Posted (10/25/2007) -
Rob Huffmaster wins T3 National Championship
A dream season ended with a dream victory for Rob Huffmaster as he won a rain soaked T3 National Championship event at Heartland Park, in Topeka, Kansas.
Rob Huffmaster and Huffmaster Racing set a goal at the start of the 2007 season of winning the T3 class SCCA National Championship. It was an ambitious goal, with several obstacles to overcome along the way: - Rob's first full year of National competition, - Strong threats from rival manufacturers, - And a new track in Topeka to learn.
But Rob Huffmaster set about accomplishing that goal one step at a time. The season started early with Rob winning early out region races in Texas. And the winning ways continued throughout the year, as Rob won the SCCA Great Lakes Division championship and secured a spot at the National Runoffs at Topeka, Kansas.
Huffmaster Racing arrived early at Heartland Park for some pre event testing. This extended week and half race weekend meant that Rob was forced to miss a significant amount of classes at College. Even though Rob was the duteous student and worked hard on his studies at the track, he was still forced to have to drop one of his courses for the semester.
"The pre event testing went very well. 2007 MX-5 champion Jason Saini was of great assistance in his past knowledge of preparing for this event. Huffmaster Racing came to the track with a well prepared Mazda, and it showed with no major mechanical issues the whole time. This allowed for us to focus upon fine tuning the set-up."
- stated Rob Huffmaster
Rob established himself and his Mazda RX-8 as a front runner from the very start of the weekend, setting the 2nd fastest time in Qualifying Session #1. This was followed by 3rd fastest in Qualifying Sessions #2, #3, and #4.
The Huffmaster family spent Friday night before the race relaxing at dinner with the Buttermore family. The relaxing evening would be beneficial for Rob, as Saturday was nothing but smooth sailing.
Starting 3rd in the T3 race, Rob and Huffmaster Racing made the decision to come to the grid with slick tires. This decision looked rather fateful, as rain soon poured onto the front straight. But then the rain turned to thunder and lighting. This delayed the start of the race by 2 hours. SCCA officials allowed teams to work on their cars, and Huffmaster Racing wasted no time in switching over to rain tires.
At the start of the race, Rob worked to maintain his position while attacking the two lead Cobalts. After moving past the two cars directly in front of him on the grid, Rob assumed the lead of the race on lap 3. Rob did not have much time to relax though. 2006 T3 Champion Rick Gilhart was fast charging on Huffmaster. This pressure continued lap after lap. Then on the final lap of the race, Gilhart made his move, putting his nose on the inside of Huffmaster in turn 6.
It appeared that Gilhart might pull off winning two years in a row, but between turns nine and 10, he missed a shift. This allowed Huffmaster to retake the lead for good. Huffmaster won his first National Championship by 1.831-seconds over Gilhart.
"At the end of the race, the tires might have gotten a little hot and I was getting a little loose. Going into six, I had to start out wide or else I don't think I could have gotten out of the corner fast. I figured maybe if I went inside, he'd go outside and get the run. I decided to go outside and he went inside and I didn't give him too much room and we made a little contact. At that point, I was like 'oh man, I just lost the Championship on the last lap of the race. I'm that guy!'. But then, as we went through Eight, I saw he had a gearbox problem and I just dove inside. This is unbelievable. I can't express this into words. I never expected to win." - states Rob Huffmaster
"I am so proud of how Rob drove today. This was a very chaotic event with the weather delay, and th