Region News

September - October

The Joe DeLuca & Linda Gronlund Lightning Challenge at New Jersey Motorsport Park a few weeks ago was a success. At all of our SCCA events which South Jersey and Northern NJ Regions hold at NJMP, we have lunchtime drivearounds where folks can drive the actual race course in their family car at moderate speeds behind an NJMP pace car. Our regions ask only for a free-will donation to a previously selected cause.

For this Joe-Linda Regional race weekend the drivearound donations were dedicated to the Flight 93 Memorial in Shanksville, PA. Several hundred bucks were raised and this money has been sent to the Memorial. Our regions will be receiving a US flag which has been flown over the Memorial as a ‘Than’kew!’ for our donations. We’ve got some plans for this flag and you can expect to read more about it in the next issue.

And I am delighted to report that Pocono International Raceway has also donated to the Flight 93 Memorial! A few years ago NASCAR began a program they call Green Flag Tree Planting whereby NASCAR donates the cost of planting some trees every time a green flag is waved at a Sprint Cup event. At the Pocono 400 the green flag was shown eight times and Pocono has chosen to have some eight acres of the Flight 93 Memorial – which prior to 9-11 was land which had been scarred by a coal strip-mining operation — planted with about 5000 trees. A huge round of applause to the Mattioli and Igdalsky families, the folks who own and operate Pocono, for their decision to make the Flight 93 National Memorial the beneficiary of this program!

Back in July, on the other side of the world in Afghanistan, a trooper was killed by small arms fire while serving our country. Specialist Jonathan Batista of the 82nd Airborne Division listed Kinnelon as his hometown. And on the afternoon of Sunday, 15 July, our town came together and lined the main drag for about a half mile as Spec Batista’s funeral cortege passed through on its way to his church and the cemetery.

I didn’t know this 22 year old soldier or any members of his family. But I just felt so damn proud of how hundreds & hundreds of residents, Cub Scouts, Boy & Girl Scouts, VFW & Legion guys, various fraternal organizations and so many, many folks from Kinnelon and the surrounding towns had come out to pay their respects. They waited in the sun for almost an hour as the hearse with Spec Batista’s casket, the family cars and the police honor guard of motorcycles & patrol cars passed. Every fire truck and ambulance and first response vehicle from towns near and far was lining Kinnelon Road. Flags were flying everywhere.

But something else had caught my eye. After the cortege had passed, I went to the intersection of Kinnelon & Ricker Roads. A resident there had placed a black silhouette cutout — did he make it or did he buy it? I sure as heck don’t know — of a soldier kneeling at a compatriot’s grave marker, helmet in hand and rifle at the ready. It was so beautiful in a strange and most appropriate way. I just had to take a picture and share it.

Back in the May-June issue of the old Pole Cat, I wrote about being chastised for having been the spearhead behind NNJR’s making the SCCA wire wheel logo once again available as a car badge. To be sure, I realize that car badges are not as popular an item today as they were many years ago. But there’s still a substantial number of SCCA folks who dye their hair grey (yes, just as I do) and who have some older machinery — cars going back a bunch of years. These folks remember when your sporty little fun car wasn’t properly dressed if it wasn’t wearing a car badge to announce your club affiliation.

Before our region undertook this project, the SCCA’s marketing partner had been offered the opportunity to have the badges made. I guess it was felt that there was not a sufficient market to justify their company’s investment in doing this.

Many months later, after our Region had put around 150 badges into circulation, they realized that there was a desire for the badges. That’s when I was invited to discuss the matter at a special meeting held for this purpose during the National Convention in Las Vegas. During this disciplinary hearing I offered the club’s marketing partner access to the die for the wire wheel badge which our region had paid to have created. The offer was accepted and, as this is being written, I am told that the SCCA marketing partner has wire wheel badges on order. However they have not been listed on his website as yet.

But ya know, every time I check in at their website to see if their badges have arrived, there among the logo items which they do offer, I see that for $1.99 I can get an “SCCA Lip Balm Holder!” I simply cannot believe that there are more SCCA folks anxious to buy a two-buck clip-on holder for their ChapStick than there are folks who
would like a car badge!

Big party for former Mercedes-Benz GP Driver, car designer, engineer, inventor, all-around nice guy, John Fitch. Earlier in August John turned 95. There was a big party at his home in Lime Rock Connecticut. A week later at Pocono, I spoke with Oscar Koveleski and he was telling me of the good time which was had by all at this shindig. Bob Melhado was there and he also reported having a good time. All best wishes and many more healthy years, John!

Driving out to Pocono Raceway for the Bonus National races a few weeks ago, we crossed the Delaware River on Route 80 at the Gap, and almost immediately there was the Pennsylvania version of a “Welcome to….” sign. The sign intended to convey the message that there was road construction ahead. It was one of those signs on wheels with a photovoltaic solar panel to capture the sun’s energy and flash the sign’s message to approaching drivers. The sign wanted to flash out the warning “Caution – Lane Shift Ahead.” Unfortunately however, and for whatever reason, the “F” was not working and the sign was displaying an entirely different alert.

Sickness and distress…. Dave Miller was working in a building in Newark in early August. While Dave was leaning in to his van to get something, two guys came up from behind and clobbered him. In the resulting mugging, among other injuries, Dave’s jaw was severely broken. He was taken to the hospital for surgery to wire his jaw together. However, because Dave is on an anticoagulant, they had to postpone the surgery until the Coumadin was out of his system – that took five days. Then it was another five days before he was released to go home where he is now receiving TLC from Diane and family.

I’m hearing that Joe Russell III has been feeling kinda punky recently. Big Joe missed the Pocono Nationals and the Summer Thunder Regionals at NJMP in August. And when Big Joe is missing from one of our events, you know something ain’t right. His absence is something that one notices. Joe tells me that it’s some sort of a thyroid condition, but that the docs are closing in on the right combination of meds. He says we can expect to see him at the NARRC Runoffs and the JERK later in the season!

Recently home from a stay in the hospital is Mrs. Anthony – that’d be DA’s mom. The fine doctors and nurses at Ridgewood’s Valley Hospital determined the cause and did a tune up. They let her out and she’s back at home continuing her recovery.

In the last issue of the old Pole Cat I wrote about our RE, Chris Mosley’s extended recovery following his shoulder surgery last February. Now I learn that Linda has had surgery to repair damage done to her wrist some time back. Linda participated in the August Board of Trustees meeting via telephone, as she was continuing her recovery at home. All best wishes for a speedy recovery, Linda! (…And hey Chris! Stop beating the lady!)

On the weekend of the Summer Thunder Regionals at NJMP in August, there was more happening than simply a race. There was also a wedding! Two of the folks we’ve come to know since the advent of NJMP got hitched on Saturday evening. Phyllis Kalmey and Don Colanero of the South Jersey Region tied the knot after the Saturday on-track events had been completed. The winners stand had been relocated to the end of the garages and a couple hundred chairs had been arranged for their guests.

It was kind of odd when we saw people coming in to the track all afternoon dressed in suits and fancy dresses, ladies with their hair nicely coiffed, guys wearing ties (ties at a race track! – Can you imagine?) and with their Sunday-go-to-meeting shoes nicely shined, etc. It was obvious these folks weren’t there for the races.

But for really odd, ya gotta read this! Don – the groom! — was entered in the weekend’s races! He qualified his F-500 on Saturday morning and drove it to a second in class in the afternoon race. I guess he changed out of his driver’s suit before he & Phyllis tied the knot. The entire wedding party and their guests took their street cars out for a lap around the Thunderbolt track – the wedding couple in a red Ferrari. Then they all went to dinner and a reception at the Officers’ Club and partied until late.

On Sunday morning, Don was back in his driver’s suit and helmet to compete in the 18 lap feature for his class. Friends had put a vinyl “Just Married” on the sides of the F-500 and there were a bunch of tin cans tied to the back of the car as Don headed for the grid. He finished second in class in Sunday’s feature race. We have no report on how he finished on Saturday night. Much happiness and mazel tov to the newlyweds!

On July 28, way down south near New Orleans, the ship Somerset was christened. Somerset is the third of the three ships named to honor the locations struck by the terrorists eleven years ago. The first of these three, USS New York, was completed and put into the Navy’s service in November of 2009. The Arlington has been christened and is scheduled for commissioning into the service of the Navy in early 2013. Somerset’s commissioning will follow in 2014. You will recall that New York has reclaimed WTC steel in her bow, while Arlington contains Pentagon steel and Somerset has steel from an abandoned coal excavator shovel from near the Shanksville impact site in her bow.

Nancy & I were able to watch the christening live on our computer via an internet feed. Following a bunch of speeches and after various military bands had played, the ship’s sponsor Mrs. Mary Jo Myers, wife of Gen. Richard Myers, U.S. Air Force (Ret.), former Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, stepped to a platform in front of the ship’s bow. She was carrying a big bottle of champagne. After saying, “In the name of the United States of America I christen thee ‘Somerset.’ May God bless all those who sail in her,” Mary Jo then hauled off and swung the traditional bottle of bubbly, smashing it against the bow of the ship.

Two more items to comment on as we move toward the end of the 2012 competition season…. The region will be having one of our occasional membership meetings sometime in mid-September. Once again Tiff’s in Morris Plains will be the place. There should be an announcement elsewhere in this issue and check Chris’ “Nuts & Bolts” column for the actual date. And as we get closer to the meeting date, I’m sure there will be reminder e-blasts sent out. Be sure that your e-mail information is accurate on your national office membership profile. You won’t want to miss the meeting!

Lastly is mention of our final race event of the season. The Jersey Racing Board will again be conducting the last weekend of regional racing in the NorthEast Division, our Jersey Road Racing Classic, affectionately known as “The Jerk” on the weekend of October 19-21. The Jerk will be moving to the Thunderbolt track at NJMP this year. The last several years have seen the Jerk be contested on the Lightning track, but starting with this year we will be around the corner on Thunderbolt.


Several years ago Sports Car magazine (the official publication of the SCCA) ran a several issue story on Ghost tracks in the US of A. I thought it was a great series of articles and enjoyed seeing the then and now shots of the tracks. I mention this because earlier this year Linda and I had an occasion to be out in Bridgehampton, Long Island. Unfortunately it was not a happy occasion as we were out there to attend the wake of a friend. After the wake I took Linda on a drive to look for the remains of the Bridgehampton race track. It had been a long time since the last time I raced there (1984) so it took me a while to get my bearings straight and find the turnoff on route 27 that takes you to the old entrance. We eventually found the turnoff and the old entrance roadway. It was blocked and over grown with brush. So we continued down Millstone road till we came upon the old access road that was used to get to flag station 4. Much to our surprise the gate there was open. There were the usual warning signs about trespassing and fines and penalties which we promptly ignored and drove on in. Most everyone knows that they built a golf course right over the top of the track and that almost all of the original track surface still exist. The back entrance brought us out onto the track at the bottom of the downhill just at the entrance to turn four. As we looked to the left, we could still make out Millstone straight as it led down towards Echo Valley. We drove up the hill through turns three and two and under the famous “Bridge” and onto the main straight. It brought back lots of wonderful memories of the many times I raced there. The first time I ran there was on a Friday test day in May of 1975. I was running my G Prod Spitfire. I made it through two sessions before I blew the rear end. I packed up the car and drove back to New Jersey, changed the rear and drove back out Saturday morning for the race weekend.

Bridgehampton was a great old track. It had massive elevation changes, blind corners, the “light bulb” and of course “the downhill”. It was midway through my first season of racing before I could take the downhill without lifting. It had a blind entrance and you had to commit to your line without seeing it. There were half buried tires down the inside of the turns two and three that you had to avoid and of course the sand on the outer edge of the track. It was frightening in my Spitfire, I can’t begin to imagine what it must have been like in a 700hp McLaren Can Am car!

The Bridge held many famous races over the years. Everything from the original Road Race of Champions in the mid sixties to the original Can Am and Tran Am series. Early on it became the home of the Vanderbuilt Cup races when they banned racing on the open roads of Long Island.

Looking Up towards the famous “Bridge” at Bridgehampton race track as it looks today.

I guess I was thinking about race tracks as we had a lively discussion about race tracks at our recent board meeting. Over the next several years there are going to be at least five new tracks opening with in several hours drive of Northern New Jersey. Several of these are already under construction. Alpine Raceway in northeastern PA is under construction. It will be a club track that may be open to the SCCA in the not too distant future. Also in PA down near Philly they are set to build Liberty Bell. We have been told that Beaver Run is now under new ownership and that the new owners plan to expand Beaver to the original 3 plus mile design by 2014. In New York state, just outside Syracuse the Adirondack Race track is on its way and should be ready for 2013. New England has received all the clearances to begin building the Palmer circuit which will be located by Sturbridge Mass. This one may still be a few years off as they still don’t have complete funding to complete the project. Last of all, the old Thompson Speedway in Northeastern Conn is planning on rebuilding the original road course that utilized the stock car oval and road racing circuit that ran out into the woods that closed down back in the late seventies. I’m looking forward to this one as I never got the chance to run there back then. There will be a members meeting in September 19th at Tiff’s in Morristown. Food, beer and wine included in the cover charge Round 8 of the Pro IT Series will take place at Watkins Glen on October 7th. The Jersey Road Racing Classic or Jerk as it’s commonly referred too, is coming up in October 20-21. This year it will be held at the Thunderbolt circuit in Millville. September 29, Solo at the Meadowlands in New Jersey.

Head and Neck Restraints Mandatory!

Beginning January 1, 2012, Head and Neck restraints will become mandatory in SCCA Club Racing Regional, National and Driver School events. In December 2009, the Board of Directors approved the motion to require a device meeting SFI 38.1 or FIA 8858 specifications, and the announcement appeared in the January 2010 Fastrack News.

In an effort to have everyone prepared for the new equipment requirement, we have put together the following information. This is by no means comprehensive, and it is not an endorsement of one product over another. Just as when buying a helmet or any other piece of safety gear, each driver is encouraged and expected to do their own research and select the product that they feel best suits their needs.

Read more: Head and Neck Restraints Mandatory!

Worker Fund

All the race workers for all NNJR events are volunteers. Show your support by making a contribution to the NNJR Worker Fund. All funds are distributed at the post race gathering at the track. Be generous, we can't race without the best volunteers in the SCCA.

Send any donations to:

PO Box 253
Oak Ridge, NJ

Checks made payable to NNJR SCCA