|FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE||February 17, 1981|
ALPINE, Texas -- U.S. PRO Rally Champion John Buffum of South Burlington, VT, staged a dramatic come-from-behind drive to capture the Big Bend Bash, the opening round of the Sports Car Club of America's PRO Rally Series, last weekend.
Driving a factory prepared Peugeot 504, Buffum, who had never sat in the machine until the day before the event, and co-driver Doug Shepherd of Plymouth, Mich., scored a one-and-one-half minute victory over the 35 car field in the desert of southwest Texas.
Trailing the factory Peugeot in its first ever SCCA PRO Rally win was New Zealand rally ace Rod Millen, who now resides in Santa Ana, Calif. Millen, who piloted a factory-backed Mazda RX-7 similar to his 1980 model, and partner Bob Kraushaar of Tigard, Ore., moved into first place after six of the rally's nine stages and held a slim half minute lead over the field. However, after the break, the field headed into the rugged country known as the Terlingua Ranch once again, and Buffum and the Peugeot swept the final three stages including a long, rough 20-miles (by more than a minute and a half) to claim the victory.
Texans Dick Turner and Tom Grimshaw rounded out the Top 3 in their "thunder truck", an IH Scout with a whopping 540-bhp engine. Turner stated after the event that "the truck would spin all four wheels in high gear". Placing fourth in the season opener were Michigan Privateers Larry Schmidt and Joe Andreini, who pushed their Dodge Colt to the top spot for an unsponsored team, while the Mexican team of Fred Van Beuren and Franco Soldati closed out the Top 5 with a Ford Mustang, part of a six-car contingent entered by the the Rally Automovil Club of Mexico and the Club Automovilistico Frances.
The Production Class at the Big Bend Bash turned out to be unusually fierce with all five cars entered finishing the grueling 12-hour rally. Californians Ray Hocker and Damon Trimble drove their Dodge Colt to the win with a tough battle of European heavyweights contending for second position.
The husband-wife team of Gary and Carolyn Eaton brought their factory backed Peugeot 505 held down the No.2 slot before a punctured tire on the last stage cost them five minutes and second place. Defending Prduction Class champions Jon Davis and Harry Ward then moved their Saab into the second spot and dropped the Eatons to third.
The Big bend Bash marked the opening event on the 14-contest SCCA Rally Series schedule for 1981, and, for the next 11 months, drivers will travel the entire United States in search of the coveted $103,000 in prize money and championship points. The next event on the PRO Rally Calendar will be the 100 Acre Wood set for March 7-8 through the hills of southern Missori in the town of Rolla. Many of the same stars who competed in Big Bend Bash will challenge the forest, snow and mud of Missouri including Buffum, Millen, Turner, Schmidt, Jon Woodner and John Woolf.
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 in cooperation with Dallas SCC DATE: February 14-15 LENGTH: 150 miles, 9 stages ENTRANTS: 35 FINISHERS: 22 WEATHER: Warm, clear, dry TERRAIN: Desert, rolling hills FIN CHAMP MFG. POS. DRIVER/CO-DRIVER/HOMETOWN CAR SCORE POINTS POINTS 1. John Buffum, So. Burlington, VT Peugeot 504 2:41.37 20 20 Doug Shepherd, Plymouth, MI 20 2. Rod Millen, Santa Ana, CA Mazda RX-7 2:43.06 15 15 Bob Kraushaar, Tigard, OR 15 3 Dick Turner, Lancaster, TX IH Scout 2:57.03 12 12 Tom Grimshaw, Aubrey, TX 12 4. Larry Schmidt, Rochester, MI Dodge Colt 3:02.14 10 10 Joe Andreini, Aubrey, TX 10 5. Fred Van Beuren, Mexico City Ford Mustang 3:04.00 8 8 Franco Soldati, Mexico City 8 6.(1P) Ray Hocker, Ridgecrest, CA Dodge Colt 3:09.15 6 Damon Trimble, San Francisco, CA 6 7. Will Prince, Plano, TX Datsun Truck 3:10.17 4 4 Dexter Prince, Plano, TX 4 8. John Woolf, Santa Ana, CA Mazda RX-7 3:11.17 3 Grant Whittaker, Santa Ana, CA 3 9.(2P) John Davis, Houghton, MI Saab 99 3:11.52 2 2 Harry Ward, Toledo, OH 2 10. Dan Fahrenkrog, Las Cruces, NM Chevy Corvair 3:14.43 1 1 Jim Pettengill, Roswell, NM 1 PRODUCTION CLASS WINNERS 1. Ray Hocker, Ridgecrest, CA Dodge Colt 3:09.15 20 20 Damon Trimble, San Francisco, CA 20 2. John Davis, Houghton, MI Saab 99 3:11.52 15 15 Harry Ward, Toledo, OH 15 3. Gary Eaton, Ann Arbor, MI Peugeot 505 3:14.80 12 12 Carolyn Eaton, Ann Arbor, MI 12 UNITED STATES RALLY CHAMPIONSHIP STANDINGS AFTER ONE EVENT DRIVER: PRODUCTION DRIVER 1. John Buffum 20 1. Ray Hocker 20 2. Rod Millen 15 2. Jon Davis 15 3. Dick Turner 12 3. Gary Eaton 12 4. Larry Schmidt 10 4. Tom French 10 5. Ray Hocker 6 5. Dan Wing 8 CO-DRIVER PRODUCTION CO-DRIVER 1. Doug Shepherd 20 1. Damon Trimble 20 2. Bob Kraushaar 15 2. Harry Ward 15 3. Tom Grimshaw 12 3. Carolyn Eaton 12 4. Larry Schmidt 10 4. Dave Fremder 10 5. Damon Trimble 6 5. Rich Harrington 8 MANUFACTURER PRODUCTION MANUFACTURER 1. Peugeot 20 1. Dodge 20 2. Mazda 15 2. Saab 15 3. IH Scout 12 3. Peugeot 12 4. Dodge 10 5. Ford 8