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USTCC East Round 1 at Summit Point Raceway - Sportsman Entries Fight Through Adversity


Photos by Sam Draiss and Denise Conner

April 21, 2024 (Summit Point, W.V.) – The United States Touring Car Championship (USTCC) East held Round 1 of its 2024 season at Summit Point Raceway.

Qualifying for Round 1 saw both Sportsman entries plagued with pre-session challenges: Studio VRM chasing Engine ECU electrical gremlins, and Braci Racing Team sorting brake pressure issues.
On Q Racing, the sole Super Touring entry was able to grid their red E90 325i without issue.

As the cars rolled off grid, one of the Sportsman entries was unable to take the green for the Q1 session, Roger Maeda in his green Honda prelude, was forced to park his green Honda Prelude on the escape road at the entry to turn one after 3 laps of Q1, with a fast lap of 1:29.092.

Martin Szwarc in his Honda Civic Si was able to take the green, but with a soft brake pedal hindering his ability to truly focus on his lap execution, was able to gather a fast lap of 1:31.339, which would put him P2 for the Saturday Qualifying race, just behind Roger Maeda.

Andrew Conner in the Red E90, found traffic once again a hindrance at Summit Point, but was still able to complete the Q1 session, and capture P1 in Super Touring with a fast lap of 1:27.987.

Saturday’s Qualifying race had a full grid, 31 Big Bore cars, with the US Touring Car Championship entries shuffled throughout. As luck would have it, all three US Touring Car Championship cars were within eyesight of each other as the green dropped. Once again, Roger’s ECU issue reared its ugly head, and he was forced to retire before the green fell. Martin Szwarc completed 13 laps without placing a wheel off track and captured a solid lap time of 1:29.094 placing him P1 for the Feature race on Sunday.

Andrew Conner, piloting the BMW E90, found clean air, and had a rather uneventful Qualifying race, fast lap set was 1:26.771 placing hip P1 in Super Touring,

As the Sun rose on Sunday, the packed paddock at Summit Point Raceway came alive with the sound of the Big Bore entries. The high powered monsters were scheduled to take the track in Group 1, at approximately 9:10 am, providing cool morning air and accommodating track temperatures.

The grid was set, the field was down from 27 to 26 due to a GT-1 Corvette retiring post Qualifying. Roger Maeda started P26, Martin Szwarc found himself P23 and Andrew Conner was seated in P20 overall. As the cars rolled off the grid, a GT-1 Camaro stalled out, causing the field to fracture which in turn, due to the speed differential within the group, effectively resulting in a split start. This bit of coincidence which would cause havoc as the laps clicked off.

Roger Maeda and Martin Szwarc were able to sort the traffic and battle for the SP honors until Roger’s gremlins reemerged with a different plan. Roger completed 11 of the 20 laps before retiring. Martin’s Honda brakes were back to full performance after some hard wrenching in the paddock, which paid dividends, Martin took the checkered in P1 on the road in Sportsman class. Unfortunately, this road would inadvertently lead him past post-race impound, resulting in a loss of position for the team.

Andrew Conner had the BMW on rails, clocking a fast lap of 1:22.379. Once once the checkered flag dropped, he secured a solid P1 in Super Touring.

As the teams rolled out of Summit Point WV, each have a bit of pre-event work to perform to prepare their cars for Round 2 at New Jersey Motorsports Park’s Lightning Raceway at the end of May.

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