2016 Great Lakes Challenge report



Drivers from across the United States and Canada attended the 18th running of the Great Lakes Challenge. One Eighth Racers of Toledo hosted the “GLC” which has become one of the premier events in the country. Open practice kicked off on Wednesday as drivers tested set-ups for the challenging track. Thursday was controlled practice throughout the day. Qualifying started on Friday with two rounds scheduled.

DJ Apolaro set the pace in 1/10th Sedan, Skip Starkey (XRAY) was quickest in 1/8th Masters and Scott Kimbrow topped the leader board in 1/8th Open.

After a brief practice session Saturday morning, round 3 of qualifying was underway. DJ reset his own TQ in 1/10th Sedan while Otto Rossa took the point in 1/8th Masters. Scott Kimbrow also reset the mark for the 1/8th Open field. Round 4 saw no changes in 1/10th Sedan or 1/8th Masters.


Just as the first heat of 1/8th Open was to take the track the rains came. Heavy rains and 60 mph winds cancelled the balance of qualifying. The mains were set using the full rounds that were completed by class.

Early Sunday morning, the host club had the track restored to racing condition and a short open practice session helped run the track in. The program started with the lower mains, with the top two drivers advancing to the next main. With the B mains completed, a short break was taken to set the starting line-up for the finals. During the break, the many event sponsors were recognized and raffle prizes were awarded.

Unfortunately as the drivers were preparing for the finals the rains came again. This time the rain was light enough that the track wasn’t lost. The One Eighth Racers were able to get the track in good racing condition again in a little over an hour. It was now time to start the finals. Final Line Up:

1/10th Sedan

  1. DJ Apolaro – Capricorn
  2. Rafael Angulo – Serpent
  3. Diatta Collymore – XRAY NT1
  4. Lon Burling – Shepard
  5. Uriah Murnan – Capricorn
  6. Scott Fisher – Capricorn
  7. John Hoffman – Serpent
  8. Eric “DC” Jones – XRAY NT1
  9. Drew Quesenberry – XRAY NT1
  10. Juan Amador – Capricorn
  11. Chay Blount – Serpent
  12. Joseph Wright – Serpent
  13. Elliot Hart – Serpent
  14. Jim Piersol – XRAY NT1

1/8th Masters

  1. Otto Rossa – Serpent
  2. Skip Starkey – XRAY RX8
  3. Dana Smeltzer – Mugen
  4. Joaquin Desoto Sr. – Serpent
  5. Don Jones – Serpent
  6. Dwight Smith – XRAY RX8
  7. John Adams – Serpent
  8. David Lee – XRAY RX8
  9. George Martinez – Serpent
  10. Greg Esser – Shepard
  11. Rick Davis – Serpent
  12. Marvin Davis – Serpent

Due to the weather delay it was necessary to shorten the mains to 20 minutes for all classes. The shorter race length had some drivers changing their race strategy regarding fuel stops and tire changes. The track was in top condition with high traction when the finals started. This resulted in very fast lap times and exciting action in all the classes.

1/10th Sedan Final

Top qualifier DJ Apolaro wasted no time jumping into the lead as the 14 car field headed off into the first turn after the sweeper. He set sail as the rest of the drivers diced their way through the first few laps of the race. Through the first round of fuel stops positions were changing throughout the field. The top 5 running order was Apolaro, Rafael Angulo, Scott Fisher, Eric Jones and Elliot Hart. The racing was extremely close and pit stops became critical to see who could get in and out faster and make up time on the track. At the half way mark, Jones had gotten around Fisher to take over third. Just before the final fuel stop, Angulo had trouble and dropped out of the race. The top 3 drivers were Apolaro, Jones and Hart. During all of this, Frankie Vega was flawless in the pits, getting race leader Apolaro in and out mistake free every time. As the race clock was running down, Apolaro had a commanding 2 lap lead and was running unchallenged. The last few minutes saw a close battle for 2nd between Eric “DC” Jones and Elliot Hart who started 13th after winning the B main. Scott Fisher was on a lap of his own in 4th and Diatta Collymore had moved up to the 5th position. At the checkered flag it would be DJ Apolaro, Eric “DC” Jones and Elliot Hart, in that order on the podium.

Finishing Order

  1. DJ Apolaro – Capricorn
  2. Eric “DC” Jones – XRAY NT1
  3. Elliot Hart – Serpent
  4. Scott Fisher – Capricorn
  5. Diatta Collymore – XRAY NT1
  6. John Hoffman – Serpent
  7. Joseph Wright – Serpent
  8. Uriah Murnan – Capricorn
  9. Drew Quesenberry – XRAY NT1
  10. Rafael Angulo – Serpent
  11. Lon Burling – Shepard
  12. Juan Amador – Capricorn
  13. Chay Blount – Serpent
  14. Jim Piersol – XRAY NT1


1/8th Masters Final

Otto Rossa picked up the early lead from his P1 qualifying position with Dana Smeltzer in hot pursuit. Greg Esser was charging through the field from his 10th starting spot to move up to 3rd. Dwight Smith and Joaquin Desoto Sr. made up the top 5 as the field began to spread out. Smeltzer got around Rossa to take the lead as Desoto got by Smith for 4th. As the drivers completed the first round of pit stops, the running order was Smeltzer and Rossa running 1st and 2nd. Smith had gotten around Desoto Sr. and George Martinez had moved into 5th. At the half way point Smith was working through the field and passed Smeltzer for the lead. Rossa had charged back to 3rd and Rick Davis was holding down 4th. With five minutes remaining, Davis had gotten around Rossa for 3rd. Smith and Smeltzer were battling nose to tail for the lead when Smith clipped a curb and allowed Smeltzer to make the inside pass. That battle continued through the final fuel stop with Smeltzer driving a perfect line not allowing Smith an opening. On the final lap, Smith charged hard through the tight chicane section before the finish but Smeltzer stayed cool and held his line to take the win by less than one second. Rick Davis drove a strong race to finish 3rd after winning the B main to qualify for the finals.

Finishing Order

  1. Dana Smeltzer – Mugen
  2. Dwight Smith – RX8
  3. Rick Davis – Serpent
  4. Otto Rossa – Serpent
  5. David Lee – XRAY RX8
  6. Greg Esser – Shepard
  7. Marvin Davis – Serpent
  8. Don Jones – Serpent
  9. Joaquin Desoto Sr. – Serpent
  10. George Martinez – Serpent
  11. Skip Starkey – XRAY RX8
  12. John Adams – Serpent