The Post-Journal

Alistair Oag, Jack Lawrence Seek More Driving Honors This Weekend

Alistair Oag of Sinclairville could have the Volkswagen Cup circuit point championship wrapped up by tonight.

"I'm leading in the circuit point series by 19 points," Oag said when looking ahead to today's Sports Car Club of America competition at the Mid-Ohio Sports car Course in Lexington, Ohio. "The winner of the race receives 20 points. If the second place driver in the standings wins the race, I'll have to place no lower than 14th place (two points) to win the title in the final race of the season."

There would have been another event next weekend, the St. Petersburg Grand Prix, but it was scheduled in case any races during the season were cancelled. None were cancelled, so the season ends today.

The Volkswagen Cup is a professional series with the winner receiving $2,000 out of the $12,000 purse. Usually about 25 drivers compete in the 50-mile event. The course at Mid-Ohio is 2.4-miles long per lap.

Oag has two victories this season in nine events. His first place finishes were at the Wisconsin State Fair Park Speedway in Milwaukee, Wisconsin and at Laguna Seca in Monterey, California.

Other finishes for Oag have been three seconds, two thirds, a fifth and a sixth.

Oag, who returned from California one year ago, drove a VW Rabbit for ABT Motor Sport, the company he was employed by when he was living there.

This is Oag's eighth year of racing. In 1980 he captured the F Production championship of the Northeastern Circuit of the SCCA in a Saab. Oag's employer, Jack Lawrence, placed second that year, also in a Saab.

The 31-year-old driver turned professional in 1981 driving a VW Rabbit to an eighth place finish in the country. In 1982 he finished seventh, was fifth in both '83 and '84, and was 10th in 1985.

"If I can finish in the top five, I can support myself," said Oag, who drives a 1985 Volkswagen Golf with a stock 1800 cc engine with a single overhead cam.

After finishing the Volkswagen Cup race today, Oag will be right back in action. He will be one of four drivers wheeling a 1986 � VW Scirocco with a sixteen valve, double overhead cam engine in the SCCA/Escort Endurance Championship in the SSB Class.

This will be a 24-hour enduro and Oag said, "Each driver will have approximately two-hour shifts behind the wheel."

Six races are held each year in this category. "This is the first year Volkswagen of America has sponsored a team," Oag said. "We missed the first two races of the year."

The Volkswagen team of Oag, Peter Schwartzott, Bill Pate and Phil Pate won the 24-hour Mosport Park Enduro at Bowmansville, Ontario in August. "We had a 15-lap lead at the finish," Oag recalled.

Late in June at Nelson Ledges at Warren, Ohio, the team of Oag, Catherine Kiser, Tom Davey and Al Salerno placed third and at Road Atlanta at Braselton, Georgia, they placed sixth. "We had two flat tires and were five laps down," Oag said.

Oag works for Lawrence at Motor Sport Service on East Second Street, but is mostly self-employed. "I build and repair Volkswagen engines for both the Enduro and Cup Series," Oag said. "I race against competitors that have engines I have owned, rebuilt and repaired."

One of the competitors, but in a different class, is Lawrence who is in his 29th year of racing on the SCCA Circuit and could be in his final year of F Production. He appears to be looking ahead to his 30th year, but may be in a different class.

Lawrence cut down his schedule this season, running only four races in the Northeastern SCCA Circuit, but was successful with one first and three seconds. He had a first and second at Pocono and a second at both Watson Glen and Nelson Ledges.

Lawrence is looking forward to this weekend's 24-hour Enduro in the Super Sport class. He will be one of three pilots in a 944 Porsche Turbo sponsored by Sewickley Porsche-Audi of Sewickley, PA.

"It helps to be in good physical condition," he said. "The two-hour shifts can be very long."

The other drivers will be Bob Mikel and Bob Rost.

"Darin Brassfield, a professional driver in the Trans-Am Series was scheduled to be our fourth driver, but he is now unable to attend," Lawrence explained.

Lawrence drove a Saab Turbo in the 1994 Enduro at Mid-Ohio.

"It's a new experience," Lawrence said. "I'm used to a front-wheel drive car and the Porsche is rear-wheel drive. The tires are street wide 45-55 series and I'm used to slicks."

"Experience is a key. Most of the enduro drivers are veterans; that's what helps. They know how to stay out of trouble. You have to be able to respond quickly when something happens in front of you. These are bigger cars that weigh 2800 pounds and have about 230 horsepower. The Saab I'm used to driving weighs about 2000 pounds and has about 150 horsepower."

Lawrence is undecided if he will go to Road Atlanta to the SCCA Championships this year. "My feeling at the present time is that I won't go," Lawrence said. "I'm very busy."

The veteran driver has done very well at Road Atlanta in recent years, winning the championship in 1983, placing second in '81 and '84, fourth in '85 and fifth in '80. In 1982 he did not finish.

Lawrence has won the Northeastern SCCA Circuit crown three times and has been second twice in recent years in a Saab Sonnet in the F Production class.

So in addition to Oag, Lawrence could bring another driving trophy back to Chautauqua County this weekend.

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