|FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE||December 8, 1980|
GRAYLING, Michigan. -- Guy Light and Jim Brandt squeeked to a half-minute win in their Jeep CJ-7 at the 12th round of the Sports Car Club of America's PRO Rally Series. The Michigan team jumped into a huge early lead at the Sno*Drift PRO Rally after the factory teams were forced from the event.
The expected show-down between John Buffum in his Triumph TR-8, and Rod Millen in his Mazda RX-7 fell by the wayside when Buffum exited for 6.5 minutes on the first five stages. Millen and co-driver Adrian Seabridge then got lost for 5 minutes. Both teams spent the rest of the rally trying to catch Light's very guick Jeep, with Buffum and co-driver Doug Shepherd actually coming within one-half minute at the end. Millen drove off course twice on the last stage (for a total of nearly a half hour) , and dropped to 16th place.
The 46 teams entered in the 350-mile, 10-hour Sno*Drift could not have predicted the event's terrible conditions for this, the only winter rally on the SCCA schedule. In addition to a foot and a half of snow, there was drizzling rain and a fog so thick that the U.S. Weather Bureau issued a travelers advisory. Vision was often less than a car length, making driver fatigue a critical factor in the results.
Third place went to Dick Turner and Tom Grimshaw. Unaccustomed to snow, the Texas team drove their Scout conservatively, and the strategy paid off, earning Turner his tenth top ten finish of the season -- an SCCA PRO Rally record. Fourth was Brian Rebney in his very very old Datsun 510, finishing two places better than he did at last year's event. Fifth went to John Woolf, who put his Mazda RX-3 off for 15 minutes on the first stage, then stopped to help Millen out of the snowbank on the last stage. The gesture may have cost him fourth place and helped to tighten the manufacture race between Mazda and Triumph to a thin 30 points.
Newcomer, (his third event) Erik Zenz and his partner Brian Berg hung on to claim top honors in the Production Class in their Saab 99, marking the 10th Production win for Saab this season. Second in the class was another Saab 99 belonging to Curt Spicer and Tom Hudak.
The event was marred by an unfortunate timing error, which may have cost John Buffum the win. Failure to record several times on the final stage caused rally officials to remove the stage from final scoring. Raw scores showed Buffum with a .70 minute advantage over Light on the final leg -- a margin which would have given Buffum victory.
Light's victory marked the return of Cooper Tires to the winner's circle.
Thus, the stage is set for a showdown at the upcoming Frontier Hotel Las Vegas rally on December 20 and 21. Millen and Buffum each have five victories, two seconds. These two drivers will have their own rally going on at Las Vegas. It's one-on-one, and the guy who comes out on top will be crowned the U.S. Rally Champion.
SCCA CONTACT: Tim Cline (203) 453-1742, T. Michael Moreland (303) 770-1044
EVENT: Sno*Drift EVENT CONDUCTED BY: Detroit Region, SCCA LOCATION: Grayling, Michigan LENGTH: 350 Miles, 17 Stages DATE: December 6-7, 1980 WEATHER: Cool, Snow, Rain, Fog ENTRANTS: 46: FINISHERS: 24 TERRAIN: Forest, flatland FIN CHAMP MFG. POS. DRIVER/CO-DRIVER/HOMETOWN CAR SCORE POINTS POINTS 1. Guy Light, Midland, MI Jeep CJ-7 117.32 100 100 Jim Brandt, Lake Odessa, WI 100 2. John Buffum, S. Burlington, VT Triumph TR-8 117.90 80 80 Doug Shepherd, Livonia, MI 80 3. Dick Turner, Lancaster, TX IH Scout 123.43 60 60 Tom Grimshaw, Aubrey, TX 60 4. Brian Rebney, Saginaw, MI Datsun 510 125.72 50 50 David Stone, Big Rapids, MI 50 5. John Woolf, Auckland, NZ Mazda RX-3 130.33 40 40 Grant Whittaker, Auckland, NZ 40 6.(1P) Erik Zenz, West Allis, WI Saab 99 130.74 30 30 Brian Berg, Brown Deer, WI 30 7. Eric Jones, Columbus, OH Datsun 510 132.88 20 Gary Grebus, Dublin, OH 20 8. Larry Schmidt, Rochester, MI Dodge Colt 134.84 19 Torn Wreesman, Troy, MI 19 9.(2P) Curt Spicer, Saginaw, MI SAAB 99 137.46 18 Tom Hudak, Hemlock, MI 18 10. Jim Warren, Midland, MI Jeep CJ-7 138.59 17 Jennifer Swenson, Midland, MI 17 PRODUCTION CLASS WINNERS 1. Erik Zenz, West Allis, WI SAAB 99 130.74 100 100 Brian Berg, Brown Deer, WI 100 2. Curt Spicer, Saginaw, MI SAAB 99 137.46 80 Tom Hudak, Hemlock, MI 80 3. Roger Suppes, Saginaw, MI Toyota Corolla 146.61 60 60 K. Crutchfield, Frankenmuth, MI STANDINGS AFTER TWELVE EVENTS ----------------------------- DRIVER PRODUCTION DRIVER 1. Rod Millen 500 1. Jon Davis 500 John Buffum 500 2. Dan Johnson 240 3. John Woolf 380 3. George Beckerman 180 4. Jon Woodner 330 4. Pat Nowak 178 5. Dick Turner 230 5. Fred Stafford 170 CO-DRIVER PRODUCTION CO-DRIVER 1. Doug Shepherd 500 1. Harry Ward 500 2. Grant Whittaker 380 2. Karen Johnson 240 3. Tom Grimshaw 230 3. Doris Beckerman 180 4. Joe Andreini 209 4. Greg Harris 160 5. David Orrick 190 Ron Richardson 160 MANUFACTURER PRODUCTION MANUFACTURER 1. Mazda 880 1. Saab 1000 2. Triumph 850 2. Plymouth 650 3. Dodge 350 3. Dodge 430 4. Datsun 320 4. Toyota 170 IH Scout 320 5. Audi 140