A memorable weekend for SCCA racer Michele Abbate, who claimed two podium finishes in STU, recognized as the Runner-Up for the 2015 STU Points Championship, and awarded the prestigious 2015 Lindley Bothwell Cal Club Driver of the Year Award during the annual awards banquet with her peers.
SCCA US Majors Western Conference Season Opener
Michele Abbate would begin her 2016 SCCA US Majors Tour season at Auto Club Speedway for the the Cal Club hosted western conference event. The opener would mark the debut of her new Edelbrock E-Force Supercharged GRR Racing FRS. After qualifying second on Saturday morning in the STU field with the lap time of a 1:52.394, Abbate would be running a full grid with the SCCA GT cars and American Sedans when the green flag dropped for the race. The 25-minute race provided great excitement as Michele maintained her consistency in lap times and crossed the finish line with her first victory of 2016 in the STU class.
Watch the SCCA winner’s interview with Abbate: http://www.scca.com/
SoPac/Cal Club Annual Awards Banquet
After taking her first win of 2016, Michele and her GRR Racing team attended the annual awards banquet for the SoPac/Cal Club. The evening banquet featured drinks, hors d’oeuvres, and great company. During the awards ceremony, Abbate was recognized for her 2nd Place Overall STU Championship Trophy for the 2015 season.
The So Pac/Cal Club racing division offers a great place for us to race in additional to our other events of the year,” said Michele. “I would recommend the series to all club racer’s out there, it is always a great time!”.
The final, and most prestigious award of the night came at the end of the banquet ceremony, where the 2015 Lindley Bothwell Cal Club Driver of the Year Award is announced. The honor is presented to the driver who shows outstanding sportsmanship, exemplary improvement, supports the Club, and shows potential as a Professional Driver with the highest of standings. Selected by a committee of Cal Club members from criteria of present achievement plus future promise, the selection decision is always a tough one to narrow down to one honoree. After a fantastic introduction of Michele’s history with racing, Michele Abbate was announced as the 2015 recipient of the Lindley Bothwell Cal Club Driver of the Year Award! This honor marks the first time a female has earned the distinction in the 66-year Cal Club history.
It was such an absolutely pleasant surprise”, said Abbate, “What a prestigious award to be presented with! I am so grateful for the opportunities I have earned and this is truly an honor to accept”.
Rain-soaked podium on Sunday
After an evening filled with celebration, Sunday’s weather rained on the parade for Michele Abbate and her GRR Racing team. Rain downpoured on the Auto Club Speedway all morning, and did not let up when the field took the green. Visibility issues plagued Abbate from the start of the race, something they tried to prepare for in anticipation before the start. Crew members Anthony and Jason mounted a spare Mishimoto fan to the dash in attempt to prevent Michele’s windshield from fogging up. They even placed a stick in the car with a rag fastened to the end of it to allow Abbate to manually clear the condensation as a last resort.
I’ve never seen so much rain pouring down at Auto Club Speedway. We knew it might come, so we were fully equipped with our Hoosier H2O tires, mounted and ready to go”, Crew Chief Anthony Philleo stated.
Unfortunately, their attempts were unsuccessful at managing the visibility issues, and Michele contended with fog as best she could during the race. Despite the challenges, she held a strong lead ahead of the third place position, and when she heard something amiss on the exhaust system of her GRR Racing FRS, she dialed back her pace to ensure a clean finish. Michele maintained her position to the finish, earning another spot on the podium with a second place finish in the STU field.
The team will focus on their next race February 20-21 at Willow Springs Raceway for the 3rd and 4th Rounds of the SCCA US Majors Tour Western Conference Division.