Seneca Bunker Rally: The Close of the 2008 Season


Well, we started at the Seneca Army Depot in 2008 and we ended it there, as well. The 2008 Solo season is now officially closed. One for the books as they say, whoever “they” are, and what a season closer it was. The capstone event had 90 drivers showing up on Sunday, October 19 in some of the best weather we have seen for one last chance to punish the pylons before putting up the helmet and shoes until next year. They came from all over the state and even from out of state for this opportunity, so many, in fact, that the paddock was completely filled and parking was at a premium. We would have thought we were at a divisional run-off, if we didn’t know better.


Bret Bauer was the Seneca Depot Designer of the Day. As is Bret’s style, he set up a long course that permitted relatively high speeds, but which also contained kinks and turns designed to slough off speed at critical junctures. Safety and speed, a nice combination when you think about it. To keep up the speeds much of the track’s width had to be employed, so keep it safe a decision was made to invoke the “four wheels off and you’re out” rule. Surprisingly, this caught two drivers, both longstanding Glen Region members and not “outsiders,” as one might have expected. Go figure. As is typical in Bret’s layouts, the overall design required little in the way of memorization and resulted in a minimum of cone killage. This isn’t to say that “off-courses” were rare or that cones didn’t go down, but overall the design worked and gave most of us the opportunity to run in a higher gear than we typically experience at a Glen Region event. Even fewer “off courses” would have occurred had we had enough pylons to toss a couple additional pointer cones at the “Pearly Gates,” but it was still worth it. Yes, that’s right. Pearly Gates. I don’t know whether it was a result of my comment following the last Glen Region event at Arnot Mall about a lack of “Pearly Gates” or just whimsy, but this time there were two Pearly Gates, both on the first section of the course. For those who have forgotten, a “Pearly Gate” is where the course passes through an opening in one direction, reverses and passes back through the same opening but in an opposite direction. Confused? Well, you probably aren’t alone as when we did have “off-courses” the Pearly Gates were usually involved in one way or another. They’re not a pretty sight, but I admit to a certain admiration of them.


As for the actual layout, the course started with a “Skip-Start,” a relatively gentle beginning, then turned right passing through Pearly Gate #1 and into a quasi-slalom before turning sharply left through Pearly Gate #2 for a clockwise romp at the far northern end of the course. At this point the course re-entered Pearly Gate #2 veering right to enter another quasi-slalom and a left arc through Pearly Gate #1. At this point and with the right finesse, the driver arced sharply leftward through gates exiting the main runway and onto a C-shaped taxiway giving a road course feel to it all. Exiting the main runway was not as easy as it might have appeared to many, as a small bump between concrete and asphalt at the juncture unsettled many cars and caused more than a few to collect cones or become members of the “180 Club” in the process. Just ask Mark Lockhart. The taxiway, itself, contained some offset gates taking the cars from one side of the course to the other before reentering the main runway with a high-speed arc left and an optional-slalom down the left/east side of the runway. The slalom dumped into a sharp, clockwise turn at the far south end of the strip, a couple more staggered gates functioning as chicanes before the timing lights were reached.


As for classes, with 90 drivers it’s hard to know where to begin. Street Modified had nine drivers and was the largest class du jour, but there were seven drivers each in A-Stock, G-Stock, H-Stock, Street Touring S, Street Modified 2, and F125 Shifter Kart. Additionally, E-Stock, Street Touring X, and Formula SAE had five entrants apiece, and F Modified had six drivers. If anything, it was rare to see single driver classes. The best part is that the classes were not only large on quantity, but quality, as well. For example, Rich Hutchinson (’05 Subaru WRX STi) of the Finger Lakes Region found the course early and consistently to take the Street Modified trophy over 8 other competitors. Julius Carozza (BMW 318) had to settle for second place, as a result, ahead of third place Street Modified trophy winner, Bryan Larison (’00 Subaru Impreza) but only by 25/100 of a second. That’s close driving, folks! In A-Stock, Chris Morton (’06 Subaru WRX STi) came all the way from FLR to seize the class trophy from Mark Seelbinder (’03 Honda S2000) and Dave Potocki (’08 Honda S2000 CSR). In G-Stock, the Glen Region members did much better as Cody Chambers (Subaru Impreza 2.5RS) edged out Brett Bourdette  (Nissan 240SX) and Brian Balliet (’03 Nissan Altima) for valedictorian position. John Szozda (’99 Mitsubishi Eclipse) waited until his final run in H-Stock to take the class trophy from Rich Ayers (‘02 Honda Civic Si) and third place finisher, Michael LaRose in his ’98 Volvo wagon. Street Modified 2 also had seven entries and its overall winner was Nick Babin (’88 Mazda RX-7) of the Finger Lakes Region just ahead of second place David Savage (Nissan 350Z) and third place finisher, Larry Rhode (’94 Ford Mustang).


In F125 Shifter Kart it was a great day as breakdowns were absent and seven signed up for the challenge. Rob Craig (1991 Techno Kart) repeated his performance in the season opener by taking first place from second place finisher, Ryan Jones (MW Chassis 100cc HPV), and third place finisher, Casey Creamer (MW Chassis 100cc HPV). The competition was so good that only 6/100 of a second separated Casey from fourth place finisher, Pat Scopelliti (1991 Techno Kart). Making this even more interesting is the fact that Pat bought his kart, the 1991 Techno Kart, from Casey, so in essence, Casey was not only beaten by his own kart, driven by Rob Craig, but also beaten by second place finisher, Ryan Jones, to whom he loaned his “new” kart. Casey, it’s time to step up to a real Shifter-Kart, one that you don’t loan out excepting with a governor, and I don't mean Eliot Spitzer. Either that or should you still have that 60# weight in your shop...


Meanwhile and over in hotly contested E-Stock, it was Nile Heermans’ (Toyota MR2) turn to win and he did it by 82/100 of a second over second place finisher, Tom Deneka (Toyota MR2). Greg Cuda (’90 Mazda Miata) had to settle for third place. In Street Touring X it was another win by a Finger Lakes Region driver, Stefan Colegrove (’91 Nissan 240), as he held off John Pierce (’87 BMW 318si) of the Glen Region and fellow Finger Lakes driver, Greg Turner, in a ’04 Ford Mustang. F-Modified saw six drivers, all in various Red Devils, vie for the brass, but it was little contest as Brian Ciarlei easily outpaced second place finisher, Michelle Quinn, and third place contestant, Jeff Colegrove. Finally in Formula SAE and with a fast enough time to earn himself FTD in the process, Ryan Baldi outpaced both Aleksey Kovtun and Matt Smith for class honors.


There were several other classes at the event, many containing multiple drivers, but too many to report in one article, so do yourself a favor. Check out all of the official results online at While there you might want to check out the seasonal class and PAX standings. It’s all there for your reading pleasure.


2008 was a great season for Solo and there are many folks who deserve our thanks for making it happen. For starters, Kyle Kubick was outstanding as the Solo chair, setting up a 9-event season and keeping the program functioning. He wasn’t alone though as Glen Solo Board members Bruce Coulombe, Tom Deneka, Eric Navestad, John Pierce, and Pat Scopelliti gave of their time so that the rest of us could drive. Assisting Kyle and the Solo Board were Casey Creamer and the Set-Up crew who put together our courses, Eric Navestad, who managed to get the van and our equipment to our sites, Rich Ayers, who worked registration along with Cody Chambers and Ryan Jones, John Pierce, who headed up Timing and Scoring, and our safety stewards, Tom Deneka, Ben Heater, and Ken Moyer. There were also many more folks who assisted these people, too many to name, a situation of which we in the Glen Region can be proud. Last and certainly not least, a big thank-you to Barb Luther for her assistance getting these articles into The Spark Plug and to Stu Luther for proofing and for his comments. You two have been wonderful.


The next Glen Region event is the General Membership meeting scheduled for 6:30 PM Saturday, November 22 at the IMRRC in Watkins Glen. I encourage everyone to attend. Also, the annual Glen Region Awards Banquet is scheduled for Friday, December 5 at El Monte’s in Fisherville behind Kent Brown Toyota and Lowe’s. More information is available on the Glen Region website at and as always, we'll keep the timing lights on for you.