By JIM PARKER
The Post and Courier
Considering they were competing in a category that didn’t exist until 2012, the drivers on a local dealership’s sports car squad more than held their own.
The Mini of Charleston Racing team wrapped up its season this fall with multiple trips to the podium and a strong showing at the final race of the year at the famed Lime Rock course in New England.
Mini of Charleston raced in the 2012 Grand AM/Total Performance Showcase racing series, a class in the Sports Car Club of America road course circuit. The racing vehicles were B Spec cars, typically compacts such as the Mini, Ford Fiesta and Honda Fit.
“What a great starting season to what is going to be the tightest, most competitive class anywhere,” said Brad Davis, executive with Hendrick Imports and team manager of the Mini racing team.
“Mini of Charleston wants to thank Mini USA, Grand AM and the SCCA for helping get this class off the ground in 2012 and look for great numbers of cars competing in 2013,” he said.
Lime Rock Park in Lakeville, Conn., hosted the final race in late September. According to Davis, the course is noted as one of the shortest at 1.5 miles and nine turns but with extreme elevation changes. The B Spec cars went almost flat out all the way around the track, averaging close to 83 mph.
Johan Schwartz of Charlottetook the pole in the pouring rain in a Sawaya Segalas/Endurance Karting/Instrument Mart 2008 Mini Cooper generating 112 horsepower. Schwartz is a driving instructor for the BMW Performance Center in Greer.
“The handling on these Minis is simply incredible, considering they are front wheel drive cars with limited suspension modifications. They’re a lot of fun to drive,” Schwartz said.
Fellow Mini of Charleston driver Robbie Davis grabbed the second starting position.
In the race, Schwartz took the lead while Davis’s Mini got hit in the rear by a competitor in a Ford Fiesta. Schwartz battled Honda Fit driver Joel Lipperini of Pittson, Pa., for the lead, eventually losing out by 0.143 seconds. Davis climbed through the field after his early spin, setting the fastest race lap in the process, said his father, Brad Davis. He ended up fifth, his first race of the season not on the podium.
In the six race series, the Mini of Charleston/Mini USA/Mini Financial Services team locked up two victories by Robbie Davis at New Jersey Motorsports Park and Mazda Raceway at Laguna Seca; three runners-upfinishes by Davis at Homestead and Mid-Ohio and Schwartz at Lime Rock and two finishes in third, Robbie Davis at Watkins Glen and Brad Davis at Laguna Seca.
At the Laguna Seca race on the 2.238 mile Mazda Raceway Sept. 9 in Monterrey, Calif., Robbie Davis became the first driver to win two races in the Total Performance Showcase Series.
The race track features the “corkscrew” turn, an 18 percent drop on the course from the top to the bottom of the turn. It amounts to a five-and-a-half-story drop in 450 feet.
“This was my first visit to Laguna Seca and I used video games to learn the track and the proper racing line, although nothing could prepare you for the blind drop in the corkscrew,” Robbie Davis said on the victory stand.
Brad Davis, who lives in Summerville, finished in third place in a Mini that hadn’t been tested until the race.
For more information, contact Brad Davis at Mini of Charleston, 843-402-6551 or Brad.firstname.lastname@example.org.
Reach Jim Parker at 937-5542 or email@example.com.