Charlie Broring Wins the 2001 MARRS ITB Championship

Note: All the photos were taken Sunday and Monday, Labor Day weekend 2001, during the MARRS VIII and IX races at Summit Point Raceway.

The three contenders; Bill Radford (BMW #80), tucked in behind, Paul doCouto (VW #01), and Charlie Broring (Volvo #86).

The championship in ITB would be decided over Labor Day weekend

The 2001 MARRS (Mid-Atlantic Road Racing Series) season had nine races; a "double" at the newly-renovated Virginia International Raceway, one race at Watkins Glen, and six at Summit Point. Out of the thirty-seven ITB (Improved Touring Class B) cars that had started at least one race during the season, there were three who could win the championship. Exactly who would win would be determined by how the they finished the two final races of the year; either of the three could win the championship...their final positions would not only be determined by their performances, but also how each finished in relationship to the other two.
The three drivers vying for the championship had all won races and had all consistently finished in the top five; Paulo doCouto and his '85 VW Golf GTI came to the final weekend with 1,300 points; Bill Radford and his '69 BMW 2002 brought 1,470 points, and Charlie Broring and his '72 Volvo 142E had 1,400. Each of the two races would award 300 points for first, 250 points for second, and 220 points for third.

Sunday's Race

If you look closely in the photo on the left you can see the corner worker holding a red flag. This is lap two and all cars are stopped. The photo on the right is one of the victims of the first lap melee.

SUNDAY'S RACE started out more battle than race...and, didn't seem to get much better. On the first lap two cars went off in turn two and ended up in the gravel trap; more cars spun and went off in the confusion that followed. On the second lap, with yellow flags waving urgently at turn two, Broring and Radford had contact with Radford leaving the track. After several other cars spun or went off the track the red flag came out. All this happened before the completion of lap two. With black flags displayed, and while the safety crews cleaned up and hauled the cars off the track, the stewards had a meeting with the drivers. While not privy to what went on at the meeting, it was most likely a " guys better knock it off...."   kind of get together. The stewards decided to shorten the race to eight laps, the minimum number to award points.
The cars were brought back out on the track, lined up in the original starting positions, and held in check by the pace car for two yellow flag laps before the green came out again. The next incident to befall the three championship hopefuls came when Radford spun in turn five; by the time he got going again he had fallen back so far he was no longer in the fray. At race end, Broring finished just behind doCouto. With a few more laps of racing Broring may have been able to challenge him for the lead. Charlie Broring, lamented, "I sure was not very proud of my driving in that race nor was I impressed with many of my fellow racers."

Race results: doCouto first, Broring second (fastest lap, 131.927), and Radford fifteenth.

Broring taking the long way around turn five and Radford heading back up The Chute. Not a good day for anyone.

Not much worse for wear...Broring closes on doCouto.

Monday's Race

MONDAY'S RACE initially got underway without incident, though Broring, the pole sitter, who held the lead after the start, almost immediately developed a severe understeer (post-race inspection found that a lower ball joint had fallen out and was loose in its socket). Bradford, who had electrical problems, completed only four laps. On about lap five doCouto caught up with Broring, and the struggle that would ultimately determine the championship started in earnest. Broring, who seemed to have a noticeable edge in power, was able to use it to his advantage down the main straight and in turns one and six; however, doCouto was faster through turns three and ten. Lap after lap the battle intensified, with doCouto, when getting a good run out of ten, pulling as much as a half-car length ahead of Broring down the straight. Broring would protect his position by staying to the right and controlling the entrance to turn one. For the better part of ten laps Broring and doCouto were within a car length of each other...doCouto easing ahead in three and ten and Broring gaining primarily in one and six. On the final lap, doCouto, in an all-out last ditch effort made a strong run on turn ten, barely inched ahead of Broring and beat him to the finish line by about three feet. A hard-fought race, with an exciting finish, to end a terrific season of hotly-contested racing.

Race results: doCouto first (fastest lap, 132.483), Broring second, and Radford DNF.

Looking from The Carousel to turn five...yes, there is a racetrack out there.

Paul doCouto taking his well-deserved victory lap.

When the dust had settled, who had won the championship?

The MARRS championship is decided by taking the top seven finishes out of the nine-race series. Broring and doCouto ended with 1,900 points each and Radford finished third with 1,575. Broring clinched the championship based on his having more first place finishes. After tallying the final points, Charlie Broring commented, "If Bill (Radford) hadn't dropped out of Monday's race he probably would have beat me. I surely benefited from his misfortune." Next year is sure to bring more unforgettable battles in ITB.

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