|FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE||December 22, 1980|
LAS VEGAS, Nevada -- Taisto Heinonen from Vancouver, B.C. and co-driver Lynn Nixon drove their specially prepared Toyota Corolla to a convincing win at the Frontier Nevada Rally. The "Flying Finn" -- a former Canadian rally champion, received a $5000 first place prize for his efforts.
Losing the battle but winning the war was John Buffum of S. Burlington, VT Buffum drove a conservative rally in his Triumph TR-8, placing second, but earning enough points to capture his fourth SCCA PRO Rally Championship in five years.
At the same time, Buffum also won the Manufacturer's crown for Triumph, as well as the North American Rally Cup (the combined U.S. and Canadian Rally Championship). Buffum's partner Doug Shepherd of Livonia, Mich., had earlier won the co-driver's championship.
Sixty cars were on hand for the Saturday morning start from the Frontier Hotel on the famous Las Vegas Strip to challenge the 600 mile, two-day rally. By the half-way point on Saturday night, nearly 1/3 of the field was gone, and when the dusty troops rolled back to Las Vegas Sunday night, only 34 could be counted as finishers.
Canadians shined in the event, taking not only first, but third as well which went to Bo Skowronnek and his Partner/Wife Cathrine from Saskatoon, Sask. in a Datsun 510.
Fourth went to New Zealander Clive Smith driving one of the ex-Buffum TR-8's. Smith, who now resides in Canada, had rallied successfully in New Zealand but had not been active for about three years. The Frontier Nevada Rally marked his very first rally since then.
Fifth was the Michigan team of Guy Light and Jim Brandt in their Chevy Powered Jeep CJ-7. They had won the Sno*Drift rally two weeks ago in Michigan, and the finish in Nevada moved them into fifth place in the overall Championship.
The promised showdown for the SCCA PRO Rally Championship between Buffum and New Zealander Rod Millen in the Mazda RX-7 ended in the early hours of Saturday evening when Millen missed a corner near the end of stage seven, and rolled the Mazda several times, virtually destroying the car. Millen and co-driver Mike Franci were shaken but unhurt. With the main threat to his winning the championship out, Buffum slowed with the intention of going for a finish. He began carrying two spare tires, "just in case" and held down the engine revs. The strategy paid off and for the fourth time in the past five years, "J.B." has been crowned SCCA PRO Rally Champion. "Since next year is going to be a development year for our rally program, we won't be going for the championship." said Buffum, "That makes this win all the more important and satisfying."
SCCA CONTACT: Tim Cline (203) 453-1742, T. Michael Moreland (303) 770-1044
EVENT: Frontier Nevada Rally EVENT CONDUCTED BY: Team Nevada, Inc. LOCATION: Las Vegas, Nevada LENGTH: 540 Miles, 18 Stages DATE: December 20-21, 1980 WEATHER: Warm, Clear, Dry, Dusty ENTRANTS: 61 FINISHERS: 34 TERRAIN: Hills & Mountains FIN CHAMP MFG. POS. DRIVER/CO-DRIVER/HOMETOWN CAR SCORE POINTS POINTS 1. Taisto Heinonen, Vancouver, B.C. Toyota Corolla 3:50.20 100 100 Lynn Nixon, Calgary, Alberta 100 2. John Buffum, S. Burlington, VT Triumph TR-8 3:58.08 80 8O Doug Shepherd, Livonia, MI 80 3. Bo Skowronnek, Saskatoon, Sask. Datsun 510 4:01.13 60 60 Cathrine Skowronnek, Saskatoon, Sask. 60 4. Clive Smith, Calgary, Alberta Triumph TR-8 4:02.51 50 Walter Leemans, Calgary, Alberta 50 5. Guy Light, Midland, MI Jeep CJ-7 4:03.17 40 40 Jim Brandt, Lake Odessa, MI 40 6. Paul Price, Santa Ana, CA Jeep J-10 4:09.82 30 30 Warren Baird, Strathmore, CA 30 7. Mike Gibeault, Ridgecrest, CA Dodge Colt 4:17.36 20 Lynn Allison, Corona, CA 20 8. J.C. Ray, Ridgecrest, CA Ford Pickup 4:18.60 19 Ron Park, Ridgecrest, CA 19 9. Larry Schmidt, Rochester, MI Dodge Colt 4:19.99 18 Joe Andreni, St. Clair Shores, MI 18 10. Murray Munsie, Calgary, Alberta Datsun 510 4:21.00 17 Bill Boogaart, Calgary, Alberta 17 PRODUCTION CLASS WINNERS 1. Kris Mellon, Lake Tahoe, CA Plymouth Arrow 4:31.92 100 100 Satch Carlson, Anchorage, AK 100 2. Ray Hocker, Ridgecrest, CA Dodge Colt 4:38.23 80 80 Damon Trimble, Newark, CA 80 3. Jerry Hines, Seattle, OR Dodge Colt 4:40.73 60 Gary Diebolt, Seattle, OR 60