Eighteen racing teams met March 15th at Bondurant’s Firebird facility. Their goal was to raise money for United Cerebral Palsy, have fun and fight to have their names added to the Champions roster on the Bondurant Cup.
PKRA drivers Joshua Lyon and Phil DeLao Jr. were on the Miller Brewing race team and several other PKRA members were in attendance to watch and cheer them on.
To the left is the Miller Brewing team with their UCP client ambassador Christopher Pignotti in one of the Bondurant Cup karts.
The race karts were prepared by Bondurant and powered by 10 HP Briggs & Stratton motors.
The race format was a series of 20 minute heats with LeMans starts and a minimum of 4 driver changes. Each team raced in two preliminary heats. The seven teams with the best heat results would race in the final for the Bondurant Cup.
Some of the teams seemed to be there just for the fun, but several of the corporate teams were taking it seriously and had drivers who knew their way around a race track. Click here for a short video clip from the Miller Team’s helmet camera.
The various pit strategies made for exciting racing where anything could, and usually did, happen. The Miller team’s strategy was to get the driver changes out of the way relatively early. Their 4th driver would be in the kart with more than half the race left. The 4th and 5th drivers would split the remaining time. Josh and Phil alternated running 4th and 5th. Team captain Todd Fabian started each heat, braving the typical carnage of the LeMans start and early laps. Jacque Bambridge and 1988 USAC Champion Mark Passerrelli drove the middle stints.
In the heats, Miller’s competition chose to run their long stints first. That put Miller more than a lap down by the time Josh or Phil got into the kart, but with the other teams having more pit stops to complete. The two PKRA drivers were up to the challenge and by the end of the 1st heat, the Miller team was 2 laps ahead of their nearest competitor.
Miller went on to also win their second heat, but it was a bigger challenge. The kart they drew was down on power. Todd made a brilliant dash and entry to the kart, moving away before any other team. But by the 1st turn he had been relegated to next to last. Even so, the Miller team made fewer mistakes and Phil and Josh helped take the team back to the front, this time one lap up on the field.
But the main was to be a nail biter for the Miller team…..
As fate would have it, Miller drew the same kart they had in the second heat. To make matters worse, the motor wasn’t even running when Todd got to it. After some frantic arm waving, a Bondurant official restarted the kart but not till the rest of the field was more than a half lap ahead. The Miller kart spun trying to gain back some ground and the team found themselves a lap down before completing their first lap.
With the Bondurant Cup within reach, many drivers were giving no quarter and altercations were becoming more frequent. Off track excursions were becoming common.
The Miller team started the penultimate lap 3 karts behind the leader. Even so, the Miller kart won the race to the checkered flag with 3 seconds to spare. It was a narrow victory for the Miller team but a decisive one having also lapped the field in both preliminary heats and posting the fast lap of the event with Joshua Lyon in the kart.
Good times were had by all and UCP received some much needed funds for their important work.
Miller Brewing is already planning their title defense for 2009.