Goodguys CPP AutoCross Series Recap – 23rd Summit Racing Nationals presented by PPG

The biggest weekend on the Goodguys summer calendar is also, not surprisingly, one of the most active weekends of the year for the Goodguys CPP AutoCross Series. As we continue to reflect on the incredible 23rd Summit Racing Nationals presented by PPG in Columbus, Ohio, July 9-11, let’s take a closer look at the full-throttle action on the AutoCross course.

Columbus is a prime destination not only for Goodguys CPP AutoCross Series racers, but also for the manufacturers who build the products that help these cars and teams to be fast and competitive. To celebrate this, we’ve established a tradition of hosting a Sponsor Shootout during the Friday of the event. This shootout is a fun way for Goodguys to support its AutoCross sponsors, and for those sponsors to square off against each other by way of drivers and vehicles representing their components. Furthermore, a handicap system allows drivers and vehicles from different classes a rare opportunity to compete against each other.

The ladder started with 14 entries. Competitors and their respective sponsors included Ron Scott Jr. (Optima); Josh Leisinger (Summit Racing); Bill Graves Sr. (Fuel Curve); Patrick McGinnis (FiTech); Rob MacGregor (LMC Truck); Roger Burman (Classic Performance Products); Karen Leisinger (Gearstar); Bob Bertelsen (AutoMeter); Richard Giesey (Proform); Chris Smith (Wilwood); Dan Ballard (Forgeline); Brian Martin (Tremec); Robby Unser (Speedway Motors); and Ryan Mathews (Kicker).

The first round saw Scott, MacGregor, Graves, Smith, Unser, Bertelsen, Josh Leisinger, and Ballard advancing. In round two, MacGregor knocked off Scott, Graves advanced past Smith, Bertelsen beat Unser, and Ballard raced past Leisinger. This set up a semifinal of MacGregor from the LMC Truck class facing off against Bill Graves from Forgeline Street Machine, and PRO driver Bertelsen matching up with fellow PRO driver Ballard. Bertelsen and Graves prevailed, leading to a PRO vs. Forgeline Street Machine final lineup. Both racers were driving Corvettes – Graves a ’66, Bertelsen a ’68. It was Bertelsen, running to represent sponsor AutoMeter, who was able to claim the win in his “Green Mamba” ’Vette, running a 47.866 to top the 50.145 (with cone penalty) of Graves.

The threat of rain on Saturday led to an earlier-than-normal running of the Buckeye Shootout presented by Forgeline, followed by continued racing to vie for weekend class wins. There were several familiar faces in the four-car PRO-X ladder of the shootout, including Josh Leisinger, Robby Unser, Roger Burman, and Brian Coney. Leisinger knocked off fellow Summit Racing teammate Burman in the first round and Unser drove the Speedway Motors-sponsored ’70 Camaro past Coney’s ’69 Camaro, leading to a Summit-vs.-Speedway final. Leisinger’s cone penalty in the final round resulted in a 48.394-second run, which gave Unser the edge with his 47.574 to grab the shootout victory. It was a split ticket, though, as Leisinger claimed the PRO-X class win in the Summit-sponsored ’64 Corvette with a top time of 46.298.

It was a split ticket in the PRO class, too, with Ryan Mathews taking the class win running a best time of 46.931 in his After Dark Speed C4 Corvette. Mathews did not compete in the Buckeye Shootout, however, which had a PRO ladder made up of Chris Smith, Bob Bertelsen, Ron Scott Jr., and Nathan Johnson. Smith, driving the Speedtech ’70 Camaro, advanced past Johnson and Bertelsen’s Corvette raced past the Corvette of Ron Scott Jr. in the first round. Smith clipped a cone early in his final-round run and knew it was over at that point – he cruised through the rest of the course, which helped Bertelsen to claim the Buckeye Shootout victory with a 47.744 to go along with his Sponsor Shootout win from Friday.

Nearly two dozen drivers competed in the Forgeline Street Machine class. Chris Jacobs took the class win with a best time of 47.416 in his ’87 Corvette, but steadfast competitor Bill Graves Sr. was not to be denied in his trusty and consistent ’66 Corvette. Graves and Jacobs were joined by Tom Farrington (’66 Chevelle) and Jared Roden (’87 Camaro) in the four-car Street Machine ladder of the Buckeye Shootout, where the two Corvettes advanced to the final round. That’s where Graves got the best of Jacobs, running a 47.753 to Jacobs’ 48.107, which allowed Graves to claim the Shootout win.

Rob MacGregor had the only double-up win of the Columbus weekend, racing to the LMC Truck class win driving Bill Holt’s ’86 Chevy C10 and winning the Truck/Challenger portion of the shootout ladder. MacGregor was joined by fellow LMC Truck competitor Wes Kohnen in his ’69 C10 in the shootout, along with Rich Carpino, who won the FiTech Challenger class in his ’62 Mercury Comet, and fellow FiTech Challenger competitor Jason Smith in his ’87 Camaro. MacGregor and Carpino advanced past Kohnen and Smith, respectively, to meet in the final round. Carpino had one of his strongest runs, a 50.747, but it wasn’t enough to top the 50.630 that MacGregor laid down to take the double-up victory.

Unfortunately, Sunday rains prevented any competition in the Wilwood All-American Sunday class. Still, with two great days of competition – thanks to a great racer turnout and tireless work by the Goodguys AutoCross team – it was another exciting, fun, and competitive weekend for the Goodguys CPP AutoCross Series. Thanks to everyone who has competed so far this year! We can’t wait to pick up the action again at the 2nd Grundy Great American Nationals in York, Pennsylvania August 20-22!

Photos by Steven Bunker

Editor, Goodguys Gazette

Damon Lee began snapping photos at car shows when he was 10, tagging along with his father to events throughout the Midwest. He has combined his passion for cars and knack for writing and imagery into a 20-year career in the automotive aftermarket, writing for titles like Super Chevy and Rod & Custom and, more recently, working for respected industry leaders Speedway Motors and Goodguys Rod & Custom Association.