Baljet drives to victory at Rose Cup
Peter Baljet of Duncan, British Columbia, won the 59th Rose Cup race on Sunday at Portland International Raceway.
The longtime driver qualified his No. 81 Bentley GT3 on the pole and led the race from the first corner.
By the time the checkered flag flew, Baljet enjoyed a 24-second lead.
"It's a spectacular honor," Baljet said from the podium. "The race was really uneventful, but I want to commend the city of Portland for holding this race. Without the city and the Friends of PIR, none of this happens."
The only driver who might have been able to challenge Baljet was runner-up Tim Brown of Vancouver, B.C.
Brown qualified his No. 67 Ford Matech GT3 on the outside pole just 0.3 seconds slower than Baljet. However, Brown got a nudge from behind at the start and quickly dropped to last place.
"I got in there and a car bumped me," Brown said. "Then I was past the turn-in for the chicane, so I had to wait to re-enter the course."
Brown put on an impressive show, though, working his way through the field throughout the 35-minute race.
"I made it back to second," he said. "It's unfortunate, but that's the way things are."
Cindi Lux of Aloha was third. Lux had qualified her No. 45 Dodge Viper in sixth place, and ran as high as second before Brown reclaimed the spot.
"It was a good race," she said. "I had a good start, and the car was really good. We made a huge change just before the start of the race. It was kind of a Hail Mary thing, where you end up as a hero or a zero. It was good, and my car was awesome."
n This year's Rose Cup Races were touched with a somber note. Seven-time Rose Cup winner and Portland auto dealer Monte Shelton died recently. Shelton raced in the first Rose Cup in 1961, and no one has been more closely associated with the event over the decades.
To honor Shelton, PIR's Festival Curves complex was renamed as the Shelton Chicane. Monte's son, Neil Shelton, a past Rose Cup champion, paced the Rose Cup race group in Monte's legendary Porsche race car.
• The SRO Pirelli GT4 America series headlined the professional racing portion of the three-day weekend, and victory went to Harry Gottsacker and Jon Miller in the No. 28 ST Racing BMW M4 GT4.
"The race went well. I was able to have a clean start, held my ground and was able to give Jon (Miller) a great race car," Gottsacker said in a victory circle. "Jon literally just tore them up out there and went straight to the front and got a good gap to finish it."
"It was an awesome race," Miller agreed. "It plays into our strategy. Harry set the pace and left me some tires at the end. Super happy!"
SRO's Touring Car America series also raced over the weekend. Johan Schwartz took Sunday's win in the No. 80 Rooster Hall Racing BMW M240iR Cup car. Schwartz battled SCCA veteran Toby Grahovec in his No. 26 BMW M240iR Cup car. The cars had substantial contact during the race, and Grahovec retired early.
"We had such a great battle," Schwartz said. "It's unfortunate because I wanted us to finish 1-2, even if he had won. We put on a great show, though."
Touring Car America also brought the lower-powered TCR/TCA classes to the weekend. The two classes race together and feature more affordable cars than the main Touring Car series. Michael Hurczyn won the TCR class driving the FCP Euro No. 71 Golf GTI. In TCA, Mark Pombo claimed the top spot in the No. 59 MINI Cooper JCW.
n Part of the Rose Cup tradition is the Wemme Trophy vintage feature race. Ken Sutherland of Sherwood drove his No. 3 Mitchell Machine 1965 Shelby Cobra to first place on the track, but in keeping with the traditions of vintage racing, the Wemme Trophy was awarded for lifetime achievement in racing.
This year's Wemme Trophy went to Erik Dolson of Sisters. Dolson's No. 95 1969 Chevrolet Corvette is a consistent front-runner in the vintage group. Dolson finished second to Sutherland in Sunday's feature race.
"There are people out here who have done far more than I have for racing," Dolson said, "but I appreciate it very much. It means a lot to me."
n Oregon Region Sports Car Club of America and Cascade Sports Car Club partnered to present the supporting races for the Rose Cup weekend. These amateur groups are made up of local drivers who race strictly for pleasure.
Spec Miata features the popular Mazda Miata sportscar in a class with tightly controlled car preparation rules. Will Schrader of Happy Valley drove his No. 87 Miatacage.com/Midas Miata to the win.
"This is the best kind of racing there is," Schrader said. "Racing with all your friends. We have fun, we support each other and it's no-pressure fun. We welcome anybody who wants to get started. We'll show you what you need to do to get racing."
SCCA Spec Racer Fords are identical sports racing cars with a 1.6-liter Ford engine. The Spec Racers opened Sunday with an exciting race. John Black of Olympic Valley, California, made the trip north to be part of the weekend in a borrowed car, and took home the first-place trophy.
"I want to thank Flat Out Racing for giving me the opportunity to drive one of their cars today," Black said. "They put me in a really great car, and it made all the difference."
n Last on the bill came the Saleen Cup. This new arrive-and-drive series features new Saleen 1 exotic cars and is designed for drivers who want to break into pro racing.
Sunday's winner, Brandon Davis of Napa, California, drove the No. 4 Saleen 1.
"Any time you come to the track the goal is to win, and we did that," Davis said. "It feels good to come away with a good finish."
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