The series competitors participated in two qualifying sessions on Friday and a race on Saturday. Between sessions on Friday, the American V8 Stock Series served lunch to the stock car teams and drivers. Participants enjoyed hot dogs, chips, candy and soft drinks. After lunch, the series also raffled off prizes (race tires, motor oil, series hats and t-shirts, etc.) for the competitors.
Familiar series competitors and several experienced pro racers took to the twisty (? Mile) Road Atlanta course on Friday. Gene Felton, a veteran road racer in the IMSA Camel GT, Kelly American Challenge and SCCA Trans-Am series, drove the ex-Ron Fellows/Robbie Gordon Caterpillar NASCAR Cup Chevrolet Monte Carlo. Charles Piazza, a former NASCAR Cup driver, also competed at Road Atlanta in a Monte Carlo.
Clay Young, another veteran road racer who competed against Gene Felton in the IMSA Camel GT and Kelly American Challenge series, also drove a road racing stock car at Road Atlanta. Clay Young raced a Pontiac Grand-Am and Firebird in the Kelly series. He also won several IMSA Camel GTU races (including Watkins Glen, Mid-Ohio and Michigan) in his Dole Fresh Fruit Pontiac Fiero. Clay Young drove the #77 Pitbull energy drink Pontiac Grand Prix at Road Atlanta on Friday. Unfortunately, mechanical troubles prevented him from competing in the American V8 Stock Car series race on Saturday.
“Wild” Bill Smith, driving the yellow #43 Dodge Daytona, was the quickest stock car in the first qualifying session on Friday. But a spin on cold tires at the beginning of Friday’s second qualifying session put him in the sand trap at the end of the front straight and ended his second qualifying session early. Gene Felton posted the fastest qualifying time in the second qualifying session on Friday. So he started first among the stock cars on the grid for the race on Saturday. Joe Hooker qualified second for Saturday’s race in his #8 Monte Carlo. Bob Davis qualified third in the #99 Monte Carlo.
When the green flag dropped for the race on Saturday, Gene Felton jumped into the lead, followed closely by Joe Hooker, Bob Davis and John Goodson in his #90 Ford Taurus. A few laps into the race, a TCC class Corvette experienced mechanical trouble, deposited oil on the racetrack, and eventually slid off the course and into a barrier. John Goodson also experienced mechanical problems and pitted. Then the SCCA race control black-flagged the race to clean up the incident. When the racing resumed, Gene Felton maintained the lead among the stock cars and took the checker in first place. Bill Smith, who started eighth among the stock cars, finished second ahead of Joe Hooker who finished third.
Lee Arnold carved through the field from his eleventh-place starting spot among the stock cars to finish fourth. David Price, who celebrated his 50th birthday and catered lunch for the series competitors on Saturday, finished fifth in his #48 Pontiac Grand Prix.
The top three finishers in the series points championship received custom-made race trophies at Road Atlanta. Lee Arnold (1st ),Joe Hooker (2nd ),Bill Smith (3rd).
The American Road Race of Champions event was very successful and provided the series with an excellent opportunity to meet and greet several new stock car teams and drivers who competed in their first series race at Road Atlanta. For example, Bill Prietzel, from Wisconsin, was at Road Atlanta for the first time in his Ford truck trying to learn the fast way around the racetrack. (American V8 Stock Car is currently considering adding trucks to the series.)
Again, Lee Arnold, the “driving force” behind the American V8 Stock Car series, would like to thank the sponsors (Goodyear, Sunoco, Spector Racing, Five Star Racecar Bodies, Racecar Engineering, Racing Electronics, DRP Performance, Mintex Racing, Howe Racing Enterprises and Tex Racing) for their continued support of the series throughout 2004.
For a race schedule and more information about the American V8 Stock Car series, and the upcoming round at the American Road Race of Champions at Road Atlanta, please go to v8stockcar.com. The series also plans to post a 2005 race schedule on its web site soon.