|FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE||October 13, 1980|
Alpine, Texas -- Rod Millen, the quick Kiwi, won his second Sports Car Club of America PRO Rally in a row by edging out current series leader John Buffum of S. Burlington, VT, by just over one minute. Driving his Mazda RX-7, Millen and co-driver Rod Sorenson of Sacramento, CA, took advantage of an early flat tire on Buffum's Triumph TR-8 and jumped into the lead on the second of the rally's 11 stages. He hung on to survive a hard charge by Buffum which narrowed the gap from nearly three minutes to a minute and 12 seconds at the end. The Lubrilon Big Bend Bash drew competitors from all over the country and the world The rally's 11 stages claimed only eight of the 31 entrants, a very high finishing percentage considering the difficulty of the course.
Third went to Millen's friend and fellow New Zealander, John Woolf, who brought his Mazda RX-3 home four minutes back. One of the best drives of the night ended in frustration for Marek Baranski who had put together a super drive and was solidly in second place a half-minute behind Millen after seven stages. At the dinner break at the famous Terlinqua ranch, Marek's Renault 5 (le Car) was well within striking distance of the leader. He continued to turn up the wick until he overcooked a corner on Stage 10 and ended up stuck in the desert for more than an hour. It was a frustrating drive for the Polish driver and his American co-driver, Ginny Reese, but it did demonstrate that he has a car and the talent capable of running with the leaders.
Eric Jones and R.L. Sieling of Columbus, Ohio put their eight-year-old Datsun 510 into fourth place, a truly remarkable drive considering the caliber (and money) of the competition. Four minutes behind Jones was the big IH Scout of Dick Turner and Tom Grimshaw. Turner laid the truck on its side two weeks earlier at the Mendocino Forest Rally in California, and discovered that, although the truck had been repaired, something started to rub everytime he stood on the brakes. It turned out to be some sheet metal, and once that was fixed, they were able to make up some time.
The most ferocious battle of the night was for Production Class honors. Jon Davis and Harry Ward in their Saab 99 beat the plymouth Arrow of Kris Mellon and Ken Smith by 13/100 of a minute (about 8 seconds)-- after 12 hours of competition! That wasn't the end of the story. Third place Production finishers, Dan and Karen Johnson (Plymouth Champ) had protested the legality of the front strut's on Mellon's car . The protest was upheld and Mellon was disqualified. That moved Johnson into second place in Production and into second place in the overall Production Class standings.
Davis' win had not come easily. Early on the Saab broke a panhard rod making control of the car a real handful. At the dinner break, another Saab driver, Tom French, welded it back together. French had his own troubles as he lost 26 minutes after a rock nailed the fuel tank and broke the fuel pump loose. The delay allowed Tom's wife Suzy to sneak by him in her identical Saab 99. Tom tried to catch her, but in the end Suzy finished 18th (4th Production) and Tom was 20th (5th Production).
Millen's win in the Mazda moved him to within 20 points of series leader John Buffum and virtually guaranteed that the race for the 1980 U.S. Rally Championship will go right down to the wire.
The next event on the SCCA PRO Rally schedule is the legendary Press On Regardless (POR) run November 7-9 in the town of Houghton on Michagan's Upper peninsula. The 800 mile POR will draw over 70 entrants from around the world.
SCCA CONTACT: Tim Cline (203) 453-1742, T. Michael Moreland (303) 770-1044
EVENT: Big Bend Bash EVENT CONDUCTED BY: Texas Region, SCCA LOCATION: Alpine, Texas and Dallas Sports Car Club DATE: October 11-12, 1980 LENGTH: 257 miles, 11 stages, 125 stage miles. ENTRANTS: 31: FINISHERS: 22 WEATHER: Warm, intermittent rain TERRAIN: Desert, rolling hills FIN CHAMP MFG. POS. DRIVER/CO-DRIVER/HOMETOWN CAR SCORE POINTS POINTS 1. Rod Millen, Santa Ana, CA Mazda RX-7 2:41.71 100 100 Rod Sorenson, Sacramento, CA 100 2. John Buffum, S. Burlington, VT Triumph TR-8 2:42.53 80 80 Doug Shepherd, Ann Arbor, MI 80 3. John Woolf, Auckland, NZ Mazda RX-3 2:45.83 60 Grant Whittaker, Auckland, NZ 60 4. Eric Jones, Columbus, Ohio Datsun 510 2:51.04 50 50 R.L. Sieling, Columbus, Ohio 50 5. Dick Turner, Lancaster, TX IH Scout 2:55.86 40 40 Tom Grimshaw, Aubury, TX 40 6. Larry Schmidt, Rochester, MI Dodge Colt 2:57.34 30 30 Joe Andreini, St. Clair Shores, MI 30 7. Dave Shelton, Lancaster, TX IH Scout 2:59.77 20 John Grimshaw, Lewiaville, TX 20 8.(1P) Jon Davis, Houghton, Ml Saab 99 3:00.37 19 Harry Ward, Toledo, OH 19 9. Ralph Starr, Englewood, CO Datsun 510 3:04.21 18 Regan Smolkovich, Denver, CO 18 10. Colin Whittingham, Tyler, TX Mazda RX-3 3:05.54 17 Jim Holdnar, Grapevine, TX 17 PRODUCTION CLASS WINNERS 1. Jon Davis, Houghton, MI Saab 99 3:00.37 100 100 Harry Ward, Toledo, OH 100 2. Dan Johnson, Hermosa Beach, CA Plymouth Champ 3:18.03 80 80 Karen Johnson, Hermosa Beach, CA 80 3. Fred Stafford, Santa Monica, CA Saab 99 3:21.06 60 60 Erick Hauge, Pleasanton, CA 60 STANDINGS AFTER TEN EVENTS DRIVER PRODUCTION DRIVER 1. John Buffum 500 1. Jon Davis 500 2. Rod Millen 480 2. Danny Johnson 240 3. John Woolf 320 3. Jim Olinger 210 4. Jon Woodner 250 4. George Beckerman 180 5. Dick Turner 200 5. Dan Wing 160 CO-DRIVER PRODUCTION CO-DRIVER 1. Doug Shepherd 500 1. Harry Ward 500 2. Grant Whittaker 320 2. Karen Johnson 240 3. Tom Grimshaw 200 3. Doris Beckerman 180 4. David Orrick 190 4. Greg Harris 160 5. Harry Ward 187 5. Ron Richardson 160 MANUFACTURER PRODUCTION MANUFACTURER 1. Mazda 740 1. Saab 900 2. Triumph 690 2. Plymouth 550 3. Dodge 310 3. Dodge 370 4. Datsun 270 4. Mercury 110 5. IH Scout 230 Toyota 110