NYCONN & MARC; Catfish Motel Throwdown

Reimels Sr. and Dr. John triumph in season’s first joint race

Cambridge, Massachusetts (our Fair City), USA, October 2, 2010 – A new lap record, a miracle, and a truly amazing rendition of the national anthem were the signal events at Catfish International Speedway on October 2.  Demon-fast 1/64th-scale Super Stock cars and a tightly bunched pack made for a very competitive day for the Catfish Motel Throwdown, an event jointly sanctioned by the veteran NYCONN (New York/ Connecticut) and MARC (Miniature Auto Racing Club – New England) organizations.
Photos from the day can be seen here.
Just the first race of the NYCONN season, and the second of the MARC campaign, the Throwdown saw racers feeling their way into the day.  The NYCONN format allows for a generous three hours of morning practice, so there was ample time to dial one’s car in to the vagaries of the 66-foot Catfish MaxTrax, and then back out again.

13 Super Stock cars –  every one of them either a G3 or G3-R – were dropped off for the tech inspectors to poke and prod.  No significant innovations were noted; no violations were found.

Tech Inspection completed, it was time for the Star Spangled Banner.  In years past, we’ve had a trumpeter, fiddle and mandolin, accordion, harmonica, and cello to deliver the old girl.  Always, the rendition has been stirring, and our racers’ response wholehearted.  For the 2010 Throwdown, we imported turntablist extraordinaire DJ Needle Juice, aka Berklee Prof. Stephen Webber, to spin the wheels of steel.

Stephen warmed up the crowd with some anthemic Star Wars sounds, and then some beats by Dr. Dre.  With Tech and the driver’s meeting complete, it was time to let fly sonically.  What was it like, Virginia?  Better not to tell you, honey, when we can show you.  Which we can, because noted local filmmaker — and track namesake — Henry Catfish Hayes was there to capture the action.  Oh yeah!

The NYCONN format, which we used this day, has everyone run a series of 12-minute consies, in positions autoqualified by LaneMaster.  Their totals seed them into a second, 20-minute run with racers earning similar totals, and this (second) run is the one that counts.

After the first go-round, John Reimels, no stranger in these parts, and no longer battling son Jonathan, just boosted to the Pro ranks, had the Amateur field measured with a 187 lap total.  Close behind on the podium were John Turbo O’Brien at 177, and the venerable Vinny T, at 176.   And, weirdly, several people noticed that Eric “The Loon” Handel had run his consie in a relatively quiet, controlled, manner.  And had put up a lap total within 20 percent of the Amateur leaders’.  Yes, people noticed!

On the Pro podium, Dr. John Pileggi ran a completely ridiculous 51 laps in the penalty box Red lane, to take top total at 210.   Catfish Motel host Rob Hayes was a not-very-close six laps back, followed almost immediately by Jonathan (Kimi) Reimels at 202.  Afterward there were murmurs about a blood test for John, and we will know more when we hear back from the FIA and Dr. Sid Watkins.  A bloody X-Acto blade was commandeered from John’s pit area, and the evidence flash-frozen at the local yogurt shop, pending further investigation.  Ed. note:  If you really look at the guy, you can easily tell he’s doping.  I mean, he just has to be.

OK, fifteen more minutes to fool with the cars, then into Round Two.   But first: four varieties of pie.  Blueberry, Apple Crumb, Mixed Berry, and Bourbon Chocolate Pecan.

The room grew silent.  And euphoric.  Folks went back for seconds.

But what would happen on the track?   Would Catfish Sr. find another 3 percent at the bench, and pull out another Pro home victory? Would Vinny T find the Amateur jolt to get by Reimels Sr.?  Would Eric revert to form and begin fibbering and gibbering, and crashing, like a goat on Andro?

In a word, no, no, and no.

The Amateur race saw John Reimels take the blue ribbon with a 315, followed not so far behind by Vinny T and John Turbo O’Brien in a complete dead heat at 300 laps – identical lap and section totals, after 20 minutes of charging.  Amazing.  Very cool.

Following them were Paul Ryer with 287, NYCONN Prez. Tom Bussmann with 281, and Eric Handel with 280.  No, this is not a misprint.  A miracle maybe, but not a misprint.  Something really good happened today.  Nick “The Quick” Kanan followed with 259, and Durf with 258.

In the Pro(gram), we saw Tom Kanan set a new single-lap, Super Stock record of 2.803 in the B Semi, eclipsing the old course mark by more than a tenth of a second.  Fast car!  But fast as he was, he’d take home the third-place ribbon.

In the A Semi, we had John Pileggi, Rob Hayes, Jonathan Reimels, and Tommy “Horsepower” Gray.  After the first segment, run at a blistering pace, just two laps covered the field.  But that was all the glory there’d be for Hayes and Gray, as they both fell back.   Kimi led the race all the way through the end of the third segment, and was up three, but had to end on gutter Red, while John was on adjacent White.  A great battle on the last two lanes, but John had the advantage in the last segment, and he methodically pulled out a five-lap decision.  Jonathan made him work hard for it.  You could tell.

The Pro final totals:  Dr. John 350 (just four off the record total), Kimi 345, Tom Kanan 341, Catfish Sr. 336, and Tom Gray 320.

Well, a great day.  Aside from not putting up more of a fight on my home course, I had a lovely time, and I hope everyone else did as well.  All my thanks to all you racers who were able to get here and make your contribution to the Throwdown.  Huge thanks to main squeeze Gretchen Adams for patience and racer food/drink prep, to Number One Son Henry Catfish for the video, to Tom Bussman and John O’Brien for all they do for both NYCONN and MARC, to Tommy Gray for his steady hand at the MARC helm, and to Stephen Webber for his audacious, inspiring take on our national anthem.

The next NYCONN date is an Open Weight/Brass Class tilt at Tom Bussmann’s Schlitzerland Raceway, in Danbury, CT, on Saturday, October 30.  And the next MARC date is on the calendar for Saturday, November 13 at the brand new, gigantic Modelville Hobby facility, in Ashland, Massachusetts.  This will be one you really won’t want to miss.