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May 6, 2013

Subculture Racing Wins SRA-West Formula Sidecar Races At Sonoma Raceway

Subculture Racing's Wade Boyd (left) and Christine Blunk (right) won both SRA-West Formula Sidecar races at Sonoma Raceway. Photo by John Cameron, courtesy of SRA-West.
The SRA-West Formula Sidecar Series made a rare stop at Sonoma Raceway for the third round of their 2013 championship. Host club AHRMA put on an excellent event in Northern California, drawing 13 modern and vintage sidecars to the grid. The championship so far has seen a strong performance from Team Johnny Killmore's John Wood/Giorgina Gottlieb, but hometown favorites Subculture Racing (Wade Boyd/Christine Blunk) were on familiar turf and looked to upset the apple cart with their wildcard entry.

Thursday's six-lap sprint was cut short to four laps due to a technical error, but it was all Subculture Racing needed to make a stellar showing. Starting from near the back row, the pair worked their way quickly through the field and set out after Team Johnny Killmore, before they could sneak away. By the beginning of lap two Boyd/Blunk were in striking distance but could not find a way through. That opening showed itself in the carousel when Wood/Gottlieb began to drift wide on the exit, floating on two wheels.

With clear track in front of them Subculture began to distance themselves, running mistake-free and taking the win in the abbreviated race. Third place went to Lucky 13 Racing's Mark Macanga/Bobette Burdick who were reeling in second place and definitely could have benefited from two more laps of racing.

Sunday's race would have the full six laps, but would begin with an empty slot at the front of the grid. Team Johnny Killmore discovered the chair wheel of their Windle/Suzuki had sheered its hub cleanly in two. Driver John Wood had this to say: "We felt a vibration during right hand turns during [Thursday's] race and it was getting more and more pronounced. I thought we traced it to a loose swingarm pivot bolt, but during [Friday] practice it came back. The hub was broke clean in two and only held on by the axle nut. It's game over today."

In an attempt to save points they would limp around the track and into pit lane, salvaging championship points with a last place finish.

This left the course wide open for Wood Brothers Racing's Chris Wood/Aaron McEwen to take the holeshot and begin a fight with Lucky 13 Racing. Within a lap though, Subculture Racing was in the mix and fought through to the lead quickly. Once in front they would pull a decent margin by putting in the fastest laps of the event while Wood Brothers Racing and Lucky 13 battled for second. A bold move into the turn nine chicane would allow Lucky 13 into the second spot and for a short moment it seemed they might pull away. On lap four however, Wood Brothers were able to power by and fend off a few more late-braking attempts from Lucky 13.

Fourth place was also a tremendous battle for fans to watch. Wood Brothers 2 is a newly formed team of passenger Phil Wood (now in his rookie season as driver) and veteran passenger Gary McEwen. Their Arctic Cat-powered 2-stroke machine has been getting excellent starts and is showing increasing speed as the season progresses. They had their work cut out for them though as none other than Team Becker Moto works were in pursuit. Driver William Becker was dealing with a drastic weight difference in the form of passenger Heidi Niedhoefer, an experienced passenger who is nonetheless a full 70lbs. lighter than full-time passenger Eric Becker.

Although most casual fans imagine passengers as holding down the chair-side of a racing sidecar, they also have a tremendous impact on rear wheel traction. The Becker Moto Works machine could be heard spinning up its rear wheel in the many medium-speed right turns, and also looked quite unstable during braking. The battle was quite intense in the opening laps, with Becker/Neidhoefer showing the nose in every corner. As the brakes of Wood/McEwen started to fade they relinquished the position, taking it back briefly before going wide while cresting the hill in turn two. Bouncing through the grass, they suddenly lost power and came to a stop.

Up front though it was Subculture Racing's time to shine and they finished with a handsome lead. Wood Brothers Racing pulled just enough of a gap to hold off a final charge from Lucky 13 Racing for second, then stopped on the cool down lap to help Wood Brothers 2. In a true act of sportsmanship, they managed to get the 2-stroke machine started, allowing Wood Brothers 2 to cross the line 2-laps down, but salvaging precious championship points.

Subculture Racing's Wad Boyd was happy with the race. "We ran into a real traffic jam in turn 2 on the opening lap and just kinda waited for things to open up. There wasn't a lot of grip and we slid all over the place with a lot of rear wheel spin."

Subculture Racing are on quite a roll this year after an epic win at Phillip Island, Australia and now the double win here at Sonoma. They will try and take that momentum with them to the Pikes Peak International Hill Climb, where they will take a second shot at the overall sidecar record on the famous mountain course June 30th. They will then attempt to move overseas again for the Manx TT this August.

The SRA-West Formula Sidecar Series now heads into a long summer break before picking up again with host club AHRMA at the Bonneville GP Aug 30-Sept 1 at Miller Motorsports Park in Tooele, Utah. Team Johnny Killmore holds a narrow gap in the standings over Wood Brothers Racing, but there are several other fast teams who have the potential to cause a stir on the track. For a full schedule and standings visit www.sra-west.us.

RESULTS:
Thursday, May 2:

Driver/Passenger, Chassis/Engine

1. Wade Boyd/Christine Blunk, Calguard/Suzuki
2. John Wood/Giorgina Gottlieb, Windle/Suzuki
3. Mark Macanga/Bobette Burdick, Becker/Suzuki
4. Chris Wood/Aaron McEwen, ART/Suzuki
5. Phil Wood/Gary McEwen, Baker/Arctic Cat
6. Donn Sayre/John Heenan, Baker/Suzuki
7. Bernard Juchli/Kevin Kautsky, CSR/Honda
8. Scott Lane/Elizabeth Herlocker, Becker/Suzuki

Friday, May 3:

1. Wade Boyd/Christine Blunk, Calguard/Suzuki
2. Chris Wood/Aaron McEwen, ART/Suzuki
3. Mark Macanga/Bobette Burdick, Becker/Suzuki
4. William Becker/Heidi Neidhoefer, Becker/Suzuki
5. Bernard Juchli/Kevin Kautsky, CSR/Honda
6. Scott Lane/Elizabeth Herlocker, Becker/Suzuki
7. Harald Skjorshammer/Rolf Nedrebo, Baker/Suzuki
8. Phil Wood/Gary McEwen, Baker/Arctic Cat, -1 lap