May 25, 2009 - Watkins Glen, New York: Team MatherMotorsport AVERAGES Second Place Finishes this Weekend
Memorial Day weekend marked the second race weekend, and races three and four with the Skip Barber MazdaSpeed Challenge Summer Series (http://www.skipbarber.com/race_series/mx5/mx5_raceSeries.aspx) at the historic Watkins Glen International Raceway in Watkins Glen, New York (http://www.theglen.com/). Watkins Glen International is a 3.4 mile, 11 turn racetrack with a lot of diving and climbing hills
Saturday, Race 1: Phil Mather qualified car number 25 fifth for the first race of the weekend, placing him inside of the third row on the starting grid. By the second lap, he was in second place, third place in the third lap. Then the real fun started. A cloud burst came over part of the track in the fast, downhill sweeper of turn five and covered half the track in water. The front straight through turn five was still relatively dry. Mather was one of the first to hit the water in the bus-stop chicane (a quick right, left, right series of turns) and ended up four wheels off the track in the grass. A couple of turns later, one of Mather's main competitors, car 11, also ended up off the track and came back onto the track right in front of him. In the Skip Barber race series rules, this requires a trip to the pit lane for a pit stop. Both cars dove into the pit late for a car checkout and returned to competition, Mather in tenth position. Mather quickly got by the number 11 and the two got to work trying to gain back the positions lost during the pit stop. One lap later, Mather was on the rain line and car 11 was inside. With the track still wet and slippery, the 11 car couldn't hold his line and slid up into Mather. Mather's car got sideways, but stayed on track, while the 11 car ended up in the tire wall. Again, Mather had to dive into the pits for a car inspection. Fortunately, damage was minimal and Mather continued in 12th place with four laps to go. The accident caused a full course caution and the pace car to come out. This bunched up the field and allowed Mather to catch up to the 11th place car as soon as the green flag came out. From there the race was on. Mather passed three cars at once going through turn one. By lap 10 of the 11 lap race, he was in third position, where he would finish. This was a complete shock to Phil. He had no idea he had made up so much ground after stopping in the pits - twice! Usually, one pit stop would kill all shots of a podium finish.
Sunday, Race 2: The contact from Saturday's race required a car change due to a damaged wheel bearing, so Mather was now in car number 16. Mather started in third position for Sunday morning's race. He got an excellent start and was in second position by the end of lap one. He dropped to third place for the next lap. The front two cars were battling for position throughout the entire race and Phil decided to watch the show, waiting for his opportunity. He would occasionally poke the nose of the racecar in the fight to throw off his competitors' timing and to size up passing opportunities. A full course caution with two laps to go bunched up the field again. Mather didn't get the best restart, but because the front two cars were battling each other kept him in the hunt. With a lap and a half to go, Mather made his move to second position in turn six, called the laces, a steep, downhill left hand turn. A late braking move got the car sliding sideways through the turn, but the pass stuck and first place was in sight. The leader, car 58, made a slight mistake going into turn nine. Mather was right on his back bumper going into turns ten and eleven. Another slight mistake going into turn eleven and Mather was in the lead with only one lap to go. He watched in his rear view mirror as second, third, and fourth battled, enabling him to put a gap between him and second place. All he had to do was drive a clean lap. Coming around the last turn towards the start finish Mather knew the win was his! Mather won his first Skip Barber MazdaSpeed Challenge race with a margin of victory of 0.967 seconds!
"This was a great weekend for me and proving myself as a race driver," Mather said. "Driving in such varying weather conditions and in two different cars on a new racetrack with such tough competition is the ultimate challenge. Thank you to all my sponsors, CG-Lock, Royal Purple, M. L. Davis Insurance, and everyone else! I'm climbing another rung on the ladder and bringing them with me!"
"I would like to dedicate today's victory to my Mom and Grandparents, who are very missed. This would have been my parent's 34th wedding anniversary, and it was very special to have my Dad with me this weekend. Also, the victory is dedicated to, Joe LaPalme, the brother of very good friend Julie LaPalme Shimko, who was killed in an accident last week."
In order to continue the racing season with the Skip Barber Racing Series, Team MatherMotorsport is putting all of their equipment up for sale. The truck, trailer and racecar are all available for purchase, as a package or separately. If you or anyone you know is interested in getting into racing with top level equipment, please have them contact Phil@TeamMatherMotorsport.com
for more information.