Multiple winners in all classes including maiden victories for D’Ambrose, Missig, Olson, Rafols, Sanderson and Tweedlie.
Radical Sportscars created history on the weekend, fielding the largest ever grid in North America with its flagship series, the Blue Marble Cocktails Radical Cup. However the milestones didn’t end there. The NTT IndyCar Series REV Group Grand Prix at Road America, June 20-23, also marked the first time the Radical Cup has supported America’s premier open-wheel series and featured the largest crowd to ever witness a Radical race. With action packed races and multiple race winners in every class, the Radical Cup became an instant crowd favorite and lived up to Road America’s slogan of “Road racing at its best.”
As friends and family looked on from the comfort of Radical’s hospitality tent, the drivers and crew had an intense workload with five 40-minute practice sessions prior to qualifying and the typical three 40-minute race format spread over the four days.
Antoine Comeau (#10 Eastern / Turn 3 Motorsport) entered Round 3 at Road America having won every race of the season meaning it was critical his 1500 class opponents stopped his streak. Jordan Missig (#48 Missig Performance Group / Team Stradale) immediately made his intentions clear, stealing pole away from Comeau midway through the qualifying session.
Lining up third in class for Race 1 reigning champion Indy Al Miller’s luck didn’t even last a lap. Miller (#500 Blue Marble Cocktails / One Motorsports) spun out of contention and into the wall on the warm-up lap between Turn 5 and 6.
After the extended pace laps, which were also needed to recover a stranded Richard Durocher (OPMT.com / WISKO Racing), Missig kept his cool and Comeau at bay during lap one and for the remainder of the race. An elated and emotional Missig dedicated his maiden victory in the Blue Marble Cocktails Radical Cup series to his former teammate and fellow Autobahn member Jeff Green, who was tragically taken in a historic Formula 5000 one year ago.
Behind Comeau, Gustavo Rafols (#28 WISKO Racing) made a stellar pass on Louis Schriber (#111 Shorewood Development Group / Team Stradale) through Turn 14 just before a full course caution was thrown to recover Scott Wagner. The #8 WISKO Racing RXC Spyder had found the tire wall on the exit of Canada Corner while working Lap 13. Rafols was initially awarded third place, however a post-race review confirmed the young Puerto Rican had passed a back-marker under yellow to generate the opportunity. As such he was relegated to fourth and Schriber awarded the podium.
Gerhard Watzinger (#320 CrowdStrike Racing / One Motorsports) was the best of the rest in fifth, with Todd Snyder (#46 Aesthetic Dental Designs / One Motorsports), Richard Thomas (#738 R Ventures / WISKO Racing), Greg Gorski (#24 smokebuddy / One Motorsports), George Kurtz (#04 CrowdStrike Racing / One Motorsports) and Tad Cusack (#115 YETI / Moorespeed) rounding out the top ten.
Missig qualified fastest in class and third on the grid for Race 2, but was baulked by pole sitter Will Lin, who seemed to stutter just before the green flag flew. Classified ninth at the end of the opening lap, Missig’s race went from bad to worse when an upright failure unraveled a strong recovery, which saw him run as high as fourth.
An amazing first two laps from Rafols sent him into the class lead from eighth overall, while Blue Marble’s Miller started carving his way up through the field from the rear of grid. On lap 13 Gorski got caught out trying to pass a back marker around the outside of Turn 14, and found himself momentarily caught in the gravel trap.
Rafols continued to absorb the pressure from Comeau, and looked to have the race all wrapped up, until Comeau sent his car down the inside at Turn 14 with three laps remaining. While there was a small amount of contact, Comeau made the pass stick and took his seventh win of the season. Rafols was visibly furious with himself for leaving the door open, and a look of unfinished business lingered across his face as the podium ceremony took place. Louis Schriber again took third, while George Kurtz impressed taking fourth in front of CrowdStrike Racing teammate Gerhard Watzinger. Miller completed a strong comeback with a top six finish, and also set the fastest 1500 lap of the race to clinch class pole for Race 3, which featured a mandatory pitstop.
With rain falling as the drivers lined up for the final time, the start was delayed and teams instructed to change on to wet tires. A number of cars were penalized with points deductions for also changing setup, including Comeau. But with the damp track drying quickly, it also appeared those tweaks became their own self-imposed penalty.
While Miller had a disastrous first lap, falling back to 19th, Comeau was the class act, dicing with Jim Booth’s V8 powered SR8 for the outright lead, while Rafols hounded Terry Olson’s SR8. Rafols was the first of the 1500 leaders to pit and change to slick Hankook rubber. Comeau, meanwhile, elected to run longer on wet weather tires but started to struggle for pace, and the undercut worked for Rafols who came out in front. With Race 2 still well and truly front of mind Rafols fended off Comeau who tried everything including a ‘Hail Mary’ into the final corner from two car-lengths back. The move left Comeau running wide in the grass and Rafols to take his first victory since stepping up to the 1500 class.
Missig salvaged third while Nate Smith (#19 Wisconsin Brewing Co / Speed du Nord) completed an extremely strong series debut to cross the line in fifth, however he was later relegated to sixth for having too many crewmembers working on his car during the pit stop. That promoted Schriber and Miller to fourth and fifth, respectively.
Dave Tweedlie (#65 Team Tweedlie Racing) immediately impressed in his first outing for the year. Jim Booth (#63 McDonald’s / WISKO Racing) momentarily led as he completed lap two, but pole sitter Tweedlie dominated Race 1 to take the outright victory and top honors in the Masters class.
Will Lin (#66 RISE / Radical Northwest), who led the class championship heading into the round at Road America, drove an outstanding race. After being sidelined in qualifying as his team frantically rebuilt his gearbox and having to start from the back of the grid, he drove to sixth outright, and fourth in class. Knowing that Lin was storming through the field Terry Olson (#16 RTR) pushed hard (and at times too hard) but held on to take the final step of podium.
Such was Tweedlie’s cruise to victory in Race 1 he would only start fifth on the grid for Race 2, while Lin’s efforts were further rewarded with fastest lap and pole. However Lin’s disastrous start allowed Booth, Tweedlie and Olson to capitalize. Lin then re-passed Olson for third on lap four, while Tweedlie attack Booth. On Lap 9 Booth received his first reprieve when Tweedlie made an uncharacteristic mistake, spinning on the exit of Turn 6. Then Lin gave Booth another free pass by spinning on Lap 14. With a large lead Booth took the outright victory and Masters class win from Olson and Lin.
Tweedlie was back on pole position for Race 3 and as the first man to explore the wet track conditions he came unglued in Turn 1. He returned to as high as seventh overall prior to his pitstop, however shortly after changing back to dry tires Tweedlie suffered a dramatic tire failure and spin at approximately 150mph on the main straight. Lin was another to fall back on the opening lap, and mounted a strong recovery to finish third in class.
Prior to the pitstops it appeared Booth may have been in the box seat, however a stellar stop put Olson into the lead¬, which he would never relinquish. It was Olson’s first win this year and since forming his own team led by Crew Chief Dean Jones, who accepted the trophy on Olson’s behalf.
A large number of entrants from Autobahn Country Club saw the 1340 class swell at Road America. Mike Anzaldi (#61 Team Stradale) showed strong pace during qualifying before Tim Sanderson (#07 Northwest Atlantic Motorsports) cemented pole position. Mike D’Ambrose (#6 Team Stradale) looked set to outqualify his son, until Mike Junior went faster still in the closing minutes. That prompted Senior to push again, but this time he pushed too hard, and he obliterated the front of his Radical SR3 1340 at Turn 3.
With all the parts on hand Team Stradale made quick work of Senior’s car overnight, and he rewarded them with fourth place in Race 1. Meanwhile D’Ambrose Junior backed up his strong qualifying performance with second place, and Kevin Poitras (#73 Post Plastics / Radical Canada East) made a mark during his return to the series with a podium finish. However, neither of them had an answer for Canadian Tim Sanderson, who took his maiden series victory. So strong was the competition in the 1340 class, points leader Eric Wagner (#10 Eastern / Turn 3 Motorsport) could only manage eleventh.
Sanderson’s dominance continued in Race 2. From pole position he again won convincingly. This time it was D’Ambrose Senior who joined Mike D’Ambrose Junior (#60 Team Stradale) on the podium, after relinquishing second place to his son with just a couple of laps remaining.
The Radical Canada East team continued its strong form with Ron Keith (#25 MBRP) finishing fourth, while Anzaldi and Andrew Marks (#44 Team Stradale) completed the top six and Wagner, John Rante (#99 Team Stradale), Poitras and Tony Weir (#30 Team Stradale) made up the top ten.
During Race 3 Sanderson elected to stay out and run long on the wet weather tires. As with Comeau the strategy didn’t pay off and while he led the 1340 class prior to stopping, he was only seventh as the checkered flag fell. Sixth was Anzaldi, while Wagner finished fifth, with Chris Kemp (#153 Team Stradale) in fourth. The Radical Canada East crew high-fived after their pitstops, and rightly so. Their slick work helped propel Keith into third and Poitras into second. However, it was D’Ambrose Senior who capitalized the most from the mandatory stop, clinching victory in the final race of the weekend.
The Blue Marble Cocktails Radical Cup now heads west to Portland International Raceway, August 9-11, and Sonoma Raceway, September 27-29, before completing the year at Circuit of the Americas, November 14-16, supporting Creventic’s Hankook 24H Series.