SCCA GT-3 race at Mid Ohio Sports Car Course today as The Valvoline Runoffs continued. Lewis is lucky there were only nineteen laps of racing. Pete Peterson may have beaten him given a couple more laps. Peterson started dead last and finished second in the twenty-eight car field.

[ GT3 Podium Finishers ]
Left to right: Pinegar (3rd), Lewis (1st), and Peterson (2nd)

Lewis drove a flawless race and earned the win. He said, "We were fairly uninspired, but we did what we had to do and finish up in front. I just tried to develop a lead that would help me through the traffic." The driver from San Diego continued, "Traffic was okay. The oil was the worst part. First it was Turn 1, then 10, then the carousel. It was just like a wet race. I thought about coming in for grooved tires!" He concluded, "I was just praying that nothing would fall off, I've never had it this easy before!"
[ Michael Lewis ]Michael Lewis

Lewis commented on Peterson's drive. "Pete had everything as far as fun goes, he had a hell of a drive. My car was good. I got the lead and just tried to maintain it."

Peterson's show earned him the driver of the race award. He passed eight cars before he reached the first corner (with the help of an early green flag.) By the fifth lap, Peterson had already moved to eight place. He continued to move through traffic. The real excitement came on the final lap, in the final set of corners. Peterson moved alongside Wolfgang Maike in the carousel. The two went side by side into the final corner. Maike, who had ran second for much of the race, spun and dropped to sixth. Peterson charged to the checkered flag for his second place finish.

[ Pete Peterson ]Pete Peterson

Peterson had a wild week. He said, "I didn't know it was gonna run right until we went out to go on the grid. We found a broken stud that holds the camshaft in place at the last minute. We fixed it on the way to the grid. That was indicative of our whole week."

Peterson talked about his wild ride to second. He continued, " We were in oil the last half of race. I thought we had a 50/50 chance of making the podium at the very best, hoping for a full course yellow. The track was slippery." The elated driver from North Carolina joked, " I probably ran 20 seconds faster! (than in qualifying). I think I'm retiring. Whoooeeee, just kidding!" On a serious note, he said, "If Wolfgang (Maike) had kept it straight I couldn't have gotten by."

Mike Pinegar of Garden City, MI drove a consistent race in his Mazda RX-3, earning him a spot on the podium after Maike's spin. He said, "I don't know about patience, but I just kept trying in my old, aerodynamically-challenged RX3. Wolfgang lost it in the oil in the Carousel and here I am. This was a gift from Maike.....that's why I'm here."

The Top Ten, with finishing position, starting position in parentheses, driver hometown, car:

1. (1) Michael Lewis, San Diego, Calif., Mazda RX-7
2. (28) Pete Peterson, Lumberton, N.C., Toyota Paseo
3. (8) Mike Pinegar, Garden City, Mich., Mazda RX-3
4. (6) Fletcher Williams, Lilburn, Ga., Nissan 240 SX
5. (5) Salvador Versaggi, Sonoma, Calif., Nissan 240 SX
6. (2) Wolfgang Maike, Santa Barbara, Calif., Toyota Paseo
7. (7) Milton Grant, Memphis, Tenn., Toyota Paseo
8. (9) Jeff Clinton, St Louis, Mo., Toyota Paseo
9. (12) Dick Salem, Lincoln, Neb., Porsche 911
10. (15) Adam Halsband, Wixom, Mich., Mazda RX-7

Terry Callahan -- The Auto Channel