3/13/06 - Monterey, CA - Dave Brown took the opening round at the Hankook United States Touring Car Championship (USTCC) race at Laguna Seca on March 12, 2006, but it wasn’t easy! Like the previous two days, rain played a role on race day. With the torrential rain over-night, the track was flooded in the morning, and the 8:15 a.m. race warm-up was cancelled. The Laguna Seca maintenance crew worked feverishly, and had the track clean by around 9:30. At this point, the track officials made a bold move to bump the start time up from 11:15 to 10:00 a.m. There was a mad scramble by the competitors to get the cars ready and set for the grid. At this point, it was relatively dry and the race was deemed a “dry weather” race.
On the warm-up lap, the rain started to come down once again. By the time the cars reached the start line for the standing start, the front straight was completely wet. The cars lined up, the green light flashed, and the cars were off in a monster rooster tail.
Dave Brown, driving the LeMans Karting Fremont/Works/Robispec Goodsport Racing
Mitsubishi Evo 8 took the early lead with Brian Lock second in the Gruppe S/ Subaru of America/ DMS/ Canepa Design Subaru Legacy GT. Through the first part of the race, Tyler McQuarrie gave chase in third place in the Shark Energy Drink/ Spoon Sports Opak Racing Acura RSX-R, but the car was no match for the all-wheel-drive cars in the rain. A little further back, rookie Chris Lock in the Gruppe S/ Racing Brake Subaru WRX had a great battle going with Curt Simmons driving the Cornwell Tools/ Sunnyvale Dodge/ MBO Dodge SRT-4 and sixteen year-old-rookie Auston Harris in the Team Cobalt California Chevy Cobalt.
The rain never let up. At one point towards the end of the race, it even started hailing! It became a two-car race between Brown and Lock, with the two cars swapping places many times. Brown seemed to be a little faster through the turns, with B. Lock making up gobs of time under braking using his Subaru’s ABS system. As the two came across the finish line to start the last lap, Brown held a very small lead as the two disappeared into the mist. Tyler McQuarrie was running in third by himself, but there was a big battle for top rookie honors between Harris and C. Lock behind him.
At the last corner, Brown slipped a little wide, but was able to hold on for the Mitsubishi’s win by a scant half of a second. Brian Lock was second, also in a brand new car (Subaru Legacy GT), which was in its first professional race. McQuarrie finished third, while Auston Harris won out in the A’Pex Integration Rookie battle. Curt Simmons rounded out the top five.
The rain stopped, and the clouds parted for the victory ceremony, with the A1GP cars as a backdrop.
Immediately following the race, the top placing competitors had this to say;
Dave Brown: “This was a great day to have all-wheel-drive, there was no touching this Mitsubishi today! Robi-Spec suspension built us all custom suspension, which worked beautifully today. With this race in the rain, in these cars, you need to have quick steering input, your steering has to be quick and precise. I’m glad I trained for this event with karting at LeMans Karting in Fremont. Works provided us with engine tuning and exhaust, which helped get the car to the front. The race was tough with the rain. As we started the last lap, it was my race to win or lose so I left a little on the table, just to stay on the track. I’ve also got to thank David Bongiovanni, and Goodsport Racing for putting this program together. We’re looking forward to a strong season.
Brian Lock: “As soon as the rain came down on the warm-up lap, I said to myself, ‘here we go’, because I knew we were all on slicks. During the race, I got by Dave a few times and thought I could stay in front of him, but he harassed me too much and managed to get by. But, I love the sticky champagne feel you get from being on the podium, and I’m really proud of the fact that we put the Subaru Legacy GT in second for its first professional race.”
Tyler McQuarrie: “The car was awesome all weekend. We got a little held up in qualifying and I thought we had more for the race had it been in dry conditions. In these wet conditions, it became more of racing the track, and staying on the track.”
Top Rookie, Auston Harris: “It was wet, slippery and hard to keep the car on the track with dry tires! I had a little trouble getting around Chris Lock, but then once I was around him, I was able to stay there for fourth.”
Interested Observer Mr. Tatsuru Ichishima (Ichi), President and Founder of Spoon Japan: “It was a dangerous race in the rain. Last season we won the championship. This was a good start, but we need to do more testing with our new driver. We will have another good year I’m confident.”