A Family Fight, International Gains and the Kids Are Alright: Super Tour at NOLA

The third round of the 2024 Hoosier Racing Tire SCCA Super Tour happened Saturday at NOLA Motorsports Park, filled with action on and off the track. Overnight rains gave way to wind and cold temperatures, but each of the seven race groups completed 25-minute races, with only one full-course caution throughout the day. Among the things we saw at NOLA before it all happens again on Sunday:

The Whitston Family Band

It’s an old SCCA cliché, that the Club is like a family. But the Formula Vee race this week really is a family – the Whitston family.

We’d be remiss if we left out Steven Davis, an SCCA National Champion in the class, but the five-car FV field is 80 percent Whitston at NOLA. The elder statesman and father, Ron, has raised Andrew, Steve and Zachary to follow in his footsteps in the class.

The four-pack of Whitstons made a significant difference in the size of the group, and having the family all together is special.

“It helps on weekends like this when we bring 80 percent of the field,” eldest brother Andrew said.” You wouldn’t want to come and only have a car or two in your class. But it’s the family all hanging out together, doing what we love.”

They’ve done it successfully against the best of the class, with a combined eight Runoffs podiums and two wins (both by Andrew) in the biggest race of them all.

The question, though, is who buys dinner – the family who wins the race, or the driver who finishes fourth?

“That’s still to be negotiated,” Andrew said.

Test, Tune and Win

As we know, there are a number of reasons to run a Hoosier Racing Tire SCCA Super Tour event. The friends and family, of course, and the competition are givens. But historically, the Sports Car Club of America has also been a favorite for those looking for a strong test of abilities before taking on additional challenges.

That’s true each and every weekend, but at least one driver went well out of her way to accomplish the feat here at NOLA. Jem Hepworth was part of a RAFA Racing Team announcement this week that has Hepworth, along with Rafael Martinez and Trans Am 2 Champion Cameron Lawrence, heading to Europe in 2024 as part of the SRO GT4 European Series.

“It's a Club Race for me this weekend, but it’s a big sized grid,” Hepworth said. “You’ve got different sized cars, you’ve got some faster ones, and it’s all about managing the traffic. It’s a pretty good team atmosphere, as usual. It’s been three months since I’ve been in the car, so I’m a bit rusty myself. This weekend for me is literally all about seat time. The main priority is to get my bum in that seat on the track.”

Hepworth and Martinez are in McLaren GT4 machinery similar to what they’ll be driving this season, which means this weekend’s SCCA race – Hepworth’s first with the Club – is both a race and a test session. Friday’s rain, Saturday’s mix and evolving conditions, and (hopefully) Sunday’s dry day means the event was perfect for that. They’re joined by a pair of drivers who plan to race in the States this year – Paige Morales and Caroline Candas, with Candas coming all the way from her home in France to participate in what has truly become an international event.

But, even though it’s mostly a test, it’s still a race – and race car drivers are race car drivers after all. What’s better as a test than seeing how a race goes?

“It’s nice that it’s a race,” Hepworth said with a grin that gave away her competitiveness. “Obviously I’ll think about it as a race because I’m a racing driver and I do want to win.”

Win she did, leading an all-female podium of RAFA Racing teammates with Candas and Morales just behind.

Next Gen Karting Challenge

We’ve established that family ties are important in the SCCA, but it’s not just the current generation of racers. It starts younger.

So it’s no surprise that a hot and heavy karting challenge broke out on Friday at NOLA Motorsports Park’s kart track, where Savannah and Charlotte Baldwin through down the gauntlet for Jefferson and William Futrelle.

All four have been SCCA members since birth, coming to the track to watch Jefferson and William’s father, Franklin, and Savannah and Charlotte’s father, Richard (and mom Jennifer, and grandfather Richard Kulach, and uncles, and, well, a lot of family members) race.

Even with the rain coming down, nine-year-old Savannah was there for business – and the memories were still there on Saturday. Though the results were unofficial and her recently turned eight-year-old sister was the only witness when she was recounting the day, she made one thing clear about racing against the boys.

“I had the fastest time,” Savannah said.

Seven-year-old Jefferson and six-year-old William confirmed Savannah’s lap, but Jefferson was pretty proud of his effort too.

“I finished first,” he said, giving each oldest child a point of pride.

We suspect this story will continue for years to come, as it should.

In less important news, Richard Baldwin took the win in Touring 3, with Franklin Futrelle second in Formula Enterprises 2 on Saturday.

Saturday On Track

On track saw 25 winners during Saturday’s 25-minute races from NOLA Motorsports Park. Those provisional winners, with class: name, car make are listed below.

American Sedan: Brian Himes, Ford Mustang
B-Spec: Conner Kelleher, Mini Cooper
E Production: Riley Salyer, BMW Z3
F Production: Cliff Ira, Honda Civic Del Sol
H Production: James Rogerson, Honda Civic
Formula Atlantic: Cole Kleck, Ligier JS F3
Formula Continental: Bill Johnson, Van Diemen RF01-2
Formula Enterprises 2: Russell Turner, Formula Enterprises/Mazda
Formula F: Cooper Shipman, Piper DB7/Honda
Formula Vee: Andrew Whitston, Protoform P2/Volkswagen
Formula X: Broch Evans, Star Formula Mazda
GT-1: Michael McAleenan, Lamborghini Huracan GT3 Evo
GT-2: Barry Boes, Ford Mustang
GT-3: Bill McGavic, Mazda RX-7
GT-X: Jem Hepworth, McLaren 570s GT4
Prototype 1: Todd Vanacore, Elan DP02
Prototype 2: Jack Donnellan, Carbir SR P2
Spec Miata: Danny Steyn, Mazda Miata
Spec MX-5: Nico Bratz, Mazda MX-5
Spec Racer Ford Gen 3: Clay Russell, Spec Racer Ford
Super Touring Lite: Danny Steyn, Mazda MX-5
Super Touring Under: David Fiorelli, Ford Mustang
Touring 2: Carl Fung, Chevrolet Corvette
Touring 3: Richard Baldwin, Nissan 350Z
Touring 4: Sergio Zlobin, Mazda MX-5