Posted (05/18/2008) -
BOWMANVILLE, Ont. CANADA - Robert Huffmaster, of Clarkston, Mich., put on a rain racing clinic at Mosport International Raceway en route to his first SCCA Pro Racing Playboy Mazda MX-5 Cup win. Polesitter Eric Foss, of Fort Worth, Texas, finished second and Brett Smrz, of Coeur D'Alene, Idaho, completed the podium for Round Two of the series, part of Victoria Day Speedfest
Unlike Round One at Road Atlanta, setup was not a guessing game for the MX-5 Cup field, as a steady rain had been falling across the 2.459-mile circuit for nearly an hour and worsened as the cars made their way to pre-grid.
Huffmaster, who had qualified fourth in the No. 27 Team MER/Huffmaster Co. MX-5, picked up a position before the race even started when the No. 81 Team MER/Airco Mechanical MX-5 of Ryan Schimsk, from Austin, Texas, was late to pre-grid, moving Huffmaster up to third as the field took to the track. When the green flag waved, Huffmaster did his best to make it through Turn One unscathed, but nearly ended his race early
"I was starting third, so I was on the inside, and I didn"t want to be that guy that goes into Turn One and takes people out, so I tried to back off early, but it was not enough," Huffmaster said. "I got all crossed up and starting sliding. I slid right off the track and got about halfway through the gravel, but I didn't want to get stuck there, so I got back in the throttle. I got back to the edge of the gravel and back on the track, but by that point almost the whole field was by."
Despite having little rain racing experience to draw from, Huffmaster put his head down and made a miraculous charge through the field, catching then leader Foss on lap eight and pulling out an astonishing 33.316-second lead by the time the checkered flag flew on lap 21
"After Turn One I thought my goal was to get a top-10 and salvage some points out of this, but as the laps when by I kept closing in on people and passing people. I can't explain what happened really, it just happened. I've had one race in the rain and that was at the Runoffs last year [where he won the SCCA Touring 3 Championship]. It rained in the first half and dried out the second half. I still don't like it, but I'm happy with the results."
He may not like it, but Huffmaster may have uncovered a hidden talent in rain racing as he not only won the 51.639-mile race and led the most laps, but also collected the Hawk Hot Lap for turning the fastest lap of the race, a 2:01.771 (72.697 mph)
Despite having a large lead early in the race, Foss was happy to watch his teammate sail to victory, while collecting valuable points in the No. 28 Team MER/Autobarn Mazda/Brooke Co. MX-5.
"The start was great," Foss said. "There was a lot of mayhem behind me and when I got to Turn Two I looked back and thought 'Wow, I've got a pretty good lead.' After I settled in I paced out a pretty good gap. I saw Rob coming and started asking how it was panning out for third and fourth. At this point in the Championship, I was really ready to settle for a second. I wasn't going to challenge him. I don't know if I had anything for him to be honest, but I wasn't going to try, because I'd rather have second than a DNF
"The track was getting worse as the race went on. There were some visibility issues. I probably didn't prep my visor well enough. I was having to wipe it inside and out on the straighaways, which made it a little more challenging. The Team MER MX-5 felt great though and the Kumho rain tires worked really well. It was a lot of fun actually."
Equally as impressive as Huffmaster's run through the field for the win, was the race of Smrz in the No. 6 Alara/Smrz Racing MX-5. After tipping the scale a few pounds light in post-qualifying technical inspection, Smrz was forced to start from<